In 2003 I was at a crossroads in my life.
I had left the privileges and comfort of being a corporate executive three years earlier to be an entrepreneur and pursue a passion in a new field as a life and career coach. Starting a business is hard enough, and most people in the Midwest had never heard of a “coach” before. In 1999, when I did the FastTrac program to do a feasibility study about my business idea, the advisor asked me: “Do you think you can make money doing this?” I thought I could.
I’d survived (barely) the dot com bust in 2000 and in 2001 I made a huge investment in a business coaching franchise, only to experience the tragedy of September 11 three months later, which basically crippled most entrepreneurial business initiatives and I lost my entire investment.
I slogged on, networking my heart out and wishing, hoping and praying for a sign that I was meant to do this work.
In 2003 I was the incoming president of the local NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) chapter in Kansas City and was on my way to the national convention at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.
I felt like a fraud.
I didn’t really have a business. It was more like a hobby, as I hadn’t earned enough to cover my expenses for over three years and I seriously wondered if I should hang up my cleats as a coach, so to speak, and get a “real job.”
And that’s when I heard the keynote speaker: Sharon Patrick who had just assumed the role of CEO for Martha Stewart Omni Media when Stewart went to jail for securities fraud and obstruction of justice.
Patrick’s words of wisdom were: If you don’t know what to do with your life, take a trip!
Then we saw slides of her at Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (where she met Martha Stewart), hiking Machu Pichu and the Alps.
I remember thinking: “I don’t know what to do with my life… and I am on a trip…albeit with 500 women at Opryland … but if there’s any element of truth in this idea, I’ll know by the time I leave what I should do with my life.” At that point, I wasn’t sure whether it was based on faith and trust… or desperation.
What I can tell you, is that on the flight home, I discussed ideas with Kelly Scanlon, who was the president-elect for NAWBO – KC and owner of Thinking Bigger Media, formerly known as Small Business Monthly. During the conference, aka my “trip,” I had created a business model of speaking, training, coaching and writing. I convinced Kelly to let me write a series of three articles for her publication – despite the fact that at that time she said – “I really don’t understand why people need coaches!”
That initial three-part series led to being a monthly contributor for her publication for five years. Also during that time, I had a weekly radio show, developed a series of training programs and conference keynotes and expanded my coaching practice to executive and business coaching…. And wrote my first book.
I became a believer that if you don’t know what to do with your life – take a trip!
Here’s how to do it:
- While you’re away, get clear about what you want. Create a list of all the things you want to do or want in your life, including:
- Your desired income
- Your desired lifestyle
- The skills you want to use/work you want to do
- The types of people/clients you want to work with
- Create the intention and trust that it’s possible and have confidence in yourself.
- Be on the look-out and seek opportunities that align with what you want.
- Be bold. Ask for what you want.
- Ask for help and hire experts to help you.
- Take calculated risks, but don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes.
- Work your butt off and deliver superb results.
I am now in my 20th year in business, have survived 3 recessions and have reinvented my business model three more times since my Opryland experience. And each time, those 7 steps have served me well.
Bottom line: The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth of the hole and how long you plan to stay in it. If you’re in a rut right now, the answer to getting out is taking action. Set new goals, write them down, and take action.
Taking a trip can help you get out of a rut. You can clear your head, create possibilities or new awareness.
Marty Stanley, CSP, is a Certified Speaking Professional, author and consultant on personal and organizational change. Since she encourages her clients to raise the bar and get out of their comfort zones to achieve the results they want, she strives to do the same. Watch for upcoming blogs on being out of her comfort zone while traveling overseas.
To see a short video on Marty’s coaching services, click here.