I worked in a corporate job for nearly 10 years and for most of that time I wished I didn’t. I felt like it was killing me. I had this desperate feeling that I needed a plan to get out, so I set about creating that plan to transition from sad and bored into my dream life. I researched extensively and read hundreds of articles on ‘how to leave your day job’ and ‘how to become an entrepreneur’ and many of them gave step by step plans on how to do it.
Those articles told me I needed to consider my strengths and unique skills. They told me to think about who I’d want to help and how. They suggested I set a date when I would leave by and talk to my friends and family about it too. They told me I needed 3 months’ worth of savings. They told me SO MANY THINGS.
I was determined, so I got to work and got myself a shiny new notebook and pen (anyone else stationary obsessed?) to plan my new life with. I started with such a sense of optimism, but that soon faded away when I realised that despite following the steps, I still didn’t feel ready to leave and create my own money…and in the interest of full disclosure, I went on like that for around 5 years.
A shift in perspective
Here’s the thing – I didn’t feel ready because I wasn’t really feeling anything at all. All I was doing was manically planning, strategically plotting and, quite honestly, getting completely stuck in my head.
The reason I wanted to change my life was so I could feel like I was truly living my purpose. I’m guessing it’s the same for you? So I decided to try a different way. A way that felt so alien and strange, to begin with: I started to make my primary objective feeling good every day and trusting my intuition on what that was.
Because of this new tactic, I learned to meditate and did it (almost) every morning. I ate better (but don’t get it twisted – I still ate plenty of chocolate biscuits and drank wine because: pleasure). I got a lot more sleep. I wrote pages and pages in my diary of a life that made me feel amazing as if I was already living it. I took a career break travelled around Asia for 3 months.
And you know what, I started to genuinely feel different. I saw signs everywhere and realised things that I’d never realised before. I trusted myself more and I was more open to new opportunities. If something felt good, I went with it. If you’re feeling stuck in corporate right now, try this and just see what happens!
A new path appeared…
After a while, following signs and trusting my feelings led me to listen to my heart when it nudged me to spend more money than I’d ever spent on anything on training to become a life coach. I made that decision because of my primary focus on feeling good…I felt good whilst looking at the training providers’ website. I felt good when I reached out to them and got the warmest and most human response from a company I’d had in a long time. I felt good when I checked in with my intuition on it.
With each step along the journey I simply chose the option that felt the best and I trusted my inner knowing. Perhaps you think I’m oversimplifying it. But I swear, life really can become much sweeter with this one simple decision: to choose what feels good, even when logically it might not make sense and your brain is having a little (or big) freak out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to live this way. You’ll probably bat up against a lifetime of conditioning and you’ll feel crazy compared to your friends and family. But it IS worth it.
When I came to hand my notice in at my corporate job 18 months later, I wrote in my diary that it felt different than I’d expected. Because I’d expected to have more of a plan. A 10 step process of how I was going to ‘make it’. But I didn’t have anything like that. All I had was an unshakable trust and belief in myself and my only plan was to keep following what made me feel good. To be led by my heart and trust in where it led me. I realised at that moment, that trusting and following my heart is the greatest plan I could ever have and the only one I’d ever need.
It might sound a bit too good to be true, but think about it, if your only plan is to follow your heart and what feels good in each moment, then that is a plan you can have for the rest of your life. You won’t ever have to go back to the drawing board. It’s impossible for the plan to ‘fail’ and it’s clear and simple to know what to do next in any situation. The next step you take is the one that feels the best. My own personal mantra became ‘take the best next step’.
All good, right? It would be pretty nice if the story ended there wouldn’t it? Honestly I wish did. Happily ever after. But it didn’t. Nope. I’m human and I fell off the wagon BIG TIME, with some extremely challenging results…
I started to lose my way
Gradually, without me really noticing, I stopped trusting my own knowing and forgot all about my plan to only follow what felt good. I’d entered the world of online coaching and entrepreneurship with no prior experience and it felt like everyone else knew so much more than me about how I should run my business. I was desperate to make it work so I could live my purpose, help people, have a meaningful life and not have to go back to working for someone else.
It happened slowly, but it felt like all of a sudden my entire Instagram and Facebook feeds were full of the next business coach telling me they had the secret key to my success. 6 figs in 30 days! Get 5 clients with this one approach! Shouty shouty shouty!!! I found myself spending endless hours watching webinars, trying to choose a niche and stick with it, re-doing my branding and website over and over again, trying to learn how to be an online marketing genius and trying to understand what a funnel was and whether I really needed one (I didn’t, and you probably don’t either). I got completely and totally sucked in and I truly believed I didn’t know how to make my business work.
Now, this is where it gets really ugly…
I decided to spend $5k on a ‘business’ coach because of her clever (and unethical in hindsight) marketing, excellent copywriting skills and spiritual branding & photography. I got accidentally sucked into one of her launches without even realising that’s what was happening.
