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Guest Post: The When I Grow Up Coach

When Laura asked me to write a guest post for Lolalina while she’s busy tending to the little things – like having babies (Congrats Laura! Yay!) – I found so much inspiration in her tagline: Find Your Sweet Life. The life coach in me woke up & started thinking about my sweet life: the amazeballs marriage I’m in, the career that’s my passion, my top notch friends & beautiful home & uber-supportive family. I knew it took a helluva lotta work to get here, but when I really sit down and think about it, there were some really concrete steps I took to get here. Here are the Top 5, in no particular order:


5. I learned how to say “no.” I’m not sure if it was Oldest Child Syndrome or the fact that I’m a woman or a combination of the two or just, well, me, but I lived to please people. I would do it at the sacrifice of everything else – sweep personal plans to the side, whether it was just a night of Me Time (aka sitting in the bath with a book & a glass of wine for an hour or so) or a few hours of doing something related to a project or goal I wanted to achieve. Someone wanted to hang out then? OK. Someone I didn’t even particularly like, & brought a lot of negativity into my life? OK. Sure. God forbid I make anyone unhappy. Except myself. That seemed to be OK.

Once I had a full-time job and was taking my life coaching classes in my “free time” (making my real free time at a premium), I realized that I needed to learn how to say “no” in a way that I was comfortable with. If this sounds like you, I implore you to do the same. Write down different ways to say “no” that don’t offer much explanation (amazingly, a lot of people just won’t ask why you’re saying “no”) but sit well with you. I was always afraid of appearing to be mean, but there are so many ways to say “no” that aren’t at all! Once you have a good response, practice it alone, it front of a mirror. And if you get flustered with the real deal, then just offer a, “Let me get back to you.” Don’t cave in! You can do it! It’s really just about being your own best friend. Aw.

4. Purge the negative people from your address book. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, and it might be someone you feel “close” to / have known forever, but someone who poisons your goals or lives solely to complain is forcing you to live The Sour Life. I can attest that, whether you live in a ginormous city like Manhattan or you live in, well, Guam, there are people there who can be happy for your happiness, whose eyes light up when you share something that lights you up, and who won’t undercut you and your decisions. Jealousy and bitterness is a bitch. Be your own best friend – again – and get these frenemies away from your awesomeness.

3. Celebrate your wins along the way, no matter how small. Wrote your 100th blog post? Buy yourself your favorite flowers. Launched a new product after hours (days! months!) of hard work? Treat yourself and your babe to weekend getaway. Graduated from life coaching school after 2 years? Throw a big fat party with a beer tower (I know nothing about this. If it was Opposite Day). Discover all those things that make your life sweet. Start a Celebration List if you’d like with sweetness big and small. Then, when you hit a milestone, pick a celebration from the list and stick to it, reveling in why the stargazer lilies are on the kitchen table or why you’re getting an hour-long massage. Or just pick one because you’re having a crappy day, and salted caramel pretzel ice cream would make it just a wee bit better.

2. Do something every day that allows you to move forward personally or professionally, and make sure it brings you joy. Would I have built my business on blogging and tweeting and social media-ing it up if I hated it? That wouldn’t be a sweet life at all! But I love all that. For me, my Sweet Life is about connections, & the coaching’s the icing on the cake. If you can’t get away from the icky stuff, see how you can minimize it (& treat yourself to that ice cream to make your day happier).

1. I never, ever, ever thought that I would live an unpassionate life. Ever. It was just not an option. I never thought, “What if I spend my whole life in this cubicle?” or “I’ll never be able to make a living doing what I love!” After I came to terms with / accepted / grieved over the decision to leave the business of show behind me (a 20 year dream that I devoted a ton of love, energy, money, dedication & sacrifice to) I knew that, while I had no idea what else I could be passionate about in my life, it was out there. Waiting for me. And I had to find it, goshdarnit!

If you don’t know what your passion is or could be, then start a Big Likes list. If you don’t know what to put on it, carry it around with you & when you realize you’re doing something you like-like, write it down. Or write down the things you think you might like, and just start trying them, no strings attached. If your Logical Vampire (“Vampire” is the voice in your head that sucks the good stuff right outta ya!) is telling you that you can’t possibly think you can actually bake a pie or be a wedding singer or make a living being a freakin’ life coach for Pete’s sake, then get out the garlic & tell it to take a hike. You get one life, and without sounding like a complete hippy, each day you keep the happiness away is a day, well, without happiness. If you hate Mondays, then you hate 1/7 of your life. Yup. That blew my mind, too.

