Have you ever felt conflicted about the identity you had before you arrived here in The Netherlands and your identity now? What about your identity before kids and your identity now? For those of us who are expats and mothers, all of this is mixed up into one very confusing bundle.
In my talk at Spark! this year, I talked about my entrepreneurial journey with my business, DailyOutfit – one that is inextricably tied to my journey here to The Netherlands and my journey as a mother. When Susan attended my talk, she was specifically struck by a portion of my talk regarding my anger and guilt. She asked me to expand on that for you.
Our second year here was arguably the most difficult year of my life. My first child was diagnosed with a chronic illness that required a special school, medication, numerous doctors’ visits and a great deal of adjustments at home. I put my business, DailyOutfit, on hold. Then, my mother died totally unexpectedly of a heart attack only four days after I brought the children home for their summer holiday. Yup. It was rough.
Given the ravages of life we see every day in the newspaper, I know I am blessed that that was the most difficult year of my life. I know it could be far, far worse. But, it was still challenging – and I learned a lot. One of the biggest gifts of that year was my anger – and guilt. It sounds strange to say so, but it is true.
The first thing I want to talk about is my anger. I was so angry at having to put my business on hold when my daughter was ill. I was pissed!!
Why was it my life that had to change? Why was it my business that had to take a hit? Why did I have to cancel my work trip when the school put my daughter on part-time? Why not my husband?
Honestly, it was a clear financial decision. I am not the breadwinner in my household. And that sucked. I have always been my husband’s equal. Even when I left my corporate life to care for our daughter, it was a calculated decision that saved us the cost of our hired help. I did the nanny’s job – and I did it better. Then, I built my business organically within three years and I started making a profit. I was paying my daughter’s school fees. It felt great!
I wanted to handle my daughter’s illness with grace and kindness. And I did, of course — in public.
But, I didn’t like what I saw of myself in private. When I was honest with myself, I talked about how much I had given up. I was resentful. My lovely therapist told me that guilt is appropriate when you’ve done something wrong.
In this case, I felt I had done something wrong. I had put myself above my daughter. I had put my needs and my desire to be successful above my daughter’s needs. What kind of mother does that?!
I thought many times about giving up my business. And, when the time was finally right to start my business again, I asked myself seriously – is it time to simply let this go? Is the universe telling me this is too much?
Moving Forward. It was my anger at having to cancel that work trip that made me realize – I love my business!! And it was my guilt over my anger that made me realize — I have to figure out how to handle this better!!
Because the truth is – life is not easy. You are going to go through some shit! And you need to have the bandwidth to handle it with grace. But, if you are like me, and have found your passion AND you can make a business out of it. Well, that is worth fighting for and figuring out.I had two goals: 1. To resurrect my business and to build it so I had the time and flexibility to be a great mother to BOTH of my kids, a fun wife, a great resource to my clients. AND therefore, 2. I could be a balanced and happy person. Anger was my signifier. It signified my passion and my belief in what I was doing in my business. It signified how important it was to me. It signified how deep my purpose and commitment was (and is) to making it a success. Guilt was my prime mover. It told me that what I was doing was not working. It clarified for me that I needed to find a better way. It encouraged me to think creatively about what I have, what I want and who I want to be – as a mother, a wife, an entrepreneur and a person.
Author Information:Allison Hamilton-Rohe is a Personal Style Coach from New York, currently living in Leiden. She created a unique formula to help you discover your personal style. Through her company, DailyOutfit, she coaches you to define your true beauty and translate it into a personal style you can inhabit with ease. She believes everyone can feel beautiful & confident every day. To learn more about Allison, check out her site www.dailyoutfit.com or follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
All photos of Allison: Cristina Stoian Portraits, http://cristinastoian.nl/
In this video, I tell you about what has been going on in the Life Coach for Expats world, or rather, with ME. I am working with a business coach which gave me an excuse, sort of, to stop writing/vlogging. I also talk about the campaign #notperfect and show how I’m playing into the perfection game once more. As I say in the video, “having a business is a self-development program.”
We are always working to be better. Check out the video!
Does this ring True for you? Share in the comments!
Number 5 on the Top Ten things I learned by giving 100 free sessions.
This topic is a relatively a businessy one rather than one about coaching. But it is something I learned and a valuable lesson while building my practice.
In the promotion (see to the right) I asked that all clients fill out a feedback form. I thought this seemed like a reasonable request. What I experienced was quite the opposite of what I expected.
