The Great Switch is a series featuring those who have transitioned careers during the pandemic. We hope their stories can serve as inspiration for those who are considering a career switch. Now, more than ever, companies are focusing on employee engagement, shifting to remote or hybrid work models, and employees are prioritizing their careers and health. This is the future of work.
Meet Mary Zargarian, a Career and Leadership Development Leader, who pivoted to a life coach during the pandemic.
1. What were you doing before the pandemic? What are you pursuing now?
Before the pandemic I was working in corporate full-time as a career and leadership development leader. I designed global programs for our tech workforce to grow their careers and step into higher levels of leadership and authority at the company. On the side, I was also growing an individual coaching practice as Mindset Mary, helping women feel seen and empowered in their life and career choices.
The pandemic left our family constantly juggling family and work priorities all at the same time. We had a 3-year old at home with us while we both worked remote full-time. To say it was a challenging balancing act is an understatement. And so, we made the decision to have me step away from corporate and pursue my business full-time, affording us the flexibility to be more available and present with my son. He is now nearly 6 years old and in school full-time. My business has grown and morphed into a consulting agency, but I still create those moments to put my family first.
2. What made this the right time to switch for you/did you have any doubts?
The decision to change directions was not taken lightly. It was always a consideration, knowing we needed more flexibility as our son grew up. But, the pandemic made it more apparent and more pressing. My husband and I had a financial plan and timeline in mind and when the timing was right we pulled the trigger. I had no doubts-it was freeing to finally feel empowered to do what was right versus what was necessary. But that’s not to say that it wasn’t nerve-wracking. This is a career I worked extremely hard on for over 22 years and it was a big adjustment for me, even though it was a decision that I wanted to make. I had a lot to work through around money mindset, tying my self worth to being “productive”, and other things.
3. What was the turning point for you in which you decided to pivot?
My business pivoted during the pandemic as well. I was a solo Coach and then did a complete pivot to being a consultant and then just months later building out an agency. I had an epiphany the moment I left my corporate career – I loved the work I did and there are so many businesses out there that don’t have the luxury of huge workforces and resources that I could help. That same weekend I started positioning myself as a consultant for other Coaches and Service Providers and my business took off seemingly overnight.
I had more business than I alone could handle and so within 6 months I made my first team hire and have not turned back since. In my first year in business full-time, I surpassed my client and revenue goals and cannot wait for what’s next in 2023.
4. What lessons have you learned during this process?
Have a vision for what you want and use that to guide your decisions. Now I look at anything that feels off or challenging and if it doesn’t meet my values check then I make the decision to let go. It’s always ended up bringing better opportunities into my business when I’ve used that approach to cut ties with things that no longer serve me and the business.
Also, don’t get overly fixated on HOW you want to reach your goals, because when you do you have blinders to all the possibilities and signs that may pull you in another direction that can help you get there faster and bigger than you planned. I love shifts and pivots because I can look back and think, “Wow, look how we got here.”
5. Have you dealt with imposter syndrome since switching? If so, how did you overcome it?
I have dealt with imposter syndrome in bits and pieces. I’m a pretty confident person and leader and I typically feel imposter syndrome when I find myself stretching my experience in business – growing a team, sending a proposal in for a big client, and being a speaker, for example. I simply remind myself that just because this is new doesn’t mean I am not qualified to do it. I have extensive experience in what I do and the audience may be new, but there is always someone watching that knows less about that problem or solution than I do. I remind myself that I show up for them, not for myself.
6. What tips would you give someone who wanted to pivot?
Be clear on why you are pivoting and what you want to get out of it. Maybe it doesn’t need to be a big change, or maybe it doesn’t have to happen so suddenly. Give yourself time to process it, plan for it, and then see it through, all while giving yourself permission to evaluate if it feels right along the way. A pivot is a process, not a moment in time. Enjoy the process.