Image: Aya Garcia 2012
A year of exploration
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“How will you afford to live in NYC?”
“Wow! That’s brave!”
“I wish I could do this…sigh”
“How cool! I hope it works out for you!”
Those were just a few of the comments I got when I announced that I would be leaving my comfortable, well-paid job with 13 weeks vacation a year to take the time to explore and decide what the next step was for me.
When my last day of work arrived, and the horizon was fully clear, I stood with all those I had worked with for the past 4 years, since arriving in NYC and tears started rolling down my cheeks.
It’s always hard to leave a place, a job or a relationship and there is always a feeling of mourning. You know what you leave behind but you have no idea what you are looking towards.
Here I was - about to turn 40 with no regular income, leaving a career I had started building when I was 23 and a very vague idea of where I wanted to go. I was terrified, excited, motivated and ready to take on the world!
Today, I want to share with you not all the struggles and difficulties I encountered but instead why it was key for me to let myself have the time to explore, try, choose different paths and educate myself.
When I left my job, my idea was very vague: I would become a certified yoga teacher and use yoga as a tool in leadership workshops I wanted to design and facilitate.
I talked to friends who of course thought it was a wonderful idea (this is called confirmation bias, looking for the answers I wanted to hear!) and I put everything I had into developing these workshops, I successfully piloted them and decided to market them. I talked to people around me and reached out to everyone I knew, convinced I had the winning formula. At the same time, I started my executive coach training with the NeuroLeadership Institute. Everything was going great!
Except… I was starting to discover that teaching yoga asanas (poses) and including them in the workshops was not actually something I loved. OUCH!!! A slap in the face! I had invested so much in my yoga certification, I had spent the time, practiced teaching… I had to love it, right?
One day, I said out loud to a friend and then to my boyfriend that while yoga is an intrinsic part of me, I didn’t, in fact, love teaching yoga poses. While articulating it was a liberating in a way, there is such thing as sunk cost fallacy and I was torn. I had spent so much time (and money!) marketing and talking about these workshops, I just had to keep going!
But the reality of it is: I did not HAVE to do anything and it took me a while to understand this.
As I talked to others, reflected and was coached around this, I started to change my mindset. I not only recognized but also fully accepted that it was ok to move on and let this idea go so that I could focus on those things that made me truly happy (coaching and leading small group workshops for women). That moment is when everything changed for me and when Lead With A Twist started to truly blossom.
I kept some aspects of yoga that resonate more with me such as Yoga Nidra, breathing and meditation. I started exploring new ideas, working with a coach and talking to everyone and anyone to learn and grow. Having worked in education my whole life, I had been sheltered and knew nothing about running a business or in fact, the real world outside a school! I opened up to all opportunities that would come my way. I went to networking events, took webinars, read everything I could and I joined Dreamers and Doers, an incredible network of women who support each other, root for each other, share and give. All this stimulation gave me wings: I was suddenly truly exploring, learning, educating myself and this is where the magic happened. This is when everything fell into place and I felt truly free and authentic to myself.
Today, I am in a wonderful place in my life, with just enough structure and just enough freedom to explore. Some of my fears have disappeared and not been replaced by others and I want you to come and join me in this place so I will share the lessons I learned.
Lesson 1: When we let go of our attachment to an outcome, we start to truly grow. EXPLORE!
All this time, I was clinging to ideas, to my past, to my training… I had decided what Lead With A Twist was going to be before I had had time to explore. I told others that I was exploring and it was partly true but I think I was running from one thing to the next because I was scared: I was scared of failure and I was scared of disappointing others. It's only later that I realized that since I had a purpose in this exploration and an expectation for an outcome, it was not truly an exploration!
Lesson 2: We must keep moving and doing: TRY ideas and IMPROVE them. And be prepared to let them go!
Those first workshops helped me realize that they were not the way forward but I also learned that I really wanted to continue to lead workshops. They also allowed me to get feedback and learn what participants loved. Everything I did served a purpose and I regret nothing.
Lesson 3: We need to surround ourselves with those who will support us and ASK for help.
As I mentioned above, joining Dreamers and Doers changed everything for me. It offered me inspiration and motivation as well as a safe space to try out some ideas. In addition, I started to actively ask for support from those around me. This could simply be asking them to take part in a workshop or maybe even to give me a hug! Think of the times in your life when you asked for help: how often were you met with a “no”? When you're a strong independent woman, it's hard to realize and accept it but you are not alone!
Lesson 4: We have to EDUCATE ourselves.
It’s never too late! Neuroplasticity is a thing and you can learn new skills. You never know what you might discover or what door might open. I spent money on my yoga teacher training and my executive coach training, yes. However, since I am not made of money, I also took tons of free webinars, went to talks at the library, used free online resources and read like crazy!
Lesson 5: Self awareness is the key. Let's CONNECT to ourselves.
I allowed myself to truly go deep and find clarity. Once I knew where I was going, it was easy to get there! First, you have to do the work: understand what stops you from moving forward and what gives you energy and stimulates you. Reflect on whether the options you are exploring resonate with your values and with your purpose. Journal or work with a coach (and I’m not saying that because that’s my job!). Do whatever it takes to step back, slow down and dive into yourself. You never know who else you might meet there!
I will leave you, as I started, with Dr. Seuss’ wonderful words: “You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose.”