In late 2009, just after Ryan was laid off, the library system I work for went through a round of lay-offs. I was moved down to part-time, and although we could still afford to put food on the table, it really opened my eyes to to the false sense of security a regular job provides. Often a freelance or entrepreneurial venture is seen as risky, but what is truly risky is ignoring your own creative ambitions while relying solely on a steady paycheck, especially in these economic times. Regardless, I knew that the hobby business I'd had in 2009 (ie I paid more to host the blog than I made from edecorating) could grow and I knew that I had some big ideas. I've always loved design, and dreamed of a day when my hours would be filled with fabric swatches, excited clients, and helping people have affordable, beautiful homes. What I didn't have was confidence, direction, or a sense of whether or not my dreams were actually possible. Pretty big hurdles.
Michelle (the When I Grow Up Coach) and I "met" while taking Holly Becker's Blogging Your Way e-course (waaaay back at her very first one). We stayed in touch ever since, exchanging emails here and there, commenting on one another's blogs. In spring of 2010, after starting to breathe some life into the Maggie Rose business and getting stuck, I applied for Michelle's annual coaching scholarship. I did not win. However, going through the application process was enlightening. Not only did I have to put my dreams out in words, but I also had to explain why coaching was what I needed to make that happen. When Michelle offered up a group coaching deal to the non-winning applicants, I jumped at the chance, making room in our teensy budget to make it happen.
What I gained from working with Michelle is far greater than what I paid her. Though our one-on-one time during our sessions was only 15 minutes, she was able to address what crises I was facing that week, put into words what I was feeling but wasn't able to articulate, helped me identify my best productive self, and gave me tools for combating the "vampires" (those terrible, self-demeaning thoughts like "I can't do this" or "I'll never be successful"). She gave us weekly homework assignments, which stepped up my productivity tenfold. We also had written workbook-style assignments that helped discover our work-style and goal setting.
I also loved the group coaching format (although I would have loved to have Michelle to myself for an hour). It was so great to hear that others were going through the same process, facing similar fears and hurdles, and it was wonderful to cheer each other on. In fact, once our group coaching came to an end, two of the ladies and I have continued to meet weekly on Skype and talk about what's on our plate, set homework, and celebrate each other's success. If you have a moment, please stop by Christina's Perfect Laughter and Deanna's Apples and Orange. Love those girls!
Several of you have asked what working with a coach was like. Michelle is mostly career-focused so that is what my experience was based on. We held sessions on the phone (all but two of us were in different time zones!). Michelle would start out by asking what's going on this week. We'd talk about my completion (or slack-off) of my homework and why I finished or didn't. This could open up a whole new discussion about procrastination, feeling overwhelmed, needing some "me time" etc. If all went smoothly, sometimes she'd demand that you reward yourself (manicures and clothes shopping were favorites in our group). Then she'd ask what was coming up in the next week and what obstacles we might face in completing those tasks. Sometimes it was as simple as identifying that the big scary project just needed to be broken into steps. One of my best take-aways was to conquer the internet-browser-distraction by setting a timer for 15 minutes and commiting myself to only ONE task for those 15 minutes before I could browse the web again. She doesn't tell you what to do, or even what you "should" do ("should" is a naughty word according to Michelle!), but helps make undesireable tasks more bearable and encourages you to have fun and enjoy your work, while providing links to articles and resources to help support you.
To anyone wanting to branch into a creative career (or even switch from one creative career to another), I would definitely check out the When I Grow Up Coach. Of course, finding a coach is very personal, and you want to find someone you click with and has a motivation style that complements what you need. Another great resource is Danielle LaPorte, whose no-holds-barred blog posts always leave me inspired, as does Jess Constable's Makeunder My Life.
Lastly, I also want to encourage anyone with a dream to go for it! Take a chance. Don't settle for what you "should" be doing (but don't be dumb and not prepare properly). There is always a way to take action, to move forward, to dream bigger. Look before you leap, but don't put off leaping just because you're scared. You are not ordinary, and your life doesn't need to be ordinary! Life is too short to put off your dreams and passions for "someday". Embrace it. Believe in yourself. And have fun!