Okay, show of hands…how many of you are wondering exactly what I do as a life coach? Is your hand raised? Yes? Keep reading! No? Go ahead and continue getting sucked into the Internet time warp (and keep your eye open for that hilarious cat video. You know the one I’m talking about…).
So here’s my general approach to coaching: I work primarily over the phone, which means I can connect with anyone anywhere, and we both get to be someplace we’re comfortable. We’ll talk for an hour, but this isn’t the kind of convo you’d have with your friends or relatives. The focus is solely on you. The space is safe and sacred: anything can be discussed, and there’s no judgment, just compassion and support. As you talk about whatever’s bothering you most, I’ll utilize my training and experience to listen deeply, jump in with powerful questions and observations, guide you through tough spots, and help you to the absolute best of my ability.
It’s not a venting session. It’s not a pity party. It’s not mental health care—that’s what therapists are for. Instead, it’s a time to dig in deep, to figure out what you really want and need, and to learn what’s holding you back and why. From there, we’ll work together to get you out of your own way so you can achieve your dreams. It’ll be up to you to do the heavy lifting, but you can be sure I’ll be in your corner every step of the way.
Regardless of what we work on, the overarching premise of every session is that you already know what you need to do. Now, if you’re feeling lost or stuck right now, reading this may have you think-yelling “But I DON’T, and that’s the problem!!” while giving me the virtual stink eye. I hear and respect that. But I’m still willing to bet the house that you really do know. I’ve seen it over and over, both through coaching others and my own personal experience. We all have blind spots. We all have thoughts and ideas and actions we resist, even when following through on them is in our best interest. It’s just part of being human, and often the key to breaking through is simply getting some outside help and opening yourself up to a fresh perspective.
So I hope this helps clarify things. Honestly, the best way to fully understand what life coaching’s about and how it can help is by experiencing it for yourself. That’s why I offer an on-the-house, obligation-free 30-minute consultation. If you’re interested in checking it out, head on over here to schedule your session.
In the meantime, what questions do you still have? Just post in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll be happy to answer.
The Long, Frustrating, and Stressful Road to My Ideal Career—And Why It Didn’t Have to Be That Way (Part 2)
Last week I shared my struggles with picking a major, which was dedicated to any students dealing with the same issue. This week is the follow-up where I talk about what happened once I went out into the real world. Spoiler alert: I floundered there, too.
If finding the right career is frustrating the hell out of you, I get it. I was there for years. Read my story below for a reminder that you're not alone (and learn a quick and easy tool to help). Or if you're in a hurry, scroll down towards the bottom for your pep talk, some suggestions, and my wishes for you.
Part II: Pick A Job, Any Job—Wait, Not That One!
As my college graduation approached, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do work-wise. I wound up interviewing at daycares just so I’d have a job of some kind. On the day of commencement, I was offered a position as a toddler teacher in a daycare affiliated with a company consistently at the top of “best places to work” lists. Everyone told me I should take it, because it could be a way to get into the company itself.
It didn’t feel like a job I really wanted, but I did want the money. It was a bridge job, nothing more. I had a great co-teacher and students I loved, but I was also burned out after so many years of working with kids. Plus, remember that whole dropping-out-of-the-early-childhood-education-program thing? Yeah, there was a reason. Six months later, I quit to pursue my next big dream—screenwriting.
And thus began the next chapter of my long, wandering, frustrating, road to life coaching.
I tried using my connections in LA, but didn’t really get anywhere. In an effort to get some kind of job, I wound up calling a country club across the street from where I lived. They didn’t have anything but knew another club not too far away was looking for receptionists. As I was sitting in the lobby waiting for my interview, I remember the thought “This isn’t the right place for me” spontaneously going through my head.
The interview went well, and at the end, the interviewer asked me “Do you think you’d like working here?” Of course, I said “yes,” because what else are you supposed to say? Only when she started walking me around and introducing me to people as the new receptionist did I realize her question had actually been a job offer. At that point, my inner conflict-avoider stepped in and kept me from saying anything, even though my heart had actually told me--in words for once—that this was the wrong place.
I stayed at that job for 13 months, but that initial impression was right. I was bored out of my skull, miserable, and felt completely trapped (literally, because I was in a small area and couldn’t leave unless there was someone there to cover me. Other than a massive increase in the number of celebrities on my celeb sighting list, one of the benefits of the job was that the schedule allowed me to get an internship at a children’s television company, which was the field I really wanted to be in.
Except three months there showed me I didn’t want to do that either. Much like that undecided semester in college, I was completely lost again.
So I did what I love to do—research and overthinking. I know I explored several options, but the only one I remember now is professional organizer. I took every personality and career compatibility test I could find. I quit my job, which helped my emotional state immensely, and brought in money through temp work and being an extra on a few shows. I ended up going home for my brother’s college graduation, and decided to spend the summer in a combination job/soul search.
I wound up finding a job ad for a writer, applied, and was offered the position after just one interview. When I started, I felt like I’d miraculously landed in my dream job. I was so perky that a friend later told me my early enthusiasm had driven her crazy.
