Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in a coaching session? To hear how it goes down, what you can expect and what other people talk about?
Well, same. So when OG Life Goals contributor, coach and therapist, Tess Brigham, pitched a coaching series where we document coaching sessions so people can see what it looks like, I was very into it.
I’m always up for experimenting with new, more personal ways to connect with you all. So, I thought it would be a cool opportunity 1) to experience coaching myself, as I’ve never really done it and 2) to document this time in my life where I’m going through a major transition phase: moving to Washington D.C.
While it’s now fully official and I’ll be heading that way VERY soon, we’re going back in time to my first coaching session with Tess from a few months ago. And you’ll see the moving journey in the coming months documented through this series.
Here’s an edited, shortened version of my first conversation with my coaching session about overwhelm, moving, distance and grappling with the unknown.
Tess: So I would just love to hear, what are the main goals you want to work on? If they’re not very clear right now, that’s fine. First I want to hear about your goals and then I would love to sort of backtrack a little bit and hear about your history and just get a framework of your life events up until now, if that makes sense.
Coley: So one of my goals would be to kind of get some clarity on how to deal with so much going on. I feel like I get so overwhelmed that I basically shut down and don’t feel like I can do anything. Like I don’t know where to begin with all of it…in both work and then with Life Goals. The pattern in the past would be that I was very average in school. I basically like watched a ton of TV, wasn’t doing fulfilling things instead of it. I beat myself up over not doing much all the time. I would consider myself lazy in those moments when I know I’m not fully lazy. Now, I definitely get more stuff done, but it’s an interesting mindset thing where even when I’m relaxing these days, I feel guilty for it.
Tess: So what was your major? What did you study in school?
Coley: I studied business with an emphasis in marketing. Definitely more interested in the marketing stuff.
Tess: Okay. And then you went back home after college?
Coley: Yeah, I struggled to find work out there. So when I got a job in Long Beach, I decided to take it. Not even thinking about how it would mean long distance for my boyfriend and me. I honestly thought I’d commute, until I realized that it would be about two hours each way and it wasn’t sustainable. But I didn’t feel like I had any other job opportunities.
Tess: So you’re still in the same position, same company?
Tess: And do you enjoy it?
Coley: I like it. I was actually considering leaving two years ago and then I got offered promotion. So I decided to stay; got my own apartment and so all of that was really great. I am able to do a lot of what I want to be doing with this job. The work is good. It’s actually very similar to the work that I do for Life Goals. But it’s not the same kind of fulfilling.
Tess: I’m curious, what inspired you to start Life Goals? Did you start it around the time that you got this job?
Coley: I did, yeah. It was probably a few months before.
Tess: So what motivated you to say, “Well, if I’m not going to get a job, I’m just going to do it myself.”
Coley: I think I created it with some hope that someday I could make money from it, but I definitely knew it wouldn’t be for awhile. So it wasn’t really like I was trying to start my career with it. It was just something fun to do. I had a blog before that and never really felt like it had a purpose. But then I found someone doing something an online magazine that I really liked and I asked to contribute for them and then it kind of expanded me and made me realize like, “Oh, I could probably create something like this but a way that’s more my style.” I could have more consistent content than I do now from a variety of people who know more than I do about personal growth, at the time. And then from there, I found that it has become a passion.
Tess: Since you started Life Goals, have you thought to yourself like, “Oh, forget it. I’m just not going to do this anymore” or is it always been like, “No, I’ve never thought about leaving and stopping the blog.”
Coley: Yeah. It’s funny because there are times where I think that and then immediately I’m like, no. Because it isn’t true. I probably would be happy in another field, like I could get there. But this is the thing that lights me up. And I don’t know, I don’t really second-guess it a lot. Like I have pretty firm belief that this is what I’m meant to do.
Tess: So tell me what’s going on in your life today?
Coley: I feel a little stuck right now, because my boyfriend is waiting on a job offer from DC. It’s already been about a year. I just feel like we’re both ready to be in that next phase. We’ve been together for five years.
Tess: Oh wow. Okay, can I ask you, how old are you?
Coley: I’m 27.
Tess: Wow…that’s a long time for your age.
Coley: And been somewhat long distance for three of those years.
Tess: What’s that been like?
Coley: It’s hard, because I think we both feel like there are a lot of sacrifices we’ve been making for years now. I moved out here to Long Beach which meant we only see each other on the weekends, if that. At the same time, he was getting two degrees, often had obligations come up last minute a lot on the weekends, which has been really difficult in our relationship, especially lately.
Tess: It sounds like the two of you have been moving forward in your individual lives and moving forward in your individual careers but you’ve been apart for a lot of it. What’s amazing is that during this developmental time of each of your lives from 22 to 27, you have been able to stay together, want to be together and stay in each other’s lives. This time of each of your lives is when you need to focus on yourself, grow your career and build your life. It’s incredible that the two of you have weathered this storm together. It can be hard because sometimes the relationship can’t be your first priority.
Coley: That’s the most challenging part for me. When my partner tell’s me last minute he’s got something going on for work or he needs to help his family with something, it triggers a fear in me of being alone and having to like, you know, figure out what to do with my time. I think there is definitely an aspect of my struggling with the distance that is just being uncomfortable with having to work toward my goals even though I know what they are.
Tess: Feeling upset makes sense, especially when it’s so last minute! Let’s talk about what you last said, what are you scared of?
Coley: I’m scared of my goals I guess.
Tess: Tell me more about that.
Coley: I get caught up in feeling upset that we don’t get to spend enough time together. I think quality time might be my love language, so it feels especially difficult for me. He has a lot going on in his life and a lot of people who count on him. So I get upset a lot when things come up, because I can’t spend time with him. But I also think that fear comes up when this happens, because it leaves me with having to figure out something else to do with my time.
Tess: This is really interesting because it sounds like you’re wondering if it’s the DC situation that is keeping you stuck or if it’s your own resistance that’s preventing you from working towards your goals.
Coley: Yeah. I think there’s some resistance.
Tess: Then I think it would be good for you to think about what it is that you want to do so you start making plans for yourself so you can stop stopping feeling dependent upon his life plans and in turn this will make you feel less resentful during this process.
Here’s what I want you to do this week. Think about your vision for your life. What is it that you want? If your partner and this job situation wasn’t a factor, what choices would you be making right now? You want to know what’s important to you, outside of this relationship, because this is your life and your career needs to move forward too.
Find some time this week to work on this exercise. Get a notebook and find a quiet spot and close your eyes. Visualize your ideal life – don’t skimp and don’t get into how you’re going to make all of this happen, you just want to focus on what you ideally want for your career, your friendships, romantic relationship, money, health, every aspect of your life. Once you have that vision, write it down and be as detailed as possible.
Coley: Sounds good.
Tess: Great! We can talk more about what you wrote during our next session. See you then.