Diary of A Life Coach: A Review of My First Year in Business

by | Jan 6, 2022 | Planning & Goal Setting, Tools & Resources

I’ve observed in the online coaching space that most people tend to talk about their business results only after they’ve already achieved a certain amount of success. Far fewer people are willing to pull the curtain back and share what’s actually happening behind the scenes – the highs, the lows and everything in between.

As part of my commitment to courageous transparency, authenticity, and doing better in the coaching industry, this is an in-depth review of my multi-year journey into life coaching.

Transparency Note: My personal development and growth into becoming a coach is something that I have been subconsciously dreaming about since 2014, and actively working on since 2018. There are events mentioned here that have happened prior to 2021. This story is a culmination of my journey thus far.

When I originally sat down to write this, my intention was to create a brief annual review of my business, so that I could have data and feedback for my 2022 planning. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a woman of few words, and I should really know better than to use the word brief when reflecting back on anything.

Before I put any serious thought into any further planning for 2022, I really wanted to sit with this year and truly reflect on what went well, and what actually worked, so that I could bring those lessons forward for next year. Especially in those moments when I feel like quitting. Because they do happen.

The Questions I Asked Myself To Write This Review:

  • What did I accomplish?
  • How did I accomplish this? What worked in my business in 2021?
  • What am I most proud of?

What did I accomplish?

This past year I accomplished a multi-year goal of mine and officially launched my life coaching business.

This is the accomplishment that I am most proud of, as this was my Big-Ass, Hairy-Scary, Audacious-Bodacious Goal for 2021.

This is the goal that I had the most resistance to, and it was the one that required me to show up in a different way than I had been doing previously – in business and in life. Stepping into this goal was the final step that I needed to take in order for me to bridge the gap around my old identity as a web designer – and take the big leap of faith into my new identity as a life coach.

How did I accomplish this? What worked in my business in 2021?

I focused on my personal growth and development as a coach

In May of 2020, I completed Awaken Your Life with my coach Andrea Leda, a 200 Hour Coach Training and Certification Program, which marked the beginning of my coaching education journey.

I appreciated this program so much because it required me to go on a journey of taking a look in the mirror and cross-examine my own mental, emotional and spiritual beliefs that were holding me back from achieving my goals. It personally kicked my ass, and once I jumped in, there was no turning back. Every tear shed, whether it was in class or in a coaching session – was a release, a wake-up call, and a permission slip to choose another path that moved me towards my purpose and potential. As someone with an Enneagram 7  personality type (read: eternal optimism and a tendency to avoid negative emotions), this was particularly challenging for me.

The greatest gift of this program is that it allowed me to experience my own transformation and evolution as a human being, which equipped me with special tools that were already inside me to help my clients: trust, empathy, compassion, and intuition.

As a coach, I firmly believe that I cannot take my clients on a path that I am unwilling to walk.

This program taught me how to be a guide for my clients as they navigate their own life journeys.

In March 2021, I re-enrolled in Awaken Your Life (AYL) as a returning graduate. The first time I did AYL, it was for my personal transformation and growth. The second time around I wanted to repeat the program with a coaching practice and be able to directly apply what I was learning in my client coaching sessions. I graduated from this program in October 2021 as a heart-centered, trauma-informed coach, some amazing tools and resources to add to my coaching toolbox, and clarity of how I can  play big and use my voice to make an impact.

At the end of 2020, I completed my certification to be an NLP Practitioner.

In November 2021, I completed training with Empowerment, Inc. to become a Master NLP Practitioner, a Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy, and a Master Practitioner of Mental and Emotional Release ® .

This training deepened my personal transformation and gave me the energy and clarity of my purpose as a coach: to help women+  audaciously and holistically create their most authentic, courageous, and empowered life by design – at the intersection of Motherhood, Entrepreneurship, and Self-Discovery.

