“If there is one thing you can ask yourself when you feel doubtful, sceptical or scared to pursue your career ambitions, ask yourself: “What if I could do this? … and let your curiosity wonder.”
Shares Adri Kosovska, multi-passionate professional woman – operations manager, dream job coach, founder of Zero to Dream Job and the co-author of Amazon’s best-seller.
This question helped me many times in my life – when I landed in the UK with poor English skills, without knowing a single person and only 200 pounds to my name, when setting up a community group, when starting my business, pursuing writing and chasing all my career dreams.
I’ve been reluctant to share my story for the obvious reason, my fear of judgement, worrying what will others think … yet there is something very special that keeps calling me to share about my real struggles, wins and lessons learnt – questions from my clients and tribe members.
During the career coaching, when touching sensitive subjects like fear of judgement, dealing with self-doubt or working through difficult challenges when things are not working as fast as my clients hope, I often get asked “Adri, was this the same for you? Did you also struggle just as I do now? What did you do?”
Today I wanted to share my story to give a sneak peek at my career up & downs, struggles or discoveries, as it wasn’t always a rosey road to walk on.
Where do you come from and where are you based now?
I was born in a fairy-tale town Bojnice in Slovakia. My childhood dream to learn about different cultures guided me to move to the UK just after I finished the university. I borrowed money from my dad and moved to the UK with one big suitcase. After I paid for my flight ticket, agency fees and one week hostel accommodation, I had two hundreds pounds to my name and two weeks left to find a job.
I didn’t speak much English and couldn’t find a job in London. Coincidently, we met with a friend of a friend and the plan B came out of blue “There are plenty of summer jobs in Southend on Sea”. I had no clue where it was. My friend went to the Internet Café to find out how to get to Southend. In a few days we were there. Sitting on the train, just as we were leaving the Fenchurch Street Station, I made a promise to myself that I will not quit and I will not call my parents to ask for more money. Every day, I went out and browsed all the seaside restaurants and recruitment agencies until I found my temping job in a local factory and a job in a local bistro cleaning dishes.
Summer working holidays turned into a decade living in the UK until I met my other half … I then relocated back to Bratislava, the capital city of my home country. I created a location-free business, on the side of my full-time job as an operations manager. I am excited that I can now work online with amazing people who can be located anywhere – in the UK, Europe or the rest of the world.
As a child did you have a dream job?
Too many! Anything from being a teacher, through fashion designer to becoming a businesswoman, which at the time felt unreal. There were not many businesswomen around (if any, I didn’t know).
And my dream jobs changed as I was growing up.
We used to play “school” with kids from my neighbourhood and I was always the teacher who gave all kids bad marks for being unprepared or for disturbing. Obviously, I was not a very popular teacher 😊, clearly the idea of teaching got crossed off my list very soon!
Then at primary school, I wanted to become a fashion designer. I went to art school. Art taught me to to slow down, be focused, relax and stop being restless. I was sketching models and fashion designs while listening to tuitions. When I was deciding which college to go to, fashion school seemed not “realistic” enough. At that age, I couldn’t imagine how I’d made it in fashion industry.
I decided to go for the Business College and study accounting with tax consulting. I made a pragmatic choice (still not knowing what I wanted to do) and thought it would be helpful to learn about finance which gives me both – security for a job and background how to manage finances if I wanted to run my own business.
When and how did you discover direction for your ideal job, career or business?
It was a longer roller-coaster journey and I am not at the end of it. It continues to evolve.
I was good at maths and at bookkeeping at the business college, so I focused my university studies on economics and business services – accounting, tax consulting and so on. That’s the direction I pursued after moving to the UK. I studied AAT, ACCA and worked my way up from an accounts admin clerk to an accounts payable manager. And although the job and company were really good, I hit that point when I no longer felt fulfilled.
I discovered my true passion after my burn out in my early thirties. Although I found finance and bookkeeping fairly easy to pursue as a career, I lost passion for my job and started to work really long hours. I no longer felt connected to accounting, and I couldn’t understand why. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing but it just felt that time arrived to discover more who I am as a professional person.
