Just yesterday I had a wonderful 2-hour coffee conversation with a like-minded soul, one which was unexpected but very welcomed. We met to discuss travel arrangements but within minutes we started down a 2-hour path on spirituality, learning, personal development and career transition. I’ve been around long enough to know these conversations are not coincidental. They are part of the intricate tapestry of our lives and are there to spring us into action or reaffirm we are on the right path. It took me a while to recognise the value of meetings like this. At first, I just walked away knowing it felt good, or I was inspired by something that was shared. But now I know that there is a special magic in a conversation like this and I’m fully present and aware there will be a lesson for me. One of the things I love to do is wait for that lesson and smile to myself when it shows up.
And it just did.
Sitting here unable to work because of technical issues, I logged on to Facebook to update a post for my upcoming trip to India. I noticed a notification under the Memories tab and clicked on to have a look. There it was. A post from the 27th July 2015, a photo of me holding up my Life Coaching Certificate which I had received in the post that day. After I came to terms with the fact that I’m a little cuddlier now than I was in that photo, I got the lesson straight away.
During the inspiring conversation I had had with my friend the previous day, we were discussing the transition between an old career and moving towards a new one. I was sharing with her that I had coached several people the previous year, mainly women, who had successful thriving careers in their 20’s and 30’s and then took a step back for a while to start a family and all that comes with that. Some of them had returned to their profession after kids in either a full time or part time capacity but now they were looking to move into a more heart-centred role, that fit with family life and played to their passions. The common theme amongst them all was they were not sure what this new profession looked like. After several coaching sessions I witnessed a pattern, one of not making a change because they didn’t know what the new occupation should be. Therefore, because they couldn’t say, “I want to be a counsellor” or “I want to be a freelance consultant”, or whatever the end product was, they couldn’t take a step, they felt stuck. They needed to know what the exact profession was before they made a move and for many it was like trying on different careers in their mind to see if they would fit. Now there is some sensibility about this because we aren’t 22 anymore. We don’t live at home with Mum and Dad with the only expenses we must worry about are maybe a car payment, some bills and a bit of spending money. Most of us have rent and mortgages, car insurance, food for a family, health bills, schooling and activity costs, never mind trying to save for a holiday here or there. So, I understand it’s wise to stop and pause before making this jump.
It became a coaching technique of mine to ask them to consider what they loved to do, and it may not surprise you that for many, usually women, they weren’t aware of what brought them joy. When your needs and interests fall to the bottom of the food chain as you tend to families, kids, parents and spouses, never mind your own self- care, it is not surprising that you don’t forget, but lose touch with the things you use to love to do. It takes time, and when your attention is split in so many different directions we can often put our own needs last.
One way you can start to reconnect with what lights your fire is to journal, and take note of things that make you feel good and inspired. For me that doesn’t look like traditional journaling. I have never been a person to sit down every day and write in a journal and I’m slightly envious of those that do. But I do have a house full of notebooks from about the last 10-15 years. Inside these notebooks are words, pictures, flow charts, lists, rants and lots of circles and mind maps. Just my way of expressing what is in my mind at the time. It was by doing this that I started to get clear on things that mattered to me so that if I were to now line up all the books, I would see some similarities. Travel, listening to music, walking on the beach, connecting with like-minded women, being in nature, spending time with my family, working with women, own business, something with purpose, heart-centred focus, helping others, teaching and of course writing. It’s all there in various formats, fifteen years of thoughts. By doing this I started to recognise the areas of my life that brought me joy. Actually it was a shock because it was so simple. Really if I got to go for a walk on the beach, listen to some music, work in travel and see my family it was going to be a joyful day. What I noticed when I was coaching women was that for many they couldn’t find more than 1 or 2 things to write on this list and mostly it revolved around their kids. And that is perfectly fine, but if you are considering a career transition or aligning your life towards more joy, it might be useful to really try and connect with what brings you inspiration outside of your family.
The second task I usually set them was to think about the conditions you want in this new role and be very specific and simple. This is essentially a lesson in manifesting and bringing into your life what you want to experience. For me the list was so specific, and it looked something like this.
