#69: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

How comfortable are you putting yourself out there and calling yourself a health coach? Do you ever feel like a big phony baloney? In this episode Michelle shares about how she slowly got through the imposter syndrome that came from making a big career change and becoming a health coach.

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Okay well, hey there, health coaches! You know, I call you health coaches every week. I say, “hey there health coaches,” but how comfortable are you kind of putting yourself out there and calling yourself a health coach? Do you feel comfortable introducing yourself that way? Or do you feel like a big phony baloney? You can’t believe you’re even talking about yourself when you say the words health coach, you know what the truth is that most of us, not all, but most of us did not just graduate high school or just graduate college and boom, become a health coach. That definitely was not my path. Most of us, from what I’ve witnessed have had other identities. Am I right? If you’re here with me live or if you’re watching this replay later and you have access to the comments, please tell me how did you identify in your career and your life before becoming a health coach?

I know we have health coaches from all different walks of life, so maybe you’ve had a different occupation or you’ve been in a different phase of life for the past 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years. So just again, raise your hand and if you’ve ever felt kind of strange suddenly introducing yourself as a health coach, we’d love to hear about it. I am …[inaudible]… a room together right now and I said, how many of you feel a little bit weird or have felt a little bit weird introducing yourself as a health coach? 99% of your hands would shoot up in the air. So today what I want to do is I want to talk about how I made the shift from working in big advertising to working for myself by myself as a solopreneur, no big fancy window office, no big company that I’m working for anymore. No legitimacy that those things bring. That’s a difficult transition. And how I slowly worked through the imposter syndrome that came with it.

Nikki’s saying, hello, I just finished school and I’m feeling like an imposter having never worked with a client.

Girlfriend, I got to tell you, that’s probably going to last even after you’ve worked with a client. Cause you’ll say, oh that client didn’t count it was my friend. Or, oh, that client wouldn’t count because it was my neighbor. Until you have several clients. I think we all kind of feel that way. That’s okay. It means you’re, you’re on the right path. You’re exactly where you should be. One thing that helped like a metric ton when I started out just to feel more legit was of course when I started to make money, not a lot at the beginning, definitely not, but enough I felt like people were paying me.

I was definitely helping them and that made me feel legit. So if you’re new to health coaching like Nikki or if you’ve been added a while but you just not seeing the income, add up please, check out the free training that I made just for you. It’s at healthcoachpower.com/earn e a r n. In this training, I share exactly how to this day. I plan my calendar January through December to earn the salary that I want to make and all the marketing strategies that help me get there. Again, you can sign up for that at healthcoachpower.com/earn.

So, here’s the question that inspired today’s episode and this is from Murley. I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly. And Murley said, anyone here sometimes [inaudible] successfully coached clients and was invited to speak at a local government event? I still get embarrassed. Yes, I feel somewhat a fraud because I feel I’m not at my 100% best of health. I’ve never looked like a health and fitness Instagrammer. And I wonder if anyone has also faced this hurdle and if so, what did you do to overcome it?

This reminded me of a story. So I wanted to tell you guys a story of when I first, uh, I first started out in my health coaching business. In fact, it was my very first official day as a health coach because like I told you, I used to work in advertising and I got laid off. I got my pink slip, got my two weeks notice. And so, you know, cleared out my office, started to make peace with the fact that life was going to be a little bit different and thought, okay, now I’m going to, I’m going to go for it. I’m going to go full time into this health coaching thing. I really had actually been waiting for a sign from the universe to go ahead and do that.

So here it was. So let’s say Friday was my last day at the Ad Agency. The weekend, Monday morning, hello, wake up. Don’t have to go into the office. Okay. What’s life like today? Maybe I’m going to make myself some tea, some breakfast. Oh goodness. Well, I actually had something planned for that very first day in my business because a friend of a friend, somebody I was talking to said, Oh hey, I’m on the local health coalition committee in town. We’d love to have you come. I love what you’re doing with this health coaching thing. Would you come join us for our next meeting? And the meeting was happening that Monday, my very first day of even dreaming of calling myself a health coach. So I show up at this meeting and it wasn’t anything fancy [inaudible] intimidated. I didn’t know what to wear. What does a health coach wear when they’re going to be sitting here saying things talking.