Once I returned from a longer vacation in India, I couldn’t return to my previous pace of working and I knew I had to make changes. India was one of my Bucket List places. It was an eye-opener. Two and half weeks helped me connect with my inner guidance, creativity, and confidence. While strolling the streets, markets, temples and parks of Delhi I got present to all the resources and abilities I had and I didn’t use. I marvelled at the market traders and realised: “What if I actually do this?! What if I could have my own business doing what I love, even when no one from our family did it?!”
How did you recognize your genius – what are you best at doing in your career or business?
Way before I started career coaching, my friends used to bring their CVs and asked me if I could take a look at their CV to improve them. But it never occured to me that I could earn money this way. We also ended up talking about the interview and I acted as a sounding board and helped them with confidence. It wasn’t until my colleague at work pointed out that I would make a great Career Coach helping people grow in their careers.
It took me several years to discover my genius and accept my talents. I picked volunteering as way to discover my genius. Also getting to know my talents through Gallup Strengths Finder was very helpful.
I had an idea what my passions and talents were, but I wasn’t sure how to use them in real life. Some made it into my career and some stayed my interests. Recognising which of my passions can be monetised was a real challenge. I also wasn’t sure if I was ready to start something from scratch by myself or join an existing organisation. I got myself to discover it.
I started to participate in a variety of local community event and activities such as Southend Soup or networking. This led me to join Southend In Transition Community Allotment – initiative where we converted an unused plot of land into a place where people get together to grow veggies and socialise together. Next project that I joined was Southend Girls, helping young children in Southend area improve their quality of life through coaching. I also volunteered as a Career-Enterprise Advisor at a local college, which helped me to rule out out formal education and realise that working in educational sectors wasn’t really for me.
Just thinking about volunteering now makes me realise how valuable it is. I’ll write another blog on how to use volunteering to unlock your true career potential without sacrificing your income. If you’d love to know, join my newsletter list.
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Participating in community activities inspired me to start a local community non-for profit group for women organising local motivational charity events and regular self-help workshops.
Since then, I joined some further transformative coaching programmes, leadership courses which helped to expand my leadership skills. I also started to train myself as a coach in performance, stress management and in using one of the best talent development tools I know of – Gallup Strengths Finder (for individuals and leaders).
Last but not least, I wanted to mention a former business partner Eva Andriessen, amazing Relationship Coach. I was supporting Eva with her charity events and later on with business areas such as Finance and creative designs for advertisements. We co-created a coaching programme, and it was then when I learnt that when I got the final clarity that I’d love to pursue coaching and focus on career coaching specifically.
What I am good at?
I used to think I was good at number crunching and data analysis. What I discovered is that I am a far better at working with people than numbers.
At helping people see new possibilities, activate them into taking action and most of all helping them to overcome their self-doubt.
I am also a creative person with talent for strategic thinking. And I compliment my coaching by writing, creating content including visuals, as well as developing Zero to Dream Job platform.
We are all different with a unique combination of talents, interests, skills and professional history, and I love discovering what is great about the person – what is their potential, and then guide them with coaching to fulfil their career ambitions.
In my day to day job, I discovered my genious zone in agile leadership led operations and strategic development.
What is your ideal job or position in business now? Why you do what you do right now?
I’ve seen too many people at work disengaged, stuck and frustrated. I made it my mission to help people, especially women to stop feeling like a number on a payslip and instead create a fulfilling career filled with joy, prosperity and fulfilment.
I try do my best to bring this mission into my corporate job too. I’m grateful that apart from operations, we get the opportunity to develop ourselves and work in areas of interests, for me this is HR or Organisational Communication.
As for my business mission, I feel very excited when there is a new opportunity to help another woman to ditch her self-doubt and re-write her career story, especially in her 30s and 40s when she feels the pressure to have it all figured out but somehow she feels stuck, suffers from self-doubt or she feels everyone else is the priority in her life but her.
Work and life balance – what does it mean to you and how do you keep it?
I don’t have a strict 9-5 routine or rules how to keep a healthy work and life balance. I used to work 4 day a week and think that it’s a great working model for many women.
As I already mentioned I believe in integrated work and life model – I believe it’s hard to live a fulfilling and prosperous life without improving both – personal life and career (or business), as they are a lot more interconnected than we think.
