My View from 10 Years In as a Self-employed Coach

You know how they say you can call yourself an expert after ten years of doing something? I’m right here at the ten-year mark since I had my first paying coaching client in November 2009. I’m taking this moment to look and see what it feels like at this stage, at the end of a decade.

Val Nelson

I’m looking calmer than I used to feel. Haha.

There is certainly an interesting and different feeling at this stage than even a couple years ago, and a vast difference from the early days.

One thing for sure, ten years in feels amazing for me.

There’s a level of security, ease, and trust in my work life that I’m so appreciating. A settling in. Leaning more and more into a natural flow.

I think that ten-year mastery idea, and part of why ten years in feels so amazing, is about the concept of Flow.

When you’ve done something you enjoy for a long while, you are more likely to get to a state of delicious flow, where things “just happen,” or move through you, and you barely know how it’s happening.

It just feels.. natural.
Like I was born to do this.
Like a spiritual experience that I can’t explain in simple terms.

I call this feeling “natural flow” and when you get to know me, you’ll see that natural flow is a favorite topic. I want everyone to have this.

There’s a joy, a trust, a deeper knowing beyond what’s right in front of your eyes… if you allow this energy to move through you. It’s a mindfulness practice whose internal benefits build on itself year after year.

I don’t think it’s about “expert” or not (and I have issues with most uses of the word expert).

The ten-year mastery idea is about being able to fully rely on your wisdom and heart to lead the way, and even let yourself stake your livelihood on that! That’s a big trust. One that now feels easy. I feel so much gratitude for that ease as I write this.

It wasn’t easy at first. I had to learn to live on faith, and self-employment is a great teacher.

I’ll explain how it has evolved and continues to evolve, such as what I’m learning now. I even wrote a poem about it, in this post. It just showed up. Continue reading

The Joy and Challenge of Finding Your Purpose

I love this article (below) on the secret to a long and happy life… which, to paraphrase the article, is…. To do what you love, or more specifically what brings a sense of meaning and purpose. It seems like a simple equation: Do what makes you happy in order to be happy.

But somehow this gets all complicated for us, doesn’t it? Worrying what others will think, how to find what you love, how it all fits with making a living, and all that practical stuff.

The article has some good hints and inspiration. They talk about a Japanese philosophy called “ikigai” which loosely translates as sense of purpose, or doing what you love, or following the call of your heart. The article contains some fruitful yet simple questions to ask yourself to help you find your purpose in life. I’ll provide some tips below too.

A helpful excerpt from the article:

It’s not as easy as that sounds, of course. ‘Modern life estranges us more and more from our true nature, making it very easy for us to lead lives lacking in meaning,’ García and Miralles write. ‘Powerful forces and incentives (money, power, attention, success) distract us on a daily basis; don’t let them take over your life.’
Instead, they advise, follow your curiosity and intuition, which are the paths back to ikigai, as is self-awareness. Find the activity you love, surround yourself with people you love, and stay true to that internal compass.
~ David G. Allen, CNN, in “Ikigai, the Japanese path to live longer, happier”

I know what they’re saying is true. But it’s not so simple, is it? “Internal compass,” huh? I’ll explain. That’s one of my favorite topics.

image - happiness

Happiness is not all about rainbows. But in this case, a rainbow did make me happy, and I danced with it. For me, following the happiness that appears is so key. Those moments of trusting and following instincts add up.

“How do I get one of those Internal Compasses?”

From what I’ve seen up close and personal as a coach, most people, in Western cultures, have a very hard time understanding what is their internal compass and how to hear it.  Continue reading

Self-employment Myths and Reality. It’s OK To Be Wobbly.

When the topic of self-employment comes up, I hear two common responses:

  1. “That’s too hard so I won’t even try.” or
  2. “I should be able to get something going within a few months, or else it’s a failure.”

Neither is grounded in reality. There’s such an odd mythology around self-employment, perhaps because people don’t talk about what goes on behind closed doors.

Here’s what I think is true about self-employment, in a nutshell.

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Best Careers for Introverts, HSPs, and Other Sensitive Souls

Sensitive souls (including introverts, highly sensitive persons [HSPs], and people with big hearts) need to be careful about our work environments and career paths. We can really thrive and excel in the right environment, and we can wilt easily in the wrong environment.

If you have a yuck feeling about work, I bet it is because the work itself or the work culture are a bad match for you. You have so much to offer. Yes, YOU. The world needs your gifts. I mean it. You can find a better fit. Not overnight, but a better way is possible.

There are low stress jobs for introverts, HSPs, and other sensitive souls.

No, there are no perfect stress free professions. But lower stress is definitely a worthy goal. Yes! Stress is a natural part of life, and we can learn to reduce the challenge of it, but often we simply put up with far too much of it, so that’s what I’m talking about reducing today.

My experience:

I’m a highly sensitive introvert with a big heart. (If you’re a Myers-Briggs Type fan, I’m an INFP which explains a whole range of sensitivity.)

I’ve tried all kinds of work environments from classrooms to cubicles, and many kinds of careers, and there were many rough patches in my work life. Now I have landed happily with being a self-employed coach.

In those various work experiences, sometimes I felt alive and energized and sometimes completely drained and MISERABLE. Oh I can feel the bad memories in my body as I write this. I want to reach out to you if you’re feeling that misery and beg you to believe it can be different.

Now I get what works:

I’ve studied what factors work for me and what works for others with a similar temperament.  Now I can fairly easily tell you what is important for us in choosing our work environments and career paths. Work can feel great, really! I’ll explain what you need to know.

[image - wondering where to go]

Continue reading

Should I Let Intuition Run My Life? My Business?

Intuition is on my mind a lot lately, especially as I was preparing to give a talk about it. I’m remembering how incredibly powerful and important intuition is, so I’m renewing my dedication to follow those wise inner signals. Let’s talk about this resource that’s inside all of us.

I’m convinced by my experience, and the research, that our intuition is worth much more of our attention, and worth cultivating further…for happiness and success.

And yet, even people who trust their intuition in many areas seem to forget about it or lose trust in it when it comes to decisions related to their livelihood. Survival worries get in the way, gulp.

How do we find a balance between using this great inner resource and feeling safe as we move ahead?

I’ll explain a little about how it works for me and why I trust it for my business too, but not blindly. I found a safe way to do it. But first a little background so we’re on the same page.

Continue reading