Ever since the Internet bubble and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I've seen many people; including friends and family lose their jobs and/or personal fortunes overnight. The struggling economy has been merciless on the job market. It has affected every industry at every level, from line operators in manufacturing plants to upper management of Fortune 500's. I was confident back then, that if I were thrown into such a situation I would be prepared. Late in 2001, I experienced my own version of downsizing, when I sold my delivery and logistics business. What I actually did, was sell myself out of a job. After the sale was completed, I was suddenly questioning what to do with my life. The sale provided tremendous advantages, allowing me the financial flexibility and time to actually put some real thought behind this decision. I was convinced that within 3-6 months of the sale, I would be happily and successfully on my professional way. I've always thought of myself as an active participant in my own life, never sitting on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity to seek me out. I have to admit, it was one of the most difficult times, requiring enormous soul searching and reflection. And just think, I asked for this and knew it was coming. During my first year of "planned unemployed", I tried day trading, business consulting, writing a screenplay, producing a film, graduate school and a variety of new hobbies. All of these career options were well thought out. I was just waiting to see which one would stick. Well, guess what? None of them provided enough enthusiasm to further pursue. This is when the panic really set in. I was back at the drawing board, thinking of new business ideas and developing extensive lists of pros and cons for each. Over the next few months, I drove my wife, family, friends and myself crazy with dozens of career/business ideas.
In the end, I was no closer to making a decision. I now knew firsthand what everyone else was going through and I was doing exactly the same, just spinning my wheels. The words came screaming through in a song I heard by Colin Hay, titled "Waiting for my real life to begin." I was sitting at my desk looking at one of my newest career lists, music playing in the background. A verse kept repeating that described how I was feeling at that very moment, "Don't you understand, I already have a plan, I'm waiting for my real life to begin."
I realized then that I wasn't being productive but instead I was confusing it with being busy, two completely different things. What was lacking in my life was accountability. When you are put in a situation where all the decisions are yours, it's very easy to change your mind. Who's going to call you on it? You can rationalize to the end of the earth why you did or didn't do something. Thankfully, at the time I was career hunting, the bookstores were flooded with new titles dealing with exactly this issue.
I came across a book by Po Bronson, titled " What Should I do With My Life." Although reading the book didn't provide me an immediate solution, it did point me to a website with other people in my situation. I belonged again! During a discussion group, someone mentioned the success they had while working with a life coach. Immediately, I thought not for me. As I learned more about what coaching was, I thought it might be the push I needed to address my accountability problems.
After many failed attempts, I finally got enough courage to call the
coach. The first couple of sessions were "feelers". General questions and
the exchange of background information. Over the next few months we worked
on my agenda, finding a new career. Each week I returned, I knew my coach
would be there to see if I stuck to the plan. I had a partner, someone I
could trust, exchange ideas with and someone just as interested as me at
finding an answer. The energy from our meetings carried me from week to
week. Towards the end of a year, I starting doubting I would figure the
career thing out. We worked through dozens of potential scenarios together
but in the end they would come up "no". I began realizing that I was
talking more about my coaching experiences than about anything else.
I felt obligated to tell everyone I knew and even some people I didn't about how powerful the process was. I was finding things out about myself that I never took the time to think about. Then it came to me. Life coaching had all the things I was looking for in a career. Just think, two years ago I didn't know what a professional life coach was and now I wanted to be one. I'm happy to say I've spent the last year building my coaching practice.
My goal is to go out every day and touch at least one person through the powers of coaching. I have no regrets not finding coaching sooner. I believe we find things when we're ready, when our eyes and ears are open to seeing and listening. Life is so much more rewarding when we're not sitting around waiting for it.
For me it was life coaching that gave me the clarity and courage to take the next step. It doesn't matter who or what makes it possible for us to move forward as long as it's progress. My philosophy can be summed up in a quote I carry, "Time goes by and then it's gone, so in the end the only thing that counts is how we used it." I'm wishing everyone the courage to truly find his or her life calling, whatever that may be.
Anthony Grillo is a professional life coach and founder of Life In Motion Coaching located in New York City. He specializes in collaborating with passionate individuals to help them discover life's pathway.
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