Jessica’s Story: Creating a More Spacious Schedule
I was trying to do the freelance consulting thing, but I couldn’t get motivated to sell myself. I’d be asked by clients (who my husband had directed to me) for a certain type of work, and, while I could do it (and well), it wasn’t really exciting. But I wanted to earn the paycheck, so I kept accepting those contracts…
As my finances shrunk and my disappointment grew, I started thinking that maybe the work I wanted to do wasn’t the right fit for me. I began asking myself, “Am I in the right place? Or should I be doing this thing I keep getting asked for? Or should I just get a job and work for someone else?” And then, of course, “What should I be doing?”
Around this time, my mom saw a talk that Alison was giving at her alma mater, and she suggested I check it out. I did, and everything Alison said resonated with me, so I figured, “What do I have to lose?” I think I completed my application that same day.
“Should Do” Vs. “Want to Do”
I would describe coaching as guided exploration of what’s going on in your own brain. My coach dug through my mental files and helped me to question the ideas I had around what I was “supposed” to do. I became better able to distinguish between what I “should do” and what I “want to do.” Interestingly, I learned that I was in the right place all along with my consulting business, and it was nice to have that external validation.
Then, we had to figure out what was holding me back. Almost right away, my coach noticed my frustration with my calendar and with time in general. I felt like I didn’t have any time, at least not for me or for my business. My schedule was full of obligations – for my daughter, for my husband, for my mother and in-laws, for my pets – so many things I felt I had to do. It was constraining and really weighed me down.
Finding Calendar Freedom
One of my biggest takeaways from coaching went way beyond my career: It was looking at my schedule and sorting out what I must do from what I can do and also noting what other people can be doing (and delegating to them). This was very freeing! I also learned the Pomodoro method. I used to get so bogged down with needing a big chunk of time to make progress that I never got started on anything. Now I schedule myself to work for just fifteen minutes. When that time is up, I can keep working, or I can call it a success and walk away feeling good about my progress. This has been particularly useful when things come up and I need to move tasks around in my day.
My calendar, which used to be chock full, actually has space in it now. I’ve stopped worrying about all the details and instead I ask myself, “What 1-2 things will I prioritize for the day?” Using these tools, I launched my website last year, and I’m currently writing blog posts at a pretty good clip. I’ve been the lead speaker in a webinar, and I’ve increased my networking efforts. I am able to intentionally make choices of how I spend my time, and I feel both happier and more productive.