Light filled room, flexible working hours, working from home, no 9-5pm, no commute or very little, working with women, traveling, helping others, room to be authentic, time for life in my day, no boss and work that changed the lives of others. For you that might be flexi hours, working out of the home but close to home, within kid’s school hours or a certain hourly rate. It doesn’t matter what it is, but it matters that you know what it is. As I discussed with my friend yesterday, very often we fall into a job, and then another, and then we seek a promotion, or set a goal and those actions just keep propelling us forward sometimes unconsciously. What I’m noticing as I coach these women in their late 30’s 40’s and 50’s is that they are starting to recognise that the conditions of where they work are sometimes more important than the work itself. It would be fantastic to have all of that in one package but if the work you love causes intense inner conflict with the part of yourself that wants other things, then you need to find a way to make it fit. Because we can’t have it all, I don’t care what anyone tells you. You can have the best high-flying career in the world, but something will have to give. That might be time for yourself, or time for your family, even flexibility. Or if you choose to follow a path that fills your need for purpose or flexibility like I have done, the sacrifice I have made is my need for recognition, promotion and working in a team with others. Now I’m not saying it’s one or the other but it’s working out what matters most to you right now. No judgement on that, just an awareness that at certain times in our life certain areas and conditions will matter more than others. Right now, I want to be home when Charlie is, but as he gets older and maybe needs me less and my husband more, maybe I will increase the time I spend working and my husband can carry more of that load. That’s just for me, but the message I’m hoping to express, is find what conditions you need in your working life and start to make decisions around these priorities. But know, these priorities are not fixed. They will change, but once you are used to this practice of reflection you can move with the changes. Right now, I’m sitting in my “active wear”, in a sun filled room after having a lovely coffee catch up with some friends this morning, followed by a walk on the beach with my dog. I have done a few hours work after doing a bigger day yesterday to allow for this and anything else can be caught up on over the weekend. Now at times I find that lonely and I must work on the weekend. I miss the team environment and the recognition and financial reward that comes with that. But at this stage of my life, flexibility is more important, and I need time to be close to my son and have time for my health. So, I make a conscious choice and when I feel under valued or lonely, I remind myself of why I’m sitting in my sun-filled kitchen working alone.
So how did the Facebook memory trigger the lesson and my desire to put this recognition into a blog?
Well the photo was of me holding up my Life Coaching Certificate in 2015. When I decided to do that course, I had a different vision altogether. I was going to work towards opening a holistic centre that offered short personal development courses from a variety of practitioners. I wasn’t exactly sure how that was going to unfold but I knew I had to start moving in the direction of the areas I loved, and coaching fit the bill. I decided I needed to formalise my skills a little and really wanted to get some certification. I tracked down a course that fit my holistic approach and ended up studying with Alan Cohen in the USA. Within a few months of graduating I had several coaching clients under my belt, had created a website and found myself at a fork in the road. Do I go left and become a full-time life coach and develop and grow a practice? Or do I go right and continue with my travel agency business and do some coaching on the side, which is what I was currently doing. Neither option felt right and once again there I was trying to fit into an exact profession.
And then came India. I went, reluctantly, because it was never somewhere I wanted to visit. But someone offers you a freebie and it’s a great itinerary with fabulous Taj Hotels, you say yes. I went because I had a decision to make. Was this my last travel agent educational before I was going to build a coaching practice, or was I going to say goodbye to coaching altogether and focus on travel.
Like a lightning bolt I heard an inner voice speak to me when I was in Kerala and say, “Bring women to India, so they can learn about themselves through the medium of travel.” As clear as that and within a second I knew what to do. I came home and within a month of being back I was invited on a beautiful trip to Bali by two hotel groups that cater beautifully to soulful travel. After an amazing experience in Bali with a group of gorgeous women and one brave man, it was affirmed to me how people connect, share, learn and grow when they travel somewhere new. From here I created my first Soulful Escape for Women to India and incorporated the travel experience with a personal development program that is run on the trip. Since then I have run 2 trips like this, completed my Meditation Teacher Training and am in the process of promoting another trip to India in 2019. Plus some news things on the horizon.
So, my point?
You never know where the path will take you.
I never imagined I would be doing this, that this is how my coaching business would manifest in my life. I could never have created this profession without following the path. I moved towards what I loved and listened to how it felt. You could spend months and even years dreaming about a different profession only to get there and realise it isn’t for you. Or, you could get clear about who you are, what you love to do and what you are looking for in a job, career or business. Then you could follow that, move in that direction. It could lead you to meet someone who shows you something you had never considered. Or you witness something that inspires you to try something new. Goals are important, I’m not disputing that, but each of us is here for a reason, for a purpose and if you are curious to find that, you need to find yourself first.
Ask yourself these questions.
What do I love, what makes me smile, what makes me happy, when do I feel inspired, what work would fit with my life and that of my family and when do I feel the most like me?
With love and light