Marta was in a new phase in her life. She had a shiny new degree in international affairs, a lifetime of travel and non-profit experience under her belt, and a passion for doing meaningful, change-making work…. but “work” wasn’t working out.
She’d tried working at a small NGO, but it wound up taking over her life – something she definitely wasn’t looking for at this point. She tried developing a partnership with a friend, and that hadn’t worked out. She applied for positions that looked attractive, only to repeatedly come up second. “I think they see my age, and just shuffle me to the bottom of the pile.”
She ended up volunteering, and found it was actually a pretty great fit. She was able to do the work she wanted, and maintain the flexibility to travel for fun, or be there for her grown-up children and aging mother when they needed her.
But she still felt a deep pull to be paid for her work. “If I’m not paid, then my work isn’t valuable. I’m a dilettante, a retiree… completely uninteresting.”
We worked together to dispel some of the baggage around volunteering… working through how to navigate that “what do you do” question with confidence, addressing her aversion to the words “retiree” or her feeling that the only way to feel valuable was with a paycheck in hand. Eventually Marta was totally jazzed about embracing a dynamic life of travel, being there for her family and volunteering: being complete master of her schedule, her time and her life – and knowing that value doesn’t come from a paycheck.
And then she got a job offer… from one of those organizations where she’d come up second.
Obviously she was flattered… but on the heels of that good feeling came lots of negative ones. She was almost panicked. The first time she’d applied for the job, when they said they’d gone with another choice she’d felt relieved! Now she’d have to deal with putting their needs and schedule before her own. She felt trapped, and she hadn’t even accepted the job yet!
Together we reconnected with her new knowledge that she was the master of her own life, and from that place, looked at the offer and her options. What would make her take a hard pass? What is the best possible offer they could make? What were the things she’d love to do?
After outlining her true options (instead of just the ones her panicked brain could see), Marta felt like she was in control of the situation again. She met with the Chairman and negotiated a perfect win/win situation – a project based contract. She could maintain her freedom and flexibility to travel, and they wouldn’t have to strain their budget. Either of them could pull the plug at any time, allowing Marta to keep her feeling of control.
She accepted and will start her perfect new role next month!