I don’t know what I was going to do. Presenting to introducing myself to the local health coalition. I didn’t know what to wear. I didn’t know if I should smile or be serious. I like didn’t know what to do with my arms. Everything felt awkward. And then we went around and everybody introduced themselves around this big conference table. And when it came to me, I stood up and I said, hi, my name’s Michelle and I’m a health coach. Like with a question mark at the end. That was the best I could do. And you know it went okay. And nobody really questioned me and it was fine. But I heard myself say that and I thought, oh no, this is never going to work. So for starters, practice saying I am a health coach with a period at the end, if not an exclamation point and then you won’t make the same mistake I did.

So why do we feel like frauds when we start out as health coaches or even years into being a health coach? Some of us have got, you know, our certification five, 10 years ago and haven’t done too much with it. Still may be feeling like an imposter. I think that of course in the beginning we like experience, like Nikki said, never having worked with the client. Of course, imagine that you got a job at the gap. I’ve actually never worked in retail, but how many of you who’ve had a job at the gap or old navy or something like that and that first day of whatever new job you get, you’re going to feel a little bit weird. Like you’re probably going to feel weird that whole like first week or two because you don’t really know how to use the cash register and you don’t really know how to fold the shirts properly so they’re all so perfect and just like that.

We as health coaches need experience too before we are going to overcome that awkward phase. Now Murley who asked this question in the group, she said that she has successfully coached clients, so I want to say that’s a great first step. Even if they’re friends, even if it’s your sister, your aunt, your neighbor, don’t worry about like announcing yourself or being up on stage or handing out business cards. You’re not even there yet. Don’t even worry about telling people in big groups that you’re a health coach. Just kind of think of yourself as like an intern or a co op student who’s working. Yes. And you have some training. Yes. But you need experience. Totally understandable. People totally get that. I’m sure you totally would get that. If somebody came to you and said, you know, hi, I’m a the, the plumber’s, uh, intern or whatever, you’re not going to say, get out of my house.

You know, you’re going to say, okay, let’s see what you can do. Okay. Maybe not the plumber. That’s a risky one. They might flood your house. But the point is everybody understands the concept of someone who is just starting out and needs experience. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I really didn’t feel like a health coach until I had like a, a fairly full roster of clients. And even then, I got to tell you, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, but it was a start. Okay. The other reason health coaches feel like frauds or at least I did was because I wasn’t like perfectly buttoned and up. Do you know what I mean? I still had some of my own health issues. Don’t get me wrong, I cleared up so many of my health issues by changing my diet and my lifestyle and certainly going through school at IIN was helpful for me personally.

I mean I was in a much better place but not perfect and sort of like Murley said, we aren’t all going to be health Instagrammers, you know with like six pack abs or maybe, yeah, maybe you do have a six pack, but you struggle with anxiety or depression or some other invisible illness or maybe you’re actually in really great health but you aren’t quote perfect because you don’t have the answer to every single question. Right. You don’t have a complete knowledge of every single health condition that somebody might ask you about. I didn’t. I still right now to this day do not have a full encyclopedia of every health condition in my brain. No Way. I still have clients who will say, Oh, I’m on this medication and I have to Google it to see what that is. Or they tell me they have a certain diagnosis and I’ve never heard of that.

So again, I do a little Googling or I ask them about it. If they’re asking me a question, I don’t have to know the answer. I can say I’m going to look into that for you. I’m not sure. Right. We didn’t go to medical school. We are not like primary care physicians who have to like field any and every question that come at us and that sometimes can make us doubt ourselves because we’re used to going probably to a primary care physician or maybe a naturopath or somebody who you can say just about anything and they’re going to have some sort of answer for you. It doesn’t matter. That’s not what a health coach is. Okay. So I don’t want you to doubt yourself because you don’t have like a perfect inventory of all health, wellness and food topics inside your brain. The solution here is really to own what you know really well.

You got to own that. And like I said, just admit when you don’t. So I’ll give you an example. I know a lot about stress, the way stress acts in the body, managing it. Um, some of the side effects are spinoffs, like insomnia, anxiety. Those are things that I know a lot about. But ask me something about diabetes. I’m not real well versed in everything that has to do with diabetes. I know next to nothing about cancer, luckily. So if someone starts talking to me about these things, I can easily say, you know, that’s not my area of expertise. I could say, hey, interesting question. I’ll reach out to my network for some answers for you. Maybe I can refer you to someone. And I think like this is what experts do and this is what smart people do. Smart people know everything, but they know where to get the answers.

And that’s what we teach kids in school. And not that you have to memorize the whole encyclopedia, which makes me sound old cause who has encyclopedias anymore. But not that you have to memorize the whole Wikipedia, but we teach kids that they have to know where to go to look and how to find information. Same thing goes for us. So you’re always better off saying, hm, I’m not sure. Let me get back to you on that than pretending like you know the answer. Are you pretending like you know what you’re talking about or feeling bad because you don’t no reason to feel bad at all. Just I’m not sure. Let me get back to you on that. No one has ever bad in an eye when I’ve said that to them.

