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“What’s it really like to run a business as a life coach?” you ask.
Well, then. Let me share.
Life: I wake up when I hear my daughter’s feet running down the hall. I used to try to get up earlier, but my husband agreed that I’m way less crabby when he gets up with our daughter, first.
I check Voxer to see if my VA/Mistress of Communication, Adrianne, has left me a vox about anything critical. Usually, the biz is pretty chill, and while Adrianne doesn’t work a ton of hours, I largely credit her with keeping my head on straight and reminding me of things.
We have breakfast together as a family. I stay in my pajamas as long as possible. My husband leaves for work, and I hang out with our daughter a little longer. We read books, dismantle and then pull apart her train set, dance in the kitchen to the Dixie Chicks. Then I drop her off at daycare, and I’m usually home and ready for my day by 10am.
Pleasure: With a few exceptions—launches or times when I’m on a deadline for a project—I adhere to a “Pleasure, First” work policy. Nope, nothing saucy in that statement (though hey, now that I think of it, that could also be an interesting way to start the workday), but rather I start my workday with something that brings me pleasure, which is usually writing but other times can be camping out on the couch with a stack of Triathlete Magazine back issues, calling a friend I haven’t talked to in awhile, doodling with Micron pens, or hanging out with a favorite book.
Work: Each month, I look at what I’ve got going on for the month and identify the top five things that I want to get done that month. I hang that on a wall in my office, somewhere really visible. In Basecamp, I break those five things into to-do lists that Adrianne has access to, and I delegate some of those lists to her. Work tasks range from changing something on the backend of my website to writing to creating graphics to setting up newsletters to being interviewed for podcasts. I’m usually working between 11am and 4pm, with a break for lunch.
Money: I’m a fan of the idea that we are all in our relationship with our money. If I’m in relationship with something, I need to give it respect, time, attention, validation, and listen closely to what it needs. My worst money habit? Not planning for paying taxes at a measured pace throughout the year, and then needing to pull big sums of cash out of savings when the deadline officially looms. My best money habit? I’m not big on emotional spending; I feel very clear that if I’m feeling crappy, spending money on stuff that I don’t really need is not likely to make me feel better.
Connection: My business and life BFFs, Valerie and Rachael, are my go-to women for reporting something I’m frustrated with, something I’m celebrating, something I’m trying to figure out. We Vox and text about business, relationships, and all of life in-between. I’m also in communication with the CLCC Leadership Team and with other colleagues, I am a fan of the impromptu Skype coffee date. Scheduling calls, for some reason, always brings up this feeling of constraint—I don’t like the feeling of something I have to do at a set time—so I rarely have them and usually, instead, I end up jamming with friends at random.
What’s Most Time Consuming: Anything that has to do with content creation or establishing a new system. With systems, for instance, when I learned that my old digital delivery processor had changed their shopping cart page in such a way that it looked as if the only option for payment was PayPal, I needed to research and test different digital delivery applications, change sales pages, update things on the backend of my website, etc. (Three cheers for my new system, Gumroad! I am loving it). When I’m creating a new program, I need to research, outline, edit, test, create, and add visual design to the content. I could hire out for more of what I do, but since I’m typically only working afternoons, and because creating content/curriculum is something I love to do, I don’t hire out.
Triathlon training: By 3:00 in the afternoon, my attention is moving to how I’ll wrap up the day and what workout is scheduled. My training schedule is long run on Mondays, Master’s swim followed by spin class on Tuesday evenings, a shorter run on Wednesdays, a distance swim on Thursdays, a distance bike ride followed by a short run on Fridays, and vinyasa flow yoga on either Friday or Sunday. I try to get all of my training done during 9-5 working hours. My very wise friend who is an informal triathlon coach/mentor has told me that I’m not doing enough targeted training specifically for speed drills or strength, but c’est la vie—adding those in would mean time taken away from work or my family, and I’m clear about my priorities.
The kiddo: Wherever I can, and usually that’s a few times a week, I pick up my daughter early from day care and we chill at a park, the library, or the house, getting some special time together before the hubs gets home. Evenings are all of us together and are full of more book reading, toddler meltdowns, and lately, my daughter’s emphatic pronouncements: “I did it!” and “I found it!” and “There it is!” Weekends are when we get a lot of our quality time as a family.
The hubs: We get one date day on the calendar each month, and we always eat dinner or have a glass of wine together after our daughter has gone to bed. He leaves me post-it notes on my office door, and I send him Bitmojis of myself in compromising positions. It works. We are in regular communication in pockets of the day, and we always know that we need more time when we start picking at one another.
Household: How the hell do I run the household, with all of that going on? Simplifying meal planning was the big first step. I created two weeks worth of menus. Week 1 has its shopping list; week 2 has its shopping list. We just flip back and forth. The meal plan is posted on a cork board in the kitchen, so that my husband also knows what’s for dinner and can get started on something if needed. We each dump the same amount of money into an account for bill paying. The rest—laundry, housecleaning—gets shoved into nooks and crannies here and there. Our house is often messy. Everyone’s fine.
What makes it easier: that I’m not in my first few years of business; that I know what I want my business to be about; that I’ve diversified my offerings between digital programs, life coaching, our life coach training program, speaking, and a facilitation course. Having created all of those things, now my attention turns to the sharing about and running of those things, and it’s always less time-consuming to manage what you’ve created than to be starting from scratch in business, figuring out what you want your brand and message to be about, getting a website up.
