Case

Michele Tourtellotte Woodward & Michele Woodward Consulting, Inc.
Powerful Coaching. Powerful Results.

Introduction 

 

What happens when a mid-life, at-home mother has to go back to work after a divorce? Michele Woodward certainly found out. And in doing so, she founded a great, sustaining business that she calls "the best job I ever had!"

 

Background

Michele was exhausted. Years of being the primary breadwinner, caring for two school age children plus being responsible for all the rest of the household functioning was taking its toll. When her husband of 15 years decided to leave the federal government for a high-paid law firm partnership, Michele saw an opportunity to ratchet down her workload and catch her breath just a bit. After discussions with her husband, Michele became a full-time parent and was extremely happy.

She got the opportunity to be PTA President and a Girl Scout leader. She made her kids' lunches every day and was a conscientious carpool driver. Projects around the house got accomplished. The family's stress level dropped dramatically. Her golf game improved. Things were great.

Great, that is, until her marriage faltered and ultimately ended.

Unraveling a 20 year relationship is not easy. It's especially difficult for women in mid-life, who've stepped back from careers to concentrate on parenting. Michele felt as if the rug had been pulled out from underneath and spent many days on the couch, feeling sad and unsure. In fact, it was staring abject uncertainty in the face, and reading every self-help book ever written, that caused Michele to ask herself this really important question: What am I doing when I lose track of time?

The answer she came up with was slightly surprising -- "I network, I problem solve, I mentor. How can I make a living at that?"

What happened next was pure serendipity.

Professional Challenge

"I was looking over a brochure for a charity auction and noticed an item up for bid -- 'coaching'," Michele recalls. "What was coaching?" From that little blurb, her path unfolded before her. Michele immediately started networking and identifying coaches who were friends-of-friends. In phone calls and face-to-face meetings, she asked the same questions: What does it take to be a successful coach? What are the pitfalls? Do I have a background and skill set that will work? What kind of additional training is needed?

 

Michele had a successful consulting business before. And, she'd been a senior executive at a top-level lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., as well as having worked at the White House in the Reagan years. Her real concern? "Could I earn enough to make coaching viable, or should I just go back into lobbying?"

Fortunately, her research indicated that coaching could provide an income that would meet her needs, given the financial realities of divorce. It wouldn't be easy, but it was doable.

Michele devoured books about coaching, and took classes at the Coaches Training Institute and Coachville, and finished her training with Dr. Martha Beck, O Magazine columnist and "the best known life coach in America."

Wisely, Michele asked her ex-husband to support the cost of this training, and he did so as a part of the divorce decree. She was on her way.

Personal Challenge

Another positive about starting a coaching practice that appealed to Michele was being able to have an office at home. "Since my ex-husband moved an hour and a half away, " she says, "I knew that the bulk of the parenting responsibilities would fall on me, which made the prospect of an office job unappealing." Working from home, however, held the promise of a more balanced life. Plus, staying home with sick kids or taking a day off work to cover school holidays became a non-issue.

Wrap-Up

Now, Michele has achieved the highest certification available to coaches -- Master Certified -- and works with clients all over the US. She is an instructor in Martha Beck's coach training program, where she teaches other coaches how to coach and build their businesses. She's written a book: Lose Weight, Find Love, De-Clutter & Save Money: Essays on Happier Living (Amazon), and writes a career advice column for BettyConfidential.com. She's a popular speaker and writes a blog that receives plenty of kudos. She feels, she says, "like I have built a happy life, of my own design."

It certainly seems that way.

"When life hands you lemons," Michele starts, "you can be sour, you can make lemonade, or you can say 'I'd much rather have oranges.' That's what I did. I was in a tough spot and had no idea what to do next. But I focused on my strengths and passions and turned them into a viable, lucrative, fun business."

With a big picture view, and a focus on her own unique gifts and talents, Michele Woodward has been able to create a new life in mid-life. "And I've never been happier," she says with a smile.