Never before have I had that level of clarity and purpose in my business or in life, much less the courage to share it publicly or say it out loud to other people. NLP leveled up my skills and knowledge as a life coach with some powerful bonus coaching tools to better serve my clients and honor my purpose.

I increased my skills and knowledge as a business owner who runs a coaching practice.

While I am no stranger to running a service-based business ( I’m a former web designer) I had no prior experience of running a coaching business. After completing AYL in 2020, the thought of marketing myself as a coach – and asking people to pay me to coach them – made me want to curl up in a ball, under at least three weighted blankets, and not move for about 6 months.

There’s a difference between being trained as a coach vs knowing how to successfully run a coaching business

Read that again.

Having a coaching certification did not automagically fill my coaching practice, or make me feel confident that I could do so without additional support.

In the context of personal growth and development, continuing education is one of my top values. I recognized that in order for me to achieve my goal of launching my coaching business, there was a gap that needed to be filled and questions that needed to be explored further.

It’s probably the questions that keep newer coaches up at night:

  • How exactly do I create clients?
  • What are the skills and knowledge that I’m missing in order to accomplish this?
  • What kind of support and resources do I have to help me?

For me, some of those missing skills included sales, marketing, building out a coaching program, having a coaching program to offer to clients, having a business support system in place, and some additional tools to support my clients.

And so as cozy and comfortable as the weighted blanket option sounded, I opted for the less convenient and way more uncomfortable route. In the Fall of 2020, I enrolled in Awaken Your Practice, Andrea’s business mentorship program.

My purpose for enrolling in this program was specifically to help me:

  • Not go back to curling up under the weighted blankets
  • Bridge my knowledge, skills, and behavioral gaps as a coach and a business owner
  • Focus on my goal of launching my coaching practice from a place of courage AND authenticity
  • Have the confidence to create closure around my old identity as a web designer, and step into this next phase of my life, my path, and my purpose

I called in my resources and built my support team

The phrase “It takes a village” is usually mentioned with raising children, and it definitely applies when you are taking steps that require you to make life-changing, belief-shaking, identity-shifting decisions. Just like with a movie production or building construction, there are several players involved to bring the final product from concept to reality.

Trying to be a perfect superhuman, pretending like I have my shit together, and that I could “do it all without help” does not serve anyone, especially me. Especially in the middle of a global pandemic

I willingly waved my white flag to the notion of going on this journey by myself.

I called in my village – in all areas of my life – and asked for help.

I enrolled in Awaken Your Practice (AWP) for business support with my knowledge gap. With this program, I had mentorship and coaching support from my coach Andrea. I also leaned on her for mental and emotional support for myself when I questioned my worthiness to step into this work.

I was gifted with additional peer support.

My goal was to become a paid coach, and so I spent time with other paid coaches.

When I was studying for my NLP exam, I had a fellow coach and study partner who has now become a dear friend of mine.

When I enrolled in AWP, I spent 10 months with a cohort of five other women who were working towards a similar goal of growing their coaching practices. All these women became my support team, my cheerleaders, my accountability partners, my fellow crafters and candle makers, my sister-friends, my “ I-love-you-and-I’m gonna-call-you-out-on-your-BS” friends and an invaluable part of my community. Thank you ladies for giving me the extra doses of courage to fail safely, to do hard things, for the supportive group texts and for seeing the potential in me that I sometimes fail to see in myself.

I’m a mother of 3 young boys, and so I called in my co-pilot on this crazy ride of parenthood and asked him to take over some of the reins. I asked my husband to work at home two days a week, and to take over guitar lessons with our oldest son so that I could have additional support with kid activities, distance learning, and dinner. This allowed me to be able to attend AWP classes, study for my NLP Practitioner exams, and do the additional homework assignments from AWP.

Because, mental health and capacity during a global pandemic.

I hired a babysitter to pick up my then-four-year-old in the mornings, and take him to preschool, so that I could support my older kids with distance learning, study for my NLP exam, and also work on the extra assignments from my business mentorship training. Because, mental health and capacity during a pandemic.

