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I Listened To The Critical Voice In My Head And Then Found My Purpose

I was dissatisfied in my 14 year stint in a corporate job, so in March 2021 I resigned from work that now felt meaningless, and moved in the direction of Executive and Life Coaching.

My alarm went off, and I groaned. It was a Monday, again. I knew my calendar would be choc-a-bloc with meetings and presentations. I dragged myself out of bed, went to the washroom and looked in the mirror. A figure with a tired face, sunken eyes and slumped shoulders greeted me. I started crying.

With a management degree from one of the most prestigious institutes in the country, dream campus placement followed by impressive lateral movements, and a high-profile corporate job with a seven-figure salary, I was a successful professional by the yardsticks of the world. Yet there I was, crying in my bathroom.

‘You haven’t slogged this long to spend your Mondays waiting for Fridays. You have not come so far to not have time for family and friends,’ said a voice in my head. This time I didn’t silence it.

Despite doing well, I was dissatisfied and disillusioned for the last two to three years of my fourteen-year corporate tenure. I was making strategies for companies in beautiful powerpoints, while I wanted to directly impact people and make a difference in their attitude towards life. Though I had realised some time ago that my profession was not aligned with my intrinsic values, I was scared to pay heed to the voice in my head that had been goading me to change my life’s direction. A career in strategy and general management was what I had aspired for, was good at, and had done all my life.

I would have probably resisted listening to my inner voice again that day, too, but for the pandemic.

The pandemic struck… and my career shift began

Covid 19 had made a foray into Indian shores shortly before the above-mentioned incident. Since then, the definition of work, as we knew it, changed. I could also see many others in the high-pressure corporate world around me who were in the same boat and were going through the motions of life without being enthused about what they did for a living. There was disillusionment, disengaged and complaints all around me, even before the Great Resignation wave started.

Amidst all the travails and upheavals, I decided that life is too short and uncertain to do what you are unhappy doing. I also introspected and realised that a common thread underlying all the jobs I had held was leadership — I enjoyed mentoring and guiding people and bringing out the best in them. The more I thought, the more I was sure that I would touch more lives and impact them positively by coaching, and in the process, also enjoy myself.

So, in March 2021, listening to the voice inside my head, I resigned from my corporate job and moved in the direction of Executive and Life Coaching. I was willing to incur the sharp pains of self-discovery than endure the dull ache of listlessness for the rest of my life.

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I enrolled myself in multiple International Coaching Federation certified coach training programs while simultaneously identifying the pain points of my target audience- busy professionals in high-pressure corporate jobs going through the motions of life and started to reach out to them via one-on-ones, surveys and webinars. Two months later, I founded Empower Yourself— a set of customised Personal Clarity and Performance Enhancements coaching interventions to enable busy but unhappy working professionals to get better at what they do in their professional and personal life.

The Challenges, Learnings and Unlearning

I have been fighting a perception battle throughout my career, be it in the corporate world or as a certified coach. At the outset of my career, I had to overcome certain stereotypes and biases about what a woman, a married woman and a working mother can or can’t do.

It was no different after I made a career pivot to coaching. Once again, I had to overcome biases from people and organisations—especially in my own professional network where I was known as a strategy consultant — about my non-HR background, previous experience in coaching, the shift from consulting to coaching etc.

Being a leader for most of your working life is a different ballgame than coaching, where you partner with people to arrive at solutions rather than telling them what to do. As a bootstrapped entrepreneur, I had to learn a lot of new things—like making a website, working on digital marketing and SEO—and unlearn a lot more.

All these challenges made me stronger. The alternative to this was going back to the corporate world— a route I didn’t want to traverse again. So, I was determined to make ‘Empower Yourself’ a success on my own terms.

People are stressed, underconfident and unhappy…that’s where ‘Empower Yourself’ comes in

From my experience in the corporate world and coaching, people struggle with too much to do in too little time and are unsure about how to achieve a fulfilling personal life and a thriving career. They also lack confidence and second-guess themselves while making decisions. This is where Empower Yourself comes in.

Smita holding an Empower Yourself Virtual Workshop at a corporate

Through structured one-on-one interventions spread over 8-12 weeks, Empower Yourself Personal Clarity and Executive Performance Enhancement programs enable people to get better at what they do, speak with confidence and impact, make time for what matters to them in their lives, and transform their passions into professions so that they work because they want to, not because they have to.

While the approach is scientific, robust and uniform, each client is unique. To understand clients’ priorities before the commencement of a program, I hold a Strategy Consultation with each person before starting the program to understand their background, drivers, struggles and challenges. This provides the foundation to develop a customised eight to twelve-week program for clients to feel more ‘Empowered’ in their lives.

I am directly making a difference in people’s lives through my work

In a dynamic and unpredictable world where people are too preoccupied with making a living to live, I want more and more people to find time to do all that they like so that they wake up with a smile in the morning, every single day of their lives. Empower Yourself aims to enable people to live the life they dream so that the world is a better place to live every day, one positive person at a time.

With more than 500 coaching hours, webinars, workshops, and live learning sessions within a short span of a year and a half, Empower Yourself has positively impacted the lives of 100+ individuals — mid-career and senior-level executives seeking more professional satisfaction, housewives looking to transition back into the workforce and unemployed people looking for jobs with career satisfaction.

Awards, credentials and recognitions have followed. I have become an ICF credentialed coach and a TEDx speaker during this period. The Asia Business Outlook named me among the Top 10 Executive Coaches in Asia for 2022, and Fortune India has featured me among the most impactful leaders in 2022 for the Empower Yourself Coaching Programs. However, it is the success stories of my clients which gives me the most satisfaction; remarks like “I am a very confident and different person now,” and “Your sessions have put my career back on track” motivate me to serve my clients better.

The last word… tapping into your inner self will bring you the happiness you deserve

Stop being busy and tap into your inner self. Uncover at least one activity where you will enjoy the process as much as the outcome. Then pursue that activity. Your life will acquire a new meaning.

Listening to that little voice in my head made me pursue my passions and discover my life’s purpose. I now wake up with a smile every day and am the happiest I have ever been. And so is my family, after seeing me happy.

Images source: Smita Das Jain

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About the Author

Smita Das Jain

Smita Das Jain is a writer by passion who writes every day. Samples of her writing are visible in the surroundings around her — her home office, her sunny terrace garden, her husband’s car and read more...

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