Why I'm Relaunching My Business (Read My "Coming Out" Open Letter) - See Change Studio

Why I’m Relaunching My Business (Read My “Coming Out” Open Letter)

By Elaine Kiziah, Ph.D.

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This letter is to all the clients and colleagues I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years — and also to those of you I’ve yet to meet.

The last few years have brought some earth-shaking experiences for me.

Some of this was quite difficult, some of it quite beautiful. But it has all affected me significantly — causing me to reflect deeply on my life, and ushering in many changes.

I need to tell you about those changes, because they have a lot to do with my work and my sense of calling.

And they mean that my business needs to be very different now from what it has been for the last 20 years.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the essence of what’s changed in my business — and what you need to know about working with me going forward…

The Work I Used to Do

For many years, I focused on helping people thrive at work.

I did coaching, training, facilitation, and consulting to help mission-driven organizations and professionals get better at how they do their work and at how they work together.

That ended up spanning projects on a really broad range of topics — things like time management, conflict management, career development, employee engagement, strategic planning, leadership development.

It was engaging and meaningful work.

I knew I was supporting people and organizations who were making the world a better place. I was constantly learning new things. And I felt super lucky to get to work with so many passionate, smart, kind, inspiring people.

What was most important to me, though, was always this idea — that my clients might end up leading happier, more meaningful lives because of what we were doing together.

It felt like a larger spiritual purpose lay beneath the surface of these projects.

But I’ve slowly, gradually come to realize…

That’s no longer enough for me.

I don’t want what matters most to me to be “underneath” the work I do. I need it to be front and center.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been gradually moving in that direction.

The opportunity to teach for and consult with the Chrysalis Institute — a nonprofit offering personal and spiritual development programs — has been a huge gift. It has allowed me to place what matters most to me at the forefront, and I look forward to continuing to work with them.

But now it’s time for me to take the next step.

It’s time to bring that same soulful approach to everything I do with my business.

And it has become clear that the best way to do that is to focus in on the one topic that has always felt like the most meaningful thing I teach…

The New Focus of My Business

If you found this letter via the home page of my website, you already know the new focus of my work:

Soulful time and life management.

Some of you already know me from the many time management workshops I’ve taught over the years, or from the coaching I’ve done on this topic.

And you know that what I teach isn’t just about being more productive. It has always gone deeper than that.

So much of what it takes to manage your time well really has to do with managing yourself well. Or, as I’ve come to realize, your Self, with a capital “S”.

In today’s world, so many people feel like they’ve lost contact with that larger Self amidst the chaos of an over-scheduled, over-committed lifestyle.

My great passion is helping them find their way back — and helping them discover how that unlocks not only greater productivity, but also a greater sense of joy and meaning in life.

Building on the time/life management framework I’ve developed over the last two decades (which you can read about on my About page), that’s what I’ll be teaching going forward.

Because managing and connecting with your Self is so foundational, though, I’ll also continue to teach and facilitate on one other topic that has meant so much to me over the years:

Journaling as a potent tool for transformation.

Do you want to know yourself better? Build a healthier relationship with yourself? Gain insight into what motivates you and clarify what matters most to you?

I don’t know of a single tool that’s better for all that than journaling.

It’s been a hugely important part of my own personal growth and career development, a foundational spiritual practice for me, and a crucial tool for helping me navigate the challenges I encounter in my day-to-day work life.

I love sharing this tool with others and watching them discover its transformative power — personally, professionally, spiritually.

The New Format of My Business

So that’s my new focus. Here’s what I’ll actually be doing around these topics…

Going forward, I’ll periodically offer my own workshops and retreats about journaling, time/life management, and the exciting places where they intersect.

And I’ll facilitate programs for groups and organizations who are seeking retreats, workshops, or keynotes that are aligned with my current focus. (If that describes you, let’s talk!)

I’ll also continue my coaching practice — with a focus on helping people tame the chaos of an overcommitted lifestyle so they can create space to reconnect with themselves and with what matters most to them.

But there’s something else BIG that’s also in the works…

For years, I’ve dreamed of expanding my business to include an online learning component. I knew I wanted to someday create affordable, user-friendly online training — video content that people could access on their own schedule — that includes built-in resources and support for applying what they’re learning on an ongoing basis.

That dream will finally come true.

I’m excited to announce that I’ll soon be launching an online learning community to help people get better at managing their time, attention, and energy — and to help them connect more deeply with with their inner Self — so they can finally move toward (or more fully into) the beautiful life they’ve been longing for.

(Want to get notified when this learning community launches? Sign up here.)

