“Martina, your dad, has had a heart attack; they are trying to rescue him as we speak.” I heard the sentence on the phone while standing on a balcony in my rented flat in Prague. Cigarette in one hand, gin&tonic in the other one, getting ready to celebrate my best friend’s hen night.
My whole world shrank into the little packet of cigarettes. So this is the moment that changes your life forever, I thought to myself while crying like a baby.
You know those moments that divide your life – you consider your life “before and after.” This was one of them.
I had left my hometown four years before this day and didn’t plan to return. I’ve always dreamt of living in Prague. So I studied hard, worked in an international sales company in the U.K. for two years, only to return to Prague and start my dream life there.
Soon after the funeral, it became apparent that I was the one who was expected to return home to help my mum cope with the loss.
“Why me?” was my disappointed voice saying in my head. Everything was perfect in my life! Why did it have to happen to me? I felt sorry for myself. I was also angry that I had lost my treasured freedom yet once again.
While growing up, there was one thing I couldn’t get enough of – my independence. But it wasn’t until the age of 18 that I truly got to enjoy it. Before that, I wasn’t allowed to go out with my mates or stay out late. We had strict rules on how much time we were allowed to spend on a phone, how we spent the money etc. I couldn’t help but compare other people’s lives around me and felt irritated and helpless as a child.
Moving back home at the age of 28 and moving in with my mum was far from the original plan. I knew I had to get my flat and move out as soon as possible. I love my mum dearly, but the control was too much to bear. It reminded me vividly of my younger years, and I knew that it was my call to build the boundaries. So I found a job, applied for a mortgage, and started living in my tiny flat. The relationship with my mum improved a great deal.
After so many years abroad, my return home seemed weird. I couldn’t find my place. People were different than how I used to know them, and often I felt alone. All I wanted was for someone to love me. Just the way I was. My then partners were far from a perfect deal for me. I dreamt of being in a relationship and still maintaining my freedom. I loved being alone if that was my choice. I didn’t want to share every single minute of a day with my boyfriend.
I was very good at running away from things and places. “I deserve a job that fulfills me because who knows if I ever find the love of my life.” All those years, all those relationships. They say you should meet a few wrong ones to distinguish Mr. Right. But I was tired of going on dates. I wanted true love, nothing less.
As much as I looked strong on the outside, I was falling apart on the inside. My friends were getting married, or at least were dating for years. What about me? Was there something wrong with me? I was seriously doubting if there was such thing as ‘loving me for who I am.’ This led me to invent ways how to be happy without a long-term partner in my life. I had sports, my dog, work, and friends.
I remember so clearly that I somewhat demanded from my life to be different. I was doing everything right, and still no great relationship and surely no fulfillment at work. It was easier to run away than to look inside of me and search for answers there. Nobody around me was looking for their solutions; all they were searching for was approval from others. I wasn’t an exception.
When I met my now-husband, I recognized almost right there and then that this man was different. All the honesty, respect, and love from him proved to me that this would be the relationship of my life as they write in those novels. Moving in together and planning life finally made me believe that someone can love me for who I am.
The fairytale was coming true. We decided to have a child. I’ve always known, in my wildest thoughts, that I’d have a daughter. I didn’t see any husband around, but a baby girl was there. I will never forget the moment when the doctor at the hospital announced that it was a girl. My heart filled with happiness like never before. Olivia has been the princess of the family. Everybody adored her, and she was the cutest child you can imagine.
I am almost ashamed to admit that I still felt like something was missing in my life.
How outrageous would it be to admit out loud that this still wasn’t enough for me! I had a decent job, a great family, but I was only half happy. The chase for fulfillment wasn’t over. I was going to my corporate job every day for ten years, and I didn’t notice that I am repeating my pattern: expecting someone else to solve my problems! They should send me to training. They should offer me a better position. Really? Do the other people have the tools to make me happy? Why in the world did I expect anyone else to find the answers?
When our daughter was two years old, I went back to work. I returned to the place that was draining the living soul out of me. The pay was good but sitting for eight hours at my desk made me feel desperate and worthless. I knew there must be a better job for me SOMEWHERE.
It was spring 2014; I remember it like it was yesterday. That day my colleague threw a company newspaper at my desk and said: We have to try this. It was an offer to book a coaching session with an external coach. I was always up for any adventure, so I booked my session right that instant.
