Having a career breakdown is an issue endemic among working mothers, but a new online career-coaching course, by the founders of the Step Up Club, will help you find success. We asked the founders why this crisis strikes so many women and to share their own (sometimes emotional) mid-career crises...
How do you feel about work? Stagnant? Frustrated? Are you torn between juggling your family and a career? Do you secretly wonder that if you “had” to stay at home with the children and no longer work, life would be easier?
It sounds like you are suffering from a mid-career crisis. And you are not alone.
Research has shown most women reach a crux point in their jobs in their mid-30s – and having children can be a major catalyst. We live in a society where a two-income family is the norm, but a dual-career marriage means continual compromise (which is often uneven). The result? Resentment all-round.
“When we become mothers, it’s inevitable that we look at life through a different lens,” says Step Up Club co-founder Alice Olins (she started it with her friend Phanella Mayall Fine). “For some, the natural pause around pregnancy and early childhood is a clear window to activate some kind of change. For others, there is a discovery that they are striving towards a certain definition of success only to find it isn’t really where their heart lies. This is a confusing and often confidence-draining realisation, especially if you are dependent on your salary and feel locked into a certain career path.”
So why do so many women reach this career crossroads? “There are myriad reasons – some external, many from within,” says Alice. “What’s most interesting though, and worrying too, is that many women become paralysed by their fears and confusions, and continue working in a job that is fundamentally at odds with who they are as people. We see this in so many of the women we work with. Not least because this internal struggle is usually compounded by other life pressures and gender inequalities in the workplace.”
What also holds women back is the negative beliefs and the critical voice inside their heads, says Olins. “Sometimes it is harder for women to make progress, and starting a business can be fraught with far more pressures and closed doors than those founded by men,” she adds. “It’s tough out there, but when we stay true to who we are, and believe that we can, amazing things will happen.”
To help women make that first step to define their own success and their true purpose in work and life, the duo have now created an online career-coaching package called the Step Up School (click here to find out more). It follows on from their book Step Up: Confidence, Success and Your Stellar Career in Ten Minutes A Day, which led to their popular coaching events around the UK. The pair have taken the content delivered in their in-person course and adapted it for a digital audience. And like the friends, it is approachable, engaging, glossy – and works.
“Our definitions of success are all different, and that’s ok,” says Alice. “It’s just as valid to aspire to be the next FTSE 100 CEO as it is to own a small, kitchen-table business with a modest turnover. The point is, when we stay true to our own values and goals, it not only allows us to follow a type of success that will suit our life and personality, it also means that we can stop comparing ourselves to other women. Like the negative voice inside our heads, this is another killer to happy, fulfilled careers.”