I left my father’s business five years ago after eight years in business to forge my own path. My work in the family business was an interruption to my preceding career as a high school English teacher which I loved and only left temporarily as I waited out a new school year to begin after a recent move. Once I started at the family business, it proved to be difficult to leave. The work was stimulating and I had the bonus experience of getting to work with my Dad and brother who I mostly adored.
Over the years, the business challenges ebbed and flowed. I studied the industry and learned a ton, finding success applying the leadership skills I developed as an educator (some of the best training I received). But eventually, my interest in the work and satisfaction in my role waned, and it was compounded by a complicated family dynamic at the office that I would have much preferred to live without. Let's face it, working with family is complicated. I knew it was time to consider a shift when my dissatisfaction and stress at work, which had increased over the years, were exceeded by a motivating new vision of what could be my future if I was just willing to take those difficult first steps.
Ultimately, I did make that choice. The decision felt like less of a choice and more of an awakening to something new and compelling that captivated me. I thought I had been happy, happy enough, but then traveled to the town I eventually moved to on vacation, walked through an open house for “fun” to see what homes were like there, I suddenly could see what was possible in a whole new lifestyle that looked a lot more appealing than my current one.
Bend is the outdoor enthusiasts' playground, and reminded me a lot of Boulder, Colorado where I went to college so many years before, choosing the school for the location more than the academics. I yearned for easy access to nature to play outdoors, where skiing is a short 20-minute drive and there’s nowhere I need to be that takes longer than ten minutes to drive to besides the airport and the mountain. I didn’t realize it, but I longed for a simpler way of being and I saw I could have that in Bend.
Once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it. I had to explore it, feel into the edges and center of it, and know if it was weighty and real by sitting with it and writing through the feelings it churned up in me like bits of carrots and onion from the base of the soup pot. Would I really leave a family business I had become an integral part of for sunshine and snow in the winter?
What I found myself drawn to was more than that, it was the chance to honor the values I had spent the last handful of years ignoring. I longed for freedom and connection as I focused on making an impact for good in the lives of others. It was a vision that pulled my heart from my chest like the basket under a launching hot air balloon, carrying me weightless into my dreams at night as I returned at the end of each day to lap at the shores of this new future I was creating. I became transported by possibility, my imagination captured by the alternative to what I had come to find was no longer enjoyable, even tolerable inside the walls of my windowless office that was my home for most of the eight-hours at work.
Leaving proved to be a brutal transition, fraught with dramatic events that both confirmed my choice to make a dash for the high desert of Oregon and made me doubt my sanity for walking away from financial security. My emotions were vibrating at an all-time high as I breathed through the months remaining before I could claim the fullness of my freedom. I was simultaneously thrilled to make my exit from the company, from my father-boss, and the madness of the Bay Area fast-lane lifestyle, but also, agitated about the unknown looming on the other side of this momentous choice to leave.
As soon as you start flirting with the idea of a radical change, its tempting to start romanticizing the small, everyday details of life that you love. My husband Brent and I owned our home in a neighborhood with roots reaching back a generation, connecting to my mom’s childhood growing up within a mile from where we lived. Each morning we dropped one child at preschool and the other loaded the yellow school bus for kindergarten from the end of our street overgrown with ivy and oak and darted off to work, each driving over an hour a day to and from. It wasn't a bad life. In fact, we had it pretty good. But still we felt compelled to press on because what we wanted promised a whole-body love affair with our life, different from the compilation of tiny loves we enjoyed most days.
We put into action our first steps to mobilize our vision by buying a house in Bend, Oregon, which was an anchor, holding us to our promise to move forward on this dream no matter how cold our feet got as we grew closer to our move date.
No matter how motivated you are to change your life circumstances, it requires being able to face some scary fears. For me, I needed to sit with the question—What if this ruins my relationship with my dad? What if my idea to start my coaching business is a terrible idea and a failure? What if we can’t make money, can’t make it on our own? What if I hate living in the snow? What if, what if, what if . . .
And what I discovered was that every time I heard the voice expressing that fear in my head, the voice of the scaredy cat who sees only threats, I would capture that fear and weigh it against what grounded me in my choice to begin anew on my heart-led journey. I would anchor my conviction in the strength of character by reminding myself who I am and what I offer the world. I would remind myself in writing, filling pages of what I remembered of my best professional experiences coaching individuals and leading teams. I felt secure in the container of my plan, it felt purposeful and focused.