For years, things were good. Then there were shifts, and suddenly it wasn’t. I went back to soul searching and explored a ton of different options, from dog trainer/sitter to college admissions director. I’d be sure I found the right path, do lots of research and informational interviews, and then—poof!—all the enthusiasm would be gone, and I’d be back to square one.
Then one day, a friend suggested Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star, and things started to shift. A couple years after that, while reading Martha’s then-newest book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, I was doing one of the exercises.
Tracking Your True Nature is an exercise where you simply list things you’ve done for 10,000 hours, then list the top five worst things you’ve ever survived, then notice where they overlap.
Unlike my other career ideas, this one has stuck around for four years now, and although there have been some minor shifts along the way, the basic idea has never wavered.
* * *
In case you haven’t been keeping track, it took four college majors (including undecided), three significant (i.e., lasting 6 months or more) jobs, an internship, and two temp jobs until I finally got to my ideal career.
Although I wasn’t keeping track of the hours I spent trying to figure things out, I’m sure it was well over 10,000 hours, especially when you count all the ruminating I did.
I suffered my way through much of that time, my thoughts on a constant loop of “But what am I supposed to do?” I thought and fought my way through it all until I suddenly got hit with such a strong epiphany, something that felt so viscerally right, I had no choice but to surrender to it—to what my heart wanted most of all.
Now, about you and your hunt for your ideal career…
If you’re at that place of suffering, please know there’s help out there. There are great books (obviously, I recommend Martha Beck’s, but if you’d like other suggestions, please ask!). There are life coaches and other professionals who are trained to help in ways that friends and family just can’t. And, always, you’ve got your heart longing to lead you on the right path if you’ll let it.
I know it’s hard to let go of the reins. In our society, we’re taught, “I think, therefore I am,” but thinking alone often can’t get you where you want to be. You’ve got to listen to your heart, even when it takes you to crazy, seemingly illogical places.
It’s not always an easy path, but there are ways to make it easier and more tolerable. There are tools to use. There are people out there in a similar situation or who’ve already made it through to the other side who want to support you. And hopefully you’ve at least got one person in your corner providing unconditional love and encouragement all along your way.
So reach out for help. Ask for support. There is no shame. You are not the only one going through this. You are not alone.
Even though I believe everything happens for a reason and that what I went through happened so I could better help others like you, I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if I’d pushed my thoughts to the side. Would college have been different? Would I not have been in three separate jobs that led me to frequent tears because I hated them so much (and because I continued to stay in them even though I hated them so much)? Or would I have left those jobs as soon as the suffering started?
Obviously, I’ll never know. But what I do know is that I don’t want you to have that same regretful curiosity. I want you to start listening to your heart over your head. I want you to put the work into your dreams rather than focusing on what you’re unhappy about (past or present). I want you to begin creating a more joyful, fulfilling life, right here, right now. And if you need help, I’m here. Just email me at email@example.com and I’ll get back to you just as soon as I can.
Wherever you are in your journey, I wish you luck. I wish you peace. I wish you strength and determination to get through the tough times. I wish you playful curiosity. I wish you support when and how you need it. I wish you life-changing epiphanies and magic that continually lead you to people and places and studies and careers that feel like home.
PART I: THE SEARCH FOR THE RIGHT MAJOR
Back when I took the PSAT my sophomore year in high school, there was a section where they asked about your personality and interests. Along with your test score, you were given suggested careers based on your answers.
Mine said something to the effect of “No careers found.”
Now I don’t know if that was a curse or an omen, but I spent the next 17 years trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Not long after those results, I had to do a report on a career I wanted, and I picked sports and fitness nutritionist. That interest lasted only slightly longer than it took to do the actual report.
When I got accepted to college, they asked for my major, and I said communications because why not? But then I took a psychology class my last semester in high school and enjoyed it so much that during college orientation, I changed my major to psychology.
I loved pretty much every psychology class I took. Even statistics wasn’t awful (and I’m really not a math person). I especially loved the child psychology-related courses, of which there were exactly three at my college. I decided I wanted to pursue that more intensely, so I looked for programs at other universities, found one that sounded great, and transferred my junior year.
And that’s where I got totally lost. I’d actually transferred into an early childhood education program, and as I got into it, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted. I liked my professors and there were certainly parts of my classes that were interesting, but overall, I just wasn’t feeling it.
I wound up dropping the major and was officially labeled “undecided.” I was completely lost and unsure of what I should study instead. I didn’t want to go back to psychology for reasons I can’t fully remember, and there just wasn’t anything calling me. I reached out to my school’s career center for help, but it didn’t get me any closer to figuring things out.
Ultimately, I chose to major in communications (the original major I’d never actually started). I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I reasoned that it was a degree I could put to use in any field. Plus, there was a concentration in media studies and production, and I loved watching TV, so why not learn more about it?
Well, the major never really clicked. Other than a great independent study in screenwriting with a wonderful mentor, I just didn’t love what I was studying, and getting through my classes felt like a chore to complete rather than an opportunity to study something truly interesting to me.
