By Madeleine Kates

Many people experience twists and turns in their career path. For some, it happens immediately after college, when they realize what they’ve studied is not what they want to do. There can be a mid-life awakening, when you realize you’re called in another direction, or you’ve found inspiration to change direction. For others still, a transition can come after a career hiatus, or following retirement.

“Sometimes, feeling stuck can nudge you to open a new door that can take you someplace you never expected,” says Shawn Marie Cichowski of WNY Life Coaching Center. Not only is Cichowski a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach/Life and Energy Coach, but she is also someone who has experienced her own career transition. After many years in a successful job, she took a career pause to raise her children, and then returned to the workforce ready to do something different.

From her training and life experience, Cichowski offers helpful tips for anyone at a point of transition in their lives.

Core Values: Think about what is truly important to you, whether it is family, flexibility, finances, or fulfillment. Follow your passion instead of acting out of a sense of obligation.

Perspective: Use your personal and professional experiences as inspiration or a chance to learn more about what you want out of life. Understanding your strengths and marketable skills will help guide you to new ways and new places to apply them.

Action: According to Cichowski, action inspires motivation. By taking an active role in the process, you’ll likely get a feel for what your future could look like. This can be accomplished by doing something as simple as reading through the continuing education flyer from your local school district, journaling, or connecting with a professional who is already in the field you are looking to enter.

Support System: Having a support system during a transitional time can help not only with motivation, but also validation during uncertainty. Whether a friend, belief-partner, professional mentor, health coach, or mental health professional, having someone as a sounding board who will provide honest feedback and support is an important part of the process. Don’t be shy about reaching out and making connections!

“Work doesn’t have to define your life’s purpose, but it can enhance your life and your feelings of purpose,” says Cichowski. “The path we take through life is rarely one that is straight, so trust that you’ll get where you’re supposed to be, and embrace the journey.” To learn more or schedule an appointment with Shawn Marie Cichowski of WNY Life Coaching Center in Williamsville and East Aurora, call 716-560-6552, email, or visit

Madeleine Kates is a University of Pennsylvania graduate student studying Nutrition Science, with undergraduate degrees in Environmental Science, Life Science, and Psychology from Niagara University, and certificates in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University and CHEF Coaching from Harvard University.