I was having an ordinary day at work when my coworker approached me about her recent Professional Certified Coaching (PCC) certificate. I work in an office that provides mental health services for foster and adoptive families, so the majority of the people I work with are therapist. Naturally, I was excited that she could add another credential to the end of her title, but I didn’t realize she was actually sharing this information to offer me a free coaching consultation. I was a little skeptical because she was my coworker, and I also didn’t want to feel guilty about paying her. I didn’t want to create a conflict of interest. Although I didn’t mention my concerns to her, she assured me that there was no commitment to continue sessions with her after the first consultation, and we could meet outside of work. I committed to meeting her the following week at a Panera Bread close by the office before work. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, what I wanted to talk about, or how this process worked, but I knew I had nothing to lose. Either she could tell me something I didn’t know or confirm what I already do know.
I walked in and saw her seated with a coffee at a table for two. I want to say I ordered a soufflé (side note: Panera has bomb breakfast soufflés) and sat down. The first question she asked me was, “So what would you like to talk about?” I was completely confused by her question. I thought to myself, “helloooo, aren’t you supposed to have psychic vision and expertise that is supposed to tell me what to talk about?!”. Then, I thought about it for a moment. I rephrased the question in my mind and asked myself, “what do you need to talk about?”, “What has been an untouched, unsatisfied area of your life?” Suddenly it clicked…that’s what she was asking.
I graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2013. I walked across the stage, grabbed my fake diploma and my family cheered me on to celebrate my success. After years of working overtime and going to school at night I had finally accomplished one of my lifetime goals. But it’s funny how life works. Although I thought I graduated I was actually a few credits short due to classes I failed in earlier semesters that needed to be retaken. So in reality, I was eligible to walk across the stage, but I wasn’t eligible to receive my degree. Initially I brushed it off and said I would return, but I soon discovered I owed the school a few thousand dollars. In my young mind I thought, “how am I going to pay that?” So I decided I wouldn’t. I was still getting hired by simply telling prospective employers that I had an undergraduate degree. It wasn’t really affecting my career at all, so the idea of returning became a distant thought. Until one day a great job opportunity came to me via LinkedIn. I went through an extensive background screening and they discovered that I had not received my undergraduate degree. After sending numerous writing samples, passing two assessments, a drug screening, and three interviews. I finally made it. Only to discover I was ineligible due my educational background. I was disappointed in myself. The job that would guarantee me a minimum annual income of $65K was suddenly just dream. Suddenly finishing my undergraduate degree became a priority to me, but I wasn’t quite sure if it was possible. Even if I wanted to finish, where was I going to find $6K?!
After some probing, I eventually spilled all of my career dreams and goals to my newly hired life coach. They were all laid out on the table along with all of my vulnerabilities. She took in all of my worries and proceeded to ask me a few questions and began to reveal myself to me.
Here are a few valuable points from our conversation:
Money can be made anywhere. Surely I thought she would walk away from the table after hearing I was in so much debt to the school. “Maybe we can talk again next year” I told myself, but she knew better than I did at the time. She assured me if I put a plan in motion and focused all of my energy on my first goal I could make progress. I started to think of all the extra time I have during the day. I have worked a 9AM – 5PM job for most of my life. After work I usually go home and either eat, get on the internet, maybe visit a friend. I wasn’t utilizing my free time effectively. I wasn’t doing anything productive. Everyone has the same 24 hours per day. Click To Tweet Yes, even Beyonce. What is the difference between those that are successful and me? Aside from the fact that I’m just not Beyonce, I realized that successful people are productive. They either get another job/source of income/hustle to make money or invest their time into something that can eventually make money. She helped me see that for every minute of the day I spent doing nothing, I could be spending it making the money I need to achieve my goal. My job hunt began.
You can overcome any roadblock. She told me I needed to stop creating roadblocks in my mind, and encouraged me to focus on my options. My grandmother who has always had a great career and was doing well would certainly help me if I asked her to. I was just too ashamed, or prideful to ask. I worried about what she would think of me. Maybe she’d say to herself, “Laura only calls when she needs something”. Those thoughts troubled me and stopped me from asking for the assistance I needed to move ahead. My life coach told me the only reason I couldn’t get the money I needed is because I wouldn’t. I eliminated asking someone for help when I needed it. I put up a roadblock instead of an option. I did end up reframing my thinking, but I just wasn’t ready to ask quite yet.
Something strange happens when you start shifting your energy and you start going after what you really want out of your life. Once your mindset is changed you can begin creating the change you need to achieve your goals. About a month later, out of the blue, my grandmother text me about how I was doing and asked me what my goals were. My heart pounded as I thought about my one and only chance to ask her. Would I take it? I told my grandmother I was interested in getting my MBA, but I had a little issue with the school and wasn’t able to attend due to some debt. She asked me how much I needed to pay in order to get started again. After I told her the amount she immediately asked me for my bank routing and account number. Over $6,500 was deposited into my account by morning, and I was able to pay off my debt. Yes, you read that correctly. Once you begin looking at the options you do have and stop looking at your roadblocks you will realize that everything you need is usually at your fingertips. Use all possible resources.
Do you take yourself seriously? was the question she asked in response to me saying, “I want people to take me seriously.” To answer her question, I’m not sure. If you want to be taken seriously you should begin by taking yourself seriously. My initial thought was, “nah I’m a clown”, but the more I thought about it the more I realized all the ways in which I don’t take myself seriously. Sometimes I don’t brush my hair. I don’t even own an iron so you can imagine what my clothes looks like half of the time. I’m late to nearly everywhere I go. I fart in my office at least once a day. You get the point. I don’t take myself as serious as I want other people to take me, so it’s unfair to demand that type of respect. In order to achieve my goals I need to have discipline. I need to be credible. I need to be reliable. All of that begins as soon as I wake up in the morning. So I decided I’d do at least one thing per month that would bring me up to the level of people in my life that I take seriously. I am now a proud iron owner.
What would your perfect world look like in one year? In five years? As a follow up from our meeting she had me write two summaries that outlined what my perfect world would look like in one year and five years. As I prepared to write this blog I looked back at those letters. I kept them so I could stay on track or at least be able to reflect on what I thought I wanted versus my reality. I included a lot of professional and personal goals in the summaries including my relationship goals which have drastically changed since I wrote them. I would encourage anyone reading this to write a summary of what their dream life would be like in one year from now. Then try five years from now. Use them as a tool to keep you motivated. You can use them to keep you focused. Or you can use them just to have your vision written in stone so you can take them seriously. Don’t write about what you think is possible. Write down what your dreams are.
She made me believe that anything is possible. After one conversation with her I made so many changes in my life. I finally officially graduated from UMBC with a degree in English Literature, and I am currently pursuing a graduate degree in Business Administration at the University of Maryland – Robert H. Smith School of Business. Amongst other things, I am committed to community work, opened an online book store, and relaunched my blog. Through this blog I really hope to reach young women all over the world by providing connections to literature and art, travel advice, and practical ways to pursue the best life. I would recommend seeing a life coach to anyone. Even if it is just for one session. She met with me again to go over my letters and she asked me one final question before the session was over, what do you want out of this life?
So I am also here to ask you the same, what do you want out of this life? What is it that would make things perfect for you? Don’t think too deep into it. At minimum, what would you change today?
Thank you for allowing me to share my experience. Please feel free to comment, share or contact me.