Hi, I'm Jen, an ex-corporate wild soul and One of many Certified Women's Coach.
If you'd told me three years ago that I'd be living the life I'm living now, I'd have laughed in disbelief. It was the stuff of dreams, the sort of thing that Other People did - people that were far braver, far more daring, far more exciting than me.
My life was mapped out and, on the face of it, idyllic. I was successful, respected and had an extremely promising career ahead of me as an actuary in a prestigious FTSE 100 financial services company. I had a perfect relationship, a beautiful house, went on exotic holidays. I had every reason to be happy.
And yet…I wasn't.
I can't pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but around three years ago my life suddenly started to crumble around me. Or, perhaps I should say, inside of me.
I did Superwoman well - nobody knew anything was wrong until, suddenly, I couldn't keep up the pretence any more and I tumbled into burnout, depression and despair.
I went from feeling like I had everything, to feeling utterly stuck, trapped and hopeless.
Lesson one: Rock bottom can be just the beginning
I was signed off work and went through the lowest months of my life. But working with a counsellor and coach helped me to start rebuilding my mental, emotional and physical health while I gradually rediscovered my sense of self.
I hadn't realised how much I'd lost who I was! I was my job, my relationship, I was a people pleaser... but I wasn't me.
I felt like such a failure at first.
I had always been a fiercely independent overachiever, and I felt so ashamed, guilty even, about how I was feeling! But admitting how unhappy and unwell I was proved to be the first, brave step towards living the life I actually wanted to live.
Lesson two: Your dreams are waiting for you to pay attention
My coach helped me reawaken a dream I had forgotten I'd ever had - squashed out of me by the "shoulds" and "musts" and "be happy with what you've gots" of a corporate career, a long-term relationship and a desire to fit in with those around me.
She reawakened the spark of my dream, and that spark set me free.
I found the courage to leave my relationship, which was life-saving but heartbreaking, and shocking for everyone around me. I'd hidden the problems so well, even from myself!
But when I left I felt the proverbial weight lift from my shoulders, felt the fog clear from my eyes, and I breathed a deep breath of fresh air that gave me strength.
And I looked forward, with a sense of possibility and excitement, for the first time in months.
But it wasn't all plain sailing. My job was not fulfilling and the long, desk-based days in the office were beginning to feel soul-destroying. Something else had to change.
Lesson three: Change can feel scary (but it’s worth it)
My first move was to reduce to four days a week - at severe risk of career suicide!
Where other up-and-coming young professionals were working extra hours to prove themselves in the office, I used my day off alternately to rest and to volunteer at a local care farm I had been involved with for several years. I absolutely loved it, working outdoors with the students at the farm. But it still wasn't enough.
My dream - to help others through coaching, therapy and nature - burned ever stronger and I knew I was never going to be fully satisfied spending the vast majority of my life in an office, as respectable, secure and well-paid as it was.
I still didn't know when or how I'd make the leap though. Whilst I didn't feel I really fitted into corporate, what else did I know, other than spreadsheets and office politics?
I was very much living the "one-day" dream, until, one morning, something finally snapped. I had found myself literally bored to tears in my windowless cubicle, and I made the decision to either find a new role in the company, or leave. Gratifyingly, I was offered a number of different opportunities in the company, all of which would have appealed at one time. But I just couldn't get excited about the opportunity to climb further up the career ladder.
Something else called. Something stronger than the draw of approval and recognition. It was time. I was young, free, single, with a house about to be sold. What did I have to lose? So I left. It was time to give myself, and my dream business, a chance.
Lesson four: First, replenish yourself
First, I gifted myself some time out. I took a break and embarked on an adventure of a lifetime, walking solo from Land's End to John O'Groats for charity. An incredible, life-changing, life-affirming 1400 mile journey taking three and a half months to complete. A journey that was every bit as amazing, challenging and rewarding as you could imagine!
When I returned, I set up my business, WildFire Walks, getting tired, stressed out professionals into nature to rest, reconnect and re-energise. I started planning events, yet I knew I needed something more if I was to help my clients in the way I really wanted.
