Um, do you know that I’ve coached hundreds of women since I started offering dream career guidance in 2008? And that these women are freakin’ rock stars, leaving soul-sucking jobs and traveling the world and launching creative, grown-up businesses and simply doing work that fits their lifestyle goals? Well ya do now – and you’ll hear their stories firsthand in my Client Case Studies series! Carrie was an unhappy academic when we first started working together back in 2012. Since then she quit her job, got a bridge job, had said bridge job company go under, started freelancing, and launched her dream business! The mom of 2 small kids, she’s finally giving herself permission to do what she’s passionate about. I adore her!
Why did you decide to work with me, a creative career coach?
I had always thought of myself as a creative, artistic person, but my career path had taken me in a very different direction than I intended. Instead of using my writing to express values and beliefs as I had done in high school and college, I found myself in an academic space that values detached, analytical writing and rule-following over everything else, and that is sooooooooo not who I am. I needed someone who could help me get my mojo back and figure out a new career path that would allow me to use writing as a means of self-expression and cultural and political protest.
What were you doing work-wise when we started our sessions?
I was an Assistant Professor of English specializing in writing studies. In other words, I taught academic writing and rhetoric.
What was your biggest takeaway from our time together?
That I have the right to love what I do for a living and that I can define for myself what makes for a legitimate career. I spent so much of my working life believing you had to choose your career from a set list handed to you by your parents or some school career counselor. I wanted to write and teach writing on my own terms, but didn’t believe it was possible. I always told my students they had to write what what they were passionate about or they would never learn to love writing, but I couldn’t give that permission to myself.
Was there anything else you tried to do as a career between the time we stopped our sessions and what you do for work now? If so, how did it inform your current business?
Sort of. I knew I was leaving my university job at the end of the spring semester, so I applied for a job at a virtual assistant company called Zirtual, thinking it would be a filler job for the next year until I could start my own writing coaching business. Well…the “too long; didn’t read” version is that the company went under three months after I was hired, just as my health insurance coverage was supposed to start. That experience solidified something I learned during our sessions together: working for someone else does not give you job security—that’s an illusion. So, after a day of wondering around the house trying to figure out what to do next, I started recruiting clients and working on my website.
What would you tell someone now that was in your shoes when we first started working together? What’s your best “tip” to allow them to make a grown-up living doing what they love?
1.) Your happiness is not for sale. When we work for someone else, it is a sales transaction. They agree to pay you for a certain amount of your time and expertise, but they should never be allowed to take your happiness. Sometimes this means you have to create your own job, your own unique career path in order to do what you love.
2.) People will pay you to do what you love. For a long time, I was afraid of asking for “too much” when pricing my services, and all of my first clients ended up telling me I wasn’t charging enough. I think we have to market to ourselves first so we can believe in our own worth.
What’s on the horizon for your business? We’d love to hear about any upcoming offerings or goals!
I have been working with a small group of writing coaching clients over the past year, and have officially launched my coaching offerings! I work with women who are beginning a new project or writing practice after a period of writer’s block or who need a partner to help them develop the courage to start writing seriously for the first time. If all goes according to schedule, I’ll offer an online writing course in January for women who are working on overcoming their self-doubt and self-censoring so they can rediscover their courage and voice and write without fear.