Tom Smith

Tom_SmithTom Smith, Figuring Out

Tom is a quarterlife crisis survivor through career coaching

Tom Smith - A Quarterlife Career Crisis Survivor

I once heard it said that the real moment of crisis is when you realise that you're in one. My personal moment of crisis came almost two years into a job that I was beginning to resent, and I found myself lacking a sense of purpose or direction. More seriously, I was down a lot of the time; I would continually find myself dwelling on where exactly I had gone wrong, and the emptiness and distance I felt was compounded by the fact that I didn't feel that I could tell anyone.

What did you do to survive the Quarterlife crisis?

If that sounds a little melodramatic to you, in many senses you're right! I began to appreciate that if I wanted to stop feeling this way I needed to start thinking about what was causing me to be unhappy and ways that I might tackle that, rather than feeling sorry for myself and avoiding certain realities.

I hired a Figuring Out career coach, who gave me an outlet to express certain fears and work through different ideas that I didn't feel comfortable sharing with - or as I felt it was, simply offloading onto - my family and friends. I saw my coach as someone who was a supportive neutral, but who was also prepared to be honest in their opinions.

Coaching gave me a structure and discipline that I lacked on my own; for example through setting small tasks and targets to complete between meetings. One particularly useful activity had me spending two weeks documenting one positive thing that I had done each day. That may sound rather basic and obvious, but the mindset it gave me and the discussion it generated proved invaluable.

What happened as a result of coaching?

As a result I decided to leave my job and I went to Ecuador with Global Vision International (GVI) for 6 months as a volunteer to work on a conservation and community development project in the Amazon Rainforest. I chose the course because the environment and sustainability were passions of mine that came through clearly during the career coaching.

Where you are now?

Right now I’m doing an internship for a social enterprise called Happy Kitchen, working on the social side, which at the moment means helping to design and coordinate an event in schools called "City Shoots - sprouting sustainable action in schools"; I think the link between food and sustainability is a really important one, and thought this internship would provide invaluable experience - and possibly some useful contacts.   I am still in the early stages of what I have come to appreciate is a long journey in which there are going to be ups and downs. The difference between now and a year ago - apart from the fact that I left my job - is that I have a sense of perspective; if I spend a couple of years making changes now, it is going to be far easier than ten or twenty years down the line. It isn't easy; I still have doubts, but I also have a renewed sense of inner belief and a sense of purpose that was so lacking just a year ago.  

Your hope for the future?

My major hope for the future is that I stay true to the things that coaching helped me to realise about myself, devoting my energies in a way that is beneficial to other people, rather than exhausting them by being inward looking. I harbour an ambition to set-up something on my own that will reflect my values and provide me with a challenge.  If I stay true to the things that I learned through coaching, I believe that dream is possible.

For more on the topic of the Quarterlife Crisis click here 

To find about career coaching email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it