How to be your own coach.
For many of us, when we're young, we agonize over decisions regarding our careers and life, weighing up the pros and cons, reflecting on the possible judgements of others, and often choosing the most practical options according to what we perceive are others' expectations. I think it's now time to turn these outdated ideas on their heads, however, and tune-in to what we really want in life. And, we should encourage young people to do the same if we wish the best for their happiness and wellbeing. A happy and fulfilled population make for a positive, functioning society, and it's time that we start creating one that we want to live in.
I always struggled to connect with the values of the wider society, and with finding my purpose and way of contributing in the world. This caused a lot of angst when I left school and during the years following. The same seemed to be true for other people I knew. We grew up believing that we would have one specific job title, and in reality, we tried a number of things that didn't feel quite right and went through periods of depression in the process. What, in actuality, was a vast sea of options, felt like an abyss in which one did not belong and could never hope to find one's way. I knew I didn't want others to suffer like this, so I decided that one day I would become a life coach so that I could help young people steer through this maze of choices.
I didn't have a single dream career idea throughout my childhood, so when it came time to start thinking of options, in high school, I elicited my mum's help. Together we envisioned Journalist; Librarian; Individual needs educator; and Classroom music teacher. At school, we completed a quiz to determine our ideal career; which for me, was... Hat Maker. In the end I applied for a Bachelor of Music, then started training as a ballet teacher, and then settled on an education degree in early childhood. 19 years later I have worked as an early years educator, kindergarten teacher, trainer and assessor, piano teacher, singing teacher, tutor, and proofreader and editor. I worked in retail and even tried a call centre at one time. In addition to this, I had the opportunity to live and work in two other countries; as an au pair in Switzerland and as a casual primary teacher in London. Currently, I work as a casual academic and as a tutor for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. I mark lots and lots of assignments and work on Zoom and through email with students from all over Australia.
So, for me there was no one career, but rather a wide range of experiences, all of which helped me to build the skills and character to become who I am at this moment. I no longer view this assorted resume as a problem; I view it as my personal repertoire that has made me stronger, more resilient, and more outgoing. I also believe it has enabled me to increase my knowledge and ability to focus, and that through this variety, I have been able to further balance my personality and integrate my brain hemispheres, which has increased possibilities for the future. Through these experiences, I have slowly built confidence in my ability to accept challenging situations and regulate complex emotions. I have found new interests and passions. Happily, I also have much less fear than I did in the past, as I know I have developed many more skills that can be applied to generate income.
Progress has felt slow, but I now feel relatively at peace with where life has brought me so far. Life is not linear; it is not perfect; it can feel like you're wading through reeds or floating on air, or merely plodding along, as they say. At this point, and having experienced a health crisis a few years ago, I have little concern for specific status or income, and no particular desire to own anything. Health, joy, connection with likeminded others, and a sense of purpose in the day to day are my priorities. Underneath, these have always been my values, but I finally feel confident to claim my right to my personal brand of happiness regardless of how it differs from that of others. I also believe that every person, young or old, has this same right. I am seeing more and more people around me making changes in their lives to support their wellbeing, and this feels so right. Contrary to societal conditioning, a flourishing future relies on us taking pleasure in seeing others living their happiest lives rather than resenting their good fortune. Choice is available to all of us, and is only dependent on our belief and perception of its existence.
Knowing ourselves is the first step in creating a life that supports and fulfills us, physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. Some time ago, I created a life coaching template, following on from the conviction I had way back when I was navigating that transition from school to the wider world. I have re-vamped it a few times, and now it is called Self-Coaching Workbook: A Profile of You. The self-coaching workbook was designed to help young people learn about themselves better so that they can make life decisions with more certainty. I believe, however, that it is just as pertinent for people of all ages, as life is full of continual transitions and uncertainty, as has been particularly evident over the last couple of years. I have recently been working with two students who are studying career counselling at graduate level, and I was happy to realize that the Self-Coaching Workbook follows similar principles to those which they are learning. The workbook is free for download from my website - see the link below.
Knowing ourselves is the key to our foundational decision-making in life, and allowing ourselves to adapt and change enables us to reach higher levels of fulfillment and purpose. As we find as we grow older, there are no right or wrong decisions as all decisions are just part of the journey of discovery; discovery of who we are, what we are capable of, and where we want to go next. Perhaps we wish for a perfect life, but that would imply that there is an end result, and this is not the case. There is no end result. As humans, we are not designed to be content for long periods, as we have an underlying predilection for growth. It's probably best that we accept this and embrace it, and that we recognize the discontent as information and motivation for positive experience. When we seek to know ourselves more deeply, we come to know that we are more multifaceted than we realize, and this gift of recognition can be lifechanging.
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom - Aristotle
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