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Mid-life work crisis, Mumsnet please life coach me!(7 Posts)
(Or if you feel it's a bit cheeky I'm on here asking for free life coaching, then please recommend a great life coach!)
I wish I could recapture that "word is your oyster" feeling I think I had in my early 20s. Well, I don't think I did have it really as I had mental health issues then and was all alone (following family abuse). But looking back from my mid-40s it seems I had so much more faith in myself and confidence.
This isn't exactly a "Back to Work" thread because I haven't stopped working. But upon the birth of my 2nd child I stopped working as a lawyer which had been my job for nearly 10 years and have been doing a home-based job (full-time) since then. This was only ever supposed to tide me through the years when the children were very small but the youngest is in his 3rd year at primary school now and I'm still doing it! Grateful that it pays the bills as I am a single parent with no other income but it's not what I planned to do forever.
I did enjoy law - and was good at it - but don't feel I could ever go back to the all-hours kind of lawyering I used to do particularly as I have no partner to share parenting with so I know how much time I need for that.
I've thought about trying to do part-time law balanced with the home-based job I am doing now and it's really an unknown as to whether this will work. There's some financial outlay too as I'd have to be self-employed as a lawyer, no part-time jobs available, so insurance certificate, premises, practising cert all down to me.
Balanced against the difficulties this might pose, the 2 big pluses are that I'm already qualified as a lawyer (my qualification is just sitting there, with a few steps needed to renew). And I would have the financial security of carrying on my home-based job until the lawyering took off, or balancing the two.
As an alternative would it be better to try something else entirely? I wouldn't have the funds to go into a new career which requires a degree in its own discipline (I spent a lot when younger and had lots of loans for law school, couldn't do that again now at this stage of life!). But possibly I could do something where you can train at college. Being a counsellor or some kind of teacher are the only options that really spring to mind - I did teach law with OU for a while and I was always working with vulnerable clients as a laywer so learnt quite a few counselling skills and went on counselling-type training courses along the way.
I'm cross with myself for being mid-40s and not really knowing what I want to do! Well I would like to be a writer but having tried since around age 7 to complete a novel I don't think I should put all my eggs in that basket (particularly not with a family of 3 to feed).
Thinking completely off the wall the other kind of things that I'd like to do would be arts-based as I have always loved art. Painting or ceramics... But also I know there's a "social justice" kind of fire in my belly that is probably better channelled into being a lawyer or similar. I spend a lot of time doing activism at the moment to tend that fire!
As a last point I still do have to be careful of my mental health. I've had years of therapy and help in the past and feel I've had all the treatment I really could for a seriously troubling childhood. Being under a lot of stress never does me good, though, and can lead to a bit of a downward spiral. From time to time I have spells of anxiety and depression but these are no longer generally incapacitating thanks to the coping skills I learnt. For myself I think the proof of coping is in my mothering - 2 boys all my responsibility for 7-10 years now and they are thriving (one has a physical disability too).
I don't feel it has compromised me ever professionally but it's something I have to keep in mind; self-care so I don't at any point risk not doing my job or parenting well enough and get sick (one reason why I wouldn't countenance going back to full-time/all hours lawyering).
I've looked at the jobs pages and there are a few advocacy-type jobs in charities I could be qualified for and enjoy, but the working hours are so hard as a single parent. Despite the ups and downs, I like being self-employed and it has suited me since 2012.
What should I do? I asked a close friend and was kind of disheartened as the gist of her reply was "God Extraordinary, after all you've been through I'd take the rest of your life off! Can't you go on benefits of some sort?" That's not want I want to do; I want to work. I still have mad notions of "making the world a better place".
But I'm older, haven't mixed professionally for many years (home-based job is solitary), feel really lacking in confidence but also genuinely not sure what best to do...And if I don't do it soon I will be doing this home-based job forever which does pay the bills but that's about all.
Well, it's interesting that you mention life coaching in your first sentence... maybe that's something you could consider training to become yourself? By the sounds of it, you have huge life and business experience, and have dealt with a large range of clients and difficult situations. Personally, I think having done 2 years of child counselling, it can be hugely draining on your own mental health. Whereas with life coaching/ business coaching, you could take those skills and use them in a less draining way.... probably a lot less time to train/ study too
Can you teach in your field (law)? My cousins has not taken up a teaching role in same field she used to work to balance work and childcare. She really missed out on the first child and now she is in high school. So for second one she took decision to reduce hours and changed to teaching. She now has holidays and other off days and it works better for them all.
Thanks so much for the kind reply. The way you put it already boosts my self-esteem! Maybe yes the intensity of counselling might not suit me. I've been a trade union rep listening to people before and that was OK but don't think I could do child counselling.
@stayfit - I have looked into this. Opportunities seem to be quite few and far between but it is something I would like to do.
I have seen private law tutors charging a lot. You seem really skilled and able to cope. You could really change life of someone aiming to be a lawyer but struggling and needs extra hand. That could also put you back in touch with basics and in time when kids are older you could try your hand at part time lawyering? Alternatively have you considered getting an au pair to help around house/kids more?
Definitely no money for an au pair at the moment! I am not located near a law school and wouldn't be sure how to set myself up as a law tutor independently e.g. online...
But the replies here suggesting I do some kind of mentoring do chime a chord. I think I'd like to do that in one form or another...I know I can motivate people and am usually a good listener but also good at being practical and problem solving (life experience!)
I wonder - is there somewhere you can go as a fully-fledged adult to get careers advice? Or is that just for uni students?
I am thinking following this thread there might be some kind of mentoring jobs out there I could do but I'm not sure what they would be classified as, and that maybe a careers advisor type body could help?
I do feel silly not knowing what I want to do or how to go about it at my age but need to think about this properly! Before it's "too late".
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