Lesson five: The right support changes everything
Enter One of many! I had first come across Jo Martin the previous year, at her speaker training event, and had been inspired by her approach. I joined the Be One community and I loved the vision of the organisation. I knew it had some part to play in my life, so when the opportunity to train as a One of many Certified Women's Coach crossed my path, I jumped at it.
Actually, that's not quite the whole truth…I jumped at first, excitedly, then I froze, and ran in the opposite direction!
My Inner Critic jumped in the driver's seat and I very nearly threw away the chance.
Who was I, to think I could do this?
How on earth could I afford to invest so much in myself, when I was out of work, had been 'galavanting' across the country, had no 'real' coaching experience (needless to say I completely ignored the experience of managing and coaching a team in my corporate world!), and STILL had a mortgage to pay?
But something in me nudged, kept nudging, nudged louder, until I couldn't ignore it. This was too good to miss. I had to do this. So I jumped in with both feet.
Best. Decision. Ever!
Cue the most unbelievable and profound 18 months of my life. Aside from the obvious - coming out with a certification, new skills and a licence to share the incredible One of many tools with my clients - I've made lifelong friends, learned to step into and trust my own power, and rediscovered myself in the process.
The entire journey was transformational, from the foundation training through to the 5-day intensive through to the three month practical.
I discovered a support network like no other, and I've remembered how it feels to shine, to dream and to thrive. I've learned to celebrate myself and my story.
I learned to embrace my emotions, believe in myself and to help others do the same. I learned to trust my intuition and trust life. I've learned to ask for, and accept, help.
Most importantly, I've dared to dream, and to actually live those dreams.
Lesson six: Dreams do come true
Last summer, a lifelong dream came true for me. I followed my desire to live more closely with nature and spent four months living off-grid in a yurt in the woods.
It was a deliciously happy experiment into embracing simplicity, nature and back-to-basics whilst still participating in the modern world. I managed to combine my growing coaching business with some consultancy work for my old company - on my terms - and some part time work in an organic farm shop and cafe, whilst living in this gorgeous slice of heaven.
I would wake up to birdsong and the sound of the wind in the trees, watch the sun rise across the field with a steaming mug of tea, curl up in front of my log burner at night and listen to the owls calling. It was magical. I'd seen yurts in my future in my Soft Power Planning, and here I was, just a few months later, actually living that dream.
Through the One of many experience, which I've continued by stepping up to Lead the Change, I've realised it's about continually taking steps, however small, in the direction of my ultimate vision - a nature-based retreat centre with yurts, campfires and coaching.
I'm now regularly tuning into my vision, checking in with my intuition, and watching out for and trusting in the opportunities that present themselves. The ability to coach virtually makes me location-independent, meaning I can make the most of these opportunities.
So I live in interesting times. My immediate path has never been less mapped out in my life, and yet I feel more free, more fulfilled, more self-expressed and more aligned with my ultimate vision than ever before. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't scary sometimes though! Leaving the security of a job and starting your own business certainly isn't a decision to be taken lightly.
But… I'm getting to do what I really want to do whilst continuing my own inner journey exploring truth, freedom and possibility. I'm always learning, always growing, and I'm finding that my own experiences are helping me be a better coach for my clients. I love watching them blossom as they explore what really matters to them, rediscover their own dreams and reconnect with their own vitality. I wouldn't change any of it for the world!
Curious about sparking your own dream?
If Jen's story inspires you and you'd like to find out more about becoming a One of many Certified coach, click here to get in touch. We'll find a time that suits you to have a chat with one of our friendly team, and see if our training's right for you.
About Jen Le Marinel
The outdoors-loving, dream-whispering coach.
As a One of many Certified Women's Coach and founder of WildFire Walks, Jen combines the transformational power of the incredible One of many tools with the healing power of nature to help her clients feel more empowered to live a life they truly want to live. A life on their terms.
Patient and compassionate with a dash of playful rebel, she gently pushes back against the "should-dos" and "should-bes" so often imposed by our culture, our upbringing, our workplaces.
Jen knows what it means to succeed in the corporate world…and what it's like to not want that, actually. She believes, and champions, that there is a different way. Her purpose; to playfully push the boundaries of what's possible in life, and to encourage and inspire other women to do the same.
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