But I kept thinking things like “I can’t switch majors again” and “I don’t know what I want to do, so this’ll be fine” and “My school has a limit on how many semesters I can take, so switching isn’t even an option” (which they may have overlooked had it occurred to me to ask). I let my thoughts convince me I had to continue my chosen yet ill-fitting field of study.
Would I change it if I could go back? Part of me says no, because those experiences led me to who I am today—a life coach who can use what I’ve learned to help others get out of (or possibly even avoid) the same experience. Plus I get to be a graduate of a really great school, and I’ll always be grateful for the privilege of having a college education.
But another part of me says hell yes, I'd change it. I feel like I missed out on the opportunity to learn about things that ignited my spirit simply because I thought--thought--I needed to stick with the plan. Honestly, 17 years later, thinking about it still makes me sad.
I wish College Me had gone back into psychology or followed the path of some of the other classes I loved—anthropology, family communications, astronomy. Or studied something new like animal behavior, a class which was in the lecture hall before my geology lecture, and which always seemed fascinating.
[Spoiler alert: Becoming a life coach led me back to these topics—even animal behavior and astronomy! In other words, I got lost for a while, but life coaching—via Martha Beck’s books, working with my own coach, and going through training—helped me finally find my way back.]
In the confusion and frustration of my college experience, I’d silenced my heart, which I have no doubt would have led me back sooner if I’d let it. Instead, I’d given my head the lead, and it wasn’t listening to anything but those untrue, often fear-filled thoughts that ran through it at an almost constant clip.
I was relieved by the time commencement came around, and it was more than just the idea of being done with my formal education. I thought things would get better once I graduated, once I was away from both the school and the studies that had never clicked, once I landed a job I loved. I was so completely wrong. I may have been done with studying, but I was still deeply entrenched in believing I could think my way to making things better. There were many more years to go and many more lessons to learn (and relearn) before I was finally able to find my calling.
So how'd I finally get there? Stay tuned for the next installment of this two-part post: “Part II: Pick a Job, Any Job—Wait, Why’d You Pick That One?”
Given all the years I worked with young kids, I can’t begin to guess how much I’ve said “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” It makes sense, right? I mean, someone’s gonna get a slightly bigger cookie, but you’re not gonna go dessert-less. Someone’s gonna get to the red blocks first but there will still be plenty of blue ones to play with.
But lately I’ve realized this isn’t always the best lesson for kids—or for anyone. I’m not saying we should start throwing temper tantrums when we don’t get what we want, but acknowledging our feelings and understanding why they’re there is a powerful way to help us get on the right track.
This means allowing ourselves to experience all our emotions. And if you’re one of the many who’d rather squelch those not-so-fun feelings, I urge you to feel them anyway. After all, research has shown emotions only take 90 seconds to run their course. That’s it.
Plus, if you choose to tamp down those feelings, I can pretty much guarantee stuff will build up until one day you suddenly explode, causing some serious fallout.
So…that minute and a half of discomfort sounding any better?
I’m gonna assume your answer’s yes. I’m also gonna guess you’re imagining yourself happily getting back to business after those 90 seconds.
Not so much.
Now it’s time to look at why those feelings came up in the first place. If you don’t understand the reason they’re there and make the necessary changes, they’ll continue to show up until you get the message—kinda like a real-life version of “Groundhog Day.”
So let’s say you’re upset about being passed over for a promotion. Are you mad because your manager doesn’t have your back? Because you know you have more experience than the person who got the job? Because you genuinely didn’t do what you needed to in order to climb the corporate ladder? Clearly, each of these reasons would lead to different actions.
Regardless of your particular situation, homing in on why you’re feeling what you’re feeling will help you figure out the next steps you need to take. And, for the record, your next steps should feel good, even if there’s some nervousness around them. If it feels like what you should do rather than what you want to do, PLEASE stop and reconsider before making any moves!
In the end, feelings are just a way for our hearts to alert us to what’s really going on—and that goes for all the emotions.
Whenever something brings up emotions that feel good—happiness, excitement, calmness, etc.—your heart’s telling you you’re on the right track. Yay, you! Keep going!
But if, for example, you’re not excited about something you think you should be excited about, that’s a sign you’re following your head, not your heart. (In general, the word “should” tends to be a giveaway that your head’s taken the lead.)
And if something brings up emotions that aren’t so enjoyable, it’s a sign that it’s time to do a little soul searching.
**WE NOW INTERRUPT YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED BLOG POST TO BRING YOU A POWERFUL SELF-COACHING TOOL**
A great way to figure out the real reason for your feelings is to write a sentence that explains the situation, then substitute yourself for any third parties.
What this looks like—a real life application:
When I was dealing with a difficult time at an old job, my sentence was: I feel angry with management because they aren’t listening to me.
Given the circumstances, it made sense that I would feel that way. However, the huge shift came when I did the second part of this exercise:
I feel angry with myself because I’m not listening to me.
