“In everyday life, I kept myself busy to avoid confronting and listening to my inner self. But Dorota pushed me to confront myself!”
Originally I’m a girl from the hotel business. I stayed in the business, working in different countries, for 10 years. I eventually changed to event management, again working in various countries. The last company I worked for was severely hit by the 2008 financial crisis and went bankrupt. After four months of unemployment, I found a job in the nuclear marketing department of a big engineering company.
This coincided with my ending an abusive relationship, and the new job was perfect for me at that point: nine to five, nobody knew me, no hassle, no stress – the perfect environment to heal and rebuild myself. My original idea was to stay there for two and a half to three years then move on, as this highly administrative environment didn’t match my personality. I bought a flat, and as I was solely responsible for the mortgage, I felt that I needed a secure, stable job. Two and a half years became seven years before I finally left the company.
In 2012, I started diving to conquer my fear of water. This step – and setting foot on Egyptian soil for the first time – profoundly changed something within me. Yet it took another three years before I listened to my inner voice, which was telling me that the way my life was going wasn’t making me happy. I knew all along that I didn’t enjoy what I was doing but I didn’t know what I really wanted for myself and from life.
A very good friend who was unemployed for a long time went through the coaching process with Dorota, which helped her to land a job again. Though her needs were completely different to mine, I asked her if Dorota could also help people like me, who don’t know what they want. She put us in touch.
Why did I consider the coaching process? I knew I was unhappy in my current job, but I also knew there was no point in changing companies or jobs. Within six months of starting a new job, I would be back to square one: restless and unhappy. Of course my family and my friends all gave me good and wise counsel about what to do and how to do it. But somehow I knew that I would advance only if I got the point of view of an outsider, someone who did not know me or my situation, someone with a neutral take on the situation.
And so my journey started. First, Dorota and I had a Skype call (we live in different countries and have never met in person) to find out whether we would be able work together. Check! In February 2015, we had our first coaching session, which included the “Timeline” exercise and Maslow’s “Pyramid of Needs”. Looking back on the exercise, it’s amazing to see that I am now completely on track!
We met on Skype every two weeks or so. Dorota always gave me homework: review the previous session and do the exercises she sent. You have no idea how much I hated these exercises, the homework and certain moments of our sessions! Why? Because I had to confront myself. I had to turn my focus inwards, ask questions and be honest with myself. In everyday life, I kept myself busy to avoid confronting and listening to my inner self. And now Dorota had dared to force me to confront myself…
At more than one point, I just wanted to say, “Fuck it! Just do these stupid exercises yourself; I’m not going to do them! This is none of your business and I don’t want to think about it!” But what can I say? I care about money and the fact that I had paid a substantial amount for this coaching kept me going in moments of loathing the work. Slowly but surely a different kind of thinking emerged, and I started to see more clearly. I definitely knew what I DID NOT want any longer and had a better idea of what I DID want in life. But the question of how to make it happen was yet to be answered.
The mission statement I developed during the coaching was, “I play an active role in sustainable and effective protection of our oceans as well as aquatic life.” My mantra? “I’m the firefighter of the oceans!”
In June that year I went on a special diving course to a secluded hotel in Egypt – a rather different hotel to what I had experienced previously. When I saw their slogan, “Welcome Home”, my first thought was, “Yeah, right! Typical marketing blah blah!” But by the second day I felt that there was something different about this hotel. This slogan really fitted and I felt completely at home.
Twice a week, the hotel organizes an evening for “solo travelers”. All guests traveling alone are invited for a cocktail followed by dinner together. As I have a big mouth and because I am a diver, I meet new people very easily so I didn’t feel the need to be part of this evening. But, if you offer me a free cocktail, you win! I happened to sit next to the personal assistant to the GM during dinner. She started to tell me her life story and that she had to go back to her home country at the end of the year for this and that reason. As I mentioned, I have a big mouth and when combined with a few cocktails, things can sometimes get interesting!
