My Gutsy Journey: I just finished coaching school and I am feeling on top of the world, as well as all the doubt and impostor syndrome and fear of a new career, business, etc. I was looking back at my journal from this exact day last year and the entry was: I am afraid to tell my husband that I want to quit my career as an archaeologist to become a life coach.
And here I am exactly one year later. I have finished coaching school. I have logged nearly 100 hours of coaching, my world and my outlook on life has done a 180, and I am ready to start taking paying clients. Wow. What a journey.
I want to share it with you because, even if you don’t decide to quit your job to become a life coach, or to get coached, there is so much about the last year that I have learned that can help you too.
There is so much in this journey that has changed my life, and its not the career change it is the mindset shift. The three key shifts in my mindset have been in practicing integrity with myself, practicing self-compassion, and learning how to be vulnerable.
I think this one has had the most profound effect on my mindset. I have been struggling for a long time now to feel okay in my own skin. After my mom passed away five years ago, I received a unique gift that only profound grief can provide: Clarity. Her death put my whole life into perspective. What really mattered in life, what my values really were, and the fact that I was not living my life at all according to those values.
I would like to say that that realization changed my life right then and there, but it didn’t. losing my mom and awakening to the truths about myself put me into a five-year depression. Not a deep dark depression, an upsy-downsy, I’m okay, I’m not okay, not-quite depression seeming depression. I struggled for five years to really get a hold of my life. It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I was able to fully understand the truth I had learned when my mom died: Life is short.
After my daughter was born, I was faced with the fact that time is fleeting, and that I was not living a life that aligned with my values. I realized that my life did not light me up and I did not want to spend one more minute living a life that was not exactly what I wanted.
I had never had the clarity or the will power to admit that, until I was faced with a little being who changed so much every day and the fear that I would miss it.
This realization led me to a place of soul searching. For some time I had known that I wanted to end my career as an archaeologist and become a life coach but I kept telling myself I would do it once the kids were older and my husband had finished grad school and had gotten a faculty job. But then I realized that right now, in this moment, I was not happy with the direction of my life. I was not happy with the way I was spending my time; rather, the way I felt forced to prioritize my time.
I realized that if I wanted a life I loved, I had no time to wait. I had to make that life now. Because someday was not going to cut it. Someday my baby would be all grown up. Someday might never come. And someday was not worth waiting for.
After that journal entry a year ago, I worked up the nerve to tell my husband. He was incredibly supportive, and that gave me the courage to sign up for coaching school. I did not plan that moment to quit my job and go all in. In that moment, I just took the first step.
After four months of coaching school, I realized the reason that I had been unhappy and struggling for so long: I wasn’t living a life aligned with my values. I was not trusting myself, my needs, my desires for my own life. I was trusting what other people and society had made me think I needed with my life.
I don’t know about you, but I have never been a nine-to-fiver. Maybe it’s because I am a millennial, or that my fist 10 years of work were in restaurants and the service industry, or maybe it’s because my parents were independent contractors and could make their own schedule so we always had time as a family. Whatever it was, I wasn’t buying into the nine-to-five, work hard, have security, only have time for yourself after work, on weekends, or holidays, your job is your fulfillment, etc.
Through coaching, I realized and was able to articulate that my values in life are presence, integrity, and grit. I wrapped these three values into one word: Gutsy. I began to realize I wanted to be Gutsy and help others to be the same. If I was going to have a business called The Gutsy Life TM I had to walk the talk. If I was honest with myself and having integrity, I had to admit that I was not being Gutsy. I was playing it small. I was living a life dictated by others’ terms.
I decided instead to create the life that I wanted. I would never have had the guts or the clarity to do this without coaching. I wanted to be more present in my life. I wanted to have integrity, which meant owning my values and living from a place of taking action from those values. I wanted to challenge myself and have more grit. I excel when challenged and I crave a challenge.
To do these things, I had to be Gutsy. And being Gusty for me meant quitting my nine-to-five so I could create a schedule that allowed me to be present; to create a life full of fulfillment for me and my family, and to create something scary, new, and hard: My coaching business.
I embodied the word Gutsy and it has made all the difference.
Self-Care and Self-Compassion
Along my coaching journey I have also come to the realization that self-compassion is the only way to live a fulfilled life. I know we always say “love yourself,” but it’s more than that.
Self-compassion means practicing kindness with yourself, empathizing with your own feelings, being mindful and letting yourself feel, and not judging yourself for those feelings. Self-compassion means honoring yourself and having integrity. Living your values, acknowledging your needs, and asking to have them met. Oh, and letting yourself have them (this is a hard one for me).
My core value of being present is all about self-compassion. It is about slowing down, being in the moment, knowing what I need in that moment, and acting from that place. No guilt or “I should” or “I’m supposed to…” It is about digging deep and hearing my inner voice and what she says I should be doing.
My default had been, when life gets uncertain, I try to control. I get too in my head and try to manage every emotion, every outcome, every feeling that may hit me or my loved ones. Being compassionate means letting go of that control and allowing myself to feel. To slow down. To stop planning and controlling and be present. It’s about allowing myself to be vulnerable and be supported.
Vulnerability is the ultimate ambition; letting go of control and putting down the armor. This, I have discovered, is my life’s work. In physics they search for a “Grand Unifying Theory” and this is mine.
Be vulnerable, lead with the heart.
I have learned that being vulnerable is Gutsy. It is all three of my core values wrapped up into one messy, scary, and emotionally uncertain endeavor; letting others see me and support me. That is presence, integrity, and grit. That is Gutsy.
I have always been a ‘go it alone’ kind of gal, and vulnerability and support has always made me feel uncomfortable. I never realized just how much until I started coaching. When faced with the reality that my need for control was leading me to ruin my connections with others and myself, and that being vulnerable was the answer, I froze.
This is where I am now. I know I need it but I don’t know how to do it. I know that being compassionate with myself is being vulnerable and I am working on that. I know that asking for what I need and taking it is being vulnerable, and that it’s my current work… The rest I have not figured out yet. But guess what? I have a lifetime! And a coach to get me there!
Conclusion: Be Gutsy
Looking back, one year ago and hearing the words of a woman who was just waking up to the reality of her life, and being the woman, now, one year later, who dug deep, got vulnerable and had the guts to start down the path of a life that lights her up, is incredible.
The thing that amazes me the most is how utterly different my life is from one year ago. Not because I have a new job, or more money, or a different house. None of that. Outwardly my life is almost the same. But inwardly I am radically different.
It feels amazing. It feels honest. It feels hopeful. It feels Gutsy.
I want this for you too. I remember my first introduction to life coaching was four years ago with the book You Are A Badass (best book ever) by Jen Sincero. She said:
“Someday you will wake up with tears of giddy disbelief that you get to be you.”
I loved that line and wanted to feel that giddy disbelief. I thought I would feel that way when I had a successful career that aligned with my purpose, when I was an amazing wife and mother, when I had a better situation financially, when I had a rock-solid self-care practice, etc. But now I understand what she was saying. I am that person now and I don’t have any of those things.
On the outside, my life only looks slightly different from a year ago; I have a new job. But on the inside, right now, with all the struggles and fears and joys and triumphs and uncertainties that I still (and always will feel), I do wake up in giddy disbelief that I get to live this life and show up as my most Gutsy self. Because I have found out how to be Gutsy and listen to me, and that has made all the difference.