At that time in my life, every part of me was yelling at me to resign: I had all kinds of health issues, my tears were uncontrollable, my brain could barely manage basic tasks, and my hands would often spontaneously spell out “I quit” (and various expletives) using the American Sign Language alphabet.
I knew exactly what my heart was telling me, yet I continued to stay because I gave into the fear-filled thoughts about all the bad things that might happen if I quit. Subconsciously, I was absolutely pissed at myself for doing this.
My epiphany helped me understand what was really going on and what to do about it. With time, it also helped me let go of those strong emotions, understand that everyone involved was just doing their best (including me), and feel grateful for that tough situation that taught me so much and ultimately pushed me out of the nest so I could fly.
Think about something you’re dealing with that brings up strong emotions. Then fill in the blanks below:
I feel ___________at ___________because _______________.
Now write that same sentence, but replace others’ names/”he”/”she”/”they” with your name/”I”/”me.”
I feel ___________at ___________because _______________.
Maybe this exercise will get you clearer on what action you need to take. Maybe it will inspire you to get help. But whatever comes of it, chances are it’ll ultimately lead you to a situation that feels a heck of a lot better than the one you’re in right now.
**WE NOW RETURN TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED BLOG POST**
Our culture tends to label anger, fear, etc. as bad emotions, but there is no such thing as a bad emotion. Feelings are just your heart communicating with you, trying to help you understand what’s really going on and keep you going in the right direction. Simply put, emotions = information.
So the next time you’re distressed, take a deep breath and know it’s just your heart lovingly saying, “You get what you get, but it’s okay to get upset. Now go ahead and feel your feelings, find out why they’re showing up, and use that knowledge to decide where to go from here.”
What if, one day,
we all turned off our brains
and instead gave our hearts
full control of the reins?
Would you listen to shouldn’ts,
to can’ts, or to don’ts?
Would you think “That sounds great!”
then decide “But I won’t.”?
Would you let fear and worry
keep holding you back?
Ignore all the good stuff
and focus on lack?
Would you keep your true self
hiding deep down inside?
Give up on your dreams and say,
“Oh well, I tried.”?
Would you skip your to-do list
to do something fun?
Would you have a great time
with your favorite someone?
Would you say yes to things
that sound downright delightful
and say no to stuff that sounds
boring or frightful?
Would you do what it took
to make big dreams come true?
Would you let the world see
the unique, awesome YOU?
Now what if you lived your life
this way instead?
If you let your heart lead you
in place of your head?
You’d still get things done
(I can promise you this),
but you’d feel more joy,
more fulfillment, more bliss.
It’s not always easy,
so start with one thing--
just let your heart guide you
and see what it brings.
Through baby steps,
go towards what feels like love,
and one day you’ll be living
the life you’ve dreamed of.
creative commons image by Evil Erin | https://www.flickr.com/photos/evilerin/3796279865/
“The decision has been made rather than giving you a choice.”
My stomach dropped. Every muscle in my body tensed. I kept thinking, “This can’t be happening!”
I was being put into a new position. A position I’d told various managers I didn’t want for the past decade. A position I’d told this particular manager I didn’t want a mere five weeks earlier when the topic had casually (or so I’d thought) come up.
Despite all this, I didn’t feel like there was any malice behind management’s decision. I believed her when she said management thought it was a great opportunity for me. I appreciated that they recognized my skills. I was grateful they wanted me to grow in my career.
But the second I was back in my cube, I closed off the entrance and started sobbing as quietly as I could.
The problem was that this particular “growth” was going in the exact opposite direction of where my soul wanted to go. I would be putting programs together from previously created work, not creating from the ground up. I would be working on more serious projects, not using my full voice, which tends to include a fair amount of humor. I would have days filled with meetings, not the freedom and flexibility I longed for (and worse, I’d lose the weekly flex day I’d had the past few years). And to pour salt on the wound, my workload and responsibility would increase by a sizeable amount, but my paycheck would remain the same because it was technically a lateral move.
I made a long list of all the reasons this wasn’t the right situation for me. I met with the manager again and respectfully went through them all, reminding her about our previous discussion. She reasoned every single objection away. Again, it wasn’t in a mean or rude way; I truly believe she was trying to help me look past what she saw as apprehension to see the good in the opportunity. She just didn’t seem to realize that was never going to happen.
Instead, I was given noise-cancelling headphones and a laptop to help me deal with the loudness of my new environment. I was also told that if I hated the new job, I could return to my previous position. (I later found out wasn’t an option after all, although it didn’t really matter since by then I had no desire to go back.)
That first week went by in a blur of barely-controlled fury, uncontrolled tears, and trying every coaching tool in the book. Despite several open and respectful conversations, it was clear that my vision for my career didn’t matter.
At the end of the day, management just wanted me on board and excited about the new position. And they wanted me to actually say that I’d take it, even though it had been made clear that this was happening no matter what. I felt completely unheard, disrespected, and betrayed.