First I had to find a good resource to generate the feedback form. I used SurveyMonkey as my solution. For no other reason then it’s one I’ve heard of before. I set it up to identify the person filling out the form. This would give me insight both on their experience and how I was for them as a coach. But when one client told me that they were not comfortable filling it out, I then changed it to be anonymous. Still, in the end, no matter what I changed, I only received 6 evaluations. Six. 😐
There are many questions I have on why this might have happened. What did I do wrong in my promotion? How could I have made the survey easier? Why didn’t some of them fill it out and others (6, in case you forgot that overwhelming number) did? Well, the fastest way to find out those answers would be to ask the audience involved but… You can see the problem I would have in doing that! 😉
Now I don’t want to sound like a whiny baby. I do take full ownership. It is MY business,not theirs. It starts with me. Sure, it would have been great if everyone had taken the 5 to 10 minutes to fill out my survey but they didn’t and I’m sure there are good reasons for that. When I ask myself; What could I have done differently to get the results I desired? Then these answers come up:
Do it at the end of the transaction. If I saw feedback as my way of getting paid, then perhaps I should have done it right then and there at the end of the session.
Say it over and over: Maybe I could have made it clearer on the promotional material itself (I see where it could easily be read over) and at the time of making the appointment. “Thank you for making an appointment. Just so we are both on the same page, I will send an evaluation form/survey for you to fill out after our appointment. I consider this a fair exchange for the one hour session. Is this agreeable?”
Be FAST with what you want: Make sure to send that survey ASAP! I was not really good in doing that in a timely manner.
Use Creative Accounting: I could have gotten creative with it and sent an “invoice” with the billing that showed in the AMOUNT DUE: Survey YET to be filled out. And if they become delinquent on their “payment”, bill the REAL amount. 😮 Oh no! that is potentially dangerous. This one is just for FUN. Please don’t take it too seriously.
I’m sure if I read up on this in small business magazines and journals, I would find that many an entrepreneur has had this problem a billizion times before me. I realized I was more focused on the sessions (as any good coach is 😉 ) rather than properly administering the feedback form. As a business owner, I know how feedback is SO VALUABLE especially in the coaching business. In my training classes, we always practiced our coaching immediately after we would learn it and then we would give feedback to each other on what could have been better. Feedback allows me to grow and learn faster. But also how to support my client better. Feedback is an important tool in business, coaching and life.
Remember that, next time a survey comes your way. You may not think your opinion matters but to that person it means growing and learning. Which is priceless.
I’ve been low lately. I’ve come to this conclusion: This weather is not for me! Here in the Netherlands, the winters are like this: rain….more rain, and then followed up with some rain, with consistent skies of grey. YUCK! If we get snow that would brighten things up but seldom do we see it. The first few years I lived here, it was a “fluke”that we got so much. Seriously, people didn’t even shovel their sidewalks!! What?! This Michigan girl was in shock. 😮 Also, because no one stopped biking on ice slicked cobblestoned streets. WHOA! How do they do it?!
But now, I can pretty much count on a long winter full of rain. We’ve just begun to feel this winter rain stuff recently and along with it, zapping my energy and motivation. Not ideal while building a business but that’s what is happening. I’ve been thinking how weather affects many people. I’ve heard that some who live here actually start visiting the sun tanning salons to get their fill of vitamin D everyday. I’m not going down that road of sunbathing because, well, it’s not my gig and I think it’s a bit strange to walk around with a full tan in the middle of winter. I posed this question on my personal Facebook page:
I’m kinda in a funk today. Anyone else?
I was surprised, and comforted, at how many felt the same way, right then. But what can we do about it. Well, first by posting that question and having a conversation with friends made me feel better. The conversation revolved around “funk” as what the word means, and as in the music genre. We got creative with it [thanks guys!] by listing all the funk songs we knew. This helped me get out of the funk for awhile because we were having fun. But, maybe taking a cue from that we could listen to some good tunes and dance around the house?
I explored this a little more for myself and I realized, it’s also about moving. When you sit around at home all day, it’s easy to slide into a “funk” no matter what the weather. It’s been some time since I had a gym membership, ran a 5k, or exercise in any formal way. Recently a friend of mine, who’s building her own business: Shrinking Violets Fitness, has begun offering a Pilates class in her home studio. We had one class already. Yes! This is a FUNK killer for sure and a step in the right direction for me. I know that being consistent in moving (exercising) weekly will fight those funky winter blues. I will report more on this as the weeks go on. But first, I want to know from you, have you felt the funk lately? And if so, how do you kill your funk?
Today I got my KvK (Kamer van Koophandel) number which would be the Dutch equivalent to a tax id (reporting) number. It’s legit now! A friend of mine recently reintroduced me to this word. Of course, this makes me think of the famous MC Hammer’s song, Too legit to quit. No going back now. It’s time to get to work.
Also I had today another client session. I’m really getting the hang of how things should work for my coaching. I’m really enjoying how each time I sit with a client it feels natural and really wonderful.