I don’t know about you, but it has taken me a loooong time to find a career I love. Figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up was not a divinely inspired spiritual experience consummated by the zap of a lightning bolt.
I went back and forth for 15 years, trying to find a good fit. I tried making my current job better, tried changing jobs, changing industries, going from corporate to non-profit and back again. I considered going back to school.
My head swam with so many possibilities that I did nothing. I was paralyzed by my own thinking.
I also had a long period when nothing sounded good or possible. I hated where I was, I knew it was a terrible fit, but I had no clear direction on where else to go or what to do. I spoke with different career professionals, and each time, found a new job and stopped working with them, only to find myself in the same boat again in a couple years.
In my last job before becoming a coach, I was making more money than I ever had. I got to bring my dog to work. They had a fully stocked kitchen so I never had to buy coffee, breakfast food or lunch. But it didn’t matter. I was a square peg in a round hole. I just couldn’t get excited about the work I was doing, and I hated myself for staying there, but I didn’t know what else to do.
I knew I was “supposed to” gather more data
, apply for more jobs, go on more informational interviews, do more digging, or I didn’t even know what else. Instead … I went on vacation.
After spending my first night under the redwoods and waking up to the smells of cedar and campfires, I felt relaxed and hopeful. New scenery sometimes can help us see new options. As I was driving out of the campground, I said out loud to my steering wheel and snoring dog, “Something has got to change. I can’t keep doing this. If I have to quit without another job, I will.” I gripped the steering wheel and felt calm. Decision made. I was not going to continue with this charade.
A day later, the answer of what I could do instead came to me. I listened as my cousin described the coach training program she was going through. What she was learning was exactly the type of thing I wanted to learn about and how I wanted to help people. I felt tingly and excited for the first time in years. And here I am, now working as a career coach.
When I gave up and stopped trying to make myself something I wasn’t, the answer came, pretty quickly. It took a long time to get to the point where I was open to listening, but once I was open, the answer appeared.
Ironically, giving up actually led to finding my way.
Here’s another example.
For the past four years I’ve been riding a roller coaster of new business fits and starts, inconsistent efforts that sometimes result in awesome clients and sometimes result in … crickets.
Finally, in July, I gave up. It wasn’t working. I wasn’t supporting myself through coaching and I didn’t know how I was going to pay the mortgage, much less the water bill.
I told myself I wasn’t working hard enough, doing enough of the things – social media posts, facebook ads, speaking engagements, networking, writing blog posts, offering webinars, sending newsletters, you name it, I wasn’t doing enough of it.
And I was feeling worse and worse about myself, my life and my path.
This is not a great place to be if you want to be a life coach.
I mean, I’m supposed to have my sh*t together, right?
At least, that’s what I told myself.
Yet, isn’t this what we all face at some time? Call it a mid-life crisis or a meltdown or a spiritual awakening … the point is that we get STUCK and don’t know how to get un-stuck.
So I talked with my sister and what I assumed she thought of me wasn’t what she thought at all.
This freed me up to let go of all the “shoulds.” The networking, speaking, sales funnels, marketing practice, etc., etc.
I just stopped. And took a deep breath.
Here’s what started showing up.
An unexpected loan that gave me a financial cushion so I could catch my breath.
An overwhelming desire to focus on my health. Not my business.
So I overhauled my diet and started to really pay attention to my health. I went to acupuncture and stopped pushing through the pain at my boot camp class (but I still miss it).
Since last Thanksgiving, I’ve lost almost 20 pounds.
Even more interesting is that once I made this decision to focus on my health, I got an opportunity to work on an editing project that would solve my financial stress and hustle for the next few months.
It wasn’t a project I was particularly interested in, but I went to talk with the people about the project anyway. As soon as they started to get into more detail, I felt my stomach sinking. There was nothing about the project that I wanted to do. But I had no other opportunities so I kept thinking I should take it and telling myself things like, Something is better than nothing, right? Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Who am I to turn down an opportunity to make money? That would be irresponsible.
Except when it stands in the way of what you really want.
Turning down work seemed downright foolish. On the surface. But imagining myself working on this editing project made my gut scream and my brain spin. Taking on this project would have consumed all my energy and attention, while creating a lot of emotional stress.
So I sent a thank-you-but-no-thank-you email and turned it down. This was an excruciating decision. I was saying “no” to the thing I wanted – money. But I trusted my gut.
The very next day a friend who asked if I’d be willing and available to teach some life skills/stress management skills workshops. She had grant money that needed to be used by the end of 2018.
I said YES! I got that tingly feeling again. I was so excited, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about all the topics and tools I could teach. My brain just went on super-drive, in a good way. I was (and am) thrilled.
And now I am getting to do what I love—teaching, coaching and helping people—and getting paid for it. Because I listened to my gut and said “no” to the thing that didn’t feel right. I had to quiet my mind long enough so that I could hear my own intuition.
Where are you “pushing through” and ignoring your own intuition? How can you create some mental space for listening?
I love helping people who are stuck, especially when it comes to figuring out their career. Email me if you’d like to learn more about career coaching and what it’s like to work with me. Free. No strings.