Client Spotlight: Meet Sarah

It is no secret that my clients never cease to amaze me. Over the years of being a coach, thought-partner, and guide I have witnessed amazing changes and transformation from the women I work with.  I am continuously inspired by their career accomplishments, personal breakthrough's, and hatched ideas that are now a reality. 

Today, I want to introduce you to a dear former client of mine, Sarah. You will hear about what she did when she found herself suddenly out of a job and how her journey since has led her to create a life and career that is true to who she is. May her story inspire you in your own journey.

Tell us a little about you.

My name is Sarah. I was born and raised in the interior of Alaska. I went to college in Missouri and then in Michigan where I lived for 17 years before moving to the Pennsylvania/New York area. After 8 years on the east coast, I found my true home in southern Colorado. I now work from home using my organizational and creative problem-solving skills to successfully freelance in educational publishing (thanks to my work with Ariane.) Although I live in a remote area and financial solvency requires a combination of creativity and tenaciousness, my life here makes more sense to me than it has anywhere else. The time I spend hiking, doing yoga, and creating a self-sufficient lifestyle makes me feel connected to something bigger than myself.

Take us back to that time in your life when you decided to work with a coach. What was going on that brought you to a place of change?

Last summer, after years of hanging on by a thread, the company I had been with for 7 years folded, and I was out of a job. I had been unhappy for awhile and I had thought about going into freelancing, but I stayed because the money was good and I thought I needed the regular income.

Why did you decide to work with a coach?

As soon as my job ended, I started looking for (and finding) freelance work. I was starting to build up enough of a client base to pay the bills, but I still felt like I was in a rut. I knew I needed to think about my work differently, but I wasn’t able to find a fresh perspective on my own. Someone sent me a link to Ariane’s website and I contacted her immediately. I knew after our first conversation that I needed to work with her.

Were there any moments when you felt like giving up? What gave you the courage to see it through?

It wasn’t so much that I felt like giving up during my transition from a full time employee to a freelancer. It was more that I was petrified that going for what I wanted – providing a quality service for clients I could respect – would not work. However, a combination of stubbornness and anger kicked in, and I decided to move ahead anyway. I felt like I had played by the rules for years sticking with a full time job because it’s what people do, because it was supposed to provide security. After I was laid off, I started thinking that maybe security was more propaganda than reality, so why not create rules that would meet my own deep desires for freedom, meaningful work, and financial ease.

How would you describe the person you were back then versus the person you’ve become today?

I am much happier now that I’m freelancing. I feel more in control of my life since I can make my own decisions about the clients I take on and the roles I will fill for them. I also believe that I really can have all that I want because I am making observable progress toward my goals season by season.

What surprised you about what you got out of our work together that was totally unexpected?

During my coaching sessions, I said repeatedly that one of the things I valued was freedom. With Ariane’s help I started to arrange my work life so that I would have the freedom to travel, go on long-distance hikes or just enjoy my life.

Then for the first time this summer I took advantage of the freedom I had created for myself and spent 6 weeks hiking the Colorado Trail. As I began my trip, I realized that the work I had done with Ariane and a couple of other strong, outside-the-box-thinking women, had given me the tools I needed to figure out day by day what I valued about the experience. Even though I wasn’t in a work-related situation, I applied similar value-based principles, set my own goals focused on the quality of my experience, and had a hike that was beyond anything I could have imagined.

What 3 things (personal or professional), that you’re most proud of, have happened during and since our coaching work together?

  1. I am successfully working as a freelancer while staying true to my values of producing quality work in an environment of mutual respect.
  2. I have the freedom and flexibility that I want in my work life so that I can take the time to do things like hike the Colorado Trail.
  3. My hike this summer introduced yet another profound change in my life. It’s too soon to tell yet what the effects of that change will be, but I am pleased beyond measure that I was able to be in the right place at the right time – physically and spiritually – to experience it.

Change is difficult for many of us. What would you say to someone who wants to make a change but feels stuck in their job or some area of their lives?

Anything is possible. Here is a story to illustrate that:

During my hike, I kept a handwritten journal of my experiences. However, at the end of my 6th day on the trail, my pen ran out of ink. By that time, I really needed to write each day to process all that I was seeing and feeling. So without really thinking about it, I asked for a pen. I just said in my mind, “I need a pen.”

The next day I hiked through a large parking lot and crossed a major highway before climbing back into the mountains. I did not find a pen.

That night when I should have been writing in my journal, I said again, “I need a pen. I really need a pen.

The next morning I descended briefly from the mountains and crossed a valley on a deserted forest service road. I suddenly stopped and stared. Embedded in the dust at my feet was a blue pen. About half the barrel of the pen was gone, and the stem was exposed and filthy, but I could see there was ink in it. I slowly crouched down and picked it up. The cap was on, jammed onto the barrel so firmly I couldn’t get it off. I had to hack off enough pieces of the cracked and broken cap to expose the tip, but it wrote!

I used that pen for the rest of my hike, even after my next town stop where I had access to all kinds of clean, whole pens. It became a concrete reminder for me that anything is possible. If I could find a pen in such a remote location where there logically should not have been a pen, then of course more “normal” hiking related things were possible – completing my hike, carrying a heavy pack over 13,000 feet, finding water, etc.

As I’ve transitioned back into my non-hiking life, I’ve kept the same thought in mind. Yes, it was just a pen, but all I did was ask for one. What if I ask for what I need for my work, for my home, for personal fulfillment?

Anything is possible.

To get additional support on your career journey, email to learn more about our Dream Discovery 1-on-1 sessions or sign up for the upcoming women's career group coaching program -- see details here.