I loved volunteering.
It was the happiest and most whole I’d ever been, and made me sure I could do anything. I came home from South Africa bursting with all I’d learned and felt myself grow, intent on continuing to forge a strong, purpose-filled life.
But for a long time, it wasn’t that easy. I was trying to choose a career path thoughtfully, but nothing felt as fulfilling as life and work had as a volunteer.
First, I went back to school and got a Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language. I’d enjoyed teaching during Peace Corps, so this seemed like a natural next step. I liked graduate school, but when it came down to teaching every day afterward, something was missing.
Then, trying a totally different route, I went through culinary school and cooked professionally in Seattle restaurants. But that wasn’t quite it, either.
Finally, I got into editorial writing and editing. I enjoyed many parts of that, but I still felt like my life was meant for something different than what I was living.
By this point, doing work that felt wrong was starting to make me feel split down the middle.
I felt like the level of reward, confidence, and excitement I’d felt while volunteering were still possible in paid work (most days, anyway!) but I had no idea how to find it.
And it just felt embarrassing to keep starting over. I’d put my mind to lots of things in the past and been able to make them happen. But with career, I felt like a failure. I noticed myself feeling smaller and less proud of my life, pulling away from certain relationships.
I’d tried figuring it out alone—poring through career books, wallpapering my bedroom in Venn diagrams of my top transferrable skills, passions, favorite places to live. But for me, it just wasn’t working.
I needed help.
Beautifully, a friend had just signed up for a career coaching program for women who wanted more meaning in their work. I didn’t even know what coaching was, but by this point, I was willing to try anything. The program had just started and they let me sign up a little late.
Within the first two weeks, we did a values exercise that blew me wide open.
No wonder I didn’t like my food writing job: it didn’t align deeply with any of my top values. Neither, I realized, had professional cooking or ESL teaching.
Finally things were making sense! The process felt like a return to myself. I started to feel more energized, confident, optimistic, and social, again. It was such a relief.
I also fell in love with coaching itself. Being called to meaningful work but not knowing how to identify it had been the major dilemma of my early adult life. It felt like sitting on this pile of energy and passion with no idea how to use it.
I could think of nothing more rewarding than helping people connect with the work that brings them most alive—and gives their best to the world. (I still can’t!)
So here we are today 🙂.
Now as a certified professional coach (trained by Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, an Accredited Coach Training Program through the International Coach Federation), I help other people develop work lives that bring them alive.
Because when more of us are happy in our work, we lead braver, more grounded lives, and the world is better for all of us.
Plus, the world needs what you uniquely have to give, that no one else can give in the same way. It’s the reason you’re here—and I, for one, don’t want to miss it :).
Is it your time to build your own fulfilling work life?
I’d be honored to support you. Because I’ve walked this journey, failed all sorts of ways, and dedicated myself to learning what it really takes to get to the other side.
And I’d love to witness you through your own process, because in the words of Brené Brown (you know this deep down), “No one belongs here more than you.”