The thing was, the original declaration had been wrong: the decision had been made, but I DID have a choice. I could stay, or I could go.
I chose to stay.
I gave in to the litany of fearful thoughts, mostly around not having enough money. The idea of relinquishing my salary and benefits scared the hell out of me.
So instead of resigning, I used the few weeks before starting the new position as best I could: venting to willing listeners, getting coached, and doing massive amounts of self-coaching. Clearly, this job switch was happening, and I wanted to start it with as open a mind and heart as possible.
To be honest, the coaching didn’t work how I’d hoped. I wanted to make everything feel okay, but life coaching isn’t
about making wrong situations feel right, it’s about helping you listen to your intuition. And my intuition loudly and continuously told me this was the Universe’s way of pushing me out of the nest without actually pushing me—it was up to me to take the ultimate leap.
Still, I wasn’t ready to jump just yet. Instead, I updated my resume, started a serious job hunt, and took my life coaching marketing up a few notches.
Meanwhile, as I transitioned into the new position, it quickly became apparent that the job was even worse than I’d thought. There was more minutiae than I’d ever imagined, and I found it both incredibly frustrating and exceedingly boring. On a personal level, things went from bad to worse.
Health issues that had been a moderate inconvenience started getting more severe. New stuff showed up to the party, too, including horrible pain in my wrists that began about five minutes into my first task in the new position.
I cried multiple times a day—in my cube, in bathroom stalls, in my car—sometimes having to rush away from meetings before the tears started flowing. (And I’m normally not a crier.)
I'd be sitting with my team or walking down the hall and my shoulder would suddenly start twitching. Mostly, I could stop it, but there were times when the best I could do was minimize the intensity and hope that no one noticed.
The one positive was getting to meet and work with some really great people, but I also felt guilty about bringing down the group’s energy since I couldn’t fake happiness to save my life.
And pretty much every second of every day, I resisted the urge to scream “I QUIT!!” and run from the building.
After about three months of pushing through with no new job opportunities in sight, I was mentally, emotionally, and physically wrecked. I took advantage of every opportunity to use my long list of self-coaching tools. They worked great in the moment, but the positive effects vanished the second I had to get back to work. I went to so many medical appointments, I don’t think I worked a 40-hour week once in three months.
Ultimately, my doctor and I agreed that I needed medical leave. I spent two weeks going to various medical appointments and resting as much as I could. It helped a bit, but I could still feel the massive stress of the situation as if it were an angry grizzly bear sitting on my chest.
At the end of my leave, my doctor gave me the letter saying I could return to work. I thanked her, but as soon as she left, I froze. Eventually I managed to head for the door, but a kind word from a nurse sent me sobbing and making a beeline back into the cold comfort of the exam room until I calmed down.
And yet again, I let thoughts like “But I have to go back to work” override the message my soul was so clearly shouting at me.
At work the next day, I stumbled through meetings and training and writing goals, all while dealing with a horrible pain in my stomach. The anger and frustration had me tearing up more times than I could count, and during the drive home, I had to pull over on the freeway because I was bawling so hard I’d started to hyperventilate.
Eventually, I made it home. As I was standing in the kitchen, my mom said something that, because of my current state, infuriated me. I yelled at her (unlike me), threw the water bottle I had in my hand (very unlike me), and collapsed into an inconsolable puddle of sobs and gasps. It was the explosion that had been waiting and wanting to happen ever since I’d first found out about the job change.
The next morning, I emailed my boss that I’d tried to come back too soon. I called my doctor and got a week extension on my medical leave. I spent most of that time resting, journaling, and talking with some of the wonderful, supportive people I’m so lucky to have in my life.
And I finally accepted that the time had come for me to quit.
I went back to work a week after my meltdown. I showed up calm, clear, and ready to give my resignation, effective that day. I knew there was no way my body could handle the traditional two weeks’ notice; sure enough, within a few minutes of being in the building, a new, searing pain started shooting from my lower abdomen, up my side, and down my arm. This was not anxiety about my decision; it was my body yelling at me to get the fuck out. The only way to lessen the pain was to repeatedly promise that within a few hours, I’d be gone for good.
I gave my notice, cleaned out my cube, and left the building for the last time. Surprisingly, quitter’s remorse kicked in during the drive home. Variations on the thought “You'll run out of money!” started reverberating in my head. I knew it wasn't the truth, just my terrified lizard brain desperately wanting to keep me safe. I gave my lizard free rein to voice its fears, and after five minutes, it calmed down. The regret was gone—forever.
* * *
In both my career and in my personal life, I live by the following principle: I can't possibly know what's right for someone else, and no one else can possibly know what’s right for me.
Despite coming from a good place, management’s insistence that this was the right move for me and their continued disregard for my repeated objections just intensified the anger, resentment, and frustration I felt.
However, the suffering I endured was all on me. I chose to stay. I chose to ignore my inner wisdom. I chose to allow people to treat me in a way went against the core of who I am.
It didn’t have to be that way. I knew better. I knew exactly why my health was declining and what I needed to do to change that. And yet I let the fear win over and over again.