What I’m really excited about: we’re finishing off our garage and then we’ll turn it into an art area. It’ll be a big room where canvasses sit, waiting to be slashed with paint. I’m opening registration on my new “how to facilitate” course, Facilitate with Impact. Summer break is coming, and with it there’s the magic of longer days, wine in the back yard with friends, and digital sabbaticals.
Technically, the “right” thing to do, the very “self-helpy” thing to do when one is in the midst of confusion would be to get grounded, immediately and as quickly as possible.
And as I imagine you do, too, I haaaate it when I’m feel disconnected from who I know I truly am, when I’m walking unmoored in a space of not knowing my place in the world.
A few times a year, it happens. I find myself confronting groundlessness. All of my courage and Buddhist practices rise up and confront me and I don’t feel like I can lean into any of them.
Mindfulness? Pfft. Courage? Ugh.
This is all very human, and it’s hard being a human.
What gives me comfort at such times—what I hope gives you comfort, too—is drawing power from my discontent.
The Power of Your Discontent
If you decide that numbing out is not an option, eventually, you’ll get either sad or pissed.
If you get pissed, you’ll be profoundly uncomfortable but you’ll also be firing up the burners for reconnecting with the part of you that says: No. Abso-fucking-lutely not. I’ve gone as far as I can go, and I’m not going to go any farther.
The power of your discontent—of mine—of the discontent behind any movement—is that if you keep the channel open, that discontent can transform itself.
No. No more.
At the moment when you know you won’t take it for another second, you’re officially defining your future.
This is how you start a revolution, from within.
So at the same time that I often feel lost when I’m in the midst of discontent, I’m also waiting for when the tide will turn. I know that if I struggle enough with something, and if I keep waiting, there will be this moment of transformation—the discontent into action—that hits.
When the truth-truth-truth comes knocking at your door, you know that life is about to get real.
These moments of reckoning are hard, but they’re everything when you know the gold that lies within them.
The next time you’re in the midst of flailing, keep your senses attuned for when that fierceness within you dares to rise. Don’t shut it down. Welcome it. See it as the next step in a process that says: No more.
Your transformation is imminent.
In the moment of that first breath where a bolt runs through you, “Ohhhhhh holdupholdupholdup I don’t know that doesn’t seem like a good idea wait a second,” there’s this simultaneous opportunity to develop more courage.
Most of the time, we pass over this little opportunity because fear patterns are running on auto-pilot. We run fear on a cue-routine-reward loop. Cue: fear. Routine: All the things we do to alleviate it (people-please, perfectionism, lashing out, etc.). Reward: Temporary alleviation of the fear.
Fear cues start as a direct, felt experience. It’s most obvious when it’s an elevator-dropping sensation in your stomach. It’s less obvious, but also there, when you know you have your next big idea but you “just can’t concentrate.”
And always, riding on the wild back of fear, risking being bucked off, there’s Courage.
Courage says: Maybe just give it a little try. See what happens. Push a little harder.
The fallacy is that if you miss the opportunity the first time, fear wins. But Courage is always there. She’s the mistress of power and she can always be counted upon when backed into a corner (in fact, those are the moments when she gets downright feral).
If you want to develop more courage or create courage as a habit, you’ve got to do four specific things: access the body, listen without attachment, reframe limiting stories, and take action.
Develop More Courage : The Courage Habit
Access the body. It’s all coming up, again—your boss is being sarcastic; your partner is resistant to having a discussion with you that could forever alter your sense of intimacy with each other; your hand is raised to share that idea—and your body starts ringing the alarm bells.
Notice that your body rings those alarm bells, every time. Notice that you are where you are—in the chair, or on the phone, or in Missoula, MT.
Breathe with this sentence: “Ah, yes. Fear is coming up, again.”
Listen Without attachment. What is Fear telling you? “You can’t do it” or “So-and-so already did it better”? Listen. Most of us turn away, trying not to hear what’s there. When you decide to listen, but listen without attachment, listen without getting hooked, you will learn. When you learn and understand, you’re in a position to change fear’s game. Maybe you’ll realize that it isn’t speaking the truth. Maybe you’ll realize that it always says the exact same three things. Listen without attachment to get the wisdom that you need.
Reframe Limiting Stories. Connect with your voice and everything that has transpired for this moment to happen where you can speak up. Connect to the wild, liberated feeling of unleashing your courage. Connect to what your heart really wants.
This is about getting intentional. This is not a time to play it from the cheap seats of compromise. This is where your body might be shaking but you still own it: “I want this. I desire this.”
Take action. You claim your space. You claim your voice. You say, “This isn’t right.” You push away from the table and leave the room. You set your boundaries.
The moment will reveal what needs to be claimed, the action to be taken. Sometimes, in the face of someone else’s chaos, the action we’ll choose is silence. Sometimes, what we claim is saying firmly, “I’m not taking any more shit.” Claiming your power isn’t about oppression or enacting “power over” (which isn’t really power, anyway).
There is always another moment
We think that if we don’t work on our fear once, we’ll be defeated by it, forever.
There is always another moment. There is always another space in time where life will ask you to breathe and access the body; where your highest self will be able to powerfully listen without attachment; where everything that is healthy in you will decide to reframe limitations, and where everything that is powerful in you will decide to take action