It is disorienting to realize that the thing you were working so hard for was actually just something to keep you busy until your “real” thing came into being. That’s what appears to have happened to me. This is all particularly amusing because as a life coach, it is among my most important duties to support others at times just like this. You know, the times when your dreams eat your plans for lunch.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher more than anything in the world and when there was no money for college, I packed up the teacher dream. (That’s the short version.) I also loved to write but, to be honest, I never even unpacked that dream. In my world, nobody had a job like that. You just didn’t get paid to write, especially not without formal training and an editor. I had neither of those things.
My dreams were packed up so tightly and for so long, that when I started my life coaching business three years ago, it didn’t even occur to me to to try to be a teacher or a writer.
Basically, I started writing as an afterthought. I did it to raise awareness (or increase visibility as the marketing experts call it) about the coaching services I offered. Eventually, I realized that public speaking would help too but it was always my plan for the main thing to be life coaching. It never really took off, not as powerfully as I thought it could. The simplest description of my reaction to the “not taking off” that I might offer you is that I nearly lost my mind from trying to get people to hire me as their life coach.
Don’t me wrong, I’ve worked with some remarkable people. And the more I did it, the better I got at it. I always had some clients, just not enough to qualify this as a financially sustainable business venture. I could feel that I was “close” to doing what I was supposed to be doing but something was off. I knew this because when things are on, people thrive. At least financially speaking, I was not thriving.
I’ve considered closing the business every few months during the last year and a half but while one part of me was ready to walk away (my logical, reasoning, number-crunching self), there was another part that demanded I stay (my feeling, intuitive, passionate self). It didn’t make sense on paper but people’s lives were changing dramatically as a result of our work together.
I just couldn’t make myself walk away. The comments and letters readers offered in response to my articles here moved me beyond words. The response to my Hail Mary Pass last September was stunning, and the healing that the Sick of Being Stuck (SOBS) program has since cultivated is immeasurable. I didn’t know how to walk away from that, even if I wasn’t making “enough” money. So, I stayed. I kept asking questions, listening for intuitive guidance, looking for open doors, and taking action when it seemed right.
I stayed because I was looking for the missing link.
There were a dozen or so signs that I missed before I finally figured it out last week. Probably the most embarrassing one is the first conversation I had with my marketing strategist about this business. She started our meeting by asking me to tell her what I do. I told her about the different ways I’d been trying to show up in the world professionally–life coaching, writing, and public speaking.
She explained that for marketing purposes, I would be well-served to pick a noun and two verbs–either a coach who writes and speaks, a speaker who coaches and writes, or a writer who coaches and speaks. She said something like, “With that in mind, what is the thing that you do… what is your main thing?”
I am a teacher.
I promise that actually happened. She put on the table the three exact things I’d just explained to her that I was doing with this business, and asked me to prioritize them, and I said, “I am a teacher.” She paused just long enough for me to see the writing on the wall (which I did not), and then said, “Well… I sort of thought you’d pick one of the three things we were just talking about.”
Continued: Personal evolution means releasing what no longer serves us to make space for what’s true.