Going forward, a lot of my own time, attention, and energy will be invested in this new project. I’m excited about what it can do for my audience and about the opportunities it offers me to fulfill the yearnings of my own soul.

What This Means for You

As of today, I’m largely folding up the consulting arm of my business. This will allow me to give my full energies to teaching/facilitating and coaching — both in person and online.

If you and I have worked together in the past on a consulting project — or on a training/coaching project clearly outside the scope of my current focus — and you’re now feeling stumped about who to turn to for this kind of support, please get in touch with me. I’ll be happy to point you toward other consultants who’d be a good fit.

If you’re looking for coaching/training support and are uncertain whether it aligns with my current focus, again let’s talk. I’d be glad to help you determine who’d best meet your needs — whether that’s me or someone else.

The Story of How I Got Here

So that’s what’s changed. If you’re curious, here’s a bit about how these changes came about…

Someday I’ll probably tell the long version of this story, but for now, here are the highlights — the four big steppingstones in the journey toward this big shift in my life’s work.

1. Journaling Group

Six years ago I accepted an invitation to teach a workshop at Chrysalis Institute about journaling as a spiritual practice.

I was so moved by that experience that I offered to co-lead an ongoing drop-in journaling group there. (My partner in this endeavor eventually needed to drop out, and I’ve been doing this on my own ever since.)

Facilitating this monthly journaling group has offered me some of the most meaningful experiences in my career.

There have been many times afterward when I walk out the door, lift my face to the night sky, and say “This is why I’m here on this earth. To do work like this.”

There are lots of reasons why this work means so much to me…

The creativity of this practice. The feeling of compassionate community. The chance to witness the shared human experience beneath the details of our different lives.

But most important to me is seeing each participant make contact with her Self — and seeing the transformative potential of that experience.

It certainly has had that impact on me personally.

Leading this group was my first step toward committing more deeply to my own journaling practice, which has been the key these last years to unlocking a deeper level of meaning in my life — and a greater sense of my own calling and potential.

And leading this group also helped make me hungry for all of my work to make me feel the same way. To make my heart sing.

2. Spiritual Paths

Three and a half years ago, Chrysalis launched a new, cornerstone program: Spiritual Paths: Cultivating a Life of Meaning Through Spiritual Practice.

For the last two years, I’ve been Guiding Faculty for this 6-month program that includes day-long experiential group sessions with a diverse faculty, as well as individual mentoring, small-group work, and independent study and practice.

But in its first year, I was a participant in this program.

I enrolled in the program because of a powerful experience I’d had with my own journaling — one which culminated in an imaginary spiritual guide posing this memorable question to me:

“What are you investing in?”

The question was a gentle confrontation, asking me to more carefully consider how I was investing my time, attention, energy, and money — and going forward to choose only those things that would enrich me in meaningful ways.

So when the Spiritual Paths opportunity arose, I decided it was a great opportunity to act on this challenge I had been issued by my inner Self.

Like with every other person who has made this same investment in Spiritual Paths, the program was life changing for me. In so many ways.

The two I’ll mention here, though, are that it led me to further deepen my commitment to (and understanding of) my journaling practice, and that it led me to think differently about my work.

The insight that I needed to “come out” about the soulful nature of the work I love most — and put it front and center in what I do on a daily basis — that came to me over the course of my participation in Spiritual Paths.

After being a part of this program for three years now — as a student and as a faculty member — I’m also steeped in spiritual practices, questions, and insights that have so much relevance for the time/life management topic to which I’m now devoting myself.

3. A Heartbreaking Loss

Two years ago, just as I was wrapping up my participation in the Spiritual Paths program — feeling full of hope and excitement about making this meaningful change in my business — my father’s health began a rapid decline.

After having survived colon cancer and then battling lung disease for a couple years, this formerly strong, smart, vital man was already diminished.

But something happened that spring — a series of breathing crises that apparently caused brain damage from the lack of oxygen — that took him from us mentally and emotionally before he died a few months later, in July 2016.

My relationship with my dad wasn’t perfect, but it was profoundly important to me.

More than anyone else in my life, he was my champion and cheerleader. And he taught me such important life lessons — including how to believe in myself. (Plus this one about willpower.)

As he was slipping away, I had a couple of brief, lucid moments with my dad in which I received a tremendous gift — his blessing and encouragement to follow my heart and do the kind of work that makes me happiest.

But what I largely saw that spring was a man transformed into someone I didn’t recognize.

He had become largely non-verbal. Physically weak and dependent. Alternating between angry violence and frightened confusion. And all the while experiencing the agony of suffocating inside his own body.

