As I type this, I’m sitting in my kitchen drinking a cup of half-decaf coffee out of a yellow mug that says, “You are my sunshine.” It’s 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. My husband is asleep. My kids both woke up early and are cuddled in my daughter’s bed watching Netflix. I could be taking this time to get some extra ZZZ’s but I can’t. I’m too excited! My brain is wide awake. All I can think about is writing this article and how inspired I am to start conquering my next dream.
This past January, before the pandemic began, my now six-year-old daughter and I both made vision boards of our goals for the year. I want to encourage her to chase her dreams and set goals from a young age, and this was a fun activity for us.
She decorated her vision board with stickers of art, ballet, karate, family, and for some reason…math. Little did we know that her art, ballet, and karate classes would come to a screeching halt this year, and that she would be spending every waking moment with her family. Or, that virtual first grade math would lead me to purchase stress balls for both of us.
My daughter's 2020 vision board doesn't reflect her life, but it does remind me to be empathetic when she throws tantrums.
I filled my vision board with phrases I cut out of magazines, including “inspire,” “stories of inspirational folks,” “got a grip on her fatigue,” “saving money,” “meditation for mental chatters,” and “girl power.” My biggest goals for 2020 were to publish my children’s book on girl power (check!), move into a bigger house (check!), go on date nights (maybe in 2022?), save money (I’m so funny sometimes), and use mindfulness to manage my anxiety (going well!).
Goal-setting for 2021 may be the last thing on most people’s minds right now, but I am not going to let the pandemic stop me from embracing every moment of life. I’m going to set goals for 2021 and take steps to reach them. It’s so important for me to have an identity outside of my job and my home life. I finally have my dream job in publicity and I love my children so much that I do have to overcome mom guilt for taking time to myself. But I always need an outlet to create something - it fuels my soul, occupies my mind, and brings me fulfillment. My side-hustling, passion projects are always at the forefront of my goal-setting.
I’ve done it since high school—from writing for a national magazine (Teen People) my senior year, to starting my own magazine and PR firm for indie bands while in college, and then transitioning that all to an Internet TV show just when YouTube started to explode, and eventually, self-publishing books. This year, I’ve come to realize that everything I’ve done has always had the underlying theme of dream chasing and girl power. And I’m ready to take things to the next step.
My 2021 vision board will look a lot like this, too.
Before I set out on my 2021 goal-chasing adventure, I decided to consult a life coach. As a publicist, I work with a ton of successful coaches, but it wouldn’t be professional for me to talk about my personal life with my actual clients, so I had to find a new one. I took to Google and one woman, Lorrie Gray, grabbed my attention. I reached out to Lorrie because she's a Spoonie with invisible illness who conquers goals while doing the mom life hustle— just like me! OK, and the fact that Yahoo Finance named her one of the Top 10 Female Life Coaches! It was great to be able to talk to someone who knows what I go through, has fought her own battles, and emerged to create the life of her dreams.
My hour-long discussion with Lorrie over Zoom was a lot like having a scheduled chat with a girlfriend. Except, where I often find on my conversations with friends, I am usually the one empowering others, this time, I had someone objective to my life empowering me! I think we all need mentors and people to help us continue to rise above and a life coach like Lorrie is something I’ve been lacking.
During our conversation, I started to get little sparks of “aha!” Things that I can totally see now that they are out in the open, but never really brought attention to myself. After we signed off, I was so ready to begin my new path, that I started taking steps immediately.
Here are 7 things I learned from talking to a life coach:
1. There’s a community of dream-chasing moms with chronic health issues.
I have always felt like the lone wolf in both my dream chasing and health issues. None of my friends are really like me, in the fact that they are working full-time, raising kids, and trying really hard to build their own personal empire—all while trying to manage their health. I have chronic fatigue and Epstein Barr virus, so I get very worn out very easily and I count my daily activities as “spoons.” Each activity uses energy (a spoon) and takes away from my reserve, so I have to ensure everything I do is meaningful. Lorrie coaches spoonies, and now I can meet like-minded warriors, which I am so excited about.
2. Over-planning is holding me back from starting.
As a publicist, it’s my job to make sure clients are on-brand. In my world, a company can’t launch until there’s an LLC, a website, bio, mission statement, logo… etc. I told Lorrie that I am really interested in becoming a female empowerment coach and that I want to tie in all the work I do empowering women through books, articles, support groups, and social media, to one-one sessions. But I’ve been stuck figuring out the little details to market myself. Lorrie told me I just need to get started and make sure I even like what I would be doing before I invest all this time and energy in those little details. And that makes perfect sense.
3. I don’t give myself enough credit.
Although I know I’ve accomplished a lot professionally, I still feel like I have a long way to go. But Lorrie made me realize that I have actually built myself a very powerful network and have so much to offer others. I need to keep that as the focal point of my big picture instead of what I still need to do (though I will always do things to grow)!
4. There are no right or wrong answers.
Lorrie told me to make a decision and forge ahead. There’s no right or wrong way to begin. “Don’t second guess yourself, just start,” she told me. Even if I decide to change direction along the way, that’s OK.
5. I need to focus on my genius zone.
This one is really important. Our genius zone is our niche that combines our skill and passion. I’ve recently concluded that writing is my genius zone and Lorrie helped me confirm that. This is where I’ll focus my energy, especially when it comes to building an audience. Social media, which has been a big time suck and I feel obligated to do, can take a backseat. I’m not trying to be an influencer and I don’t fit in on most social platforms. I will post when I want to and when I have something meaningful to share. But posting daily in an attempt to gain followers is a game I’ll be sitting out. And I can use that time to live in the present and also focus on my genius zone.
6. Our value isn’t reflected through money, but rather, in our time.
I know this, but Lorrie but a twist on this perspective and really enforced that I have value to share with the world. And I can use my time to create a meaningful life for myself and help others do the same, which is so rewarding to me.
7. I want to help people achieve their dreams and I can be a great coach.
I ended my conversation with Lorrie feeling confident that I will be a great women’s empowerment coach. It’s a natural progression and something I already do. I’m going to take the class I signed up for, continue reading the books I’ve had sitting on my desk for two years as I pondered this idea, and take the leap and start coaching a few people I know to see how I like it! Two minutes after we signed off Zoom, I added a page on my personal website for “Coach,” so it’s official.
I’m so glad that I consulted a life coach and reached out to Lorrie. It wasn’t like talking to my old therapist, where I was taught techniques and strategies to handle anxiety. It was a conversation where Lorrie let me talk and asked questions that led me to my own conclusions.
We can all use someone to help us see that we have the power to write our own stories and be the hero of them, too. And that’s what I’m setting out to do. It's my passion. It's my calling. It's my mission.
I am going to get a new mug that says “I am my own sunshine.”