It all started when..
I had fallen into a trap that is probably not all that unfamiliar to a lot of us..
After doing all the things a person is "supposed to do" - going to college, graduating with honors from a reputable university, getting the "big job", making a decent salary, living a "successful" life in the eyes of my friends and family - I fell apart.
Although I was doing well on a material level, spiritually and emotionally I was suffering.
I was working upwards of 70 hours a week, leaving little time for my personal hobbies and wellness activities, and although trying my best to wear a smile, it wasn't long before the energy of trying to maintain this falsity took its toll.
I had veered from my true path. In an effort to satisfy almost everyone but myself, I had burned out.
In a drastic (and tumultuous) turn of events, I quit my well-paying job, left a long-term relationship, and moved back to the comforts of small town New England to be closer to friends and family.
Although the move provided some temporary relief, it wasn't long before reality set in: although I had changed my geography, I hadn't changed me. It became apparent that in order to get back on track, I had to change more than the exterior of my life. If I were to truly move forward, I would need to change the interior as well.
I suppose like many, I began my journey at the local bookstore, searching through the stacks of self-help books, looking desperately for rescue and relief.
Although I can't deny learning a good deal from what became an extensive amount of self-study, the real breakthrough moment came for me when I discovered coaching late one sleepless night via YouTube.
For the sake of brevity, I'll skim past some of the preliminary details, and focus on the impact the first few sessions had on me.
1) Coaching enabled me to see beyond the self-limiting boundaries that I had (without even knowing so) built around myself. What I realized, is that no matter how smart we are, no matter what degrees we hold, what accomplishments we have made in the world - when it comes to analyzing ourselves, we are inherently limited. Simply put, there is incredible power in having a compassionate listener that can reflect back to us the themes of our inner dialogue. We are all guilty of falling into "tunnel vision" at times, and an observer that is outside of this, listening carefully and objectively, can provide the fresh, pure, unadulterated perspective that can be invaluable in helping bring clarity to the stories we tell of ourselves.
2) It drew out my core values. I'll never forget being asked, "What is a time in your life when you felt fully alive? When things seemed to just work, you were happy, free, and nothing else really mattered." The answer for me, was the time that I challenged myself to a 1,000 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, journeying from the border of Mexico to Lake Tahoe, California. I went solo, with nothing but the basic essentials of life strapped to my back. The follow-up questions, such as, "What about this was important to you?" and "What were you honoring in making this trip happen?" stirred-up a wealth of helpful realizations for me. I saw clearly, in a truly visceral sense, that I deeply value freedom, self-reliance, adventure, connection with nature, challenge, and my spiritual connection to life in its purest state. It also helped me to see how I had abandoned those values when I was working those 70 hour work weeks, choosing money, a false sense of security, and material acquisition over feeding my soul.
3) I gained more visibility over my daily habits. We all go into "auto pilot" sometimes, and not always are these routinized behaviors helpful to us. With the help of my coach, I began taking a closer look at all the things I did (or did not do) throughout the week. It was really helpful to see how my daily behaviors included many things that were holding me back from my goals. I was a decorated captain aboard the ship of procrastination, capable of sailing the seas of YouTube, Facebook, mindless television..pretty much any distraction that provided false relief from actually taking the bull-by-the-horns and getting down to business. I also had some well-practiced avoidance maneuvers, got really good at saying "yes" to things that I didn't really want to do just to avoid letting others down, and wasn't too great with maintaining healthy routines around sleep and self-care. I began to learn how some of my go-to excuses like, "I don't have enough time" were all but myths that I had established to help justify my bad habits. Luckily, most of these habits were corrected a lot easier than I thought. All it took was visibility and awareness followed by small, incremental changes aided by accountability from my coach. It's an age-old cliché I know, but it's true, little things can make a BIG difference!
4) It feels good! If you're anything like I was when I began my journey in self-development, I never regarded therapy, self-work, or coaching as fun. Honestly, it felt scary. It felt hard. I was reluctant to share what I was doing, fearing the stigma that even to this day can plague the world of mental health. What I learned, however, was that having conversations about my challenges, fears, and perceived failures was incredibly liberating. Inside the warm, nurturing, and confidential space of the coaching relationship, I was not only able to purge these toxic thoughts from my system, but I also learned to view them with loving-kindness and a smile. Everything we do in life, even those things we may think of as "bad" serve a purpose. In my life, had I not worked a job that was not right for me, had I not veered far from my path, I wouldn't have experienced such a powerful contrast to help guide me back to where I actually needed to be. Furthermore, I realized that so many things often sound a lot worse in our own minds. Being able to look back at things now with a laugh feels good. It really does. So often, we are our own harshest critics. What coaching so often revealed to me is that I take things way too seriously sometimes. Life is a journey. It's an adventure. Things happen. We make mistakes. But that's how we learn. And at the end of the day, living should be FUN. One of my biggest take-aways has been to stop worrying and fussing so much and to enjoy the ride!
Now, many years after beginning my journey, nothing is more exciting to me than walking along others in theirs. Am I some kind of expert? Gosh no! But that's the beauty and the fun of this model. Coaching is about helping you find your inner expert, your inner hero, your inner guidance systems. It's not about imposing some kind of mystical knowledge from the exterior. It's about being a kind, compassionate, fellow traveler on this voyage of life, who just happens to know a few great questions.
If you're ready to deepen your learning and self-improvement, I encourage you to investigate coaching. It's been an incredible resource in my life. I feel pretty confident that it can be in yours as well!