Yeah. And then finally, and I’d like to hear other reasons that you guys think that we have this like crazy imposter syndrome going on. So if you are watching live, I know a bunch of you are here. Tell me what your thoughts are. But I was feeling like the last big reason to talk about today is health coaches feel like frauds because as I mentioned earlier, we didn’t come into this fresh. We have built up other identities. We didn’t, this may change in the future, right? But for now we don’t go to a college and Major in health coaching. We don’t have that degree. I was an art major. I degrees in art. That’s it. And so that was my, you know, identity. I was an art major and then I was an art director working in advertising and that’s really who I was. That was my whole life.

It was my lifestyle. It was my identity and leaving advertising, I really felt like, like I said, what do I wear? What do I smile? How do I do my hair now? I felt like I had no identity for a little while. There is very, very disorienting, almost like I had gotten erased in some way because I didn’t have that identity anymore. But I didn’t feel comfortable in my new identity. But this is also an invitation. It’s an invitation for you to reinvent who you are. Wow. What an amazing thing to be able well to do and to be able to sort of re-invent your perception of yourself and your place in the world. And that took got to take some time, right? But I feel like that’s absolutely what happened to me. You start hanging out with slightly different people, you explore different opportunities, you get involved in different things and little by little you figure out how you’re going to show up in the world.

And it’s actually really, really exciting. So if you’ve been a stay at home mom, yeah. Now suddenly you have to present yourself as perhaps a little bit more professional. Or maybe you’ve been a, I don’t know, maybe you’re a scientist and you’re used to working in in labs and numbers and data. Suddenly you’re a part of this earthy, crunchy, holistic work world that we are all a part of. And it can just feel weird. I know, but there is, gosh, there’s so many of us and there’s so many different kinds of health coaches. I’ve met so many of you through the years, you know, some health coaches are all about weight loss. Others do not talk about weight loss at all. Some are Keto, some are Vegan, others hardly even talk about food. Have you noticed that there are health coaches who really do not talk about food or nutrition at all and they choose to focus more on the health of our relationships, our spirituality, things like that.

So since health coaches are all so very different, there is no standard that you have to hold yourself to. It’s not like you have to be a size two drinking a green juice and doing some crazy yoga pose to put yourself on Instagram. I mean frankly there is enough of that. Do something different. Be who you are. So we’re in a repeat this. There is no standard for what a health coach should look like or act like and this should come as a huge relief. It’s not like you’re a lawyer and everybody expects you to wear a blue or black suit every day. It’s not like that. You get to really be who you are and bring that into your practice. In fact, I just heard from a coach, a new coach, she said she’s 350 pounds and she’s very involved with the fat acceptance movement.

Um, she’s very involved and believes in intuitive eating. She likes to help people with type two diabetes and just sort of this whole body positive movement. You know what, whether you think that that’s healthy or not healthy or this, that or the other thing, it doesn’t matter. The point is this woman has got a great niche, right? She’s going to carve out a space for herself that nobody else is occupying. There is an audience for that and she’s going to be really successful because of it. And you can do the same when you know who you are and you show up as that person instead of thinking, oh no, like I’m not health coachy enough. I better bleach my hair blonde and drink more green juice. Like, no, don’t do that. It’d be shooting yourself in the foot.

So the next time that you say, hi, I’m so-and-so and I’m a health coach, you are. That is true. You are a health coach and you may need some experience. You’re a health coach who is not perfect and does not have to be and your health coach who may need practice saying that you’re a health coach so that you can fully step into your role and it is just that it’s practice. Now, if you’re here live and you have some questions for me today, just want to invite you to please put them in the comments.

Now just tell me what’s going on in your business, what could you use some guidance around? This is your chance for some free coaching. Oh right. I do it every week here for you guys and I love interacting with you and while you do that I want to say thank you to Gskigirl for this review on iTunes. She wrote your one stop shop for all things health coaching. I don’t even remember exactly how I came across Michelle and our health coach power community, but to say it was life changing is probably the understatement of the year. The content and information that Michelle provides free is unbelievable. It’s rich covers a huge amount of ground but in small extremely useful bites at a time. She makes it feel simple to get your business up and running and when you use her resources and follow her program, you’ll find that she doesn’t just make it sound simple. It really is simple. As a newly certified health coach, I went from feeling unbelievably overwhelmed and ready to quit before I even started to feeling like I can conquer the world. I have a plan with small logical action steps I started taking each day and can actually see my business taking shape before my very eyes. Thank you Michelle for taking away my overwhelm and replacing it with the power to do.