But you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. I learned so much, and I truly believe that everything happened exactly how it was supposed to. This was the experience I needed to understand once and for all that it’s not just important to follow my heart—it’s imperative.
And now, after many months, I’m at the point where I can fully appreciate all the good things that came from being employed by that company: working and becoming friends with incredibly talented and generous people, growing both personally and professionally in ways that will serve me well for the rest of my life, and participating in so many wonderful opportunities I otherwise would never have had. And in the end, I'm also incredibly grateful to the managers: their actions gave me that push I needed to finally fully get myself out into the world.
It hasn’t been an easy path since I left, but even during the hardest parts, I’ve never doubted that I made the right decision. My health is vastly improved. I feel freer, clearer, and happier than I’ve ever been. And regardless of where this road takes me, I know I’m living in my truth and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
And that, my friends, was worth it all.
Clearly, listening to your heart can be a difficult thing to do, but I promise you, it's the best gift you could ever give yourself.
If you'd like some help learning this life-changing skill, go ahead and schedule a session with me here.
All potential new clients get a free 30-minute consultation session, and all sessions are over the phone, so location isn't an issue.
cropped version of original photo by Otama (https://www.flickr.com/photos/otama/402299217/)
I’m currently in the final stretches of a fundraising campaign that will enable me to go to a fabulous conference next month. And no, I’m not asking you for money. I’m sharing because this experience has been a great reminder of what can happen when we ask for what we want. Something that looked impossible a few weeks ago is now happening—all because I had the courage to share my story and ask “Can you help me?”
I’ve been amazed and humbled and inspired by people’s generosity. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. And I want you to know that your version of this can happen, too.
It can be hard for us to ask for what we want. Our society prides itself on go-it-alone-ness. Often, we think we don’t deserve what we’re asking for. Or we can get caught up in the negatives that could happen when we ask: people will say no or think we’re too forward or a million other possibilities that don’t sound so fun.
Ask anyway. Otherwise you risk missing out.
Get clear on what you want and why you want it before you ask.
The clearer you are on the what and the why, the easier the ask is and the more likely you’ll get the answer you want. Think about it—if someone asked you for something but was all wishy-washy and apologetic about it, would you feel compelled to help?
I find the best way for me to gain clarity is by writing. Sometimes I write out my what and why, sometimes I write down the way I want the conversation to go, sometimes I just make a list of bullet points. Whatever it is, it all helps me come from an authentic place and be ready for any questions that might come along the way.
Know you deserve what you’re asking for.
This doesn’t mean getting all cocky and entitled; it actually comes from a place of love and compassion: trusting you deserve whatever good comes your way just because you’re you and you’re awesome.
For many people, this is a hard concept to grasp. If it is, please join me on this little adventure:
Picture yourself as a little kid. Now, does that child deserve to have his or her needs met? 100% yes.
Next, does that child deserve to have whatever will help him or her grow and live a joyful, fulfilling, love-filled life?
You are STILL that child. Sure, maybe you’ve made some mistakes along the way. Maybe you’ve internalized messages from others saying you’re not worthy. Maybe you’ve even got a long list of why you shouldn’t or won’t get what you want.
NONE OF THAT negates the fact that you deserve whatever your soul longs for.
So talk to yourself like you’d want someone to talk to you as a child—fill your heart with compassion, understanding, generosity and love. However long it takes, however many ways you need to say it, keep telling yourself you deserve it all until you fully believe it’s true.
Don’t get all graspy.
Come to the ask from a pure place. “I need this NOW!” is the energy equivalent of a temper tantrum. It isn’t gonna get you anywhere, and it’ll likely send whomever you’re addressing running away as fast as their legs can carry them.
Instead, ask once you’ve reached a place of calm confidence. Be genuine. Ask from your heart, not your head. Go into the ask considering the act of asking as a win, regardless of the result.
Let go of the result.
I have to admit—this is the hardest part for me. Here’s how I tend to approach it:
Who to ask and how:
So who should you ask? Everyone. There have been many instances where I’ve gotten help from people I’d never have expected it from. There have also been numerous times I’ve gotten help from people I didn’t even know.
I’m a big fan of asking the Universe, too. I write it down in my journal, make requests during meditation, and silently ask when the idea pops up in my thoughts. I’m not big on formal prayer, but if you are, obviously that’s a great time to ask, too.
How should you ask? Clearly, politely, and from a place of integrity. Stand in your truth and show your passion for what you’re asking for. You’ve already done the work in getting clear on your what and your why, so let that shine through.
For the record, I always ask that way, regardless of whether I’m posting a fundraising campaign or silently thinking my request while I walk my dog. I’ve seen for myself that the clearer, more respectful, and more genuine my request, the more likely I am to get what I’m asking for.
What to do when you get a no:
First and foremost, remain calm and gracious, thank the person anyway, and move on.
Then remember that a no is NOT the end of the world. It’s just the end of that particular little journey. There are still a million ways your journey could go. To that end, there are a couple options for next steps:
What to do when you get a yes:
Be grateful every time, no matter how small the yes. Consider celebrating with a happy dance, a high five, or cartwheels.