In other words, I don’t see work only as a means to money and I don’t see my personal life strictly separate from my work. I think we bring ourselves to our work day in, day out and our work into our personal life.
If you are miserable, doubtful, or skeptical in your personal life, guess what happens? You can bring that into your job without noticing. You can feel happy in your personal life, but when your job is frustrating, unfulfilling or draining you, observe how your quality of life suffers. We bring work-related problems, stress and lack of satisfaction into our personal life in our head, conversations, or behaviors instead of being present to our family, friends or enjoying our time outside of work.
What have you learned on your dream job journey? What were the most difficult things you had to overcome?
Self-doubt, lack of network and lack of clarity – these were crucial for me to overcome.
Self-doubt – I didn’t know anyone in my family who run a business so I was a bit afraid when I mentioned this that I will get ridiculed or discouraged from the idea. To my surprise my close relatives were and still are supportive. My mother was really supportive, I co-authored a collection of stories that hit Amazon’s best-sellers in 2020 sharing exactly about this – how I came out about this and my mother’s response.
Lack of support and network – when I decided running my business I had a close network of friends but I was afraid to share what was going on for me, I didn’t have a clear picture of what I wanted to do and felt rather helpless. Getting to know entrepreneurial people in my community, networking and going to business events helped me to start with the right support.
Lack of clarity – which of my passion can be monetized – which passions will help me generate my income. I had a belief that I had to figure out everything by myself and help myself. But I learnt that when you are stuck somewhere it can be difficult for you to see the way out. I learnt to ask for support from community groups, mentors and coaches, family and friends … if you can’t do it by yourself, get support as soon as you can, there is no point in feeling stuck, frustrated or doubtful where you are. If you want it “badly enough” you can figure it out.
How did you make your career change/starting your business work financially?
I started to work part time 3-4 days a week to bring in money while setting up my business venture. I used to live on my own at that time, so I couldn’t afford to take any silly risks.
This kind of business doesn’t require a lot of financial investment upfront, but it requires time and energy to learn who I wanted to work with, what kind of results I am best to help achieve and how to create a business model supporting my business growth.
Next thing that I discovered was whether I like it or not, in business you are responsible for bringing your revenue so you need to get good at promotion, selling as well as delivering great service. I had to change my relationship with sales from seeing it as something pushy to see it as a bridge to connect with those who can hugely benefit from my service and collaboration. I used my storytelling talent and shared about my story and vision in various articles. Soon I got an offer from an established business for collaboration.
My business is not running full time yet and my biggest challenge is limited time. So, I started to think how to scale it up and make my content available to more people online as my tribe continues to grow. I made career coaching more accessible and affordable to a lot more women through digital courses and challenges. It’s also more efficient for women as I re-designed and shortened the discovery process from 3 months to 4 weeks through a challenge. Can you imagine that now 7 DAYS can be enough to discover your dream job?
3 tips you’d give to someone who is right now considering changing jobs, career or starting freelance?
- There is never the right time, stop waiting – if you are not happy with your work or job right now, don’t expect a miracle will happen. Take a lead and make a positive change happen, life is too short for your suffering. It doesn’t mean to quit your job tomorrow, but it can mean to take active steps towards improving your career – be it improving yourself in your current job, finding a new job or taking steps towards changing your career completely. Nothing will change, unless you do something about it.
- Not sure what else you’re good at? Consider volunteering – if you aren’t clear which career direction or business avenue you’d like to take, volunteering is a great way to discover what you enjoy, what makes you „tick“ and what could be your next direction.
- Don’t have time? Explore 4-day working week – if you can’t efford to quit or take a career break as you’re dependant on your income, consider cutting down the hours. You can adjust your expenses to live from your salary and that one extra day will give you plenty of time to explore you next career steps.
- Bonus: There is no one formula or strategy how to find a dream job that will work for everyone. Stop searching for the right strategy or success formula, your success can arrive only after taking action. You will either achieve your aspiration or learn, and the best thing is if you can find your own way to achieve your ambitions.
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Author: AdriAna Kosovska
Certified coach & founder of ZERO TO DREAM JOB ACADEMY
Helping unfulfilled professionals and freelancers in 30s & 40s create a rewarding career
Dream job & Career Development | Stress management | Talents development