Yes, I love that. So Gskigirl. Thank you. Please send your mailing address to support a health coach, power.com and just reference episode number 69 because we have a little thank you gift for you and for everybody listening. Thank you so much for helping this podcast grow. I know many of you have been sharing it with your health coaching peers. I love you for that. And I would very, very much, much appreciate your review on I tunes as well. And who knows because I might just read it on the air next week. So we’re going to move on to some more burning questions from health coaches around, I was going to say around the country, but we’ve got health coaches from around the world in this group.

So, here’s a question that came from Lloyd. Yes, we do sometimes have men pipe up and ask questions. So, Lloyd way to represent and he asked anyone here certified with AADP or considering it.

So, for those of you who don’t know what that is, AADP stands for, let’s see if I can get this right. The American Association of Drugless Practitioners sounds very important, right? And my comment on that question in the group was just, it’s not worth it or I said it’s useless. And everyone’s like, oh really? Like that’s weird. And I know we get questions about this many times. So I thought I would just address it here because you guys, I signed up for the AADP back whenever I got my health coach certification and I paid whatever amount of money it was to do so and I got a little certificate in the mail that said I was part of this association and that’s it. Like diddly squat.

Nobody cares about the AADP. No one has ever asked me if I’m part of the AADP. No one even knows it exists. I think it is a made up organization like it’s nothing, don’t waste your money, nobody cares at all and there are zero perks that come with it. If there are, I have never seen them and I’ve never heard anybody talk about them either. Sometimes, there are perks to joining an organization like that. Like I want to say Yoga teachers who join yoga alliance, that may also be a bit of a sham but they get access maybe to health insurance. Like sometimes you can join groups and there are benefits but this is just not one of them. In fact, I’m a little bit leery about anybody who is trying to sell you anything to certify you more as a health coach.

It’s just not really a thing. So, um, we’ll probably get there in coming years it’s coming. There are going to be more regulations and things about health coaching, but for now in some ways it’s great. We are blissfully unregulated, but don’t waste your money on AADP. That is my advice to you Lloyd and to all of you. Yeah.

Kelly is saying yes, belief. I know enough. Oh, so Kelly’s talking about belief that she knows enough to be a health coach. Yeah. I guys, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. After 10 years of practice, I did a functional medicine training with Aviva Romm about two years ago now, but 10 years I was in business like I had been working with clients who are really long time and you know where you actually learn the most. If you think you don’t know enough, it’s attempting to go do a training, but you learn the most by working with clients hands down.

So believe you know enough to help somebody because we can all help someone learn how to like cook a new vegetable, drink more water, get more sleep, we can all do that and that’s like 90% of good health. Anyway, just those basics and Chloe’s here, she says, hi, I’m joining from Utah. Yeah man, we’ve got coaches all over the place.

All right, I got another question here. This one’s from Alexandra and she said, Michelle, where can I learn how to do a podcast?

Great question. Podcasting is easy. In some ways all you really need is some kind of microphone and some way of recording your voice, right? And you’re going to end up with an audio file and that in its essence is all you need in order to have a podcast. But then of course you need to publish it, get it onto iTunes and once you have an audio you’re going to say, Oh, I wish that sounded a little bit better.

Maybe I need a better microphone, et cetera. And then even if you had like a perfect sounding piece of audio and you publish to iTunes, the question then becomes, well, how do I get people to listen to this darn thing? So there’s like a strategy behind podcasting that you really have to consider. The first time I started a podcast, I just did the technical stuff. Like I set up my computer, I set up my microphone, I followed some instructions as to how to get my stuff published on to iTunes, but I didn’t really know why I was podcasting, who was trying to reach, how I was going to stand out and I had without a strategy, I really struggled. I’m like, God, what am I going to talk about this week? You know, and finding guests was a lot of work. I was just kind of all over the place and I ended up just doing, I don’t know how many episodes, not very many, and I called it quits.

A lot of podcasts do the same thing, so I can’t stress to you enough. You really want a strategy in place that makes sense with your business model before you jump through the hoops and the technical stuff and actually start recording anything. Now, there is a great resource out there from Pat Flynn. If you go to smartpassiveincome.com, you’ll be able to find it. He has a whole podcasting tutorial, I believe it’s free. And then he also has a paid course. When I set up my first podcast, I used his free tutorial and it walked me through all the steps. Um, but he’s very complete. If you want to learn the ins and outs of all the little options inside iTunes and everything that you have to do, I’m going to send you over to him. So good luck to you Alexandra. And when you have a podcast published one day, I’d love to hear about it.

Okay, got a question here from Karen. Karen says, when I run a challenge, should I offer a paid program upsell at the end of the challenge or should I strictly use challenges to grow my list?

Well, Karen, that is business decision on your part. What are you trying to do? Why are you running the challenge? Sometimes it’s like, well, I’m going to do a launch. I have a program to sell. How am I going to make this exciting? How am I going to get people interested? Ah, I could do a challenge and if that makes sense, then okay, you’re going to run a challenge and then you’re going to sell people into your program at the end, and that’s why you’re running the challenge, right? Other times it might be like, Oh hum, my list doesn’t care about me. My list is too small. I don’t have enough people to run a group program.

I don’t have enough clients. I need to put more people on my mailing list and I’ve been slacking on that. So that could be a great time to say, okay, I’m going to dedicate myself to running a challenge and getting as many people into that challenge as possible so that they’re on my mailing list. In which case the measure of success would be how many new names you added to your list. Right. So you can do it either way, but I would suggest that you first decide on your business goal before you decide on the, the tactic. The tactic is like should you do a Webinar or should you do a five day challenge? Should you do hold a workshop? Those are tactics, but what, what sort of success are you looking for? How will you measure success and then back out of there, the tactic you need to get to that success.

Kelly’s saying getting out there and doing Facebook lives is scary. Oh girl, I know. She said, I know it’s well worth it, but what to talk about confidently.

Kelly, if I like had to list of like, I don’t know, topics that like health coaches should talk about like healthy fats, dark leafy greens. I mean my Facebook lives would be so boring and I’d be stuttering and it would be long winded and nobody would want to watch it at all because those things are just kind of boring to me and generic. The best things that you can talk about or things that you know really, really well and things that you could just talk about on the fly. So you don’t really have to have, you know, a teleprompter or anything like that. I mean, I always have notes just in case my, I have a brain fart, but you know, if you can just talk about a topic and it’s something that’s interesting to you and it’s something that you’re passionate about.

Like those are the kinds of things that you want to bring to a Facebook live. And they don’t have to be long. You know, you’re not talking for an hour. You can do a Facebook live for like five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, something like that. And yes, they are incredibly beneficial. But I mean I think it would be more interesting for you to talk about like, oh, I don’t know, probably be more interesting for you guys if I told you about how I negotiated the price on the Prius that I bought yesterday. Um, instead of sitting here and telling you like how I cook kale and how I meal plan. You know what I mean? Like it’s just like a more personal story and it’s more timely and more relevant. And that’s the kind of thing that’s going to make for a great Facebook live. So, don’t be afraid to pull from your personal life and share stories that are maybe like a little tangential to like health and wellness cause there’s always a way to tie it in.

And these Facebook lives are a lot about providing information but also about sharing your personality because at the end of the day, that’s what people are really hiring you for, for like you, they like you and they get to see you talking about things that you’re passionate about. And that’s the key.

All right, let’s do one more. I got like two minutes. This is a question from Katie. She said, I need a little help. I have a client with severe anxiety that’s trying to get it under control. We are currently working on cutting sugar and caffeine out of his diet. Are there any other foods he should avoid as well that can trigger it?

So, Katie, I know you got a bunch of answers inside the Facebook group, you know, uh, gluten. If somebody is gluten intolerant and has celiac, you know, that could be another trigger. There’s lots of, there’s lots of triggers. The way you phrase it, I think yes you can experiment with lots of things that could be causing this person anxiety. But I would always first look at blood sugar balance. If somebody is eating, quote all the right foods, you know, like let’s say they’re not eating gluten or dairy or whatever else could be causing a problem for them and their gut, but their breakfast is still just like a load of carbohydrates. Like let’s say a ton of fruit and nothing else. Their blood, blood sugar is going to be wonky. So one of the things I always cover with my is how to eat a meal.

We usually start with breakfast that’s based around protein, fat and fiber and playing down the carbohydrates so that their blood sugar can be strong and steady throughout the day. And it’s such a simple concept and people really get that. If you can explain to them what those three things are, protein, fat, and fiber, and they feel more satisfied and it really helps with anxiety. So that’s my tip for you. I hope you have great luck working with your client, and that’s all we have time for today, you guys. So you keep asking great questions. I will keep answering them and I’ll see back here next week. Take care.