Entrepreneurship Coaching | Part 1: I Just Lost My Job, Hooray! - Tonia Noland

A desk job absolutely suits some people, but not me. For the past nine years, I’ve been sitting behind a desk, unknowingly, gaining a ton of self-reflection. In fact, I am incredibly thankful for all the desks I’ve sat behind. The 3,295 days (give or take) spent in an uncomfortable office chairs, at a desk I personalized to help me stay motivated and be my best, actually helped me discover who I am.  As a result of working in corporate America, I know that after the six-month honeymoon phase at a new job has worn off, I quickly become disenchanted when I’m not 100% invested. Thanks to this realization I’ve lost jobs that I’d never wanted and gained the career path I’d been trying to create.

For the first few years after graduating from college, I felt like there was something wrong with me. It was the peak of the recession in 2010, and I found myself struggling to find a job; literally, any job that would pay the bills. Without fail, once I found a job, I’d start feeling disillusioned and detached from the day-to-day within the first six-months. This wasn’t how my professional career was supposed to go, was it? Why couldn’t I just do the work and feel grateful for having a 40-hour a week job that paid the bills? With time, comes realization, and now I know there was only one reason I was taking these jobs – they paid the bills. I wasn’t passionately striving to create a career I would have for the next 40 years. I was collecting a paycheck in order to travel, pay rent, buy groceries, build my side-business, and enjoy life. Like most people, I told myself I had to be responsible, bite the bullet, and sacrifice personal fulfillment in my 9-5. This “whatever” job would fund the bigger picture and the lifestyle I was working so hard to create through coaching and entrepreneurial ventures. (For those of you who don’t know my story, I was laid off three times between 2011-2014. Read my post on how I became my own bosslady.) Even after being laid off from multiple jobs, I continued to believe I needed to do whatever it took to have the income to build my passion in my free time – nights and weekends.

I’d been living in San Luis Obispo, CA since 2006, and after graduating from Cal Poly found myself struggling to make ends meet in a small, but very expensive, part of the California Central Coast. Once my husband Dane and I moved to Seattle in 2017, I, again, took the very first job that fell into my lap in order to secure an income in this new city we now called home. Within the first two-weeks I was chomping at the bit to quit, feeling stifled and extremely frustrated. There were many times in the first month and a half where I found myself crying on Sunday nights dreading the thought of going into work the next day. I knew exactly what would greet on Monday morning: micromanagement and a completely unfulfilling day. This was not the lifestyle I’d envisioned for myself starting a new chapter in Seattle. This move was supposed to represent endless possibilities for Dane and me. We’d find better paying, more fulfilling work than we could have ever hoped to find back in the Central Coast. However, there was one difference this time – I was more self-aware. The lack of fulfillment wouldn’t deter me from the importance of my own happiness and personal well-being. I was miserable five-days per week, so it was time to find a different job. A job that I didn’t dread every Sunday night. A job where I enjoyed my coworkers and gained fulfillment from the work I was doing.

Within two-weeks I was offered a position at a creative staffing agency in downtown Seattle. My graphic design degree and experience in building network marketing teams from the ground up was a natural fit. I was excited at the prospect of helping companies in the Seattle area connect with creative talent looking for work. Even better, I’d finally have the opportunity to surround myself with a team of fun and creative young professionals. Maybe this job and this company would finally be the last stop on my resume before I was ready to make the full-time leap into coaching!

Fast forward two and a half years, I’m still working at the creative staffing agency and, while working with my peers is enjoyable, I again find myself completely disillusioned by my day-to-day. Hmmmm…. Does anyone else see a pattern here? Why didn’t I? I enjoyed helping my clients fill jobs and find employment for creative candidates. Wasn’t this enough?

At the same time the job market started to shift. The pace of business slowed down as the year progressed. As shifts in management changed so did the tone and culture within our once energetic and vibrant team. I was reminded that this was a sales job first and foremost with, what felt like, unrealistic metrics to achieve in a visibly slowing economy. Something was in the air; another recession perhaps? It sure felt like it. Yet, the expectations for year-over-year growth was not heeding the economic warning signs. I was directed to make more calls and find out why we weren’t receiving as much business from my accounts. When our Regional Vice President would visit our office, a heavy fog settled over the team. Instead of feeling empowered and supported to do my job, those old, familiar feelings of micromanagement and frustration set in. I became completely detached from work I had so enjoyed the previous year.

