How many of us knew at the age of 20 what we would want to be doing with our lives by the time we hit 40? Or, if we did have some idea, it’s unlikely that things turned out the way we were expecting. If you’ve found that you’ve hit a bit of a midlife slump and are feeling tired, bored, frustrated and in need of a big change but have no idea where to start, have you considered seeing a life coach?
Dawn Louise Nicole tells Lumity that for her, reaching out for help and advice from a specialist life coach changed every aspect of her life, and she went from feeling trapped in an unfulfilling relationship to living in a different country with a new set of friends and hobbies, plus she has faced and conquered several of her biggest fears, as well as starting training for a new career – and all of that has happened in less than one year.
As well as that she has gone from feeling anxious, self-conscious, panicky and lacking in self-confidence to feeling ready to do anything she sets her mind to: “A friend mentioned life coaching to me back in November 2016,” Dawn Louise tells Lumity. “I was in an awful and very dark place emotionally and I felt as though nobody understood me. I was in a rut but with no idea how to get out of it and I didn’t have the confidence to make meaningful and lasting changes.
“The idea of going to a life coach piqued my interest but at the same time I was in such a bad place that I didn’t have the energy or confidence to try it.”
Dawn Louise explains that she felt trapped, both in her life situation and in her way of thinking and general outlook on life – which had become very negative.
She says: “I was living with my ex boyfriend and we had been fighting for three months to end the relationship with an equal equity share in the house which we had purchased together as a couple. I felt down and trapped, plus my outlook was very negative and I was anxious, with this nagging feeling that nothing would ever turn out well for me. I couldn’t imagine living a different life, and it was a vicious circle – if you are in a place where you’re always complaining it’s hard to start doing anything positive for yourself. And worse, my self-confidence was so battered that I had lost all belief in myself.”
Research suggests that it’s women between the ages 40 and 59 who have the highest rate of depression across all age groups and genders. Symptoms include mood (depressed, sad, or irritable), cognitive (lack of concentration and poor decision making), and physical (fatigue, lack of energy, lack of sleep, and appetite). But only 13% of people grappling with these symptoms go and seek professional help. Often traditional therapy is very helpful for depression but in milder cases a life coach can be the motivating factor to help lift people out of a slump. (And there’s no reason not to do both).
Dawn Louise explains: “I finally decided to make an appointment with a life coach and I remember psyching myself up to make that first nerve-wracking phone call. I was thinking, ‘what is she like? will she understand me? can I open up to her? will I get judged? criticised or even laughed at?’. I can also be stubborn and don’t like taking advice, and I couldn’t see myself taking advice from a stranger, so I was worried that I would be wasting her time and my money. But I somehow managed to shut off that nagging voice and all the negativity in my head and go to the first appointment.
“First of all I had to fill in a welcome pack. I had to give my honest opinion of how I saw myself and then write all the aspects of my life that I wanted to work on and change. These included diet, lifestyle, eating habits, relationships and my career. I also had to fill out a list of fears and various situations that made me feel nervous or like panicking. The idea was that I would slowly and with careful professional guidance work through all of them and tackle them all head on.
“I was pleasantly surprised to hear right from the start that my coach wasn’t there to judge or be harsh and genuinely wanted to help me get positive and measurable results from our sessions together.
“It was different from talking to a friend or family member because she could give me a truly unbiased perspective. And that was really refreshing. Nobody wants to be the person that treats their friends like a permanently on call group of psychiatrists! Plus friends aren’t qualified to give life advice they can only offer their opinion and that isn’t ideal as they find it hard to be truly honest because they’re scared of upsetting or offending us – especially if we’re already upset when asking for their opinion or advice.
“At the end of each appointment I was given ‘homework’ by my life coach which was always a goal or task that I had to complete.
“I decided to throw myself into the coaching whole-heartedly and to dedicate myself to the process and trust in it and really embrace it, even when it was hard. In return I found that in my coach I had a mentor who could offer support and guidance in an engaging and empowering way. She was pushing me to be the best version of myself.
“And, it was absolutely life-changing.”
Eight months after starting her life coaching, in the summer of 2017, Dawn Louise found herself facing her worst fear and jumping out of a plane.
She remembers: “One of the big things on my fears list was a huge tendency towards panicking. So doing a sky dive was a huge thing for me but so empowering. It was so much more than just jumping out of a plane, it was about letting go of the constant fear and panic that had prevented me from doing so much during my life and always remembering that I can do anything that I set my mind to.
“When the day came for the sky dive, I wasn’t anxious, or panicky, and I really enjoyed it. It was such a rush and I felt so alive and proud of myself.
“It was incredible to have come so far in just a short time, the old voice in my head that told me that I can’t do things had become a calm voice that said I can.”
Now, Dawn Louise is living in an apartment in Poland where she is working and training to become a holistic therapist in order to help other people in her spare time.
She says: “The person who I was before is a shadow of who I am now. Here I am living and working in Poland, in a completely new country, where when I arrived I didn’t know anyone or the language. The fact that I am living on my own is huge; I was the girl who was scared to be alone, always in bad relationships and having to spend all my spare time with friends if I wasn’t with my boyfriend as I hated my own company. I was never on my own and always clinging to someone else for support rather than being self-reliant like I am now.
“I am writing, reading, studying and a completely different person with a life that is filled with new hobbies, where I am always trying new things and making new friends. I am training to be a holistic therapist so that I can help other people in my spare time and have a second income.
“The self-limiting, negative thoughts have gone and I am so much more emotionally intelligent and self-aware than I have ever been. That’s all down to two things; my life coach and me being willing to put in the hard work on myself, even during the times that it was hard. I have goals, dreams and ambitions, plus I feel ready to go and accomplish them all with no more time to waste – because time is so precious.”
Dawn Louise’s advice to anyone considering going to see a life coach is: “Do you have the guts, courage, bravery and strength to send the email or make that call? If so, what are you waiting for?”
What to expect if you decide to go and see a life coach:
Did you enjoy this? Here’s how one woman found her groove in her forties and has never been happier. Here’s how to take a step outside your comfort zone and here’s how to trade your midlife blues for a midlife rebirth.