Whether it’s in a podcast interview, conversation with a colleague, or when meeting a new client, one of the top questions I get asked is “How did I get started coaching?”
I’d like to share that story with you now.
About six months before I began I business, I had reached one of the lowest points of my life. There wasn’t anything terribly wrong going on, but every ounce of my being knew that the life I was living wasn’t aligned with my wants, needs, or personal values. I was working full-time at a company as a marketing specialist and social media manager – work I was good at and very experienced in – but that I dreaded every single day.
There was one moment I will never forget. I was about to leave on a vacation to California and was called into my superior’s office. Due to the company culture at the time and a long series of firings, we were all overworked, overstressed, and under-appreciated. I was told frankly and explicitly that the role I had held for the past three years and done well, was no longer up to par with the company’s needs. In a “no blame or shame” atmosphere, I was being both blamed and shamed (as were the majority of my colleagues).
I was given two choices: Find something else to do with my time, or reevaluate and return from my vacation looking at my role as an entirely new job. I was exhausted, frustrated, and honestly, pissed.
You see, I had never been the type of person who was excited by building a career or working my way up. I wanted to find work that I was good at, and do that until I eventually had a family. At that point of time, I would leave the workforce to raise my children.
That was “the dream”. I didn’t consider myself a career-driven person, I didn’t consider myself a hard worker, I didn’t consider myself to be someone who thrived in the workforce.
I was wrong.
You see, my entire life I knew what my strengths were and I knew what my interests were. But up until I learned about life coaching, I had separated them into two different categories. There were the traditionally taught topics that could transform into a career (writing, reading, marketing, social media, editing, journalism, etc.) and then there were my soft skills (helping others, listening, empathy, kindness, caring, honesty, etc.). I was taught only the first set could be utilized in a career. I wanted to live my life by the second set. Therefore, I decided being a “career woman” wasn’t for me.
So when I hit the moment of knowing that it was either leave the company that was killing my soul or stay and kiss my mental health goodbye, I decided that it couldn’t be just a lateral shift. I couldn’t just pick up my skills and drop them off in another cubicle, where I was tied to my desk at all points of the day, where I was just another cog in the machine of a company that was all about the bottom line over anything else (including and especially the people who worked for them).
So after a series of serious soul-searching and self-evaluation, I came to the conclusion that wherever I went to, I had to go to a place where the mission and the reason I got up and went to work every day was bigger than a paycheck. I needed someplace where I felt excited to go to work every day. And I knew that staying in the career I had started for myself wasn’t going to cut it.
So what did I do? It’s one thing to say I’m going to switch careers and find something that fulfills me, but where do you start? How do you actually do it?
I started by asking myself what areas of my life light me up. The previous year and a half I had been in a relationship that allowed me to really utilize my natural strengths. My partner’s family was going through a difficult time, and I was able to really let them lean on me. I used every tool and exercise I knew to help them through it, and without even knowing it, this was the beginning of my coaching career.
You see, the best compliment I have ever been given is that I innately know how to make someone feel loved and taken care of. This way of summing up everything I wanted to accomplish allowed me to have the foundation for what I wanted to do in the future. Did I know of a career where I could do that yet? No. But it gave me a place to start.
From there, I started doing research on jobs and opportunities I could take.
Maybe I could devote my marketing skills to a company that helped others on a regular basis – but would I be as bored and unhappy doing that work?
Maybe I could become a therapist or a social worker – but would I be able to leave the emotional work at the office?
That’s when I heard about becoming a life coach, and that’s when I decided to do more research.
I Googled it. I read blogs and listened to podcasts. I exercised my mindset muscle and really dove headfirst into personal development. I got in contact with a truly amazing local life coach, who taught me and trained me and gave me the skills to launch my own business. In just three months, I got my first clients, created a website from scratch, had my first branding photoshoot, started my systems, began this blog, and all-in-all, created an entire business from scratch.
Meanwhile, I was still working at my 9-5 job. I was waking up at 6 AM, driving 45 minutes to work, working a full day, then working on my business at the local library for a few hours, driving another 45 minutes home, arriving at around 7 or 8 PM, then eating, going to bed, and doing it all over again the next day.
The week of my sister’s wedding (and Thanksgiving), I hit a tipping point. I got to the place where my business was ready to go. But I had started feeling like I could do both. I can make a “steady” and “secure” income 9-5 while working on my business on the side. I can do both, right? As long as I’m helping people somewhat, I’m fulfilled enough, right?
Nope. The universe heard me decided to get complacent and let out a huge “oh hell nah.” The Monday of that week, I was called into my superior’s office again, and alerted that they didn’t think I could handle the administrative aspects that they needed out of my job (and also didn’t want me to try). And frankly, I agreed. I’m a creative. I was hired as a creative. And my role slowly changed over three years. I was barely utilizing my skills, and I was bored, and being constantly told how incompetent I was.
So I resigned.
And it was the best thing that has ever happened to me.
January 1, 2018 was my first day full-time in my business. I was finally at a place where I could really use my gifts to help others and I was so ready to do it. I was tired of working as an insignificant speck in a machine. I was ready to do real good and really help others. And now I get to every single day.
It wasn’t easy. It’s still not easy. But it’s aligned with who I am, and it’s a healthy place for me to live in. And in all honesty, I’m incredibly grateful for the terrible experience I had at my previous job. If it weren’t for that environment or that experience, I would have never had the guts to completely change my life.
So let me ask you: Are you ready to take the leap?
Share your journey in the comments below, or join the party on my Instagram and share there:: https://www.instagram.com/katrina.widener/
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And when you’re ready, here are three ways I can help you: