When I was planning this article, my initial thoughts were to write a piece about life coaching, instead, though, I want to celebrate the imminent publication of my book, “Journey to Chocolate” and hope that through the sharing of my story you can see what working with a life coach is all about.
“Journey to Chocolate” is indeed my story and I have used “chocolate” as a metaphor for a more enriched, more fulfilled life. But it isn’t just my story, it also includes research that I have undertaken to support some of the points I’ve made and some “moments to ponder” to help the reader start her journey to greater fulfilment. My intention is to connect with the reader at an emotional and an intellectual level.
So why did I decide to do it? I am passionate about people having their lives be the best they can be. However what I see is many of us tolerating a substandard life in the same way as we would tolerate a substandard meal in a restaurant. The result is that we are not fulfilling our potential. And worst of all we are living our lives without meaning and purpose. This last in particular can cause stress at the very least and burnout at worst. But it can take some major event in our lives before we sit up and start to reflect and question what we’re here for.
The first two paragraphs of the book describe the moment that happened to me:-
“It was 11 years ago in the year 2000, that I hit my 50th birthday. I was quite happy to do that, it didn’t faze me in any way, I felt I had everything I wanted in my life; a lovely home, a wonderful and supportive husband and a daughter about to go out and make her mark in the world. I also had a challenging and rewarding career as professional in the NHS. I felt it was a job for life and would serve me well for the next 10 years when I would receive my pension, a just reward for all those years working in the NHS.
“What I didn’t realise was that a number of life events – ranging from the impact of going to boarding school, through mild postnatal depression, through secondary infertility, through a miscarriage – had left me with the need to grieve but I had never allowed myself to do so. My way of coping was to keep busy, that way I never had to feel those intensely painful feelings which were stuffed down in the bin of my mind. But inevitably the time came when the emotional bin was full and the lid burst open, and I had to face those feelings. I had to confront the guilt, the lost confidence and low self-esteem and most of all the pain of those losses.”
How did coaching help me through that time? In fact therapy came first and that gave me the insight and understanding to prepare me to move forward. What coaching did was allow me to take stock of my life and really look at what I wanted for my future and what mattered to me in terms of my values and my purpose in life. Through working with a coach I feel seen and heard for who I truly am. I have been able to let go of some of the stories I made up about myself, those self-limiting beliefs that get in our way, I realise how much choice I have and I have moved from being a victim of my circumstances to taking responsibility for my life. I was not alone in thinking that I had no choices in the life I had, that I was at the mercy of that tyrant time and I never took the time out to look at how things might be different. I continue to see people doing that in their lives every day, not taking the time to appreciate how precious their lives are.
I have also been able to develop a vision for the future and set goals on a regular basis to meet that vision and working with a life coach has enabled those goals to be in both my personal and professional life. Indeed I feel it is very difficult to separate the two. And that, in a nutshell, sums up the way I work with my clients. I think the final thing I would like to say about life coaching is that, despite what some may say, far from being an airy fairy pie in the sky idea, its roots are solidly based in neuroscience and positive psychology.
It is through coaching that I have gained the fulfilment I now have in my life and I passionately want to do the same for others. Therefore I am always happy to answer questions either on the phone or to speak at meetings and events. It is really a topic about which there is a lot of ignorance and I firmly believe, and I am not alone, that the more people work with life coaches the better place the world will become and we all have children and grandchildren for whom we want that to be the case.
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