What is the Game Changers programme really like to complete? How exactly does it help with changing career? Does it take up tons of your time?
One of our current attendees of the programme mentioned that she loves writing and used to be a journalist so I asked if she might document her experience in a series of blog posts. So here is Chapter One, the story of what led her to this point, the first section of the programme described, un-edited by me….
I’m Rachel, writer, mum-of-three, and print fanatic with a perhaps unhealthy obsession with rose and violet creams. I left my job working in communications in higher education after maternity leave with my second child, with vague notions of freelancing or finding part-time work.
Now with three children, I’ve had ideas of combining a few things to create a flexible career, but have found it hard to focus and find the space to get a plan together.
I’d been um-ing and ah-ing about doing Game Changers for a good 18 months, and after never finding the right time, decided that now is as good as time as any. With a six-month-old, a three-year-old and a five-year-old, life is pretty busy but I think investing some time in myself and my plans for the future will benefit the whole family. Plus, it’s not like I think life is going to get quieter anytime soon.
I was massively giddy about the first week. Yep, that keen-as-mustard new-term feeling just about sums it up, and I wasn’t disappointed. We had our first live call which set out the course ahead, and all got to meet each other (in a virtual sense).
What was great was the openness of the other women. Although we have different backgrounds and plans for the future, we all had lots in common, from the daily juggle to the need to focus on ourselves a bit more, and I felt a real sense of support and camaraderie from the off.
We were given our first challenge (I have been strangely looking forward to these, either I am a masochist or I really need a bit of a stretch), and I plunged straight into it. I’ve got a lot of love for this challenge; it’s actually made my whole week feel more positive and given me cause to focus on myself a bit each day in sometimes small but always valuable ways.
The first workshop helps you identify your values, which makes sense as it’s pretty fundamental to working out whether your chosen career path or plan still works with what you actually want in life. I know my values have definitely shifted since I became a mother, and that became evident throughout the workshop.
I was left with my top three values which really spell out to me what matters in my life, and which will be key in my work life too. I hadn’t really ever thought about it in such blunt terms before, but it’s sort of relieved me of quite a bit of pressure, as I now know there are some options which just make no sense to take as they don’t align with those values.
Week two was all about recognising our strengths. I’m not going to lie, this one was tricky and took a fair bit of unpicking. I have a fair idea of my skills, but working out my strengths felt more elusive.
This section is all about rediscovering what it is you love to do, as opposed to what you are simply ‘good at’. It can be something that sweeps you up completely so that you lose all track of time, something you would gladly do for free.
While I did find this much trickier to start, eventually (after some chats with my other half) I started to discover what my strengths are.
What I loved about this was this it’s put me back in touch with some hobbies and areas I used to absolutely love but that have fallen by the wayside in the chaos of life with a young family. It’s felt really reinvigorating to discover those forgotten parts of myself.
Although asking others what they thought my strengths are pushed me out of my comfort zone, it also led to some lovely conversations, the sort where you’re actually really supporting each other. It sort of made me wonder why we don’t tell the people we care about how amazing they are more often.
I’ve also followed Helen’s advice about removing potential blockers, so rather than wondering whether I could ever do anything with say, dancing, as a career, I’ve just put it in the mix. If it’s something joyful, it needs to stay as part of my life, after all.
I finished this workshop feeling like a much fuller, more rounded version of myself.
I loved, loved, LOVED this workshop. This one was all about dreaming BIG – allowing ourselves to put aside all our possible objections or practicalities and imagine our lives in the medium and longer-term. It included a visualisation which I found massively helpful. I hadn’t done one like this before but I am a really visual person so this worked well for me.
I was quite surprised by what I saw to be honest, but it also made a lot of sense. I realised afterwards that I’ve always been pretty poor at making longer-term plans for myself. I’ve had aims, of course, but I’ve not been great at thinking of, say, where I’d like to be in five years, and since having children I’ve not really even had an idea of where I’d see myself in a year.
I love having a young family, and weirdly quite like the chaos, but at times it feels really difficult to imagine claiming time and space to think about future plans. I’m too bogged down with trying to get a bit of sleep and finding someone’s water bottle/favourite shoes/beloved teddy/remembering who has a party to attend, and when and where it is.
I realised that I often get in my own way; if I have an idea I often immediately think of various reasons as to why it might not work, but I just wrote down those thoughts and moved on, which was surprisingly effective (why did no one tell me I could do this before?!)
For the first time in ages I feel like a have a real idea of the sort of life I’d like to fit perfectly around my family, supporting them, but also supporting me. And that is really exciting.
I’m really looking forward to moving on to the next stage of the programme, Reboot, and seeing what that has in store for me…
The next chapter of Rachel’s blog will be published in the next few weeks and you can find out more about booking onto Game Changers and everything that is involved in the programme here.