March 22, 2022 - From Construction To Life Coaching

From Construction To Life Coaching – My Exploration Journey

My Childhood Dreams

From a very young age, I dreamed of living and working in different countries, of travelling the world, of being a “knowledgeable” person, of earning a living in multiple ways, of knowing people from different backgrounds and with different life experiences… I can’t say that I had similar role models around me that I could relate to, but I remember “picking” these traits from what I could see around me, whether from real people or fictional characters – yes, I spent a lot of my childhood reading and daydreaming!

I never thought much of it, but I later realized that I was really dreaming of creating my own path in life, ignoring traditions, social habits and expectations, barriers and other glass ceilings… Basically, I simply wanted to enjoy and make the best of my life… I wanted my life to be an adventurous exploration journey…

Considering “Reality” When Starting my Adult Life

However, I didn’t consider any of these dreams when, as a 17 years old, I had to make what was at the time the biggest decision of my life: decide on a professional field knowing this would have a major impact on the rest of my life. Instead, I concentrated on 2 criteria to make my selection: be able to earn a living after 2 years of studying, and expect to like the type of work I had chosen… Even though I was aware that “jobs for life” had become a rarity, I wasn’t yet aware of the possibilities of having different careers, nor did I know anyone in such position! Also, at the time, the “gig” economy did not exist (yes, that was before cellphones and internet were part of our daily lives!)…

And so I opted to study construction technologies… I write more about this choice in a previous article.

But the dreams were still there, somewhere in my mind, and I was unconsciously “scanning” for opportunities “passing by”… Like the opportunity to carry on my construction studies in the UK, which was my first step toward an international career – from my first job working for a British company in France to moving to Canada, and in between, working in different European countries, sometimes on projects in another country, and learning another language… And, along the way, building-up my own fairly unique profile…

My 25-Year International Construction Career

So, where did my meandering professional path take me during my 25-year career in the construction industry? Well, it took me to:

  • Different positions: project management, scheduling, quantum and delay analysis (including some international arbitrations), and contract and claim management;
  • Being involved with a wide range of construction and engineering projects, small and large ones;
  • An international career, from working in France, Gibraltar, the UK, Germany and Canada, as well as working on projects in countries other than where I was living;
  • The opportunity to work and communicate with people from all over the world, and to learn from them;
  • Speak 3 languages: French, English and Spanish; and
  • Being a woman in a male-dominated industry.

I write more about my experiences in previous articles.

When looking back at my childhood dreams (yes, these dreams are still there!), on one side I’m quite happy with what I’ve achieved during these 25 years, considering where I started (including being a shy and introvert person, but also having a number of privileges). I managed to live and work in different countries, to hold different positions on different types of projects, to know people from different backgrounds and with different life experiences…

But, on the other side, I also often think I could have made a more adventurous exploration journey of my life… such as being more adventurous in my travels, being more decisive in my decisions to stay or leave an employer, daring to venture further away from my core professional experience, being involved with communities, having a more creative life… In summary, I often think I could have done more to really create my own path in life, concentrating on what I really, really wanted for myself… taking the time to properly understand what “success” meant to me, what my “values” were… and to dare more often to get out of my comfort zone!

When It Was Time for More Drastic Changes

… And maybe that’s why I reached a point where I felt that the steps I had previously were not enough anymore… But I didn’t know where to go from where I was… So I went on an exploration journey to attempt to discover what I really wanted… and how far I was ready to go to make this happen…

This journey included a lot of self-reflection, fed by reading, watching and listening about personal development (articles, books, webinars, masterclasses, videos, etc.), and speaking to some trusted friends and acquaintances. In all honesty, for me, this was a long and difficult journey that I had to take to be able to move forward - but what matters most is what we get out of it, not the length nor the difficulty!

Along the way, I understood that the criteria I had used to choose a profession as a 17 years old had been replaced by the desire to do something more meaningful to me and more creative. I also realized that I wanted more “freedom” in selecting and undertaking my projects, in not being bound to a specific location… And I ended up concluding that the life I was leading wasn’t aligned anymore with who I had become.

I also discovered that my interests had shifted from being solely about myself to considering the impact my experiences could have on others (even if only slightly) – probably an expected result of maturing through age and experiences! Of course, this is still a “work in progress”, but I realized that I was really attracted to the ability for each of us to write our own life chapters, creating and leading our own life primarily based on what we want for ourselves – and yes, we do need to take into account the circumstances we’re in, but there are so many of these circumstances that could be ignored or by-passed…

And this discovery took me to Diversity – and for me Diversity is more than visible, cultural or background diversity: it’s the “Diversity of thoughts” (a topic that I still need to go deeper into)… the Diversity that make us want different things in life, view “success” differently, have different “values”…

Although this was all very interesting, it wasn’t “helping” me identifying a new direction for myself… That’s when I realized that Life Coaching would probably be a nice way for me to explore what to do next and how to earn a living going forward. But I felt overwhelmed as soon as I started researching life coaches: too many life coaches out there, too many types of life coaching, not knowing how to pre-select some, not seeing anyone I could related to… I definitively wasn’t in the right place (in my mind) to figure it out…

But this gave me the momentum to take 2 major steps in moving forward:

  • To embark on a 1-year mentoring program that provided a structured method to reviewing my past and looking at my future; and
  • To embark on an accredited life coaching training program, to train myself through the process and eventually decide whether this was something I’d be interested in being more involved with.

And what a journey it’s been…

Finally Identifying my Next Chapter

First, I’d like to highlight the difference between mentoring and life coaching:

  • Mentoring is “the act or process of helping and giving advice to a younger or less experienced person, especially in a job or at school”; while
  • Life coaching is about “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”, and, along the way, supporting clients in unlocking “previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership”.

The mentoring program helped me reflect on my 25-year career in the construction industry, clarifying what I had liked and not liked, identify my strengths and feel once more proud of what I had achieved to-date. But the life coaching training helped me clarify what I wanted to do next – which was then supported by the “looking forward” part of the mentoring program.

The life coaching training helped me realize that becoming a professional life coach, supporting others in “maximizing their personal and professional potential”, was what I felt attracted to for the next chapter of my life…

So, what is it that’s attracting me to start a brand new career, in a very different field?

First, I’m attracted by the definition of life coaching mentioned above:

partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential

I like that life coaching is seen as a “Partnership” between the client and the coach, rather than the coach being seen as “more knowledgeable” than the client. After all, as a client, I want to ensure that my own values and what “success” means to me, are at the center of my reflection journey.

I like that it is a “Thought-provoking and Creative” process, allowing me as the client to brainstorm in ways I wouldn’t on my own, thanks to the listening, reflecting and questioning skills of the coach.

I like that it is an “Inspiration”, as it implies that it is the beginning of the journey to maximize my potential – yes, there is more work to do after a coaching session, such as taking action and committing to doing the work required, often involving getting out of our comfort zone!

Second, I’m attracted by the fact that life coaching considers that the client is already Creative, Resourceful and Whole – that, as a client, I already have solutions that are aligned with who I am… somewhere in me, even if I haven’t yet discovered them, even if it means researching, training, speaking to others…

And third, I’m attracted by the fact that life coaching aims at reminding us of who we really are (or want to be), and then closing the gap between where we are now and where we want to get to.

Starting my New Chapter

What now? Well, now is the time to explore how I can best support others in their own discovery journey, relying on my 25-year international construction career, my life coaching training and, more importantly, my interest in more of us daring to pursue our own path… and to continue to explore how I want to show up as a life coach, for others but also for myself!