When your personal life is hit by major trauma, and your work suffers

I’m aware that a lot of the time we coaches focus on the positive elements of your career: your dreams, boosting your confidence, feeling good about your contribution to the world, etc. This is all important stuff but sometimes it just isn’t where your head is at for the simple reason that life can suck. You get struck by illness, lose loved ones, relationships break up, depression hits you, a miscarriage or family rift leaves you shaken.

When you’re in the thick of these challenging life events career progress is, understandably, not front of mind. And yet it can be a real stress point because you still have to show up to work. (And usually don’t feel like sharing the full story with your colleagues or clients.)

Believe me, I’ve faced breakups, anxiety, sleepless nights and some painful family stuff that has led to many tough days in the office. Having compared notes with my coaching clients, here are a few insights that I hope will help you to cope on those “mask days”, when you need a fake smile and a Dairymilk stash to stop the tears from coming.

Honour and accept this experience
I will be honest and say that this has been a tough year for me. After the birth of my daughter I was ill for about two months. Looking after a newborn strained my mental health and my relationship. At the same time I was trying to work through some really deep-rooted family issues and my favourite uncle passed away. Having come out the other side of some of the worst of all this, I can see my life has been enriched by what I’ve been through. I now better understand the challenges of working parents and am more credible as a career coach to them. Equally, I’ve become much more resilient and just don't have time for bullsh*t in my personal life or career these days.

So I feel confident saying that if you are in the midst of something hellish, the starting point for dealing with it is to accept it rather than wishing it away. Talk to your support network and let them know you’re struggling, rather than pretending things are fine. And know this will pass in its own time. There will be better times ahead.

Lighten your grip on your career
When your health is suffering, this is not the time to be hellbent on getting promoted or finding a dream job. Forget about what your colleagues or the competition are up to. They are not facing what you are facing. And they are not on the same journey as you. At some point they will need to take a detour from their own ambitions because no one escapes the harsh realities of life. If they are promoted before you, or take a job you want, take inspiration from their success and congratulate them. Then get back to looking after yourself.

Recognise small blessings
I know it sounds cheesy but living in our society you still have plenty of little things to be grateful for, no matter what you're facing: the hot shower you took this morning, the cupcake you can afford, the kind smile a stranger gave you, the sun warming the back of your head. You get the idea. Focusing on these small blessings will help get you through, one day at a time.

Be super kind to yourself
When the sh*t hits the fan, the last thing you need is an internal monologue telling you that you’re not good enough or not handling things right. Imagine a dear friend is supporting you through this difficult time. What kind words does she have for you? What is her advice to you today?

And when the dust settles
Ultimately, it is up to you how you choose to interpret this experience. You can see yourself as a victim, who has been wronged and left to suffer, or you can feel thankful for an experience that ultimately allowed you to become stronger, tougher, and more awesome. So, when the dust settles, it is time to seek guidance, work through your experience and learnings with an experienced coach* and determine your next steps in a clear, structured way. Investing in your personal development at this point will pay dividends when you start stretching yourself and achieving your dreams faster, rather than floundering around in your own mind for months or even years to come.

So, how are you feeling about the setbacks you’ve faced in your life? Is there something you’re struggling to get through or something you want to leave behind? Perhaps you’re ready to move on but not sure how? Whatever path you’re on, I’m confident that a Megawatt Coaching boost will serve you well. Sign up for one of my limited number of free coaching sessions and we will:

  • Dust you off and pick you up so you’re ready for that next job interview/life changing career decision

  • Spruce you up so you are confident in your sense of personal purpose and the talents you want to share with the world

  • Soothe your soul so you can come to terms with what has happened and what you can take from it

Lots of warm thoughts and kind wishes,


Amy Watt
Founder of Megawatt Coaching

*Of course, a career coach is in no way a replacement for a counsellor or qualified medical professional. Looking after your mental health is essential and best addressed before you take up any kind of coaching.

Some days all you want to do is stare out the window and reflect on what's happening in your life. Give yourself permission to do this. It really is important.

Some days all you want to do is stare out the window and reflect on what's happening in your life. Give yourself permission to do this. It really is important.