Turning point image

All of us, at some point in our careers have reached a turning point. Probably more than once.

Some turning points are planned/chosen, and others forced e.g., redundancy.

The dictionary definition of a turning point is “a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.”

As a career strategist and coach, it is wonderful being part of someone’s turning point and seeing them transform. The joy of this is still as big now as when I became a coach over 2 decades ago.

Some client turning points that stay in my mind include:

A mid 50s woman, Debi, who had been made redundant. She was ‘old’ in a young industry. For a number of weeks in her coaching sessions, she had been saying that she wanted to do contract/interim work. Her body language and energy said different. Then one day, she slammed her hand on the table. “No. I want to do cheese holidays in France!” And she is. A defining moment. A turning point.

For Lydia, a solicitor and talented musician, her turning points happened in stages. She went from working 5 days a week to 4. Then she became a Professional support lawyer. Next, she took a career secondment working in management for an orchestra. Finally, she decided that she didn’t want to be a Partner in a law firm and left the law, getting a full-time job in general management. This whole process took 2.5 years.

“It is not the most intelligent of the species who survive. It is the ones most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin.

Every client is different which is why we use a bespoke approach.

Another turning point that sticks in my mind was a client who was a trainer. She was running out of the training room. A classic ‘fight or flight’ response. This was a career limiting turning point. Success or failure with the coaching outcome would be self-evident! Together, we worked out what was causing her to do this and how she could stop – how she could influence the factors in the training room and in her mind that would make her feel comfortable so that she chose to stay in the room. I still remember the moment vividly when she texted me to say:” I did it. I stayed in the training room!” I felt so happy for and proud of her.

Another client Duncan who went travelling but due to a motorbike accident, was unable to complete his trip. This was a turning point. The unexpected time he had to think recovering from a motorbike accident increased his resolve to stop working in advertising and do something that made a difference in the world. He went on to set up a charity and raised over £20 million to help people in Africa to help themselves.

Catalysts for turning points vary. They include:

  • A big birthday; 30, 40, 50, 60.
  • A birth
  • A death
  • Redundancy
  • Illness
  • Being signed off work with stress
  • Fed up with feeling fed up and unfulfilled at work
  • Lockdown – time to think and re-evaluate what you really want
  • A colleague getting promoted

What have been your career turning points?

My significant turning points to date have been:

  • Deciding I didn’t want to be a marketing director in a corporate and switching to work for communication agencies as a brand strategist
  • Deciding to set up my own business in 1997 and go freelance
  • Getting bored of creating brand positionings in different markets and retraining as a coach in 2001. My sister Ali sent me an article in the post with a note saying, “This sounds like you.”
  • Missing strategy work, so self-funding a 6 months CPD secondment to develop my knowledge of talent management and employee engagement in 2007, to develop a new strand of my portfolio career
  • Choosing not to take the easy option of doing associate outplacement work for big consultancies but take the long-term view following the credit crunch and invest in building my network and thought leadership
  • Choosing to have a strategic partnership with someone for my business Energise to enable growth, play to my strengths and leverage potential in my business in 2020.


One of my favourite quotes: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay.

Are you at a career crossroads and thinking about changing career direction, becoming self-employed or developing a portfolio career?

Why not get in touch for your free no obligation meeting?

Rachel Brushfield, Career Strategist and coach. ‘The Talent Liberator.


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