Career & life transformation: From Lost to Loving Herself in 8 Short Months
Updated: Feb 13
In February 2020, Jess was lost. On paper, she had a so-called great life, but she felt like something was missing. She was down on herself, unconfident and kept asking herself ‘is this it’? She felt there was an ‘itch’ that she needed to scratch. She wanted more.
Fast forward to October 2020 - just 8 months later - and she has quit drinking and lost 13 kilos along the way, quit her job to become a freelance writer and is now applying to study at university in a whole other country. She feels confident, balanced and, most importantly, happy with herself.
Read on to find out how she completely turned her life around, all while in the middle of a global pandemic...
‘It’s really weird thinking back to that time because I’m in such a different place now. I should have been happy – I had a great job, was living in a lovely country, had healthy relationships, great friends and family – but it just wasn’t fulfilling. I felt like I had no direction, I didn’t know where I was going.”
Coaching... why the hell not?
Jess approached me after my coaching was recommended to her by a friend. She’d been exploring different talking options like therapy, thinking that she needed to speak to someone and get stuff off her chest.
“I wasn’t happy, but I really wanted to fix it and get direction in my life. I thought why the hell not. I didn’t know too much about it or what to expect but I went in with an open mind.” This is exactly the difference between coaching and other interventions. Whilst therapy and counselling focus on the past, coaching is forward-looking and action oriented.
Two can play at that game
A common misconception about coaching is that it will 'tell you what to do', but that's actually mentoring. Luc
kily, very early on Jess understood that coaching would need effort on her part. “I think I thought that you’d fix all my problems, but I soon realised that it was a working relationship and that you’d give me the tools I needed, but I’d need to put the work in.” See, a coach believes in the unlimited potential of their client and knows that the answer is within them.
So rather than telling them what to do as a mentor would, they act more like a guide, asking them a series of insightf
ul questions to help them get to the outcome they want. And whilst none of these interventions are ‘better’ than the other, they are all appropriate for us at different stages of our lives.
Woman in the mirror
Another common misconception about coaching, is that it’s ‘all about goals’, but self-reflection is also a huge part of it. Through a programme of coaching sessions and ‘extra-curricular’ reflection exercises, we started to raise Jess’s self-awareness as well as help her start setting and working towards meaningful goals.
‘It wasn’t just a case of ‘bye, we’ve done our hour’. I found myself thinking about our sessions all week. All these self-reflective tasks are so beneficial, and I found them really interesting. It was like ‘Here’s a mirror, here’s what I’m projecting. It's not often you stop and look at everything - what you’re doing, what you’re putting out into the world’.
Jess not only learnt a lot about herself in these exercises, but also uncovered a few surprises along the way, using tools like the Wheel of Life.
“I’d thought it was just my job and geographical location that were getting me down, but it turned out that health and money were also an issue, which I hadn’t realised. I guess it all marries together. My job was great, but I wasn’t achieving anything new or challenging myself. I also wasn’t saving money and realised that being secure and comfortable is actually really important to me. Life is a balancing act and when I took a step back and saw that a couple of areas weren’t scoring as high as I’d expected, it made sense as it’s a domino effect.”
I ain't saying she's a goaldigger...
Of course, setting and working towards goals is a big part of coaching and former self-confessed-procrastinator Jess, absolutely smashed hers. “The goals that I set were about moving to Canada and writing more”. Just eight short months later and both those goals are very much where Jess is at and where she’s going.
As well as moving to Canada, she realised that her thirst for knowledge hadn’t gone away after not graduating from university. “My brother suggested putting the two together and I started looking into studying there. So now I’m applying to uni in British Columbia to study Business Administration majoring in Marketing. I’m so looking forward to putting everything into a backpack, moving somewhere totally new, and being a mature student!”
“The writing thing is also really interesting. The goal evolved over time, but definitely stayed within that theme. For a while it was about my blog and then it became about writing children’s books. For now, I’ve veered away from writing books, and towards writing more generally. Just after we finished coaching, I started looking into freelancing to see if I could do any writing, editing, PR, marketing, etc. and weirdly I’ve landed on my feet with it. I’ve ended up getting a couple of ongoing jobs, so I’m juggling 4 jobs now and I would never have been able to do that eight months ago. I’m writing a lot which is amazing and its really opened my eyes to how I can also do this to support my studies in the future.”
What this proves is that goals aren’t linear – I liken it to the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz. In the corporate world, the concept of ‘moving the goalposts’ has negative connotations, but in your personal life it’s actually a good thing, as progress is dynamic. We only find out whether something is the right direction when we try it. The progress towards the goal is the achievement. Jess learned that the key is seeing everything as an experiment,
“My mind got opened to trying lots of different things to see what works. It’s easy to think that if we don’t hit our main goals then we’ve failed, but that’s so not the case. I now know that it’s a winding road and I learn from everything I try, knowing that I’ll eventually end up in the right place.”
So, what has Jess learned along the way?
1. That she is capable of more than she ever thought possible. “I think I always thought ‘you probably can’t do it, you’re not
good enough, it won't work out, etc.’. But they say that ‘change begins at the end of your comfort zone’, which is something we talked about a lot. I never felt like I was ‘going on’ and you were getting bored. It’s a conversation – a back and forth. Its responsive. It’s a partnership. Like having your own personal cheerleader, and you’re on an even keel with one another.”
2. That fear can actually be fuel. “Don’t get me wrong – I’m all smiles at my amazing transformation, but I’m still shitting myself! I’ve left my apartment, staying in my friend’s spare room right now, handed in my notice and packed my whole life into a couple of boxes. I had a couple of ‘What the hell am I doing?’ meltdowns, but I just thought ‘If it doesn’t go to plan or takes a different direction, then its ok’. So, I’m going with it. I’ve learned that its ok to be scared, and I’d much rather give it a go, than think ‘What if’ for the rest of my life. I read this quote ‘It’s ok to be scared because you’re doing something really brave’, which I just love. We only get one life.”
This just proves that changing your thoughts really can change your feelings. “It just goes to show that these ‘shitting myself’ feelings are actually excitement in disguise sometimes. I’ve learned to say things like ‘Oh my God I’m so scared, but something amazing could come from this.” Mel Robbins talks a lot about this, saying that fear, anxiety and excitement all come from exactly the same place in the body. It’s just our thoughts about the thing we’re about to do that make us feel the specific emotion. For example, when she’s about to speak in front of 5,000 people, instead of thinking ‘I’m scared’, she tells herself ‘I’m excited’ and she starts feeling excited. Physically she goes through the same feeling, but the new thought changes the emotion attached to it. Simples.
3. That being aware of how you talk to yourself is hugely important. “I realised I was always putting myself down, so I’ve worked hard to change my internal dialogue. I now say things like ‘I’m so full of grace’ if I spill coffee, rather than ‘I’m such an idiot’.”
That there’s always so much to learn about yourself. It’s such a valuable thing to do, to ‘educate yourself about yourself’. To hold that mirror up and begin to vouch for yourself – that’s one of the most valuable things that we can have. I found coaching to be so much more beneficial than a therapist on a leather couch asking me how I feel. Its more structure, more action and more results.
A changed woman
When Jess looks back now on all the milestones she’s achieved during and since coaching, she feels like she’s a different person. “The change has just been monumental. My friends and family cannot believe the change in me. I now think ‘Yeah – I’m solid. I’m happy with myself’. Which is a really nice place to be, especially when you’ve been in a place where you don’t really like yourself. Someone asked me to write a blog about quitting drinking and when I wrote it, I went back to my journal from a year ago when I was writing horribly dark stuff and seeing the difference in then and now – where I’ve got off my bum and done stuff, rather than wallowing- it's amazing.
"Your coaching set me up with everything I needed to get me here. It’s been so eye opening to not only find out what life coaching is, but also just having someone in your corner for whatever it is that’s troubling you and helping you get to where you want to be".
But Jess is keen to show that she’s not the ‘finished article’, that there’s always room to grow. “Don’t get me wrong – I still sometimes second guess myself! I go back to the fact that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and worry whether I should’ve stayed in my job, given that people all over the world are losing theirs. But there’s always going to be a reason not to do something and there always was, like waiting until this time or that time. But I just thought ‘Fuck it, if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.’
So, what would she say to someone in the same boat as she was back in February? “It will get better. You will find that joy again. Try coaching – honestly, I didn’t realise I could feel as good as I do. You have to put the work in though – but don’t worry, it’s not like the grind! You’ll be working on yourself and that’s awesome! It just goes back to the fact that we’ve got one shot at life and you just have to take chances and go for it. Regret is something I don’t ever want to have. Just ask yourself ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ Maybe it doesn’t work out. Fine - try something else. The world is our oyster and we’ve got to make the most of it haven’t we?”
Man alive. If this girl can do all of this in the middle of a global pandemic – what the hell can she achieve when it’s over?
Watch this space….
Do you feel lost like Jess? In need of someone to help you make a change or 'scratch that itch'? Drop me a line to discover how I can help.
Career Change & Business Coach and Side Hustle Queen
Hi, I'm Lauren. I burnt out, hit rock bottom and used the experience to manifest my dream life. I now help passionate and ambitious women change career, start side hustles and grow businesses. I'm living proof that you can - and deserve to - have it all.
Career Change Coaching