How I Discovered What I Was Created to Do
This article originally appeared as a feature in Voyage LA, and has been updated.
Voyage LA: Thanks for sharing your story with us. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My story begins in a place that’s familiar to many—I was miserable at work. I had recently switched jobs only to discover that my new position drew on my weaknesses more than my strengths and even the things I was good at within the role sapped my energy.
I didn’t have it in me to begin the grueling process of another job search so quickly, and I began questioning my marketing career path. I’d always felt called to something greater, something fulfilling and meaningful, so I started soul-searching.
On a rainy January day in downtown LA, I was reading a friend’s blog on my lunch break and the phrase “positive psychology” grabbed me. While the term is relatively self-explanatory, it wasn’t one I’d heard before so I started down a research rabbit hole—and that led me to life coaching.
The moment my eyes landed on this career path, I intuitively knew that this is what I was created to do.
I continued my research and hired a life coach myself. As we began working together, I experienced the power of coaching in every area of my life, especially at work.
I quickly learned that our thoughts create our feelings which determine our actions and therefore our result. The key to changing the way we feel is changing the thought that is creating that feeling. This takes work and practice, but it is life-changing.
One Sunday afternoon, I spent four hours using what I’d learned from my coach to change my thoughts about my job, specifically about my difficult marketing director. I walked into work the next day with so much joy that my coworkers noticed something was different.
A few days later, I received an email from a recruiter and I almost turned down the interview offer, because I’d become so happy at work. Thankfully, I took the interview and got the job.
I’m now working for a supportive and empowering leader, I love my team and my company, and my day job has become the “angel investor” for my life coaching practice.
Now, this happened fast. Thought work doesn’t always produce results this quickly, and it won’t always lead to a new job as it did for me. Sometimes, it will change your perspective so much that you will be able to love the job you have. Or it could transform the way you interact with and respond to others (even your boss!) to such a strong degree that your entire team dynamic improves.
It all depends on your own personal journey. Life has a tendency to keep us in a challenging situation until it teaches us what we’re supposed to know.
Voyage LA: We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion—but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Absolutely not. I started my life coach training certification program a month after beginning my new job. This was stressful, as I was navigating the learning curve at work while juggling life coaching teleclasses, coursework, and peer coaching in the evenings.
One of the biggest benefits of this new position is that I was able to negotiate to work from home three days a week, which helped immensely. I’m an introvert, and the energy I was able to save on the days I worked from home was just what I needed to pour into the evenings.
As I progressed through the program, I became acutely aware of the insecurities that had developed over the years because of my introverted nature. I’ve felt different my entire life because I’m quieter than most. I get drained quickly from meetings at work and trying to focus in an open-concept office environment, and prefer meaningful, one-on-one conversation rather than loud groups.
There are numerous studies about the value that introverts bring to organizations, but this still isn’t widely recognized by companies and teams. All too often, the loudest person in a meeting is perceived as having the best ideas, and quieter professionals either can’t get a word in edgewise or have stopped trying because of the fight that is required to be heard.
Introverts have unique struggles at work, and we often question our value because we feel so different from the extroverted majority. We have to operate in an office environment that is designed for extroverts, and even though our social battery may be getting low by lunchtime, we may still feel like we have to go out with our coworkers instead of taking the solo break we need to recharge — or risk being perceived as anti-social or different.
There were three in-person, three-day weekends as part of my life coach certification program, and while this was the best part of the training, those 10-hour days were draining. Similar to the corporate environment, most of my classmates took advantage of the frequent breaks and lunchtime to network and get to know the other coaches.
Participation was encouraged and rewarded during the group discussions (I hated raising my hand in class as a kid, and this has definitely not changed) and there were many small group activities, which also fill most introverts with dread.
During the second weekend, two of my fellow classmates at separate times told me that I needed to get out of my shell. Now, they both seemed well-intentioned, but I’ve heard this exact comment so many times that this is a button for me. I kept my composure but inside, I was steaming.
I headed to the beach to clear my head, recharge, and begin processing everything I’d learned that weekend, including the “shell” comments. And then it hit me: I have no shell.
I’m simply wired differently because I’m an introvert. I often turn inward to analyze situations or recharge when my social battery is dangerously low, but most of the time I’m fully engaged. This just looks a little quieter than our extroverted world is used to.
At that moment, my coaching focus became clear. I knew that I wanted to help other introverted leaders build the quiet confidence they need to create professional and personal success by staying true to the way they’re wired.
So many introverts, myself included, have masqueraded as extroverts for most of our professional lives because we thought we had no other choice. As a result, we’re rarely operating at our best because we invalidate our needs and don’t take the recharge time we need during the day.
Instead of viewing our quiet nature and aversion to networking events, small talk, and larger groups as something that holds us back, we can own our introversion and learn how to use it as our greatest strength.
Voyage LA: What are some words of advice for other introverted women?
1. The most important work you can do is to learn how to step into your worthiness. We all have an inner critic that holds us back in every area of our lives, telling us that we’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or that we don’t deserve it—whatever “it” might be.
This voice is a protection mechanism that was created when we were young to keep us safe, and it doesn’t serve us as adults. And yet we let that voice keep us small, and give in to the fear it creates over and over again.
Working with a coach is the most effective way to change your inner critic’s message. Learning how to identify and manage this voice will transform your entire life.
2. Follow your curiosity and pay attention to what makes you feel most alive. This is the best way to discover what you were created to do.
3. Don’t limit your goals based on what you think is achievable. You are only limited by your perspective, and so often, you don’t need to see the “how” before you begin to pursue your goal. All you need to know is the next right step and the patience to wait for the one after that to become clear.
4. Resist the urge to masquerade as an extrovert. Instead, commit to understanding and owning the value you bring to the table because of your introversion and maximizing these strengths.
The way you engage during meetings at work may always look different because you’re quiet. The way you experience the world will always feel different because you’re an introvert. Your definition of success will look different as well, and this is the way it’s supposed to be—because your value is based on your unique strengths and gifts.
5. Finally, practice self-care. Too many of us don’t make this a priority, and it’s so important.
Voyage LA: So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Introvert’s World. Tell our readers what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I founded The Introvert’s World in 2016 as an online community where introverts can feel understood while connecting with others who approach the world as they do.
I’m a certified professional coach, and help introverted leaders build quiet confidence, understand their unique value, and create a career they love.
I am also an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, certified to give the Energy Leadership Assessment. This is a powerful tool that uncovers what is holding you back from success, joy, and purpose on the deepest level so you can begin creating the life you want and deserve.
Intentionally creating your life in this way increases the freedom to choose what your days look like, and experience contentment, balance, and joy.
Coaching is an action-oriented investment that begins with making the inner changes that will impact every aspect of your life, regardless of the situation you’re facing, because how you do one thing is how you do everything.
I’ve written two ebooks, The Introvert’s Survival Guide for an Open Concept Office and How to Balance Drive with Self-Care.
Voyage LA: Are there any apps, books, podcasts, or other resources that you’ve benefited from using?
Brene Brown is my biggest inspiration. Her work on vulnerability, worthiness, shame, and wholeheartedness has changed my life. Her TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability marked the beginning of my own personal growth journey years ago, and her books, particularly Rising Strong, have provided the foundation for all of the work that I do.
Glennon Doyle has significantly impacted me as well. Her book Love Warrior showed me why it’s so important to sit with our pain until it teaches us what we’re supposed to know, instead of looking for the “easy button” that will make us feel better. The way she approaches life with honesty, courage and so much heart is inspiring.
Interested in learning more about how you can manage your inner critic’s message, build quiet confidence, and create a career you love? Schedule a free consultation.