Valentine’s Day is creeping round the corner, and while those in the throes of new love might be giddy at the thought of a romantic date, others might be dreading it – triggered by the memories of their ex.
This time for How I Made It, Metro.co.uk’s weekly career series, we’re chatting with someone who specialises in coaching people after the one of the most visceral of heartbreaks: divorce.
Sarah Woodward, a 53-year-old based in Maidenhead, Berkshire, knows this struggle all too well, having experienced divorce first-hand.
Now, free of her own pain, she helps others move forward into the next phases of their life.
She’s trained in an array of relationship issues, including dealing with narcissism, which can dent a person’s self-esteem.
Sarah says: ‘It feels amazing to help people move on with their lives and I’m honoured that they put their trust in me.
‘It’s so rewarding to be able to support my clients and to be able to make a positive difference in their lives during this traumatic time.
‘I love all of my clients and genuinely want the best for them. Life’s too short to stay stuck and they deserve to be happy again.’
But this wasn’t always her nine to five – she made a career switch in September 2019.
This is how she made it happen.
Hey Sarah, so what made you want to career switch into this?
I went through my own divorce in 2003 and I was devastated by it. I didn’t see it coming and I was completely blindsided.
It took me a long time to get over it and be able to move on with my life.
Although I had a lot of counselling, which has its place, it didn’t give me the tools I needed to be able to help myself.
I don’t want other people going through a breakup to stay stuck like I did as there’s so much you can do to help yourself.
I know that if I’d had access to a divorce coach it would have made a difference for me and I would have got through the whole process so much quicker.
What were you doing before and how did you change?
My background is finance and I held several roles in finance and procurement at Sony.
The part of the roles that I loved the most was always coaching and developing my teams.
Although I enjoyed my roles at Sony I always felt there was something missing but I just didn’t know what it was, other than I was interested in coaching.
When I left Sony I qualified as a coach but at that time I hadn’t even heard about divorce coaching.
It’s still relatively new in the UK, although it’s growing rapidly as people see the transformations it can achieve.
As soon as I heard about divorce coaching I know that was what I wanted to do going forward and I trained as an accredited breakup and divorce coach.
I think having been through my own divorce and really struggling with it gives me a great deal of empathy for people in the same situation.
A day in the working life of Sarah Woodward
8.30am: Time to wake up and prepare for the day ahead.
9am-11am: Go through admin, emails and plan for social media. ‘Social media helps me to get my message out to a wider audience so that I can give free value to people who can’t afford divorce coaching,’ she explains.
11am-3pm: See clients for appointments and make time for networking.
4pm-7pm: More clients after an hour break and fitting in time for more admin and social media.
8pm-9.30pm: There will be training courses, self-development work and preparation for the next day’s sessions.
Somewhere in the day she’ll try to make time for exercise and a walk too, which can be good to clear the mind.
Can your work be triggering, given you experienced divorce yourself?
I actually don’t get triggered as my divorce was such a long time ago now – and I’ve done so much work and healing on myself that I’m able to just be fully present to help my clients.
What do you love most about your job?
I love coaching my clients and seeing the transformations in them.
It’s not uncommon for a client to be in tears for the first few sessions, but by the end of our time together they’re in a completely different place.
They’re feeling more positive about their future and have clarity on what they want, they have specific tools to help themselves when they have a ‘bad day’, they’ve started to grow in confidence and rebuild their self-esteem and they’ve rediscovered who they are as a person outside of their relationship.
I love that every day is different and I meet so many amazing people.
Is there anything you don’t like about your job?
I dislike the social media side – I wasn’t even on it before I started my business so it’s been a huge learning curve. The admin is also a chore.
What sort of training have you had to do?
I was already a qualified personal and business coach before my career switch, and then I trained to be an accredited breakup and divorce coach practitioner.
I’ve also since then become a narcissism informed coach and a certified positive psychology coach.
I’m currently training to become a master practitioner in breakup and divorce coaching so I’m fully trained and experienced to support people in abusive relationships.
What’s the best piece of advice you give to people struggling to let go?
To take each day at a time and show yourself self-compassion.
Allow yourself to feel your emotions rather than stuffing them down as it’s part of your healing.
Divorce is the second most traumatic event you can go through in your life. Make sure you have support that you can turn to when you need it.
Do you have an interesting job you want to talk about? Or did you take an unconventional path to get where you are today?
If you’d like to take part in How I Made It, email [email protected]
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