I asked my husband, family members, and friends, to assist with picking up my sons from school so that I could attend classes, and both the opening and closing ceremonies.

I hired a housecleaner. I did this for myself more than I did for my family.

I rented out a co-working space during the pandemic for my mental health and peace of mind. It was a 45-minute drive from my house, and I mostly listened to NLP, the Unlocking Us and the Dare to Lead podcast, on the way to and from. I also cried a lot, gave myself pep talks, and sang like no one was listening. Thank you, Brene, for helping to keep me sane.

To the best of my imperfect ability, I exercised, ate food that was good for my body, and gave myself permission to rest when I needed to. This did not always happen, and a lesson I’m taking into 2022.

I maintained a spiritual practice to keep connected to my Higher Self, and asked for the support of faith, love, courage and surrender to step into this work.

I hired my friend and colleague Hilary in October 2020 to do a photo shoot for my website.

I used my technical skills and library of prior knowledge from my former web design days to build a new website, build a landing page for my coaching project, integrate scheduling software, email marketing, and Zoom, email templates, and set up a payment processor and all the additional backend systems I needed to smoothly run my coaching business.

I developed (over many, many years) a more positive relationship with money

This one was a biggie for me.

I found a 2018 journal entry that, until recently, pretty accurately describes my former relationship with money:

“My money is like a spontaneous on again, off again passionate lover that flows in and out of my life for occasional one-night stands, but never sticks around for the long term.”

My money story has been a 10 to 20-year journey filled with emotional bruises and bumps of avoidance, scarcity, guilt, overwhelm, shame, lack of worthiness, awakenings, and unlearning. With the help of coaching and some hard conversations with myself, things slowly started shifting.

My desire for transformation and growth became greater than my fear of failure, which gave me the courage and the permission to stop avoiding money, start paying attention and begin the healing process.

Having harmony between my ideal and actual functional beliefs about money continues to be a lifelong practice for me.

I’m happy to say that my relationship with money this year evolved from the elusive one-night-stand lover. Nowadays, it is a closer resemblance to a relationship that I would have with my spouse or my closest friends: filled with abundance, love, trust, authenticity, transparency, and inclusivity. It’s a relationship that I healed to be more in alignment with my identity and career as a life coach.

After many failed attempts of trying to pay better attention to my money and have better money habits, here’s what worked for me this year to continue practicing having a positive relationship with money:

I made SPACE on my calendar and in my heart. Through coaching, I became aware of a self-preservation tendency to fill my schedule with so many things as a means of avoiding doing the things that actually matter, like paying attention to my money. I finally hit a point where I was so frustrated with not knowing about what was happening with my money, that I finally decided to do something about it. I also realized that my tendencies were no longer serving me in my goal to become a successful coach and profitable business owner.

I did a 31 day money journal challenge at the beginning of the year. Every day for 31 days between January and February, I spent 10 to 15 minutes each morning having some in-depth conversations with my money beliefs, values, and stories. This practice was a helpful reflection on how far I’ve come on my money journey, learning for myself what was not yet resolved and needed to be addressed, and also what I wanted to change in the future.

I started and maintained a weekly money date habit. H/t to my friend, fellow coach, and colleague Julie Miller for introducing this concept to me. It has been a game-changer.

When I first heard about money dates, for some reason my unconscious mind was waaaay more on board with this idea than having to ‘do my budget.’ I really enjoyed the thought of taking my money out on a date, checking in with it, seeing what’s working and how it’s not working – all for the purpose of being empowered with my money and having an actual clue what’s going on. Again, see previous comments about Enneagram 7 tendencies of eternal optimism and avoiding negative emotions (read: When I’m unaware, I  buy all the things at Target & Amazon, and NOT look at the bank account, because that’s no fun!)

