Warning: do not read on if you are insensitive to messages of gratitude or fulfilment. If those are concepts that make you go 'bleurgh' then you, my friend, are going to SQUIRM LIKE CRAZY with this blog post.
Turn away now.
Then GET READY. I have just had the most incredible few months coaching incredible human beings who have made incredible changes to their lives. I get to do this for an actual job! I'm so lucky and honoured to be trusted with people's lives, happiness and dreams.
Most people, in the UK at least,
a) don't know what a life coach does,
b) don't know what they want and/or
c) don't know how to get what they want.
What is so great about being at this end - I KNOW what people are capable of, even when they no longer understand or trust themselves to get on a track that feels good and right. I feel as if I'm on one side of a canyon (the sunny side), and the person I'm coaching is on the other side (the dark side), with miles of sheer drop between us - and there's me going, "Come on over! It's great over here! You can do it!" They're looking down at the rushing water and craggy rocks below, scared to move, but feeling the ground shaking beneath their feet and if they don't jump they're going to fall anyway.
This analogy works all the time with clients - and what they generally find is when they make that leap, they find instead of hitting the rocks below, they land on a cloud, or a bird, or a speedboat - and they're propelled somewhere entirely new, different and wonderful.
Here's what I've witnessed recently...
- J was fearful of putting her business plan in place to go freelance with an idea that could benefit thousands of people, in case it didn't work. "If it goes wrong, I'll have left a steady job - not that I'm happy in it - and what if I lose our home as a result? I'd be putting my poor family on the streets!". Through careful planning and a bit of my persistent challenging, she found a safe way to launch herself out there - and she's having to choose who she works with as there's so much demand for what she does. "I blame you - I've got too much work on!" she says now.
- C had lost her confidence and sparkle. She'd taken a dull but sensible job after taking some years out of the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mum. She could do the job standing on her head, but she felt like an outsider. "I want the old me back," she said, "but I don't know how to find her." During 5 months of coaching, she has grown into herself again - and beyond - bravely leaving the job that made her miserable, re-connecting with her creative side, developing skills to make her new business a success, and crucially for her, feeling like a better mother, daughter and wife too. From someone who was scared to speak up on nights out in case she was ridiculed, she told me that last week she sat at the head of a table of friends and held court all night. "I really made people laugh - I'd forgotten how much I like that, and that I'm good at it! I don't care about what they think of me - I'm doing stuff now that I want to share. I've always been the one to listen and help others and now I've remembered I can contribute too."
- E was feeling that her life had taken a wrong turn somewhere along the line. Her job was no longer satisfying, her relationship felt heavy, managing a big home improvement project was stressful and although she felt bad about being jealous of friends' achievements, she didn't feel inspired to get out of the rut she was in. On paper, she had everything, but in reality she felt like she was missing out on something - an enjoyable, fulfilling life with momentum, goals and direction. 3 months later, after examining the choices she'd been making and taking time to notice which of her values she had stopped paying attention to, she feels more control of the direction she's taking. "I feel so much clearer now," she told me in our final session. "It's not that I feel I have to leave my job immediately or anything, but I feel at peace with my life and I know when I'm ready I'll make the move I want. I've signed up for some classes that I've been wanting to do for ages but was stopping myself from committing to. I'm making space for me, guilt-free, and that's making everything better for those around me, too."
In January I had several clients separately come to me despairing that the job they once loved and had been doing for years they now HATED - but they had no idea what else to do. (I guess hitting the new year was a trigger; they couldn't bear the thought of keeping on doing what they were doing, day after day until they died or went crazy, whichever happened first.)
The wonderful thing about our sessions has been that they realised they don't have to go on recruitment sites and look for the 'right' job title, or retrain for a whole new career. They can take elements of what they love and carve out something new - or do 2 or 3 jobs they love AND have more free time, if they want. Looking at life from different perspectives, trying out different options safely, being encouraged to do things before they're ready or to go further than they thought they could - these are all exercises that reap massive rewards. They get to say goodbye to the old, safe but small and dull way of plodding through life. As fearful as they might be at first to take those steps on the other side of the canyon, pretty soon they start running - skipping even - until I can't keep pace and they're off. Goodbye from me, you lovely, amazing, brilliant, brave and fabulous people. Thank you for letting me be part of your story.