Jokingly, I said, “Oh, don’t worry about going back to your home country and leaving your GM without a PA! I’ve been in the hotel business, speak all the required languages, hate my job and am about to change my life. I’ll take over your job!” She was incredulous. “Are you serious?” she asked. “Yes, sure!” was my response. She presented me to the GM, and after a two-minute chat across tables and chairs, he asked me to send him my CV when I got back home. He said they’d give me a call later that year.
Back in Europe, I continued my everyday life, continued my coaching with Dorota and continued to form ideas about what I would do in the future. But there was a seed in the back of my mind, growing and teasing me. I talked to Dorota, my sister and my father about it. We all (including me) said, “Yeah, we’ll see what happens in November!”
On the 16th of that month, I received the call. “Are you still interested? When can you start?” My heart skipped a beat, and my first thought was, “Shoot, you and your big mouth! Are you going to go through with it or are you all talk?”
You can’t imagine the rollercoaster of feelings I experienced in the first few seconds. Then the questions started. My own one was, ”Yes, but should you leave your secure job (even though you hate it) for the unknown?” Then my father chimed in with, “Have you thought about the political situation in Egypt?” My sister, with index finger raised, said, “Don’t forget, you’re not getting any younger. Think about your pension”, and the Belgian family’s and Dorota’s take was, “Of course you should go, you hate your job here and you’ll never get another opportunity like that again. What do you have to lose?”
Once I’d made my decision, everything happened very quickly. On 20 November, I signed the contract, on the 24th, I resigned from my job and in January 2016, I started my new job in Egypt as personal assistant to the GM of the most wonderful hotel, The Breakers, Soma Bay. Now I’m in my fifth year in Egypt and I haven’t regretted this decision for a second!
Since that January, I have lived an enchanted life. My home and work is 10 meters from the Red Sea. I have a fulfilling job with great colleagues, in great surroundings. I can dive whenever I want to, and I have sun and blue sky all year round. Work doesn’t feel like work anymore – it is pure pleasure. The pace of my life is far slower than it was in Europe and I am really amazed at how easily I have adapted to it. I am completely balanced and at peace.
My mission statement and mantra haven’t changed. During the coaching, I saw myself fighting actively in the field for one NGO or another. Working among active divers and kiters is a different platform, but the mission remains the same. The solo traveler meetings, which are now organized by me, are a great platform for informing interested guests about my beloved sharks and the need to protect the ocean.
I am convinced that things happen for a reason. If I hadn’t been engaged in the coaching process, I would never have said something along the lines of, “Hey, I’ll take over your job.” Thanks to the continuous coaching, I was open-minded and alert to opportunities. Even if my conscious mind had not reacted, my subconscious immediately saw the potential of this conversation, prompting me to speak out. Without the coaching, I would have stayed in my closet and said nothing.
When I was starting to write my story for Dorota’s book, I leafed through my “Happiness Book” (a kind of diary I use occasionally to pencil in thoughts and that I used for my coaching and related homework). I stumbled on a note from October 2014. I’d written: “It’s high time you changed your life. Get your bum moving and change something. I give you one year to prepare your new life. By Spring 2016, or, even better, December 2015, you will start this new life.” I hadn’t seen or thought about this note in more than three years. But I had made the change anyway! I had stuck to my own timeline and started my new life in January 2016.
If you are also struggling with your life and career, go for coaching! It is worth the money as it will help you to gain clarity and know yourself better – if you find the right coach for you. Coaching is becoming more and more of a trend and there are so many fakes out there so I was really lucky to find Dorota immediately.
If you try to get through your struggle on your own or with the help of those close to you, you might not be able to get off your hamster wheel. It helps to have an outsider look at your patterns and your life because they look at you with a fresh, unbiased eye.
Photo credit – Vera’s private collection.
Do you also feel, now is the time to change? Schedule a free call with Dorota.