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“Joanna helped me appreciate that the world is my oyster.”

I received a personal recommendation for career counselling with Work in Colour when I was about to be made redundant. I’m a divorced woman, over 60 years of age but I needed to continue working because I had no financial support. When I received my redundancy notice, I wanted to understand if I was part of the reason for losing the job and—because of my age and need to work into the future—to get an understanding of what skills I have.

My program with Joanna was six face-to-face sessions over 12 weeks which I really enjoyed. My favourite task was setting out my life story on an A3 page, using drawing and writing. I created an aerial view of myself and identified how I’ve reached where I am and the things which have influenced me. I got a sense of it being one coherent story and all things—even those I had thought were not so great when they were happening—were all aspects of myself. It was a great experience.

One of our best meetings involved playing with the idea of work roles that appeal to me. Anything became possible. Just free it all up! It was the opportunity of a lifetime, to think of it not as redundancy, but more as long service leave. What a positive experience. Joanna’s coaching allowed me to become aware that I am valuable and it made me feel powerful. I realised I am young enough and I have good, interesting skills so I would have no trouble getting a job.

After the course with Joanna, my journey to my new career was exploratory. I travelled overseas to see my kids and I returned feeling renewed and creative. I started to search for jobs on-line and in the papers. I saw a small ad for a casting agency and within a week I was being sent out to Fox Studios to be one of the extras in a Hollywood movie. It was absolutely brilliant! I did a creative writing course, worked in retail. But in the end, I realised I have got more to give than that.

The job which I have just started is absolutely suited to me: it drew on all of the things I had identified in my life map, taking me back into aged care and dementia, celebrating the work of volunteers and leading a team across a number of Sydney sites. It is where I want to work. Here I am, excited about my role. I feel like I am contributing to many people’s lives.

Joanna helped me appreciate that the world is my oyster. As a coach, Joanna is wise, in-touch with your situation and no nonsense. I liked working with her. It was easy. I took her ideas as opportunities to lift my thinking. Joanna is clever enough to know that this was what I needed. After a while, I had to start doing the thinking by myself. As time went on, Joanna had me on my own two feet and I was able to walk away feeling I was doing well on my own. Joanna has also made a very good little extra package which provides a refresher course, if I need it, and she remains in touch through her blogs which give me a connection back into the professional but creative space which launched me in my new life.

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Joanna Maxwell

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