I believe that everyone ought to have a personal board of directors in their life… especially in your 20s. I’m only six years into this (thank god it’s halfway over!), but figuring out finances, romances, career aspirations, and general living sense eludes me from time to time. I seem to bump along fine for a few months, then WHAM! I get something that completely throws me off-kilter. I was just entering shaky ground when I met Jenny Ferry, a life coach.
Now, Jenny and I have never actually met, but I can imagine exactly how she would be from our phone and email interaction. Her warmth actually radiates in every hello via phone and every earnest closing of an email. Not many people can pull off that kind of emotion with sincerity, in this skeptic’s book.
Jenny specializes in helping twenty-something women find direction in whatever it is their having trouble with. We started by identifying what that might be for me. Just picking one or two things to work on was a challenge in and of its self. I believe my words were, “Ugh. Where do I start??” I was working two jobs, running my small business and writing this blog. I was in a new relationship and I was training for a half-marathon. I was just about to freak out.
I took a quick diagnostic survey. The career portion practically leapt off the page at us. That was definitely where we needed to start. Then there was this “fun” category. Fun? What’s that? Work is fun, I said. Heh. We were still going to work on it. “We’ll just sprinkle it in,” Jenny said. I could go along with that.
We tackled my four jobs first. I told her I felt like I had the ability to do all of these really great things, but I didn’t know how to pick just one, or even two to pursue. She helped me break it down and get it on paper. Once we did some simple evaluation and took a look at it, I was blown away. Right there, in black and white, I could see what was most important to me out of my four “jobs.” Blogging was by far and away my number one passion. It was followed closely by my marketing job, then came the café (which lost major points in the income category), and trailing abysmally behind was the one I was putting the most effort into – my IT company. According to that sheet of paper, it was my least favorite thing to do. And I had to agree.
“What can we take off your plate?” Jenny asked. Jenny always asks the hard questions. I drew my breath in sharply and deeply. Hearing me, she said, “Why don’t you spend some time on this one. Let me know what you come up with.” I talked over it with friends, and I thought about it. I looked at that sheet of paper and my decision was clear. I’ve since put the company on indefinite hold. I still have one client who doesn’t require much attention at the moment, but no efforts are being made to attract new ones. I’ve been able to concentrate on my blog more and to scale back my hours at the café so that it’s less work and more just-for-fun.
Jenny challenges me to step outside my boundaries in order to pursue what I want. At her suggestion, I have: asked for my hours to be changed at work, found a mentor at the corporate level, taken a relaxing bath, and have begun researching business schools for my MBA. I didn’t even know I wanted to get an MBA before I started working with Jenny. I was afraid to say that I want the thing that everyone says I don’t need.
One major exercise we did was crafting my life purpose statement. This single sentence would be a tuning fork for my entire life that I could use at any point to see if I was “in tune” with what I felt my life’s purpose was. I was definitely skeptical. After all, I’ve spent at least 14 years trying to find my purpose in life. I was a philosophy major, for crying out loud. In one hour, I’m going to find my life purpose. Yeah, right.
Yeah, right! My life purpose statement kicks some major ass. It is Holly with a capital H. I can go through my week knocking that tuning fork and know pretty much whether or not I’m lined up with my life’s purpose. It soothes me, it invigorates me, but most importantly, it reminds me of who I am and who I want to be. A life purpose statement is really personal, so I’m not going to share it here. You’ll just have to become friends with me and ask.
What Jenny does as a life coach is help define my goal and bring it into focus. We find my obstacles, which are usually my own limits, and then she promptly challenges me to knock them down. She does this with warmth, passion, enthusiasm and empathy. If we were in the same town, I have no doubt every meeting would end with a squeeze. But the woman will make you work – trust me. And in that work, you find yourself. You find these amazing little gems (courage, confidence, self-awareness) that were already inside of you, but you just didn’t know how to access.
I feel more in tune with myself and with my goals, and I feel more confident in the path I’m taking to achieve them. So often my 20s have felt like blindly groping for I-don’t-know-what in a black room. Jenny helps me shed a little light on what I’m looking for and how to grab it.