My Journey from Shy Girl to Confident Self-employed Introvert

People tell me they wish they knew more about how I ended up where I am today, as a full-time coach, making it work, doing things my own way that aligns with my introverted nature and my strengths and values.

I think I should share more of that journey with you. I don’t want career discovery or self-employment for introverts to be such a mystery.

We need visible role models for making a living doing what you love and doing what serves a true need in the world. That’s what I call a SOULpreneur journey. It’s possible. I’m doing it and so are others.

Val Nelson - coach for introverts

Let me start with a snippet from the early days of my coaching business, and then I’ll give you the longer story.

Recently I found this happy note in my journal from 2009 when I was starting to offer coaching: “I now have 2 coaching clients. I feel like I’m fulfilling the dream of being paid to be me!”

I can still feel the inner happy dance of that moment in 2009, and I still get how huge that was, to step into that feeling after so many years of waiting.

I’m glad I actually stopped and noticed that milestone. It can be easy to miss those accomplishments in the early days when so much lack is staring us in the face, maybe in the form of a very low bank account. It’s not easy, but the journey to our true path is so worth it, even if bumpy.

OK, now I will share a longer version of my story — from shy girl, through career exploration, growing confidence and honoring my introverted self, and then becoming a self-employed coach specializing in helping other introverts live their true callings.

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The In-Between Time in Your Career: 3 Things That Got Me Through It.

Being between jobs, or waiting for the next right work to reveal itself, is just hard.

When I first wished for and wondered about self-employment, and was burning out in the job I was in, I remember feeling discouraged, that self-employment would never actually work for me. At the same time I didn’t want a boss any longer. So I felt stuck in the hallway.

I was in the in-between time: Ready for one door to close before I could see the next door open. Not comfortable.

I’ll explain 3 key ingredients that got me through that time. All 3 were eye-openers for me. Continue reading

Oh, These Poignant Holidays… and Now This Too.

The thermometer is dropping as we approach winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, and yet the stress thermometer seems to be heating up right now, in this holiday season.

Of course this holiday stress happens every year, but I’m finding this year is more poignant and palpable than ever. It feels like my heart is aching for everyone.

Every conversation somehow feels like the person is going to cry with the mention of COVID-times holiday. No one has the playbook for this one.

All we can do is turn to what we know, but what we know for the holidays isn’t fitting. So we keep stumbling, feeling stupid, feeling confused, and mostly just tired. Continue reading

I’m Ignoring the “Shoulds” Today – It’s So Freeing. And More Productive.

I just caught myself before doing a networking thing on my calendar that was actually just a “should” and not a true choice.

It would have been fine, but doing “shoulds” is not the life I want.

What’s great is that I now have the freeing energy to spend that time doing something that I actually want to do, that will move the needle more so!

Once again proving that the body knows the way, if I will just listen. Continue reading

Self-employment for Solo Professionals: Business Setup Logistics Made Simple. (USA)

When consultants, coaches, and other service professionals are getting set up for self-employment, I notice they often worry, as I did at first, about all the business logistics and mysteries you think you should know.

Maybe you’re even worried you’ll get in trouble for something you didn’t know.

I’ve seen many people let worries about these things really get in their way, thinking it’s something huge to tackle. They think they can’t do anything else before getting a business name, some kind of incorporated entity (e.g., LLC), etc.

I’m a self-employed business coach and I had to learn this stuff too, 11 years ago. Even though I understood a lot about marketing and business, the business setup stuff was new to me, having been an employee until then.

Business setup stuff felt like a big mystery to me, behind a curtain like in the Wizard of Oz.

waiting for the keys

It turns out it’s not that huge, especially for solo service providers like us. Important, yes, and sometimes tedious, yes. But much of it can be easier and is often not as urgent as you might think. In my case, I did it over time.

Let’s have a look. I’ll share some basics as well as what I have done as a coach.

There are plenty of things you’ve done that are harder than this. Don’t let business logistic worries stop you from going for your dreams.

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