Making changes in one’s life is not always easy. When I was living in New York, the thought of leaving news and The City was terrifying to me. I wanted desperately to move to Boston (I was burnt out from life in journalism. And after working nights, weekends and holidays for years, I wanted to concentrate on my life, not just my career), but fear kept me treading water for months. After what seemed a lifetime, and with the support of my family and my amazing friends, I was able to make the leap: not only to a new job, but also to a new career, and a new city. After moving to Boston I was finally able to exhale. I was able to make this huge change in my life largely on my own, but it took me a while.
When it comes to professional challenges I have no problem springing into action and getting things done, and done well. I set up action items everyday at work and have a distinct sense of satisfaction crossing items off that to-do list. When making changes in my personal life, on the other hand, I am less action oriented. Why is that? Is it because I think everything will fall into place organically? That’s what everyone always says, “Everything will work itself out.” That’s a really nice thought, but it only makes sense that I should have to work at things in my personal life the same way I have to work at things in professional life.
I bring this up, not to wallow in self-indulgent reflection, but to explain my motivation for reaching out to a life coach for this blog. I thought meeting with a life coach then seeing if I could help someone else solve a problem in his or her life would be an interesting experiment. But after speaking with the extremely helpful James Singleton, I realized that being a life coach is not something to be taken on capriciously. So while I started out thinking this would be one of my typical adventures, it turned out to be an adventure in a more unexpected way.
James was born to be a life coach. His father and grandfather were both ministers, so counseling people through challenging times comes naturally to him. During college, classmates were always asking his advice on issues they were facing, both academic and personal. He says he thought everyone was asked for advice the way he was. He soon learned that is not the case.
Several years ago James started attending life coaching workshops, taking classes and shadowing well-known life coach Cheryl Richardson. He established his own business, Insightful Voice, in September of 2011. As James explained, life coaches help their clients establish where they are now and where they want to go in their life. James begins by determining if he is best suited to help a prospective client, or if they would be better served by a therapist (a very important distinction it seems to me).
James’ niche is transitions. He explained that often clients come to him with a specific goal that they want help achieving, then they work together to establish “a road map” to move forward. What most surprised me was that each of James’ sessions end with the establishment of action items and measures of success. This is not just you whining about your life, James listening, and you walk out feeling unburdened. James is going to work hard, and so are you. And you will walk out with homework.
I started out listening to James talk about a typical life coaching session, but before long we were talking about me and what I want in my life. Go figure. James is an exceptional listener, and easy to talk to (especially for someone who doesn’t always like talking about themselves).
This is when I knew this “adventure” would not be a typical one for me. While I do share a variety of experiences with all of you, I typically don’t get too personal. I may be a rarity in the blogging world: I don’t like to talk about myself all that much. So I try ridiculous things to make you laugh…without getting too deep. As we were discussing (or as I was trying not to discuss) some of my goals, James made a staggering observation that was so on-target that I am now ready to believe he is the best life coach (or psychic) who ever walked the earth! James asked me if I was not expressing what I really want out of fear. Fear that I would feel exposed…unable to pretend my life is not already perfect. BINGO!
That’s when I came clean and said I wanted to continue writing this blog, maybe adapt it into a book (It sounds so much better when other people tell me they see a book in my future. Saying it myself seems immodest or gauche). And then words flew out of my mouth before I even had time to think about then…I told him that I wanted to meet someone who loved me the way Barack loves Michelle! Yes, I said those exact words and yes, speaking them did suddenly make both of those things seem more real and my desire for them more acute.
James and I continued to talk, we discussed what may be holding me back and went through some exercises I should do to work towards achieving my not so modest goals. This is where the light bulb went off in my head. I could finally reconcile the way I like to operate in my professional life with my personal life. I had action items! I am nothing if not a girl who loves a to-do list and suddenly I had one.
So after getting a first-hand look at life coaching, I have decided not to try this job personally. I learned that life coaching can be very important resource and tool in peoples’ lives and to trivialize it doesn’t seem appropriate. I feel as if this post also represents me coming clean with all of you, my readers. Although it’s not in my nature, I will try to share more of myself with you on a more regular basis and see where it leads. Maybe every once in a while my posts will be a bit different; personal adventures in addition to the physical ones. This may make me uncomfortable at times, but I hope it helps me to continuously move forward in my life, and I hope it is appreciated by — or at least entertaining to — you.
I still hope that one day you will find The Great Wide Open on a bookstore shelf (er..I mean on amazon.com or on your favorite tablet) and I do want to find someone to love me the way Barack loves Michelle, but now, thanks to James, I have some action items to go along with those rather vague, yet utterly romantic, proclamations.
I can’t thank James Singleton enough for taking the time to talk with me about life coaching…and talking with me about myself. While James is Boston-based, he sees clients around the country. You can learn more about his services on his website, insightfulvoice.com.
Great post Em!! I look forward to learning more of what’s going on in that glossy locked head of yours! (by locks I mean hair….but maybe more than that too!)
Fantastic! Can’t wait to buy my copy and say “I knew her when…”
Very brave of you to share your conversation with James. It sounds like he was helpful in thinking about actionable steps to achieve your goals. Love that you mentioned Barack and Michelle! Don’t we all want that? I know I do.