This morning, while checking my personal emails, I came across an article written by Peter Bregman, contributor to various respected news giants and premier organizations as well as being the author of “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done”. The article was titled “FindYourSweetSpot – andStayThere.” This article was one of multiple clues I’ve been getting from the Universe over the years that there’s something more out there for me. My God, what is my sweet spot?, I ponder. I’ve been so far off my sweet spot for years. Just recently, I confessed this to my boss. Most of my life and my career choices have been about survival, not about thriving…except once.
I took a leap. My son will remember. He was in high school and I was a substance abuse counselor at a local DWI (Driving While Impaired) agency. I was working crazy hours and running an office singlehandedly in Garner for its parent agency in Raleigh. It was exciting at first and I’ll admit it was quite an ego-boost. Here I was a new hire and was given such an opportunity, but it wasn’t long before I realized it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Running an office with an oversaturated calendar and little time to breathe let alone eat was not what I had in mind when I obtained an associate’s degree in Human Services with a specialization in substance abuse. I thought I had finally found the entrance, albeit through the back door, to counseling. What a way to thumb my nose at the local university that denied my admission into its Masters program because I had been out of college for over ten years, and show off how a God’s yes trumps any “no.” What a backdrop for a foot-stompin’ testimony at a church gathering or a success story for an African American woman from a small rural town!
Though I was effective and my performance praised, one encounter changed everything. After the conclusion of my weekly substance abuse group, a group member asked to speak with me privately. I consented. He said to me, “Miss Hinton, you’re not safe in this office. I live in this neighborhood and you working here by yourself just ain’t safe.” The blood literally left my face. In that moment, I really paid attention to the inklings I had felt of this before but had dismissed. Inklings like there was only one way in and out of our second-floor office suite. Further, my office was sequestered on the opposite end of that entire second floor in a corner. I was a sitting duck! No buzzer underneath my desk if I was in trouble. No exit; not even a fire escape. Small windows. And oftentimes, especially on group nights when I was there until 9:30 or 10 at night, I’d walk to my car in a dimly lit empty parking lot. With this heightened sense of urgency, I asked my supervisor to employ some safeguards or to return me to the Raleigh Office. Needless to say, my urgency wasn’t his.
Harassed by thoughts of impending doom yet equally challenged by not having another job, I stayed. Every day was torture. It seemed that either decision was the wrong one. What to do? What to do? It was during this time that the idea of life coaching came up again. It had flirted with me in the past and here it was again. I decided to search online to see what opportunities existed. First, I asked around for the name of local life coaches. I asked them about how they got trained and transitioned into their coaching careers. This led me to an online opportunity to become a certified life coach. I knew it was more in line with what felt right. Rather than deal with a population that didn’t want my help, I would have clients who sought my help. Rather than dealing with mental health, alcohol and drug abuse issues, I would help clients achieve their life goals. Hopeful about a bright future as a life coach, I turned in my resignation.
I graduated from the online program. I put up a website telling the world that I was open for business. I even wrote articles to drive traffic to my website. No bites. I was faithful to this for three months, even getting coaching from other life coaches and using resources available to me to grow the business, but when money started to run out, I chose the path most taken. I went online and applied for bookkeeping jobs. Yep, I was in survival mode again. My rationale? I had a son to take care of and needed a “real job,” so I succumbed. As I reflect, I find it interesting and almost poetic that I find myself in the same place almost six years later. This time it isn’t physical safety that’s at stake.
Shall I continue to pick jobs based on survival or shall I risk it all for a belief that there is something more? That’s what’s at stake for me. “Go for it,” you might say from the sidelines; but you have to remember I tried this once and it didn’t work. False starts and abject failure can render you paralyzed from moving in any direction. What’s different about this time versus last time? I could spout off answers like “I’m wiser now”, “I’m clearer about my purpose and I feel this is the voice of God leading” but I believed all that before. It all comes down to this. Shall I allow my authentic soul to lead or continue to allow underlying fears to parade as good sense or being responsible when underneath it all I don’t trust myself? I can’t go out like that! When I’ve told people that I’m leaving my job, they’ve asked me what I’m going to do. Truth is, I don’t know. I’m leaving that up to God. All I do know is this: if I don’t take a flying leap—now–I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.