“What the heck is coaching?” I was wondering. “Will it help me find the job I love?” Little did I know what I was about to find out. I fell in love with coaching right there and then. A couple of weeks later, I was enrolled in coach training. I was so scared to pay so much money for the course. I have never before invested so much money in myself. I didn’t have any guarantees this was going to work out. I was frightened, as it was a jump into unknown waters. But my gut feeling led me well.
A couple of months into the training, I was a different person. Life started to make sense. I had my hobby, meaning, and a sense of direction.
I fell madly in love with myself, thanks to coaching. I realized I am the only expert on my life, and if I can’t find the answers for me, no one will.
I started seeing reasons why my path of life led me where I was. I realized that my dad must have been a coach by nature when he talked to me; he helped me see a bigger perspective. I finally understood why my mum has been so strict with me and why walking my path means the world.
The decision to pay for my growth resulted in my company asking me to help them create a team of internal coaches. It made such a colossal difference finding meaning in my professional life.
Three years into my coaching practice (while keeping my full-time job), I was about to test everything I learned while helping my clients with their struggles. In spring 2015, I asked my husband if there is no chance to give Olivia a sibling. I desperately wanted the second child.
He was very strict about this. Though hearing those words was difficult, I promised myself there and then that I will never bring up that subject. I decided to concentrate on my coaching career. We also had our wedding planned in a few months, so I focused my energy on the event.
The days around the ceremony were pretty hectic, so I didn’t realize I was missing something that used to come every month. A couple of days after the wedding, I found out I was pregnant for the second time. I was walking around the house like a ghost for days. How? Where? When? I managed to make an appointment with my doctor only to hear the confirming words. How on Earth am I going to say it to my husband? How is he going to react?
We were already packing our suitcases to leave for the honeymoon to the Maldives when I popped out the secret. I couldn’t stay quiet anymore. How would I explain not eating sushi or refuse to drink alcohol? After I told him the news, I felt like the world had stopped. It literally must have as I didn’t feel nor did I see anything. A wave of shock and disbelief washed over me. I heard the “A” word from his mouth.
If you’d asked me how I survived those months after, I’d say – only a mother would understand. There was not a single doubt I would leave any of my children. If I did, it’d have been the end of our relationship anyway. This much I knew.
The Universe has watched me apply my coaching skills everywhere, with people mentioning the A word to me. At one point, it became clear: the skills and tools the coaching taught me weren’t so much to help other people as they were to save me.
At about eight months into the pregnancy, I was starting to see some shifts in my husband.
There are hardly decent explanations available why certain things happen. I have felt that our son came to our lives to teach us so much. He must have come here to teach his dad some valuable lessons. And he taught me to become stronger, more fulfilled, and value time.
When I compare my two maternity leaves, I still can’t believe what a different person I was. I had only one child, the house, and the garden to take care of. After my son’s birth, I managed to get faster on my feet, I had two children, household, and I started my side job, created a website and two e-books with a child that resisted sleep while I sat still. Was it magic that helped me to manage so much in my days? I don’t think so. Just clarity of purpose, colossal motivation, and knowing that if I don’t use this time on maternity leave to my most advantage, I never will.
2018 was an exceptional year. I decided to quit my full-time job and start my coaching and lecturing business with full power. The rightness of that decision and ease I felt when coaching people has been uplifting. I realized I had to go through all the events in my life to become so much stronger and confident on the other side.
The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for productivity or fulfillment. You shouldn’t feel bad about wanting to do it all. Everything you feel like you want to do will always seem unhealthy and not achievable to some people. But it is YOUR life we are talking about, not anyone else’s. And it is up to YOU whether you choose to make the most from it or not.
I know now, and I show my clients how to do because it is possible to uncover how to achieve more in less time. And when you know how to do that… you at least know you are doing what you can to make the most from this one life you have.
I would beat myself up for wanting to do more and more, and finally, I am embracing it. And so should you. I now do more than I ever did before, and I have never been happier – and more free, too!
I remember this client of mine. When she entered my world, she was a mum and had a decent business running. She wished she could achieve even more. She had raving clients who loved her. But she wasn’t happy. She had no time for herself. We worked on compressing the time and creating more structure. It meant the world to me to watch her evolve. She not only found the time for herself among her business tasks and family life, but she also became more confident and time conscious. And she finally got this amazing sense of happiness, balance, and freedom that had been missing in her life for a long time.
And to me, there is nothing more rewarding than helping people create exactly that.
If you feel like your life isn’t quite what you want it to be, and you are longing for this sense of happiness and freedom…then I think we should talk 🙂