For me, stress shows up in the form of extremely sore throats and perpetual stomach issues. From May through September 2019, I had either a stomachache or unsettled feeling in my gut at least two-three days per week, coupled with sore throats on the regular. To make matters worse, the ferries we rode from our home to downtown Seattle were constantly being switched out for maintenance, resulting in unreliable network reception. Utilizing my two-hour roundtrip commute to build and market my coaching business became nearly impossible.

I found myself crying, not only on Sunday nights in anticipation of going into work, but also on the occasional weeknight as well. I was devoting so much of my time commuting to a job that didn’t align with my goals that I didn’t have time to focus on building my business, let alone taking on new coaching clients. It was making me physically ill and I longed for a day job that would allow me the flexibility and opportunity to work from home.

As if the Universe heeded my call and knew it was time to kick my butt, I had a meeting with my manager that ultimately did just that. I was informed that the revenue I was making for the company had dropped enough to warrant a major decision – I could either put in my 30-day resignation or be placed on a PIP (process improvement plan) to increase my numbers and generate more revenue for the company. My gut reaction was, I was no quitter. However, being placed on a PIP meant even more micromanagement than I was already experiencing.

Is this what I really should be fighting for?

Was it time to make the side-hustle the full-time hustle?

My manager leaned across the table, looked me in the eyes and said, “This job isn’t for everyone. Not everyone is meant to sit behind a desk. You have amazing content. Don’t let this experience cause you to lose sight of what you have to give.” Holy shit! Yes! Here I’d been stressing myself out for an entire year, and all it took was this push to make me realize I’d lost the enjoyment for this pseudo-sales career path I’d found myself on. I knew the only sales I ever want to do is sharing and marketing my coaching services and products!

I seized the opportunity, and I quit. Well, professionally-speaking, I resigned. Hoooray!! I was losing a job I didn’t even love, or like, for that matter. I celebrated by using the next 30-days to line up some part-time, remote work. I planned, carefully this time, how to rebuild my coaching business while responsibly bringing in income to support my bigger dreams.

This time I listened to my gut. Literally.

And what do you know; two-weeks into giving notice the perpetual stomach aches and stress melted away. I’d officially started the process of closing the chapter on commuting 15-hours per week to a job I no longer enjoyed. I would fully dedicate my efforts to what I was being called to create! It was time to move forward – mentoring women and helping them get clear on how they could live unapologetically-aligned to their passions and define what success meant to them. After all, what kind of coach would I be if I didn’t follow my own advice, right?

It’s amazing what happens when the Universe forces you to take the plunge and follow your dreams.

Remember how I was looking for some part-time remote work to help me responsibly rebuild my coaching empire? That opportunity materialized the last two weeks before leaving my full-time job, and what’s amazing is that the company is focused on educating people in real estate investment – another passion and income stream Dane and I have been working to create!

In my last two weeks at my job I reflected on my time at this company. I was grateful for the friendships it allowed me to make, and how it helped me improve my communication skills, and on-the-spot decision making. This job had reaffirmed a reoccurring truth – I am not meant for corporate office culture. Year after year, and job after job it was only a matter of time before my soul yearned to be free. This time, I’m learning my lesson and won’t be jumping into the next job that falls in my lap, just to make ends meet. I’m going out on my own, 100%, and I’m beyond ready and excited. All the initial fear was just the Universe confirming those fears were a compass pointing, ok screaming, at me to embrace this change. Thank goodness I listened, and thank the Universe I lost my job.

What big decision have you been struggling with? Perhaps you’re hesitant to make a big career or lifestyle change, move somewhere new, or pursue a dream. Whatever it is, I’m here to help. Let’s schedule a 30-minute Complimentary Consult so we can start exploring how we can tackle your biggest hurdles together!

Stay tuned for Part Two of the blog in the next two weeks.

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