Photo courtesy Sarah Armstrong: Former nurse and attorney Sarah Armstrong sits in her Madison Park office where she meets with clients virtually to help them tackle difficult changes and plot new directions in their lives.
Photo courtesy Sarah Armstrong: Former nurse and attorney Sarah Armstrong sits in her Madison Park office where she meets with clients virtually to help them tackle difficult changes and plot new directions in their lives.

Seattle resident Sarah Armstrong, Madison Park, knows what it is like to feel stuck and not sure where to go next in career. She spent eight years contemplating just that and wondering how that would affect the rest of her life and her family.

Now the former nurse, healthcare attorney and mediator helps other people as they navigate major life changes in her new career as a change and transition strategist.

“Our lives are full of major changes, and for most of the major life changes, we don’t need help — we just kind of go do it and we get the result that we get,” she said.

Every so often, however, people get stuck and want to make a change in their life but don’t know how. They may talk about it to friends or family but never act upon it for whatever reason, Armstrong said.

As a change strategist, Armstrong helps them people overcome those barriers. Most of Armstrong’s clients are between 40 and 75 years old, people old enough to have experienced a number of life changes in the past but want to be more prepared to deal with future ones, or they are people who want to make sure they make the most of their remaining years.

“They don’t want to repeat past mistakes, and they don’t want to think too small,” Armstrong said.

A change strategist is different from a life coach, which has a very broad job description. It is also different from career coaches, who help people do their job well, Armstrong said. She is also not a therapist.

“Therapists help you understand why you feel the way you feel and give you skills to heal your trauma,” Armstrong said. “But as a change strategist, I help people clarify what they feel and how it’s having an impact on their decision making in this major life change.”

Armstrong said, at first, her clients see her every two weeks in the “strategic phase.” That phases entails gaining clarity about what the major change is in a person’s life, how is it challenging them and assessing how they are living their life right now and how this major change is impacting other aspects of their life.

From there, Armstrong and her client create a vision for their life with more possibilities. Armstrong said her clients need help creating possibilities for themselves, which starts with recognizing  what those possibilities are and then making a sound decision.

Armstrong said that means she  helps people determine whether their future goals are attainable and realistic for their circumstances or period in their life. Usually, she said, people’s visions are either too narrow in scope or wildly unrealistic. She wants people to envision a plan with new possibilities that is not too limited in scope, but she also wants that plan to be achievable.

After that critical point, they create a strategic plan to help them get there.

“I’m very committed to self determination: that someone feels that they have a process and the clarity to make realistic choices and that they are positioned to live the largest vision that they have of themselves.”

The second part of a client’s journey is the manifestation phase, where they take the plan and begin to enact it.

Armstrong said it is not unusual for people to need to revisit the first, liminal, phase as they realize nothing is exactly as they think it will be and they need to adjust their expectations or plan.

“No one can predict what they will experience,” Armstrong said.

After recognizing the unexpected challenges and making any necessary adjustments, people return to the manifest stage and carry out their refined plans.

After that meetings with Armstrong are less frequent, and she serves more of a mentor role, discussing with them how their goals are being realized.

“They come away with a template for how to make major life changes in the future,” Armstrong said. “Now they have an internal structure that they did not have before, and they can use that prototype where they can go through future life changes.”

Armstrong said the work she did in her previous career roles have served her well as a change strategist as they entailed helping people during tumultuous times. She also successfully navigated her own career change by becoming a change strategist four years ago. The field is a small one, although the practices taught have been studied and accepted in many fields for a number of years.

Armstrong said she began her journey when she took a meditation course from former publishing CEO turned meditation teacher Phillip Moffit. She said Moffitt had shared tips for successfully navigating a career change with Silicon Valley professionals for 30  years before deciding to share his insight with others.

“And these are all people who are highly successful professionals, and they have come to appreciate the need for clarity and living your life in balance and authenticity,” Armstrong said.

After enrolling in Moffitt’s life change strategy program and completing over two-years of coursework, Armstrong was among the first graduating class in 2018.

To learn more about Armstrong’s practice, visit www.sarahjarmstrong.com, LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/sarahjarmstrong/.

Visit the change strategist national website at https://skillfulchange.org.