A few weeks ago, I was having a session with a mentor coach as part of my training in Equine Facilitated Coaching. We were talking about something fairly benign...how to describe what I do for marketing purposes or how to pinpoint my target audience...and I started crying. Hard. I tried to swallow it and pretend I wasn’t having this upsurge of fear and doubt and anxiety, but it was too powerful. It had to come out. So I sat there in a public coffee shop across from a woman I admire and became a blubbering mess. I said, “I’m not sure what’s happening. I don’t know why I’m crying.” But it turns out, I did know.
You see, my life coaching practice is just me. I started a business and I am my own boss. As awesome as that sounds, I don’t have anyone to impose deadlines or assign projects. I don’t have a marketing team or an accountant or a secretary. Every aspect of the business is my responsibility and if I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.
Well guess what? A lot doesn’t get done. Even though I’ve never missed a deadline in school or at work when I had to answer to a boss, when it comes to being accountable to myself, I don’t trust myself to get the job done. I hate that. I know I CAN do it, but I want to know I WILL do it. In that moment in the coffee shop, when we started talking about something in the business that should be fairly easy but sounded really hard, all the doubts and distrust and inconsistency surfaced. I want it to be easy. In fact, I realized in a flash that when things get difficult in my career endeavors, I start to look for a new shiny object to throw my passion at. When the reality doesn’t match up with the fantasy (and let’s be honest, it never does), I find my inner voice whispering that maybe it’s not meant to be or maybe there’s something better out there for me. This only happens in this part of my life. I’m totally trustworthy when it comes to fitness. I know I will work out hard and eat well and only indulge in moderation. And I’ve been married for 17 years and I’m committed to staying so even though it can be hard work sometimes. But with my career, I get stuck so easily, and honestly, I’m tired of it.
Here’s what I know: I want meaningful work. I want to leave a positive mark on my little corner of the world. And here’s something else I know, I believe in life coaching and equine-facilitated coaching. This is work that I’m passionate about, work that’s meaningful and powerful, work that ticks all my boxes for what a job should be. Yet the fear of not being able to push through the hard stuff to get it going threatens to stop me in my tracks. In that moment of self discovery, I felt so vulnerable and maybe a little ashamed. However, at the same time, I felt like I had opened a box inside myself, exposing this ugly nugget of resistance that I had denied was even there. Now that I see it, I can smash it. As I say so often in my life coaching sessions, awareness is always the first step.
I would’ve been more embarrassed about my meltdown if my coach hadn’t been so kind and so skillful at holding the space for me to work through that explosion of self doubt. But she was, and I worked through it and I’m better because of it...one more testament to the power of coaching.
Here’s what I’ve done as a result of that conversation:
-I sat down and pushed through the stuff I was hesitating to do out of fear or doubt. I found a place--an awesome place!--to do the equine work and I had the conversation around facility and horse fees. And guess what, it wasn’t so bad.
-I settled on a name and worked with an artist to create a logo.
-I defined my rates and put them on paper. Again, not so bad.
-I found an insurance policy. This was another small obstacle that I had made into a huge wall, but once I sat down and just did it, I stepped over the wall and moved on.
-I’ve started waking up earlier to write. I was already waking up early to meditate and keep a gratitude journal, but now I’ve added 15 minutes of writing. I listened to a podcast that recommended this. Just start a little bit of whatever creative endeavor you haven’t been making time for, and you will unlock a part of yourself that would’ve stayed shut up otherwise. Sometimes I write blog entries; sometimes I work on a coach yourself workbook I’m writing; sometimes I toy around with marketing materials. I’ve only been doing this for a couple weeks but I’ve written pages that I wouldn’t have gotten done while sleeping. And it’s getting easier to just write each morning, even when I don't feel like it.
-I’ve started to mind my mind, especially when I come up against resistance. I know what I want to do and I know how important it is to me. When I start to make excuses or feel those fears, I take note and I ask myself, “Now what is this all about?” That simple pause and question does wonders. Just noticing my attempts to self-sabotage (and we all have them) takes the power away and allows me to reroute my thoughts to more productive ones.
-Most importantly, I’ve started doing the equine-facilitated work. I’ve had a few clients. Even though I know I have a lot to learn, I’m doing it. And I love it, just as I love working with my current life coaching clients.
My trust in myself to get the job done is not where I want it to be, but I’m building it. From that moment when I felt so exposed and brittle, I have grown and changed and come out stronger. As uncomfortable as it felt to face that truth about myself, it opened up a door to a different way of being, and I have walked through it. So when you come up against a moment like that, try not to resist it. Feel the discomfort and ask yourself, “Now what is this all about?” Lean into the answer and really allow yourself to learn and grow.