I thought (and they rely on this by the way) that because her prices were so high, she MUST be amazing. Her sales page told me she’d teach me how to get to consistent $10k months and I WANTED that. (Sidenote- there’s no shame in wanting to earn lots of money through your business – but that’s a whole other blog post). On the sales call with her, she told me I had to make a decision within 24hrs because the mastermind was getting full and someone else might take my place. I later realised this was a tactic that is commonly used to get people to feel scarcity and sign up. Yuck.
What followed was 5 months of me drifting further and further away from my own truth. I diligently did everything she told me to do and I see now how much power I gave away because of that. I genuinely liked her and she was an okay enough coach for me to hold onto the hope that it would all work out well. The thing is, these coaches design it that way. She taught me her own tactics and they included (get ready to cringe) things like:
- Deeply digging into your clients ‘pain points’ in your writing so they feel like you ‘get them’.
- Tricks for creating the sense that you’re an authority figure so your clients see YOU as their answer / fairy godmother (instead of themselves).
- Pricing high to create a sense of high value and positioning yourself as a leader (even if you’re just starting out and that isn’t the truth).
- Lying and saying you only have a few spaces left, to get people to decide quicker.
You do not have to do these things to have a thriving business – I promise. And also, please don’t.
I failed to do them (even though I tried so hard to make it work) because although at the time I completely trusted her and desperately wanted my business to work, on some level my soul knew – of course – and point-blank refused to allow me to go there.
Unsurprisingly, none of it stuck. AND I AM SO DAMN GLAD ABOUT THAT.
By the end of the 5 months of working together, I’d signed 1 coaching client and felt completely burned out. I was also desperately sad. I felt extremely alone and I wondered whether I’d made a mistake by becoming a coach in the first place. My old corporate role started to not look so bad after all. So I took a break and went into a much needed period of recovery. I was experiencing anxiety that I’d never had before and it was a very challenging time.
During that time I also spoke to some of her other clients and found they felt the same. While this broke my heart even more, knowing I wasn’t alone was a small comfort. I also took on a part-time job so I could relax financially. (sidenote – it’s more than okay to work another job while you build your biz and you’d be surprised at how many successful coaches also have other sources of income).
Finding forgiveness for the past version of me that made those choices has been a huge practice for me. I remind myself that even though I lost my way, I never lost my heart.
Onwards and upwards
A couple of months later, a lovely coach I’d worked with whilst doing my coaching training, Sammie Fleming, sent me an email inviting me to join her for her group coaching programme, The Collective. I cried tears of relief reading her loving and gentle invitation and I knew it was exactly what I needed. Over that 5 months, Sammie reminded me of and held space for me to remember who I really am.
Slowly I began to return to my original plan of only following what felt really good, trusting my intuition and taking one step at a time. I remembered that it’s ME who knows best in my business and that I didn’t need to become someone I’m not to be successful. And neither do you.
Following the return to my own truth and the process of deconditioning from everything I’d learned from my previous coach and the shouty webinars, my business started becoming what I had always dreamt it to be. Beautiful, amazing clients reached out to work with me. I was only doing things I loved and that felt so great! I was resting a whole lot more. Everything seemed to fall into place and work out. It’s a beautiful feeling. All by just being myself and speaking the truth! So simple.
This past year has been an incredible contrast to those darker times and I am so proud of myself and grateful that I didn’t qive up on myself and my dreams. I deeply believe and know that we all get to run businesses we love, that feel good and do good AND make money.
I wanted to share this story of my bumpy journey publicly because I know that even if this helps just one person not to go through what I did, it will be worth the vulnerability hangover.
Plus, we’re so often fed the glossed-over version of how people actually reach success, that we feel shame if our own process is messy and human. I know I did.
This industry is beautiful and of course like anything, it also has its pockets of darkness. I want to shine a light into these places and also acknowledge that they exist. I believe that it’s only in the seeing and acknowledgment that true healing can take place.
I’m truly grateful for the experiences I’ve had, even though they were ridiculously hard at the time. Going through these things has taught me so much about how to be a great coach (and human) and given me the awareness and capacity to hold others through their own experiences of entrepreneurship and everything that comes with it in the most empowering and beautiful ways.
Sharing this here is also a type of ritual and ceremony for me. As I write these words I choose to fully release those experiences and let them return to the unconditional love of the universe. They are no longer mine to hold and they have no place coming with me energetically or otherwise into 2020. So be it.
If anything in this writing touched you, whether you’re stuck in a corporate role and desperate for a way out, or you’re already on the entrepreneurial path and want to create in ways that feel so good and so YOU, you are so welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read more about working with me privately here.
With so much love and peace,