Finding your voice in midlife
In this article our Member, Helen Guinness, Principal Consultant at Four by Four Consulting, tells us Why your story is your power.
Are you willing to give up who you are for who you could become?
Finding Your Voice
We all have a voice, in one form or another. We talk, we gossip, we tell truths and we lie; we praise, we criticise, we exaggerate, we under sell ourselves, we don’t always say what we mean and we sometimes don’t think before we open our mouths. Words, words, words!
So much energy being expended but are we having an impact, are we getting our messages across, are they landing in a way that is effective, in the way that we want them to land?
I talk to people all the time in my job and they often tell me they aren’t any good at getting themselves heard. Or they say that they don’t know what to say or how to say it.
Midlife can be a time in our lives when we ask ourselves, “who have I been all these years and who am I now?” You may have been a parent, a spouse, an employee, a family carer or even all of the above for the last 15 or 20 years, always at the beck and call of someone else’s interests. But now, perhaps it’s time to put your own interests to the test?
Your most powerful voice is your story. People love stories! Whatever sort of life you have led, wherever you have been, you will have a story. Think about significant events in your life that have either inspired you or left you thinking, “I want to change that.” Search in your story for the emotional moments that you remember clearly; they are the ones that will get attention. Connecting with hearts is more powerful than connecting with heads.
You need to believe that your story has value. Every individual story has value and it will be the telling of it that will capture people’s imaginations. Believing that your story has value, in turn conveys that you believe that you too have value.
I was born and brought up abroad, lived in a number of different countries, didn’t go to school until I was eleven and didn’t find my passion until I was in my mid-thirties. I envied people who had grown up where they were born, gone to school at the right age and lived more routine lives. Their lives were no less interesting than mine because it wasn’t the travelling and living abroad that made my story interesting, but the lessons I learned along the way, the discoveries I had made and the ideas that they spawned. You see I hated all the travelling, the moving around, the lack of permanence!
Your story is your power. You need to find the tools within yourself to get yourself heard and make yourself visible. That takes courage. We have to be willing to say who we are, to stick our heads above the parapet and take a risk. Otherwise there will be no change in the status quo. Be where you are now, not where that limiting inner voice is getting in the way.
It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I realised the power of my own story. I was doing a job that required me to talk about what inspired me, what drove me, so I needed to find a way to do that.
With practice and a bit of help I soon learnt how to tell my story in a way that conveyed my passion for my work. I allowed myself to be vulnerable, not to care if I made a mistake or forgot something; I threw myself into my story and suddenly, magically, people listened!
Here are some tips/guidelines that helped me to find my voice.
- Connect in your mind with a vision of what you want and be clear on your reasons why: the power of a compelling vision.
- Choose what is important to you and claim that space: the power of commitment.
- Hang in there, you will encounter obstacles from time to time: the power of persistence.
Break through the limitations of your inner critic: the power of positive self-talk.
- It may take more than just you to achieve your goals – encourage others to join you and ask for help: the power of the collective.
- Being with other like-minded people will empower and inspire you: the power of community.
- Invest time (and money if necessary) to grow and to learn: the power of personal and professional development.
More about Helen Guinness
Helens’ career as a consultant, mentor and coach spans more than thirty years. She help people to manage or remove the seemingly immovable obstacles in the way of finding fulfilment and to break unhelpful patterns of behaviour.
What is a Career Coach?
A Career Coach is someone professionally qualified to support and guide you to identify a future career path that suits and fulfils you. Career coaches can work with you at any point in your career; their role is to encourage you to work out the best way forward for you and help you to create a plan with action steps which might include a career change.