Seeing him suffer mentally and physically was traumatic.

Losing my connection with him as he slipped away was heartbreaking.

But his death a few months later — that was a loss that turned my world upside down for the better part of a year.

As is so often true with loss, though, the wrenching grief and hollowness that followed my dad’s death was fertile spiritual ground.

I cultivated that ground through my journaling practice. I did a lot of reflecting on my life (and my dad’s) — particularly during a class I took at the Therapeutic Writing Institute on Ira Progoff’s Intensive Journal method.

Just as importantly, though, I used my journal (and other practices too) to be present with the grief until it transformed itself.

It felt like a long season of winter, with invisible inner work going on underground.

Last spring, though, as blossoms were appearing on the trees and green shoots were poking up in my garden, I felt the same thing finally happening inside me too. I felt myself coming back to life.

As I did, I found myself in a much deeper and richer place than where I had been a year prior.

And the work I’ve done since that time on my business — articulating what I’ve learned about time/life management and about journaling, and sketching out my vision for the online learning community I want to build — it feels much more beautiful than anything I could have created before having had this experience of losing my dad.

This loss also brings new meaning to what I’m doing now…

My dad’s proudest achievement was raising me and my sister. To make the most of my part of his legacy, I have to aspire to be my best, truest self in all that I do. Including my business.

And in that sense, I hope everyone I work with going forward will also be touched by my dad’s life.

4. Crowdfunding

Last fall I took on a BIG project that, on its surface, seems unrelated to the work I now feel called to do — except that it was in support of Chrysalis, an organization that’s so aligned with what matters most to me.

That project? Conceiving of and leading a crowdfunding project to transform a rundown space into a beautiful new home for Chrysalis and its program participants.

At the start, I’m not sure any of us at Chrysalis actually believed we’d reach the ambitious $75,000 goal we’d set for ourselves.

But we did. In fact, we passed it.

And we created a new sense of community and possibility along the way.

A whole lot of what we achieved had to do with my own work on the project — setting the strategy, writing emails and website content, creating project videos and social media ads, etc.

And once I finished celebrating the outcome and sleeping off the intensity of the campaign, I woke up to this thought…

That online learning community I’ve been dreaming of creating?

It’s now possible.

I didn’t quite have that language for it at the time, and it took working with a wonderful coach to help me crystalize my thinking.

But I had a very clear sense of possibility, and an in-my-bones understanding that NOW is the time to start building what I began dreaming about years ago.

Abundant Gratitude

If you’ve read through the above story, you know what a critical role Chrysalis Institute has played in this chapter of my life and in bringing me to this turning point.

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for my colleagues there, especially the Spiritual Paths faculty, and for the beautiful souls in the groups and programs I’ve led, as well as the Chrysalis members and donors who have helped make this organization the increasingly vibrant place it is.

There are several specific people to mention as well..

Susan Wilkes, who first introduced me to Chrysalis and has been a mentor throughout much of my career.

Ann Forburger, the dear friend who partnered with me to first bring journaling to Chrysalis.

Anne Carson, the anam cara I met through Spiritual Paths, who has helped me discover the rich rewards of regular journaling alongside someone who sees your soul.

Laurel Holland, the talented coach who is helping me expand and articulate my sense of what’s possible.

Kay Adams, the creator of the Therapeutic Writing Institute, who once gave me this simple-but-memorable piece of advice: “You want your work to feel soulful? Be a soulful person.”

And my husband, Bob Hoover.

He’s the one who first woke me up to how beautiful life is when we start really paying attention. And he has believed in me, supported me, and sacrificed for me throughout what has, I know, felt at times like a winding path with a shifting destination.

I feel such gratitude to YOU, as well — my clients and colleagues, past and future.

Thank you for your enthusiastic response over the years when I’ve dipped my toes into progressively “deeper waters” with my coaching, teaching, and facilitation.

And thank you for the warmth, inspiration, companionship, and sense of fun you’ve offered along this journey. It’s been a joy and a privilege to work together. I hope we can continue to do so.

And even if we haven’t met before and none of the above applies to you, I’m still grateful to you.

Why? Because if you’re reading this sentence, you’ve offered me a gift of extraordinary caring and attention. (This is a lot of words! Most people don’t get this far with an online article. 🙂 )

Finally, I’ll offer one last gratitude…

If you know someone who’s a great fit for one of my workshops, for coaching with me, or for the online learning community I’ll soon be launching, thank you in advance for sending them my way!!

Making a huge change like this feels scary. (My heart is in my throat as I prepare to hit the “publish” button on this post!!)

So your support means so much to me.