My current identity crisis

I mean, truthfully, I’m not feeling as dramatic as the title suggests…

But I am having an identity crisis of sorts.

First of all, I’m a mother now, so there are changes in how I think of myself and my purpose in the world. If I’m honest, there’s no crisis there – it all feels really right to me, which is amazing and a relief.

It’s the professional identity that is going through a shift.

I started my business over 5 years ago, back in 2014, and my identity then was a 26-year-old, with very specific experience working at Notonthehighstreet, and a very specific offering to a very specific audience. Which was great – I can honestly say that being specific allowed me to hit the ground running.

In the years since, I’ve tried different things, expanded my business, trained in broader areas, and grown as a human and as a businesswoman. One of the things I changed a couple of years ago was referring to myself as a coach and my work as coaching, rather than as a mentor/mentoring.

Now that I’m returning from the biggest break I’ve had (nearly 8 months!), I’m wondering about this change. I chose to call myself a coach because I got some training and practice as a coach. The majority of the methods I use in one-to-one and group work are coaching. The ethos of coaching appeals: that I’m here to create a positive space for you to discover more about yourself and your way forward – not to dictate it based on my own (limited) experience.

With a broader view of things, I’m looking at my business and seeing that “mentoring” is a word with a more business-focused edge to it. While there aren’t industry-approved definitions, it somehow seems to say “I’ll help you with your business, to help you be the best you can be,” in a way that “coach” doesn’t. Perhaps there are so many coaches around. Perhaps this is just my view right now.

It’s funny: whichever word I choose to use doesn’t actually impact the work I do.

My ability to share experiences and expertise, to encourage, to ask pertinent questions, to share my ethos of business and life – they are all definites. Unchangeable.

I suppose really it’s about marketing: how can I explain what I do in the most effective way?

Perhaps you’ve had similar struggles or thoughts or ideas yourself.

I’m not quite ready to make a decision either way yet. I am ready to experiment with both “coach” and “mentor” in the things I write and share for a little while.

And, of course, I’d love to hear your opinion, too!

What about you? How do you describe your work and role and business? Comment below or join the conversation on Instagram.

Business book recommendations

Just in time for Christmas, here are some of my most-recommended books from recent weeks:

Flow: The Psychology of Happiness by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

A wonderful book – now a psychology classic – on how to create more of that great creative feeling.

Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger

A fascinating memoir by Disney’s CEO. I love reading about how Iger was passionate about maintaining the unique creativity of Pixar – inspiring for even small creative businesses.

Simple Abundance by Sarah ban Breathnach

The most important book of my day-to-day life, I read this pretty much every day. There are short chapters to encourage, inspire and delight, and the new 2019 edition has wisdom on surviving and thriving in the modern world. Love!

My word for 2019: grow

I can’t quite believe it’s mid-March and I’m only just writing about my word for the year! That’s how 2019 has been so far… A bit of a whirlwind.

Just in case you haven’t followed along with the concept of word of the year before, it’s a ritual of choosing a guiding word for the year, brought to popularity by Ali Edwards in 2006.

For some, it’s an alternative to resolutions. For others, it’s a summary of intention, a set of values and meanings swirled into a memorable guiding word.

For me, it’s somewhere between the two. And words are a big deal for me, so I enjoy the process of uncovering a word each year that speaks to my energy and intention.

Like many things, I usually aim for a word that is as applicable to my personal life and journey as it is to my business goals and intentions. Which can be a bit of an art! But this year, it really hits the nail on the head.

Last year: light

In 2018, I had just re-structured my business, especially Copper Boom Studio, and I was still finding my feet given all the big changes that had brought. My word for the year – light – reflected the antidote I craved: fewer heavy decisions and responsibilities, more lightness and fun to my days, a lighter to do list.

And it also spoke to the idea of shining my own light into the world. Helping others (always), creating a sense of hope, even in the dark places.

2018 became a year where I got more comfortable with shining a light on my own darkness, seeing things I hadn’t seen before about my beliefs and habits, and learning to look for the light once again.

It was exactly what I needed!

Deciding on 2019 and a little magical intervention…

I find that a word starts whispering to me in around November, and usually I play with it, not fully committing, but secretly knowing what the new year will bring.

When I found out in early November that I’m growing a tiny human, the word grow started talking to me…

Initially, I wasn’t sure. Setting an intention to grow, especially from a business point of view, when I knew I’d be taking time off, felt counter-intuitive. In fact, part of my ever-so-logical business brain told me I was crazy. How could I possibly grow the business, while growing a human and taking significant time off?

But grow felt so right on a deeper level. My body would grow. We’re growing our family. My heart was already expanding to make infinite room for a tiny person.

So I journalled it out, thought about a few other options and ultimately decided to redefine what business growth meant to me.

In fact, this year, my business is growing. Financially, yes, but also growing in strength and clarity. My courage is growing, the courage to talk about the things I really believe in and know to be true. My voice is growing, my reach is growing. It’s small, it’s slow, but it’s true.

And I know many people reading this have already balanced business and maternity leave, so I’ll say this as an homage to them as well as encouragement to myself: for the business to support me in this next phase, the business model has to look a little different.

I won’t be coaching as many people one-on-one this year. In fact, I’ve already limited my coaching calendar, but increased the accessibility to my group coaching course.

I’m also stepping back from copywriting in a huge way, but planning to fill that gap with a copywriting course to launch later in the year.

Growth doesn’t just mean doing more. It means doing what’s important with confidence, commitment, and clarity. I’m growing in tenacity, resilience and determination. I’m also growing in heart, soul, and community.

Feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right in an atmosphere of growth

Ultimately, two things tipped me over the edge to choose grow. I knew grow was right for me when I read the above line by Gretchen Rubin. I was re-reading her Happiness Project for maybe the fifth time, and this wise concept really stood out to me.

The idea of an atmosphere of growth really struck a chord. An environment and phase where we’re all making wonky but positive progress. Acknowledging the good and bad, and working towards what feels right. That speaks to me in all sorts of ways.

Because growth isn’t linear – as we all know. And it’s not all leaps and bounds (though taking a leap seems to be important to me, too). It’s small progress. Micro decisions. Proactive actions.

The second thing was at my January retreat. The lovely Betsy Benn made our retreat stars this year (a tradition that the retreats centre around). While I had asked her to make enough words for everyone to choose, she had sneakily added in an extra star, with no input from me. It was engraved with a word intended just for me.

You know what it is, right?

So I’m growing in 2019

My commitment to this year is to grow, in the right direction for me, and through personal, family and business development. I’m trusting that my heart will continue to grow, that my capacity to help others will increase, and that my sense of success will increase over the year, too.

So far, 2019 has been wonderful and challenging. Which feels a lot like how growth works! My January retreat kicked things off beautifully, and I already have plans for the next retreat weekend in March 2020, plus a whole load of confidence in my unique brand of creative business work.

The challenges have been on my time, especially balancing family life. While pregnancy so far (touch wood) has been pretty lovely, my husband has a pretty significant knee injury, requiring extra care and time from me. Good practice for the months to come!

How’s your year (and word) going?

Do you choose a word for the year? I realise that you may already have shared it, and possibly allowed it to fade a little now that it’s March.

But I’d love to hear how it’s going for you. Maybe you’d like to recommit? Maybe you’re ready to adjust? Maybe you haven’t chosen a word, but fancy picking one now?

Wherever you are, I hope that your intentions and plans are feeling right for you.

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