Have a Destination in Mind? Put Your Foot on the Path and Start Walking
By: Terry B. McDougall
He looked at me a little incredulously and asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
Last year I quit my job. When I told my boss, he looked at me a little incredulously and asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” I wanted to leave for several good reasons, primarily that I hadn’t been happy for a while. My job had evolved and no longer played to my strengths. Though I was able to do what was required of the job, the energy “out” far outweighed the energy “in,” causing me to feel depleted. I withered away a little more each day that I worked in that job.
As the primary breadwinner for my family of five, I felt trapped. How would we make ends meet if I walked away? I wish I could say that I thought long and hard about my decision to leave, but that wouldn’t be true. One day something happened that was the last straw and I was extremely frank with my boss about my feelings about the job. I admitted that I didn’t think it was a good fit anymore and told him why. After that conversation, I questioned whether I’d been wise to be so forthright, but my heart told me that it was the right thing to do. I spoke my truth and immediately a heavy burden was lifted. I found a way to make what had once felt impossible become a reality.
Here it is 18 months later and I am now a Certified Professional Coach working with people who are where I once was — professionally successful but not satisfied with where they are. As a manager, I had enjoyed coaching and mentoring my employees to help them be more effective, to take on new challenges, and to support them as they grew. Now that I’m doing it as a full-time professional, I love it. Supporting a client as they have an “a-ha” moment that changes their view of what’s possible is downright addictive. Feeling the energy shift when someone moves from “I can’t” to “damn right I can” is thrilling and immensely satisfying.
What I struggle with nowadays is feeling like I’m doing enough. My fear is that my efforts won’t be enough to build a successful business, and I’ll have to “go back” to something that’s not as good of a fit. Fortunately, one of the huge benefits of going through a great coach training program is that I know a lot of great coaches! When my gremlins undermine my confidence, support is just a phone call or text away. I see that my fears and worst-case fantasies are natural, but probably not that likely. I know it’s impossible to “go back.” Even if I get another corporate job, I will be going forward because that’s the only way to go. I’m a different person for what I’ve experienced and I’ll never be back where I was.
When I find myself or my clients feeling scared about the future and the “what ifs”, I use a very effective tool called the three-step process that helps to reframe the situation:
- Step 1: I think of a time when I’ve been successful.
- Step 2: I recall the strengths and skills that I used to achieve that goal.
- Step 3: I decide how I can apply those strengths and skills to my current situation.
Often, just the reminder that one has overcome obstacles in the past to achieve goals can be enough to shift to a positive energy state ready to take on the challenge of the moment.
Here’s a very recent example from my life. Recently, my husband and I dropped off our 19-year-old son at college. Getting him ready for college while juggling the demands of our two small family businesses has been a demanding. There’s the emotional aspect of letting go of my baby along with all the prepping, shopping, packing, and last-minute advising that needed to be done. However, his new journey is a huge reason to celebrate.
Dropping our son off at college is the result of 19 years of constant love and hard work. My husband Scott and I weren’t successful as parents at every turn. There was a lot of conflict with our son during the middle school years, but we kept searching for better ways to parent. We couldn’t foresee 19 years ago what would get us to this point. We didn’t know then what we’d be doing for a living or how we’d parent during every phase of our son’s life. We just started on the journey and figured it out along the way with lots of trial and error, experiments and adjustments. We now have a son who is at college and we have money to pay for it (for the first couple years anyway)… it wasn’t a grand plan that we devised when we brought him home from the hospital, it was a day-by-day journey that we figured out along the way.
One notable parenting failure happened during middle school when our son was rebellious and not doing well in school. An infomercial advertising a CD set for “parents who had tried everything” seemed like it was talking directly to us and with hope I ordered the program that would supposedly teach Scott and I how to become experts on “tough love” parenting and get our son back in line in no time. We tried the approach the CDs advised, but it didn’t work with our kid. That approach failed but led us to find more effective parenting techniques that did ultimately resonate with our son.
After we dropped off our smart, loving, talented and handsome son, I realize that sometimes you just have to try stuff to see what works. Sometimes things will work very well and sometimes they will crash and burn, but at least you know not to do that again.
Now that the college drop-off and all the preparations are behind us, I’m going to move forward with some of the ideas I’ve been considering for my business. And much like parenting, building a business is a long-term undertaking. I’m not sure if my ideas will work, but the only way to know is to try them out like we did with our son. It’s the effort over a long period of time that makes the difference — not whether one action works or not. Sitting around mulling over the perfect next move is just wasting time.
If you have goals you’d like to reach but are not sure how to make them happen, think back to a time when you were in a similar situation and the outcome was a success. What skills and approaches did you use? Have courage in knowing that you’ve faced obstacles and overcome them in the past and you can do it again. You may stumble but you will also get up and keep moving. That’s called progress and it’s not always pretty, but it sure it satisfying when you look back to see how far you’ve come!
Terry B. McDougall is a Career Success Coach who helps sales and marketing professionals be effective, successful and satisfied in careers that are the best fit for their talents and passions. Prior becoming a Certified Professional Coach, Terry spent 20+ years as a corporate marketing leader.
Originally published at www.ellevatenetwork.com.