I have a dedicated day and time on my calendar each week where I spend time paying attention to how I’m managing money. I track my personal finances, and I also use that time to take care of any other money related things – whether it’s paying a bill or calling to request a refund on something. On a personal level, it’s given me data about how much it actually costs for my family to live, which can then translate into data for how much I need to earn in my coaching business to be able to pay for my personal lifestyle.

Awareness equals knowledge which equals being able to make financial decisions holistically, which equals empowerment. Yes, please.

I implemented the Profit First system in my business.  I included a review of my business finances during my weekly money dates. I tracked my income, my expenses, and set money aside for taxes, profit, and personal income.

Transparency note: I use the Profit first system because as the CEO of my business, it helps me to have clarity with my business income and expenses. The system was taught to me during my business mentorship training. That being said, I do not endorse the Profit First book because it is written in harmful language that endorses white male privilege and bypasses the mental, emotional, and spiritual money bondages that marginalized folx have experienced, due to lack of equitable access to financial resources. 

I paid myself a salary from my business. This was a new muscle I had to build this year and a permission slip that I had to write to myself over and over each month.

“Paying myself a salary from my business was a pattern-interrupt from symptomatic behaviors of Not-Enoughness: reinvesting ALL of my money back into my business, the root of which was fueled by a scarcity belief that I would not have enough in my business account to cover my expenses, which was a reflection on not charging enough for my services, which was a reflection of my belief that I was not WORTHY of paying myself a salary from my business.”

I set money aside for taxes and profit – See previous comments about paying myself a salary from my business.

My weekly money dates have now become a spiritual practice for me and this is a non-negotiable, protected time on my calendar. This practice supports me in paying attention to what is happening with money, to have knowledge of where my money is going and coming from, and most importantly to have a money relationship of empowerment, confidence, trust and faith over avoidance, scarcity, and fear. It is a lifelong practice and habit that I’m growing into.

I showed up, took courageous action and played full out

I attended every class and fully participated.

I created time to work on all the homework and assignments from Awaken Your Practice (business mentorship training).

I took advantage of the extra bonus trainings that were available inside AWP, including The Full Practice Project.  This course was the game-changer for me and gave me a system and a way to market my coaching business from a place of authenticity. It focused on relationships over broadcasting to the world. Following this course allowed me to start my business with a bang and enroll paid clients.

I set an intention at the end of 2020 to do my first Full Practice Project in March 2021. I spent the month of January and February going through the course, and following all the steps – writing my story, creating a list of all of my contacts and dream clients that I wanted to invite into my business.

I watched and rewatched the bonus sales training course, took detailed notes, created my own sales script, and practiced sales with one of my fellow coaches before I ever got on the phone with a potential client.

I did NOT wait until everything was done to launch. I launched ugly at 90% and built the rest along the way.

I invited people to have coaching conversations with me, and shared what I was doing with the world

This was a scary one for me.

I surrendered to the process and let go of the outcome. My ability to reframe the “what if no-one” thoughts really came in handy during this next part.

I opened my heart and invited people within my network and community to my coaching project.

I invited my dream clients.

I invited my former clients and colleagues from my previous career.

I invited past workshop attendees from my previous career

Deep Breaths.

And then I kicked it up a notch.

I told my parents and siblings, who still aren’t totally sure about this life coaching thing that I do.

I emailed personal friends and extended family members to let them know about my transition from web design to coaching, and shared my story.

I gave completion energy to my former business and emailed my old clients, notifying them about my transition to coaching.

As a last-minute thought, I shared my coaching project on my social media channels. My intention was to announce to the world that I was fully embracing my identity as a life coach. I was completely blown away when people started sharing my project and started signing up for my project. Especially since I have a grumpy relationship with social media these days*.

With all of these actions and invitations, I successfully filled my coaching project.

*Transparency note: Until late 2020, I had a very active presence on social media, which I used to share things happening in my personal and professional life. For many reasons, I’ve scaled back on my social media use significantly. I state this to share how I interacted with the platform in the past, and to clear the illusion that sharing a coaching project on social media will get automatically people to sign up for a coaching project. It’s possible when I share on social media in 2022 I may not have the same response. 

