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It was early 2017, I had now officially been in my forties for more than a year, and life was going along well enough. Good job. Fabulous husband. Great friends. Check, check, check. Let me tell you, I am one heck of a box checker. However, I had this nagging suspicion that I was somehow missing the point; that I had more to do, more to offer, a more honest and joyful me lurking underneath all of this box checking.
I had started off the year by making a vision board. I just had a feeling that I needed to try something different. So I cut and pasted to my heart’s content, clipping out words and phrases and images that spoke to me—words about kindness, gratitude, and creativity.
What was interesting was that my board was not filled with images of trips to Paris or promotions at work; it was truly just about a deep-down desire to be content. To live this life I live, but live it in a much deeper way.
I wasn’t looking for the quit-my-job-and-sell-all-of-my-things kind of change. But I did want to find a way to bring all of the versions of me together—the high-tech product manager by day, the crazy farmgirl blogger on the weekends, and the wife, friend, and critter mama 24/7.
Could my blogging and writing become a side hustle? Should I stay in high-tech? How did I want to define myself?
Leaping in With a Life Coach
Enter my life coach. Now to be honest, I was not looking for a life coach at this point. Heck, before my own journey I’m not sure I could really even define what one was. But one April day when I was surfing social media, I stumbled across the name of a coach, pulled up her website, and thought, “Why not?” And before I could talk myself out of why I didn’t need to spend the money or convince myself that I’d be the same me at the end of it just with less cash in my pocket, I signed up for an exploratory session.
IT. CHANGED. MY. LIFE.
I worked with my coach to tackle my ingrained thought processes, to define my values, and to lay out my goals. It wasn’t that I was inventing new things, but rather I was discovering things about myself that were already there. I simply needed a guide to help me along the journey to self-discovery; someone with the wisdom who would could carefully and gently show me things that were already part of my soul, but just happened to be hiding. For example, learning to embrace the role creativity plays in my life—that for me it is essential, not optional.
Doing the Work
For six months, I met with my life coach by phone every other week. To get the process started, she helped me define the areas of my life I wanted to explore; in other words, what my goals were in the broadest sense. Two primary things stood out for me: embracing my creative side and finding a deeper sense of joy.
What I loved about the process is that it was tailored just to me. During each session, we would dig into my goals and explore how my thoughts and actions were or were not helping me on the path toward those goals. Each session lasted an hour, and oh my stars I felt like I had a million light bulb moments in those 60 minutes of clarity.
We’d end the session with homework that could range from writing, to reading, to listening to a new podcast, to taking on a creative project, to exploring a new idea. Anything that helped me toward my goals was fair game. And in two weeks, we’d meet up again, talk about the progress (or the setbacks), and keep moving forward. There was never any judgment from my coach, just a sheer commitment to helping me on my journey, wherever the path led.
Working with my coach, I discovered who I wanted to be, who I didn’t want to be, and how to harness the little voices in my head and turn them from tormentors into cheerleaders. Now let’s be serious, it was not all rainbows and unicorns. There were tough moments. Moments of doubt and frustration. But with the help of my life coach, my world slowly went from worrying about checking each box to discovering whole new boxes I never even knew existed.
Finding Your Own Joy
Here’s the deal: We all grow up with our own baggage and lug it around into adulthood, and often add to our collection. It’s impossible to escape life without it. But it’s not the end of the world; it’s not a sob story.
What we do get is a choice. A choice for how we handle our baggage, what we make of our circumstances, how we use our gifts. And make no mistake, we all have gifts. This is even more important than our baggage. (Trust a sister on this one.)
And that’s what coaching brought out for me: a new lens in which to view some of my old baggage. The ability to finally put it in storage instead of dragging it around. It also helped me find courage to continue to pursue writing (which is my creative passion), but to also know that it didn’t mean I had to give up my day job. I realized that my day job gives me satisfaction in other ways—namely, the amazing people I get to work with and their impact on me and vice versa.
I learned when it comes to my writing, my job is just to do the creating, keep putting the words down, and not so much to worry about what it will become, how many followers I’ll add, or if my story is Insta-perfect. (There is no such thing. You can trust a sister on this one, too.)
The mechanics of my life have not greatly changed. I’m still living on the farm with my best pal hubby, tending to our crazy zoo of fur critters, writing for fun, and working my high-tech product manager job. But the deep-down-in-my-bones joy is altogether new. And best of all, I now understand how all the versions of me fit together, how this life is one big crazy journey, and we each have our own story to tell.
Choosing a Life Coach
If you think a little guidance is in order or you’re wanting to better explore habits, thoughts, and dreams, and would like a guide to help you discover what is already deep inside, I encourage you to give a life coach a try. Investing in yourself just may give you a new way to view the world and your place in it.
Tips to ensure you have a joyful journey with a life coach:
Choose someone you click with. This is a partnership, and your life coach should be someone with whom you can be open and honest. The best coaches will offer a free exploratory session to see if there is a match.
Look for a certified professional. You need an experienced guide on this journey, so check out her credentials.
Be prepared to do the work. Working with a life coach is just that: work. There is introspection, exploration, and homework. But trust me, you might even learn to like homework when you realize you’re the one handing out the grades.
Go easy on your expectations. Working toward your goals is a lifetime endeavor. There is no moment of arrival. Your job is to show up and try. So give yourself a break, allow yourself to soak up the experience. You might just be surprised at what you find just beneath the surface.
Enjoy the journey. Everyone’s path is different. For me, I signed up for six months, and I continue to meet with my coach a year later for refresher sessions and to help me keep moving forward. For others, you might find a three-month stint is all you need. I’d encourage you to simply be flexible. We all have our own stories, baggage, and dreams to work through.
A writer and blogger, Tammy Ammon lives in Texas hill country where she balances life as a high-tech product manager and farmgirl, wife, and mom to a gaggle of fur-kids. She shares her rarely graceful, sometimes challenging, and always hilarious farm life on her blog, My Farmtastic Life.