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 Pain and Recovery of Losing Your Job

You can listen to or read this post. (About 7 minutes)

If you’ve ever lost a job, you know how crushing that can be to a sense of self-worth, not to mention a hit to your sense of financial security (like a punch in the gut).

Behind the scenes, I know many people who have been let go who I see as amazing and gifted people with so much to offer. The way of typical business is NOT a test of your worth.

Crazy world, yes. Crazy you, no.

I’ll explain my own gut-punch experience, my theory on what it means when you are let go, and I’ll provide a simple exercise to help you in your recovery process.

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Do You Confuse Extroversion with Confidence?

I think we all tend to confuse extroversion with confidence. So let’s re-think it.

I’m an introvert and when I speak up confidently about something, people sometimes say, “You must be an extrovert.”

Hey, I can be an introvert AND be confident and out-spoken. Or confident and quiet. (I can hear my confident introverted friend Jenn saying “Hell yeh.”)

Do you think introversion and confidence can go together? Think about it.

I was painfully shy in the past and I’m not anymore… but I’m still an introvert.

I believe that no matter how shy or anxious you might feel in certain social situations, there’s a way to find more ease and confidence. And you can still be an introvert (which is not the same as shyness). Continue reading

Quiet Folks Have a Lot To Say

When I was young and could hardly get words out of my mouth, I also knew I had so much to say. I was just nervous.

Later, as an adult, I wasn’t usually as caught up in the fear of speaking, but I was still an introvert and we tend to prefer thinking before speaking. I still had a lot to say, but it was hard to find my words in a group setting, especially at work where the stakes were higher. Know what I mean?

I gotta say this right off the bat. This is important, for the greater good, and for people you know and love:

Please do NOT assume silence is a lack of something important to say. You just might need to pause and listen, even if you feel impatient.

Quiet folks have a lot to say. We just like to think first.

Obviously this really matters to me, so pardon if I sound like I’m preaching. Trying to speak some truth. Bear with me. 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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