I asked for the sale

I’m happy to report that by this time, the desire to curl up under the weighted blankets and hide (at the thought of asking someone to pay me to coach them or running a coaching business) had been replaced with Curious Confidence. I was excited to take everything that I had been learning in Awaken Your Practice, the People First Project and the Sales Training course and integrate it.

My thought process went from “There is no way anyone is going to pay me for coaching, so I shouldn’t even bother trying,” to:

What’s possible?
What if they say no?
And what if they say yes?

The bonus sales training in particular gave me that extra caffeinated boost of confidence I needed to take action.

How so? There was a process and a guideline to follow – how to start, continue and end the conversation. How to ask for the sale, when to ask for the sale, what to do when they say yes, when they say no, how to make my own sales script.

“The planner in me that values predictability felt safe at understanding the science of the sale (How does this work? How does it not work?) and the creative free-spirit within me was overjoyed and appreciated the art and flexibility in making this into my own process (How can I make this work for ME?). My brain felt safe and felt ready to take on this challenge.

And, I surrendered the process and let go of the outcome.

Deep Breaths.

This was hard. And yet it was the most necessary step for me to take -so that I could get out from under the blankets, open up the windows, let the light in, dust off the tea kettle (coffee pot for my coffee lovers), open the door and invite people in. Surrendering allowed me to actively let the world know that I was open for business.

In total, 34 people signed up for conversations. I had 23 conversations during my Full Practice Project.

I made offers and heard a lot of No’s. And 7 people said yes.

Holy shit – 7 people said yes!

I practiced and strengthened my coaching muscles

My goal at the beginning of 2021 was to increase my skills as a coach, by having as many coaching conversations as I could, and to practice the knowledge that I learned from my coach education.

With every coaching conversation, I chose to show up and serve that person to the best of my ability and for the greater good. I thanked every person that had a conversation with me, and sent them a note in the mail, even if they said no.

I chose to focus on the 7 people that said yes to working with me, and showed up to serve them for 6 months – to the best of my ability and for the greater good. I applied all the information I was learning in Awaken Your Life and my NLP training and brought those tools into my client conversations. I leaned in, and learned a lot.

I continued to ask for support from Andrea and my peer coaches when uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations came up.

I did peer coaching to continue to build strength into my coaching muscles.

At the end of 2021, I had 105 coaching conversations and accrued a total of 148.25 coaching hours. I’ve broken that down further below.

Total paid sessions: 79
Total paid coaching hours accrued: 106.25
Total complimentary sessions: 26
Total complimentary coaching hours accrued: 42

I honored my boundaries and built up my time credits

As a Visionary/Empathizer, I see the potential and possibility in everything, everyone and every opportunity. I want to say yes to All The Things. The FOMO is real.

This quote from James Clear is a permission slip that I want to put on my desktop, on my phone, in my journal, and keep in my purse, so that I can pull it out and read it before I auto-react to a yes that’s misaligned.

“Saying no saves you time in the future. Saying yes costs you time in the future. No is like a time credit. You can spend that block of time in the future.Yes is like a time debt. You have to repay that commitment at some point. No is a decision. Yes is a responsibility”.

Learning to say no to things that don’t light me up or serve me is a Life Lesson for me, and it continues to be a daily practice.

Saying yes to things that do serve me and NOT filling up my calendar with activities fueled by scarcity and avoidance is also a Life Lesson and a daily practice.

I said no to multiple job offers and opportunities that would have distracted me from building my coaching practice. Which may or may not have included me starting a co-working space in the pandemic, homeschooling my kids, starting a handmade bath and body home business, or entering into a business partnership completely unrelated to coaching. As I said, the FOMO is real.

I said no to new website contracts.

I canceled my web design email account, bank accounts, social media accounts, website, and any remaining contracts connected to my former web design business.

