#MakeAFuss: 'You only get one shot at this' - A career coach on changing your life
Lots of women fantasise about changing careers, but how many of us actually end up breaking out of our comfort zones to follow a passion?
Often a catalyst is needed to allow us to switch focus - and Sinead Kieran's catalyst was more stark than most.
Sinead, a business coach who owns Coaching By SMK, lost her fiancé Brian to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome six years ago.
She had it all, working in a high-flying corporate role and building her life with her husband-to-be.
In an instant, everything changed.
Brian was, she says, "a beautiful person."
"We were moved in and engaged within a year. We were very similar in where we wanted to go in our lives.
"We both wanted to start a business so that was on the cards, we both wanted a family and then literally, he went to work on Tuesday one day and didn’t come home."
In shock, she went into autopilot.
"You just get swept into, 'Do you want a pine coffin or mahogany?'
"There was no feeling at the time. It’s nearly like a play. You shake this person’s hand. Say this. Stand there. There’s no feeling. You just go through it."
Sinead eventually went back to work but says she started to look at her life very differently.
"We’re only here once, you only get one shot at this," she realised.
"I thought, do I want to be stuck in corporate, travelling around the world? It sounds fantastic but it doesn’t have the same meaning anymore.
"I thought, if I don’t start the business now, I’m going to be in my sixties going, 'Shit, I should have done that'."
What that business was, however, she didn't know.
She had been toying with lots of ideas, including opening a café, when one day she had an epiphany while painting her garden fence.
She had been interested in counselling and psychology when she was in school but life had taken her in another direction.
This time around she didn't think about it twice before making the change.
"I quit my corporate job before I had even finished my coaching course! I was nervous but I think the excitement overweighed it," she tells us.
"I’m realistic as well. I have a timeframe, like if I’m not earning X by Y, I need to go with plan B but thank God everything has gone according to plan."
"It’s very seldom that we stop and think, 'Is this actually what I want?'"
Sinead set up Coaching By SMK a year ago and hasn't looked back.
Having taken a leap of faith herself, she's in a unique position to help others figure out their personal and professional issues.
She believes it can be very easy to get stuck in a rut and says often we've been guided down a path that's not really for us.
"Through school and all the influences and the people we have in our lives, we just tick boxes.
"School, tick. College, tick. Job, tick. Is it pensionable? Tick. Partner, kids, house, car. We’re constantly on this unspoken blueprint so it’s very seldom that we stop and think, 'Is this actually what I want?'
"I think times have changed. We’re in a society now where a job isn’t forever and ever and you can move on every two to three years; it’s acceptable.
"A client I have at the minute, she was in medicine and going to be a doctor and she was so unhappy because it wasn’t the job that she wanted, it was the job that her parents wanted.
"Now, she’s quite senior in one of the big four."
A big part of what Sinead now does is helping people to figure out their strengths and build their self-confidence.
A worthwhile exercise that anyone can do, she says, is to simply sit back and do a CV review, looking at everything you've achieved to date.
People can forget things and are often wowed by just how much they've done.
Her clients at Coaching By SMK tend to be entrepreneurs and professionals up to senior director level and while her role is to look at their careers, she takes a holistic approach to coaching.
"If there’s an elephant in the room where you’re talking about your confidence or your relationship or whatever, we’ll go there.
"If you’ve had a crappy weekend with a wife or a husband, that’s what we’ll figure out.
"Primarily they come to me with a work thing and will say, 'I want to look at my career,' but nine times out of ten we’ll talk about them as a person."
"Please yourself and do what’s right for you."
The new year, a time when we tend to take stock and reevaluate, is just around the corner.
Sinead says that she's already been inundated with bookings for then but stresses that we can take control and make a change at any stage.
"We get caught up thinking about January but every day is a new day."
She herself has lots of plans for the 2019.
"I’m very conscious that if people want to work with me they want to work with me so I don’t have any plans to franchise it out or get any others coaches working with me.
"I get a kick out of that because there’s obviously a connection."
She has also started working on writing a book and plans to get more involved in talks and group work.
Her hope is that her story will help others.
"I would have (previously) been a very private person and I wouldn’t like to talk about my personal history but if someone gets something out of it, gets empowered or some kind of lightbulb goes off, that’s what I want."
As for what advice she'd give her younger self?
"Don't smoke!," she jokes.
"No, I'd say, 'Please yourself and do what’s right for you'.
"It’s not about pleasing others, its your life."
When it comes to careers, we know that Irish women are a force to be reckoned with. Here at Her.ie, we're making a fuss of the ladies who’ve made a fuss on their journey to success.
We want to celebrate the grafters and the risk-takers, those who’ve followed a passion or spotted a niche, those still forging their own path and those who are at the top of their game.
In our series Make A Fuss, we’re talking to inspiring Irish women about their careers, what they’ve learned along the way and where they’re going next.
Know a kickass woman in business? Get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.