But don’t let it stop there. Find a way to give back to those who gave to you. Depending on the person and how they’ve helped, you can repay them with a genuine thank you, a great review, a service, or a gift.
It’s also important to pay it forward. Just as others have been kind and generous to you, be kind and generous to others whenever you get the chance. It’s the best and most fun way I know to have a positive impact on the world.
Over the years, I’ve become a big believer in “just ask.”
I’m always passionate about whatever it is I’m raising funds for. I share my story, always make sure they know exactly where their money’s going, and thank them in the moment and with a follow-up once the fundraiser’s over. In my current fundraiser, I’m offering various coaching sessions as thank you gifts, which enables me to help those who’ve donated achieve their goals, too.
To be honest, I still often get nervous when I ask for what I want. But I've found the regrets come when I don't ask, never when I do, even when the answer has been no. That's why, despite the nerves, I remain fiercely loyal to the mantra that's bettered my life over and over again: just ask.
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If you’re someone who has a hard time asking for things, I encourage you to go through these steps. I’m willing to bet your life will change in many wonderful ways!
I'd love to hear how it goes, so please share your stories in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Yes, that's me asking!)
If you get stuck along the way, you can always schedule a coaching session with me. And all potential new clients get a free, no obligation consultation session. It’s a great way to find out what coaching with me is like, get some help in the process, and practice asking for what you want—wins all around!
If you’re human, you’re gonna go through some difficult stuff in life. It’s just part of the deal.
When you do, chances are you’ll feel a lot of strong (and possibly overwhelming) emotions including but not limited
If you’re human, you’re gonna go through some difficult stuff in life. It’s just part of the deal.
When you do, chances are you’ll feel a lot of strong (and possibly overwhelming) emotions including but not limited to anger, stress, frustration, or sadness. Hell, maybe you end up dealing with it for so long, you reach the point of apathy.
There are so many ways to successfully navigate these hard times, and everyone’s path is different. But there’s an overarching tool that I find helps in pretty much every situation: follow your curiosity.
It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture, like you’re curious about elephants so you sell all your worldly possessions and move to another continent attempt to become part of a herd. (Although if that feels right to you, then who am I to stop you?)
I’m just talking about noticing what sparks an interest. Does something come across your path that makes you feel even just the teensiest bit of excitement? Does someone say something and you suddenly find yourself wanting to know more?
THAT’S CURIOSITY. FOLLOW IT.
Follow it even if it’s something you already know a lot about. Follow it if it’s something totally new to you. Follow it even if it seems stupid or like a complete waste of time. (Chances are that if you’re curious about it, there’s a reason.)
Maybe the thing you’re curious about is just a much-needed distraction to help make things a little easier. Maybe it’s a stepping stone. Or maybe it’s the key to getting yourself out of the hard times and into something way more fun. And you know what? There’s only one way to find out!
A PERSONAL EXAMPLE
Looking back, I can see that following my curiosity has helped me get through every hard time in my life. Most recently, it’s been my approach to getting myself healthy again.
When I’ve felt that spark of curiosity about a book someone recommends, I’ve immediately found and read the book. When it was clear my doctor wasn’t the right fit, I found myself curious about naturopaths and ended up working with a great one. When I suddenly became fascinated by mind-body medicine and alternative healing modalities, I turned to my village of life coaches for suggestions, and their responses were both helpful and fascinating.
It’s been a combination of things that finally got me moving on this road to healing, and every single piece of the puzzle started with something that made me feel curious.
COACHING TOOL: FOLLOW YOUR CURIOSITY
Your assignment, should you chose to accept it, is to follow something that’s recently piqued your curiosity.
If you can’t think of anything, there are a couple of options: you can either think about something you were curious about as a child or just keep your eyes and ears open and trust that the spark will come.
Following your curiosity can include but is not limited to:
I’d love to hear how this works for you. What are you curious about? How did you follow your curiosity? Feel free to comment here or shoot me an email at email@example.com and let me know!
McKenzie Bourg went from being a multi-sport all-star to almost dying of heart failure to being in the top 5 on “American Idol.”
He says: “Being so close to dying was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I take every day for what it is, and I don’t think I would be here on that Idol stage had that not happened to me.”
When we’re in a bad place, it’s so hard to see that something good can come out of it. But I’ve seen exactly that happen for so many other people. I’ve experienced it for myself, too.
So if you’re struggling right now, please be kind to yourself. Keep your eyes open for anything that stirs your soul. And trust that amazing, unexpected things really can (and will!) come from whatever it is you’re going through.
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With the exception of Netflix binge-watching, I’ve been all about baby steps these days. But I’ve realized that there’s so much more to them than just the act of inching forward—there’s a whole process that lies within.
Below is an example of how I’ve applied that process to something I’m currently going through. As you read my story, I hope you’ll see ways you can harness these ideas to improve a current struggle in your own life.
