I have a secret; it’s a secret that only a few of the people I know are aware of and it is one I have really struggled to share openly. But as the year comes to an end, and I take stock of where I am and where I want to be I realize it is time to share my secret with others, so here goes!
When I was little girl:
When I was a little girl I dreamed of being three things, first an opera singer, then a veterinarian and finally at the age of 13 I settled on becoming a psychologist. The next 13 years of my life were devoted to getting the right degrees, internships and opportunities to become the best therapist I could be. I remember the thrill of therapy, walking to my office in the morning literally singing with joy and anticipation of my day. I remember sitting in sessions giddy with excitement as I worked with children and adults to help them feel better. I had a vision of where I was going with my life, and it involved a private practice, a nice office and a steady patient base. By the age of 30 I had just that. I continued to walk into the office singing every morning, and could honestly say that 85% of the time I deeply loved what I did.
“I had a vision of where I was going with my life, and it involved a private practice, a nice office and a steady patient base.”
Flash forward to age 34, I had two sons, lived in a beautiful craftsman home (one of my dreams), had a great social and personal network and was in the best shape of my life. My private practice was doing well enough that I would periodically have to decline new patients for months at a time. Here the rub, I no longer walked into work singing. I had actually not been singing about work for nearly a year by that point. I saw my patients, and often would have those same moments of excitement and joy, but for the most part it was a job. Being a mother changed everything about my life and priorities, I adapted by modifying my practice so that I worked only with adults and then eventually worked only with people who need help with anxiety and stress management. For a short time was content, not fulfilled like I used to be, simply content.
“There are still moments in therapy that I love, and I am still doing my best work with them… but content is not what I aim for in life.”
Confessions of a disenchanted therapist:
Here’s my confession – I still don’t love therapy and I am getting out. This may not seem like a big deal to some so let me explain. I have invested an incredible amount of time, energy and personal attachment to my profession. I have identified with that title and everything it represents. I have earned respect and recognition as Dr. Alessandra Wall, Psychotherapist. Being a psychologist is something I know I am good at, and clearly I can be successful in that role.
“I have invested an incredible amount of time, energy and personal attachment to my profession. I have identified with that title and everything it represents.”
When I first realized I was going to walk away from my career as a psychologist I felt as though I had betrayed all that I worked for since the age of 13: my degree, myself, my colleagues and collaborators, but most of all my patients. These amazing individuals share their hearts and minds with me in an honest and open relationship. They trust me to be present, to care about them and they trust that, unlike so many, I won’t “tired of hearing them complain” (their words, not mine). When I finally decide to hang up my proverbial hat (which may be another year or so) I’ll need them to understand that I am not abandoning them, that I am not fed-up with them. I am still here now. There are still moments in therapy that I love, and I am still doing my best work with them… but content is not what I aim for in life; fulfilled is where I want to be.
A year in review:
For the past two and a half years I have been trying to break through in the world of coaching. Initially, I thought that all I needed to do was hang up my shingle as a coach and people would come walking through my door. I was wrong. Unlike therapy where there is often a clearly identified need (feeling awful) and a clear solution (me), coaching was more elusive. The people I am interested in working with are in many ways where I was a few years ago. They are successful, generally content and on paper maybe even doing great, but deep inside they are discontent with their life at present. They have the right ideas, access to the right kind of knowledge, but don’t seem to know how to make or follow through on their goals. These people may not even be aware that someone like me can help them feel fulfilled again, and it is up to me to make my presence and value known.
At the end of 2013 I resolved that 2014 would be the year of Life in Focus, and I have accomplished quite a bit in the last 12 months: I created a website and incorporated, I took a chance and pitched an idea to Mark Sisson and the folks at Primal Blueprint, which allowed me to speak about the psychology of food and the psychology of change at two PrimalCon events this year. From that experience I discovered that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE public speaking and would do just that if I could, so I reached out to Darryl Edwards,The Fitness Explorer, and got to present on stress management at HealthUnplugged, UK’s first Paleo conference.
Too late in the year, I realized that making a resolution was not as good as having a plan (more about that in my upcoming post on why I HATE New Year resolutions and you should too). I decided to work with a couple business coaches. One here in San Diego, Valentina DiPietro and another, Tara Gentile, with whom I worked remotely. I have learned a lot form both of these women, but my work with Tara has done wonders for my growth and development as a business woman. She has helped me understand the value of defining who I am and what my business represents and how to create clean services and products that represent those identities, rather than trying to be a jack of all trades. She has taught me how to think like a business woman, but most of all she has allowed me to acknowledge that my transition to coaching is the right choice for me. I feel fulfilled, and excited about what I am trying to create with Life in Focus and that feels great.
Well if 2014 was the year I embraced becoming a coach. 2015 is going to be my year for growth and excellence. I now understand the importance of business planning, marketing and networking better than ever before. In 2015 my approach to what I want isn’t going to be as haphazard as it was 2014; I’m creating quarterly goals and I’m going to move forward all year long. With the help of Tara’s 10,000ftprogram I have an idea of what I want out of this year and I’m going to use my own coaching program“The Focus Equation” to create the right plan of action and stay on track. I’m really hoping to have some company as I do this, so I decided to launch the group coaching program a bit earlier than planned and I’m opening it up to 20 other people who also want 2015 to be their year for growth and excellence. I can’t wait for this new year, I can’t wait to move forward, because for the first time in a long while I am excited about what I am doing and I can embrace that excitement without guilt or uncertainty!
The next wave of the Focus Equation is coming up March 2nd, Sign up now before it fill up! To find out more about the Focus Equation and to sign up for our March 2nd session just click on the this link –
Alessandra Wall, Ph.D.
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