How have you found your Sweet Life, or how are you gonna commit to finding it (& living it!)? I’d love to hear about your experiences & your insights in the comments section. Just remember that your Sweet Life is different from my Sweet Life &, well, anyone else’s Sweet Life. Find what it means to you & gobble it up with a spoon!*

* Salted caramel pretzel ice cream optional, yet highly recommended.

Michelle Ward, aka The When I Grow Up Coach, helps creative people devise the career they think they can’t have – or discover it to begin with! A certified life coach by the International Coach Academy & a musical theater actress with her BFA from NYU/Tisch, Michelle uses a dose of empathy, a shot of butt-kickin’, a wagon full of enthusiasm, & a crapload of inspiration to help solve the puzzle & turn her client’s grown-up skills & values into a passionate (& possibly out-of-the-box) career. She’s been featured in Newsweek & Metro News, has spoken on the panel at Blog Out Loud 6 & could be found coachin’, bloggin’ & givin’ away free stuff at whenigrowupcoach.com.

{all images: The Wheatfield by the super-inspiring Katie Daisy}

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{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Shannon @ What's Up Whimsy July 13, 2010, 9:54 am

    This was such an inspiring post! I am actually on my Sweet Life path right now (everything except my job is pretty “sweet”), but I am working on it! Thanks for your tips!

  • Diana July 13, 2010, 10:31 am

    GREAT post Michelle (though I would expect no less). And thank you, thank you , thank you for introducing me to The Wheatfield. Beautiful artwork.
    Diana´s last [type] ..Swaying with the Waves

  • Colleen July 13, 2010, 12:20 pm

    Love this post Michelle! I am totally going to start Big Likes list. I have tried something like this before but I sat down and tried to write the list all at once and my brain froze. I like the idea of taking the list with me and adding to it every time I feel myself liking/enjoying something.

    And I second the thanks for introducing The Wheatfield!
    Colleen´s last [type] ..my little harvest

    • Flavia @ Estilo Home July 13, 2010, 5:27 pm

      What a wonderful post! I can especially relate to the ‘saying no’ part, as it is something I’ve been working on pretty much my whole life. I need to get working on my own sweet life list!

  • Kim July 13, 2010, 9:16 pm

    Fantastic post! I loved reading this. What I’m working on right now is creating a life that is financially stable. It’s something I’ve always struggled with but I’m determined to get it all right because I know that I’ll be much happier.
    Kim´s last [type] ..Kitchen Progress- Part 4

  • Traveling Mama July 14, 2010, 2:34 am

    I love this post!! I am definitely living my sweet life! Some days it is hard living overseas, but I decided when I was a little girl that I wanted to live abroad and there is an enormous amount of satisfaction in finding and doing what you love the very most. I am so grateful that I get to live out my dreams with my Traveling Man and our little Tribesman!
    Traveling Mama´s last [type] ..cards for Grace

  • Michelle | When I Grow Up Coach July 14, 2010, 10:12 am

    Aw, thanks so much for your lovely comments, everyone, & thanks to you, Laura, for having me!

    Everyone deserves their own Sweet Life, & my 5 tips might not be yours. I implore (implore, I say!) you to find your own formula! If you’re working on being financially stable, find the Why as well as the How. If you’re searching for how to say “no”, try different responses until one feels easy & non jerk-like.

    And I third the thanks for Laura introducing me to The Wheatfield! She added all these images herself & they’re super perfect.

  • Piper July 15, 2010, 1:13 pm

    Thank you for this post – so what I needed to hear!!! I love the positivity you have, so inspiring. The thing I need to work on more is celebrating the small wins…that always is hard to do for me!! But you’re so right, they’re important. Thanks for brightening my day!!
    Piper´s last [type] ..alphabet walk blog hop-

  • Michelle | When I Grow Up Coach July 15, 2010, 5:39 pm

    Oh, you’re so welcome, Piper! Thanks so much for stopping by & for your comment. Enjoy your day & all the wins (big & small) along the way! :)
    Michelle | When I Grow Up Coach´s last [type] ..Client Show &amp Tell- Self-Help Books You’ll Love!

  • MAKI July 18, 2010, 2:07 pm

    what a great post! thank you so much for sharing with us. i am going to share this meaningful words with my fb friends. i’m very surprised you mentioned guam, that doesn’t happen very often. i live nearby guam and although it’s such a small island, i am very happy to be here. this is home! :) thank you once again for such a wonderful post!

  • Robin Taney July 1, 2011, 10:18 pm

    I love this post! I just discovered Michelle 24 hours ago and feel like I have found the answer to my sweet life. That, and I got let go from my job a week ago, which is the kick in the you-know-what that I needed to get my PR business for creative types and kitchen table entrepreneurs off the ground.

    Thank you!

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