With my values as guideposts aligning me to my path, the life I wanted was taking shape under my feet as I walked my new neighborhood streets and unpacked boxes at home in Bend.
No longer was life just fine, faded like an old photograph, it had become a working canvas of color, shapes, and textures all selected my by own hand in collaboration with my family, my husband, and two children.
Family businesses are complicated on many levels by personality, strengths of and flaws of character, and by generally shared desire to maintain harmony, both the business and the family. Like in all good relationships, compromise is necessary, but it is that willingness to compromise that can be dangerous if it becomes a slippery slope transporting you away from what you stand for and who you want to be.
In 2017 I launched my new coaching practice, Co-Elevate Coaching + Consulting, LLC. I completed my coach training at the prestigious Coactive Training Institute (CTI), spending five three-day weekends in the months leading up to our move driving to San Rafael so that I could leave the business prepared to start my own as a life and leadership coach for professionals, like I was, in transition. In the years I have coached individuals and facilitated leadership development groups, I have told my story to those who are standing at the doorway of their own major life choices, peering in, curious and tempted, but still unsure. It was a scary, exhilarating, messy, clumsy, wild, and soulful trek to get me to this moment right now as I type these words to you, and it was so worth all of it.
My wish for you is that you believe in yourself enough to take the great leap to go all out for your audacious goals and sky-high vision for your life. Live in the possibility that it’s all up to you. I believe it. I believe in you.
Here is what I say to those who are ready to reinvent themselves and redesign their lives—
Hooray! You are so brave and clearly inspired by a compelling vision pulling you forward into your bright future! Before you leap into the unknown, follow these key steps to ensure you have the support you need to mitigate risk and maximize synergy for a kick-ass fresh start!
Nurture and Hone Your Vision | What do you see when you picture your brightest future? Who is with you? What are you doing that brings you joy? What are you no longer doing that you tolerated for long enough?
Identify Your Core (Non-Negotiable) Values to Live By | Your commitment to live in such a way that you can honor your values on a daily basis will ensure that you will find satisfaction in your choice to reinvent and redesign your life. Reflect on your top three best life experiences, and name what made those so meaningful to you. Write those values down. Add others. Reduce the list to 3-5 values that have the most energy and meaning for you.
Trust Your Intuition to Know What’s Best for You | Learn to honor your feelings. If something doesn’t feel good in your body, pay attention. Get curious and trace that body sensation back to an emotion that is coming up for you. This is the way our body holds and expresses its intelligence. Your intuition is a felt sense, not a thought process. Learn to listen to what doesn’t make “sense,” but feel clear to you all the same.
Build a Team to Support You | You are not alone. You have many people who love you. Ask for help. It’s a vulnerable act. Be ok to be vulnerable. It is an indicator of your open heart. Be willing to walk in the world with an open heart and mind. You will attract kind-hearted people to you. Deepen your trust in yourself to be able to deeply trust others.
Take Intentional Action | Your vision is your inspiration for all the goals and decisions you lay out for yourself to guide your journey. Focus on what are the first steps or next steps to continue on your way. Imagine you are a hero on a quest who will vanquish threats as they appear in the moment, along the way. Deal with what’s before you as you press on to your highest vision. Move forward with purpose.
Celebrate! | Always take time to be grateful for the adventure of the journey you are on. Acknowledge what is working and make tweaks to what isn’t. Keep your spirits high and your eye on the prize. It’s a marathon, not a spirit. You are a visionary on a quest! You are reinventing your life by your vision and redesigning how to live your life in a way that honors your values. You are making the change you want for yourself and THAT is empowered action!!
If you are ready to go boldly into a new life by your own design, I commend you! It can be as scary as it is exhilarating, so channel your focus on the fun and excitement it offers. Be clear on WHY this choice makes sense for you now. Write it down and post it where you see it every day. You got this!
Having a coach to walk beside you is a powerful support tool for this level of transformation. Reach out to learn how a coaching relationship with me could serve you as you blaze a trail to your highest form of becoming your genius, creative, soul-stirring self.
Thrive with the Support of a Coach on your Team
Feeling overwhelmed between demands at work and home, and struggling to achieve the feeling of equanimity you know you need to thrive again? Reach out to schedule a complimentary clarity call to discover how personalized one-on-one coaching can help you to learn to trust your inner power for positive impact in all areas of your life. Click here to learn more and schedule a time with me.
Let’s rise together!