I haven’t written a blog in quite some time, but I feel compelled to write this as I find myself on a journey through roads untraveled. As an integrative health coach, my focus is helping others learn life-long strategies that foster optimal health or help them to accomplish their goal(s). Essentially, I am a behavior change specialist that empowers clients to learn, develop and grow throughout unfamiliar territory fraught with ambivalence of the unknown. I now find myself on this very journey.
Most clients come to coaching with the inability to see how their ways of being and doing impede their ability to move forward or make change. Having mindful awareness is half the battle when trying to overcome obstacles; if you can see it, you cannot argue what is blatantly in front of you. Rather, you utilize this information as a tool for enhancing your approach(es) to decision-making and behavior change. As a coach, I have the advantage of being mindful – as it is a critical skill in my field – but like others I can get stuck with how to use this information to move forward. I liken this to working out; I can lift weights and run on my own, but I will push harder and focus more if I am working with a trainer. There is no room for excuses. And I have someone who understands how passionate I am about my workouts that they motivate me, push me and praise me along the way to keep me going. No matter how hard the workout, I return the next day for more.
I spent the past 20 years as a graphic designer in the print, digital, and proposal industry. I have built a reputation of doing my job efficiently, effectively, with quality and integrity. It is familiar; while each organization I work with may differ, the skill set is essentially the same and I have the confidence to walk into the arena knowing I can complete any task assigned. For the few things that I may not know, I know how to find the answers to move forward with the task at hand without stress. With the familiar comes a level of comfort, a daily routine that most of the time does not stretch us beyond our comfort zone. Like many, though I do love being challenged in particular arenas, I appreciate my comfort zone.
However, I am finding that I am at a crossroads and this juncture is challenging my comfort zone considerably. If it regarded my workout routine, I would welcome it with open arms but unfortunately for me (and yet, fortunately) it does not. I recently wrapped up a contract position in graphic design that I loved; the people, the work, the commute…it was one of the best jobs I have had as a designer, hands down. I knew that it was temporary but the finality of it hit me much harder than I anticipated. But why? And though I know as a coach we should never begin a question with “why,” I asked myself…why??
It has become evident to me that pursuing my much-desired career path as an integrative health coach is more complicated than I anticipated. I have spent years being educated and continue to constantly train so that I can thrust myself into an arena where health and wellness coaches are disregarded for a lack of a clinical background, are frequently not covered through medical insurance companies and significantly underutilized in the medical arena, and often those with substantial qualifications and education are not differentiated from others who call themselves a coach. Thanks to the International Consortium of Health and Wellness Coaches (ICHWC), they are working to resolve the former struggle by offering the National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coaching exam, written in conjunction with the National Medical Board of Examiners (NBME) – which I sit in June to take. But how long will it take for the medical industry to acknowledge and utilize health and wellness coaches? How do coaches, myself included, help them to see while they do not have the time to sit with each patient to empower them to make change, we do. How do I thrust myself into a career of such uncertainty, over the comfort of the known (graphic design) and…let us be honest, security?
Further, I find I continually ask myself if I am capable of doing this. Of course, with such drastic change comes the infiltration of self-doubt because…well, it is the road untraveled. It is not familiar. I never envisioned myself as an entrepreneur, and I see other well-qualified coaches struggling with the same inability to get their footing in the medical arena to help individuals who are in need of us. But without hesitation I can answer this with absolute certainty; yes, I am beyond capable of being an exceptional integrative health coach. I am too passionate about helping individuals achieve optimal health, and realizing their goals and dreams to walk away from this because of fear.
That is what this boils down to. Fear. Who does not experience fear in the face of unfamiliarity? And how often do we walk away from amazing adventures or opportunities because we are afraid? Do not get me wrong, you will still never see me jump out of a plane…I am lucky that I fly in general, thanks to meditative breathing. But I aspire to empower others through coaching and if I am going to do so, I have to overcome my own ambivalences. That means I am working with a coach, my mentor, using inherent strengths while being stretched and leaning into my own discomfort. I plan to overcome obstacles impeding my own ability to conquer brick walls, and as a consummate learner, I appreciate this opportunity to learn and grow. My coaching plan is challenging; being faced with your own truth can bring with it more fear, but being vulnerable, open, and honest with yourself (and your coach) is truly liberating. And while I am just beginning this journey, I have no regrets in doing so. I am willing to put in the work needed to overcome my own ambivalence and create new opportunities in my life.
Moreover, this decision is a choice. I can choose to remain comfortable in a career with stability or I can pursue my life’s passion and work through the fear I face. We all are faced with making choices on a daily basis, but they never seem as profound until we face them in fear. But I honestly believe this is how we grow; in the throes of making change while being challenged to stretch ourselves outside our comfort zone to learn, develop and apply the new tools and knowledge.
Like I said, when one journey ends, another begins. And I am so excited about where this journey will lead me…as an integrative health coach helping others obtain optimal health and their goals and dreams.
“I gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which I must stop and look fear in the face…
I say to myself, I’ve lived through this and can take the next thing that comes along… We must do the things that we think we cannot do.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt