In my experience, this problem arises from the over-application of the logical brain. When I was grappling with this myself, it turned out it was right under my nose, the place where the answer to this question often resides. Of course, that choice of home for this little lovebucket makes it particularly invisible, especially to us, and blindingly obvious to others.
Three questions might help.
1. What’s your cred?
What’s in your life and in your career to date and in your CV that will impress potential future clients and enable them to resonate with your story and think “Yes! This is the woman for me. This is the woman who understands what it is to be me, and who has the cred to help me sort myself out.”
It is in plain sight. So write down a whole long list of the things you’ve done, the places you’ve been, the people you’ve met, your achievements, the things people always say to you, the plaudits you’ve received, a long long list adding up to what the world already appreciates you for. It doesn’t mean you are going to work in any of those areas, these accomplishments are simply a box for you to stand on and from which to appreciate the full glory of who you are.
I know, I know. You’ll probably be a bit modest and uncomfortable with that unless you are quite Starry*. But you could always do this exercise with a friend or a series of people who have known you forever and appreciated you in lots of different ways – for your qualities, the things they’ve seen you be and do they’ve always been slightly envious of, the reasons they’d want you in their corner.
Try to set modesty aside and come up with the best possible CV you can. Not a real CV, you understand. We are not going for a job here. It’s more of an audit of your life to date, to go all accountant-y on you there for a mo.
2. The same next, but this time for your private enthusiasms and passions
What are you going to love to help people with every day for the rest of your life? Ish. I won’t hold you to it and, over the years, this can morph and change. What can’t you help yourself doing? For instance, today is the first day of my holiday and it is a Saturday. It is only 7.42 in the morning but I decided the thing I couldn’t help but do today was to write my book, so I leapt out of bed, got an enormous coffee and I’m already 400 words into it!
That. Imagine that you are on holiday, just like me. You have a list of relaxing and fun things you are going to do, you want to do, but your sub-conscious knows better. Mine wants to write this morning, in lieu of a lie-in which was on my list.
- What do you always come back to?
- What did you want to be as a teenager but it seemed so silly you set it aside?
- What have you always pursued even during the years you were in a job, even if only during your leisure time?
- What can you not imagine life without?
All those sorts of exploratory questions, a lovely bit of navel-gazing. Take yourself off somewhere uplifting with a gorgeous notebook, get creative fuels of choice and write it all down or draw it or record it somehow. The essential you.
Give some thought to that thing that clients always say to me in the end. “Of course, what I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do is…” Some clients (very few) say to me (I honestly think they are pretending) that they don’t know what this is. It is because you have buried it so deeply because you never ever thought you’d be lucky enough to get the chance to do it, or because someone belittled you for it, or because it’s very precious so you’ve put it away somewhere safe. You’ve almost forgotten about it. You can tell me. You can write it in that notebook, perhaps even with your “other” hand. I am SO not an artist but sometimes when we write with our other hand or we draw we are incredibly articulate and our subconscious speaks to us through our stick men.
Whatever it takes, excavate that, reveal that.
3. Next, we are looking for the sweet spot where these two cross over
You have the credibility that people will buy it from you, and you have the passion to do it if not for the rest of your life, then for the foreseeable future while we build a business out of it.
Don’t worry too much for now about the “for whom”. Your ideal client will not be able to help themselves but gallop over your horizon once you have clarity about the what. Once you are on fire with the what, sufficient to love the idea of sharing it with the whole world, magnetising ICs to you and your lovely little biz is going to be a breeze.
Oh, and by the way, most of us start out without clarity. Be prepared to do that and these mists clear as you go. You are multi-talented. That’s very much part of this because you could turn your hand to anything. You are infinitely able.
There are heroines of mine I can point you to, and I bet you can cite yours to me too, women and men who demonstrate that they started out as one thing and then morphed into another. My burning desire was to help people with their money and their small businesses. Firstly I did that as an accountant and now I do it as a coach and mentor and even as a writer, the thing I wanted to be as a teenager but parked it as no-one knew or encouraged it, not even me. The core desire is the same. To be of service in a particular metier. The way I do it constantly changes and that’s what keeps my interest and passion alive.