I was firm in my pricing and the length of my coaching program.

I honored my contracts when clients didn’t show up for sessions.

I did not make offers that were not a mutual fit.

I left networking groups that didn’t serve me.

I declined volunteer opportunities and left volunteer groups felt like obligations ro had “shoulding” energy behind it.

I declined any meetings or appointments that would conflict with my weekly money date.

I said no to coffee dates during my business hours, and didn’t pursue relationships that dishonored that boundary.

I don’t coach on Mondays, Friday mornings or on the weekends.

I protected my calendar so that I could have the spaciousness I needed to serve my clients, attend classes, travel for trainings, work on my business, be with my family, spend time with friends, take care of other life responsibilities and take care of myself.

I napped. A LOT. I gave myself permission to sleep in and to go to bed early.

I took a little bit longer to respond to text messages.

I deleted social media – specifically Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram – from my phone.

I set strong boundaries with my family about not being interrupted during my office hours and class hours. Unless there’s a broken bone, bleeding, someone is badly hurt, the house is on fire, or a zombie apocalypse is happening, my family knows not to interrupt me. I’ve also empowered my older children to be able to feed themselves and their little brother sufficiently while I’m working. Dino-nuggets, 425 degrees, 12 minutes in the oven. Don’t forget the oven mitts!

I lovingly acknowledged my inner perfect-mother gremlin as I got fast food for my kids. Turns out she didn’t feel like cooking that time either.

I shut my office door and locked it so no one could barge in unannounced.

I put my phone in Do Not Disturb on Airplane mode when I’m coaching, in class, or working on another project.

What am I most proud of?

The Intentionality of Courage and the Power of Intention

I want to end by sharing what I wrote in my journal after I attended my coach’s 2021 Annual Planning Workshop. At the beginning of the workshop, she invited us to define, refine and align our word of the year alongside our goal setting and planning.

My word of the year for 2021 was Courage.

What is Courage? (Define) Courage is me showing up fully for myself and my business. It is complete and total surrender to the Universe, and trusting the process. It is taking inspired action while releasing the fear of getting it wrong or failing. It is the belief that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback, and that the best way for me to learn, grow and evolve is to take risks with complete and total faith. Letting go and letting things flow. It’s telling my inner gremlin that I’ve got it covered. It’s saying NO more often than I say yes.

What is Courage NOT? (Refine) Courage is NOT playing small and staying safe through inaction. Courage is NOT filling up my calendar with shadow comforts or time monsters as a means of avoiding what is most important for me to move forward. Courage is NOT saying yes to too many things that are not serving me. Courage is NOT inaction to stay safe. Courage is NOT honoring the belief that if I don’t do anything then I cannot fail. Courage is NOT engaging my time well and breaking rapport with yourself.

How do I know when I am showing up for Courage? (Align) I know I show up for Courage when I am taking intentional action without being attached to the outcome, or using undesired outcomes as a means of measuring my self-worth. When I create intentionality around my time to do the things and behaviors of a thriving, world-class, gifted, heart-centered life coach and healer. When I am willing to get it wrong multiple times so that I can eventually get it right. When I am willing to take risks and huge leaps of faith.When I am fully playing out and bringing my vision and creativity into the world.

This past year, my journey has been a process of unlearning who the world dictated me to be – as a wife, a mother, a BIPOC woman, a coach, a business owner, and a human being.

Instead of asking for permission from others to go to places they’ve never been (thank you Tish Melton for this), I’m relearning and practicing each day how to collaborate with my Inner Compass, and all my other Inner Resources to co-create my own World Map of Being. I’m becoming the person I was meant to be

2021 was the year that I leaned into Courage so that I could find my place in the coaching world. I not only found my place, I also found Myself and my purpose – after searching, seeking, and following the breadcrumbs for 10 years. 

2022 will be a continuation of my journey. And my word this year? Consistency.