This week, we’re going to do something a little bit different. Rather than sharing an article, I’m going to share a story from a former client, Alisa. She and I wrote this together for my book (which I’m almost about to send to publishers!), and I’m excited to share it with you today.

When I joined Katherine’s coaching group in September 2018, I’d been at the same job for a little more than five years. Long story short, it was not a good fit. I worried that I may never find work that fit me, and I reached out to Katherine because I was stuck trying to make a change on my own.

Near the end of coaching with Katherine, in February 2019, I took the (frankly terrifying) step of quitting my job. I lined up an adjunct faculty teaching position. I knew I had enough to pay the bills, though not much more.

Seeing Through a New Lens

This time, though, I was armed with a map of the journey. I knew the path would not be a straight line from point A to B. The process might take longer than I was totally comfortable with, and of course there would be challenges and moments of doubt.

Now, rather than seeing everything as a big problem, I was able to get curious about what might be possible. I was able to reach within myself and access the still-small voice that said go this way, don’t go that way. I was able to trust myself within the process.

I created a calendar of just my commitments up on the wall and kept coming back to it to remind myself of the bigger picture and why I was taking this journey.

Embracing the Journey of Experimentation

I started reaching out and having conversations with lots of different people (even though “informational interviews” felt way out of my comfort zone). Rather than listening to my inner Judge saying I should be somewhere different “at my age” or trying to come across as an expert, I stayed curious and present thanks to what I’d learned from Katherine.

Sometimes I would drive over an hour, telling myself it was worth it to understand the possibilities that were out there. The gratitude practices that I had learned helped me enjoy the process, and as part of this practice, I would send off hand-written thank-you notes after the conversations.

Although I knew that I wanted a permanent, long-term position, organizations started offering me short-term consulting gigs. They didn’t have funding for more than one or two projects, so I’d take the jobs. The work was interesting, and I knew that to transition to my new field, I needed to remain flexible and open to opportunities that might appear. I even embraced having protected time in which I didn’t need to deal with colleagues!

Every so often, I’d apply for a job that I wasn’t totally excited about, just to be in the practice of writing cover letters and maintaining momentum.

Along the way, I interviewed for two jobs that I sensed I could have talked my way into. However, rather than letting my People Pleaser tell the interviewer what she wanted to hear, I was authentic. I listened to my intuition and quickly realized that they weren’t for me.

An Opportunity… And Disappointment

In January 2020, one of the organizations where I’d been working offered me a part-time position, and I felt a yes! Then, in March, the pandemic struck, the organization didn’t know which contracts they could count on, and they canceled my position.

In the past, if something like this had happened, I might have told myself that I was cursed. But I chose a different story. I realized that we were going through a hard time as humanity, that I do not have a crystal ball, and that I’d just have to wait and see what happened.

Finally, The Hard Work Pays Off

A few months later, in June 2020, everything shifted. In just one month, well into the COVID-19 pandemic, I received eight job offers (!). By the end of the summer, I got three more. Suddenly, it felt like I had a menu of options to choose from.

I relied on my practices to process these offers. I sat with each choice, sensing what felt right, what made my heart sing. Before I even talked to my husband or my mom, I’d made up my mind. Whereas before I may have based my decision on what someone else said, this time I didn’t pass it on to anyone else. Even though the job I chose was different than the job I’d imagined back when Katherine led me through the Next Horizon exercise, I knew it was right for me.

My new title is the same as it was with my old job (Senior Research and Evaluation Associate). Yet the contrast in my experience of the positions could not be greater. I get to bring my fullest self to my work. I feel held at my new job, which allows me to be more authentic. The comradery is remarkable.

What I Learned Continues to Serve Me

These practices trained me to allow for the messiness of life in a pandemic, the day when nothing gets done, the weird dynamic that arises with a colleague. In the past, times like these might have sent me over the edge.

Now, when tension arises, instead of ignoring how I feel or being reactive, I pause, get settled, and listen to what’s going on in my body. I separate what my Judge is saying from what my colleague is saying, and the trigger dissipates. I understand that life continues on and things are constantly changing. I’m okay with the impermanence of things in a way that I wasn’t before.

I believe that all of this leads to better relationships with my colleagues and outcomes for all those we serve. I know I am helping my community. I am so grateful for where I am and the steps that brought me here.

Your Turn

Now that you’ve read Alisa’s story, I invite you to reflect for a moment. Grab your journal and a pen, and write down the questions:

  • Are there any insights or new knowings that I have after reading Alisa’s story?
  • And, is there anything that this inspires me to do in my own life?

Write down whatever arises and keep going until you feel complete. Then, if you identified a next baby step, go take it!

It was such an honor accompanying Alisa on her journey, and it is an honor to get to share her story with you!

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Much love,

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