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Career advice for mums: from career coach Bethan Davies

We’re back again today with another fab installment of the Expert Career Advice interview series.

Today, I’m delighted to introduce you to Bethan Davies of The Bravest Path.

Our mission at The Bravest Path is to make work more human, connected and joyful. We partner with individuals, teams, and organisations inspiring them to take smart risks, building courage, compassion and connection through transformational development and executive coaching.

We are provocative, daring and collaborative as we support our clients to step out of their comfort zone, into the challenging and sometimes uncomfortable space where meaningful growth and progress result.

I co-founded the Bravest Path to bring a different approach to developing individuals and organisational cultures, making workplaces more human and humane. As a transformational coach, I focus on helping women be bolder, self-compassionate and authentic.

This is a very common challenge for working mamas and one I coach clients on regularly, so you are not alone in feeling this way! Consistent courageous action coupled with self-awareness can help you move forward to realising your goals and feeling more self-assured.

As a starting point to building greater confidence:

  • Understand your key strengths – research shows when you find a role that complements these, you enjoy your work more and you are good at it! A great book which can help you identify these is Strengthsfinder 2.0. by Tom Rath.

  • What do you want from a job? Identify the key criteria you’d like to have in a role such as flexible hours or helping others, so you have as much clarity on the type of position and company you’d like to work for. Make a list of the attributes of your dream job so you know what you want.
  • Take action towards your goals, despite potentially feeling fearful about what might happen. Focus on making a list of baby steps which will move you towards your outcome, make them specific, and set a date by when you will have completed them. Find someone that can hold you accountable to doing this – ideally a friend that challenges you, a coach, or someone that you trust and won’t buy into any excuses!
  • Ask for what you wantDon’t be afraid to hear no, and don’t make it mean anything about you – the more you ask, the more pleasantly surprised you’ll be at how little you do hear it! Having brave conversations gives you more data to understand what you need to do to adapt to get the role you want, and has a big influence on your chances of success.

I’m a 41 year old mama with 14 years experience as a teacher. 2 years ago I left my school and set up as a private tutor. However, I’m now at the point where I have to decide whether to go for it as a self-employed tutor or return to teaching. I love the flexibility of working on my own, but also find it lonely. Do you have any advice on what I should do?

Being self-employed can be amazing but also lonely – and it’s useful that you recognise your need for connection, as we are all biologically hard-wired for it! There are many options out there around co-working spaces, networking groups, learning forums etc, and I wonder where you’d benefit from more connection? Is it casual chats during the day, brainstorming ideas, learning new skills, or something else?

Identify where specifically you’d like increased contact and what you need could be a useful starting point to help determine whether you’d like to continue on this path or return to teaching. Once you have greater clarity here you can create and try out options to see which meet your needs. Connection doesn’t necessarily need to be work-based either – a simple phone call or coffee with a friend during the day, or evening activity may provide the balance required.

I’m nearing the end of my maternity leave after having my second child, and I really don’t want to go back to work. I’ve come up with a business idea that I think could work, however I’m struggling with imposter syndrome, and wondering if I really have what it takes to start a business. Do you have any tips for me?

Starting a business is a risk, but how can you ensure that it’s a smart risk to take? Imposter syndrome, the feeling of not deserving your achievements, being exposed as a fraud and not being good enough, can be misleading in stopping you stepping outside your comfort zone.

We all have inner critics, the internal chatter / negative self-talk / gremlin that tells us that we are not good enough, not enough of an expert, we’re not ready for that…. it’s the voice of self-doubt, the saboteur that holds us back from realising our full potential. Our inner critic may have qualities such as speaking in a rude, mean way – a voice that speaks to you in a way you would never speak to others.

It’s often a binary thinker – you are either awesome or stupid, your dreams are possible or they are not. The voice often argues for what seems to be in your best interest, for what is realistic and effective. E.g. “If you apply for that job you’ll ruin your reputation. You aren’t ready yet, better to wait a while.” The voice often shows up when we are doing something that’s new or unfamiliar – it’s often loudest when we are trying to move out of our comfort zone, and step forward and make a change. Your inner critic believes its role is to keep you safe. It’s like a sleeping guard at the edge of your comfort zone.

Being accurate isn’t the aim of the inner critic, its aim is to get you to avoid risk. Awareness is the first step to recognizing and letting go of your inner critic. Listening to their illogical thoughts and self-doubts, labelling and recognising them for what they are is the one of the key foundations to help release their grip on us.

Write down some of the things that your inner critic says. What are its commonly held beliefs? What evidence do you have that those thoughts are true? Bring your inner critic voice to mind – create a character of them that personifies them. If it were a person who would it be? Naming your character and beginning to call it by its name when it shows up, lessens its power. What would you say to a friend who was experiencing the same situation as you? Say the same compassionate words to yourself when you notice your inner critic talking. Speak to yourself as you would a friend. Don’t let imposter syndrome win – what’s the worst that can happen if the business doesn’t work out? And what could be the best?

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Thanks so much Bethan for taking part in our Expert Career Advice series for mums.

Find out more about Bethan and how she can help you here:

Her website

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