When babies are learning to walk, they don’t resist it; they just know this is the next step (pun intended) they need to take.
I’ve been dealing with some pretty serious, long-lasting fatigue. While it’s finally getting better, it’s majorly affected all aspects of my life.
The first step to healing came when I finally stopped fighting the exhaustion and accepted it instead. Once I did, my “why” changed. It used to be “Why the HELL am I STILL exhausted??” I was resisting what was happening, and all that did was make me more frustrated.
Now my “why” comes from a place of calm curiosity; it’s a chance to check in with myself and figure out what I need. Like a baby looks around for something to pull up on, I look around for what will best help me get to where I want to be.
Throughout the process, babies get help and support from wherever they can—from their grownups to furniture to toys.
A big part of my process has been reaching out to others for help. Of course, I’ve worked with various medical professionals, from my general practitioner to a functional medicine doctor to my current naturopath, who’s finally got me on the right track. Occasional sessions with my holistic healthcare practitioner are also an integral part of my healing.
On a personal level, I’ve got a great support system including my parents and other relatives, friends, and my tribe of fellow life coaches, who’ve generously shared their stories, resources, and help.
Whenever my brain’s up for taking in new info, I read books and do online research. I’ve learned about mind-body healing and other alternative techniques, which I’ve found completely fascinating.
Lastly I have my wise inner self, which serves as an internal GPS, guiding me throughout this whole process.
When babies inevitably fall, they don’t think “I suck at this! I should just give up.” They just keep trying, taking breaks to play and rest. They trust their intuition. They listen to their bodies.
Not once have I thought I’d be tired forever. Along the way, there have been setbacks, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s all going to be okay.
Every time I start anything new, I’m unabashedly optimistic that it’ll help. Sometimes I have an internal temper tantrum if it doesn’t, but that’s short-lived. I always return to my process: checking in with myself (and my support system as needed), figuring out my next move, and then, of course, taking baby steps.
This experience has been a great opportunity to tune into my intuition and my body on a much deeper level. Because of the freedom that comes with being self-employed, I’m able to do what I need when I need it.
I have general plans for my days, but I stay flexible and let my intuition lead the way. I meditate, journal, read, or work as it feels right to me. I exercise when I can. I limit my time outside the house because that exhausts me more than anything.
Most importantly, I rest whenever I need to. I quickly learned that if I try to push through the tiredness, my recoup time becomes days rather than hours. Pacing myself and resting enable me to take more baby steps in the long run.
There’s no compare and despair with babies. It never occurs to them that maybe they’re taking longer than others to acquire this new skill. They just trust that, eventually, they’ll get it.
To be fair, children this young aren’t capable of comparing themselves to others. But there’s still something freeing in realizing everyone’s path is unique to them, and labeling your own as wrong or too slow really makes no sense—everyone’s path is exactly as long it needs to be.
While I’ve definitely made progress, I do still get frustrated that I’m not completely better yet and that I still haven’t achieved my goals. It kicks in strongest when I see others accomplishing similar ones; I’m only human, after all.
But I can let go of those feelings pretty easily because I trust that this is where I need to be at the moment. I can already see all the positive things that have come from this experience—connecting more deeply with myself and my intuition, getting to know new people, and learning about things that I wouldn’t have had the time for if I were busy and thriving.
My baby steps are getting stronger and steadier, bringing me closer and closer to my goals. I know without a doubt that one day soon I’ll be up and running around, getting into all kinds of fun trouble, and using everything I’ve learned to help myself and others all along the way.
Helping Yourself Through Baby Steps
1. Think about a problem you’re struggling with. Without trying to change anything, notice how you feel about the situation. Are you frustrated? Do you just want to give up? However you feel, it’s totally okay.
2. Now keep that situation in mind as you imagine a baby trying and failing to walk. Picture the whole scene—what the room looks like, what it smells like, what sounds you hear, who else is there.
3. As you see the baby trying and failing, you feel compassion, love, and instinctively want to help. Let your imagination guide you on how to help. If you get stuck, here are some things to consider:
4. Once you feel you’ve been through the whole scenario, come back to the present. Write down how the ways you helped the baby relate to how you can help yourself in your current situation. Keep in mind that some of these may be direct correlations (e.g., online research) and some may be more metaphorical.
5. Determine which approach makes you feel most free, then go for it! Keep in mind the lessons from the blog post above as you take your baby steps. Along the way, give yourself the same compassion you gave the baby in your imagined scenario. And remember to be patient and trust—there will come a time when everything finally clicks.
I wholeheartedly believe that help and support are a key part of fully moving forward. That’s why I’m now offering a new coaching option: 30-minute mini-sessions.
Just because they’re mini doesn’t mean you won’t get big results. I’ve personally been coached in shorter sessions and still had them be major game-changers!
Through March, mini-sessions are just $45. (As always, your first 30-minute session is free.) So if you’re ready to start making positive changes in your life, schedule an appointment now!
Katie Baron: life coach, freelance writer, animal and nature lover, musician, relentless optimist