March 30, 2013 by Christina Hamlett
A Conversation with Suzanne Strisower
From the dawn of humanity, people have been asking themselves the very same questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Should I be doing something different? Why is that guy over there doing better – or worse – than I am? Am I a person of free will or is everything predestined? What does it all mean?
Unfortunately, the concept of professional coaches to help navigate the circuitous waters of Life had yet to be invented, leaving all of these people to wander around in confusion, oftentimes arriving at their journey’s end with no more of a clue as to their true purpose than when they first began.
If you’re one of the modern multitudes who consider your life a work-in-progress that could use a little – or a lot – more clarity, Your Next Step Coach might be worth a look. Founded in Oroville, California six years ago by Certified Life and Career Coach Suzanne Strisower, M.A., PCC, Your Next Step Coach helps successful professionals move into careers or startups that have personal meaning and fulfillment for them.
Q: Let’s start with the $64,000 question. What exactly is a life purpose and how do we find one?
A: A great question – “purpose’ means the “aim or intention of the energy put forth” therefore one’s life purpose is your reason or “Personal WHY” for the energy you put forth. What is the reason that you do ______________, that underlying reason for the things that you do is your life purpose – the consistent thread, reason or personal why for every action you take in life.
Q: What was your personal calling that inspired you to launch Your Next Step Coach?
A: I really wanted to help people connect with who they truly are mind-body and spirit which then helps them learn their WHY, and leads people to do amazing and truly inspiring things with their lives. I wanted clients toknow for themselves, like their own inner GPS. This makes the world a better place and provides for infinite creativity and personal expression when each person uses their own inner guidance.
Q: What elements of your academic and career background would you say best prepared you to inspire others to take proactive steps toward a more fulfilling existence?
A: Funny, everything that I have done consciously and unconsciously has led me to this point and that is true of everyone on this planet too. We are always in service to our life purpose – either becoming or being…
You might wonder what that means, but here’s an example, a client who was a very successful mergers and acquisitions attorney, who had done all the work to be at the top of her game and profession, yet she felt burned out and wanted to do something that brought her personal meaning and fulfillment. Success was no longer enough. When we started to explore her life and what made her tick, it turned out that she spoke with angels. I asked her to talk with her angels and ask them what they wanted her to do. In a dream, they said “bring divine right order” which left her baffled, yet I was ecstatic and told her that the angels wanted to help her bring divine right order to her court cases – she became an emissary for the divine! She was very happy with this minor career tweak and everything that she had done before led her to this possibility and ability. Now she was excitedly able to live her purpose in her current profession in a way only she could have.
In my own life, I have had a diverse background of education, experience and inner guidance that has led me to where I am today. I have done intuitive or psychic readings for people for many years and I now use that intuition to listen deeply to people’s inner voices and truth as they speak. I participated in many of the human potential growth workshops which gave me another skill set of communicating authentically with people and my educational background includes a degree in fine art – the aesthetics of life, and a master’s in counseling psychology, specifically depth psychology, to really listen to people’s soul’s as they speak. All of these put together with the skills of a coach helps me truly “listen” to people and to guide my clients to truly listen to themselves.
I listen for their purpose, their why and their passion on the one hand and on the other practical side, I listen to how they truly want to manifest things – what is your “big picture dream?” Each person has both of these sides – their “inner and outer purpose” as Eckhart Tolle calls them – my job is to help them focus and get conscious of their purpose to create a plan so that they can launch themselves in a new career, start up or endeavor that resonates with their purpose in life.
Q: What is unique about the life and career coaching you offer that differentiates you from the competition?
A: I help client find their inner purpose first, then we explore ways it can be brought forth that are inspired and creative. Then we explore ways that utilize the best of who the client is to manifest that in a career, startup or endeavor.
Q: How does defining one’s life purpose apply to the decision-making process in making a career change, creating a start-up, or moving up/within the structure of an individual’s current employment?
A: When a person knows their life purpose or personal why – they can ask themselves if whatever they are intending is aligned with that mission and purpose so that it will fulfill them or they’ll know that it’s not right for them even if it sounds great, but it’s not their calling and know what direction to go when making strategic life decisions.
Q: In light of escalating unemployment, higher prices, and a dismal recession that shows no signs of going away under the current administration, individuals may be passionate about following their muse and becoming an entrepreneur and yet are averse to taking any risks or leaps of faith, no matter how much they loathe their job, their boss, and their daily commute. What kind of counsel would you give in this scenario?
A: I love this question! I tell them that they must incentive themselves out. By that I mean, each person needs to work through finding their life purpose, exploring ways that they want to express it in a career or start up, researching their potential plan to make sure it’s viable, then taking the necessary steps to make that happen so their transition is smooth and they don’t just jump off the cliff into something else unprepared. The transition is natural and not stressful. It’s a process and the quicker they move through these steps, the quicker they can responsibly be on to the next thing that they will truly love in their lives.
Q: Ageism is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about and yet it’s a reality for older workers who have either been affected by corporate downsizing or realized upon retirement that they must return to work to supplement their pensions. How does Your Next Step Coach address an issue that will only continue to escalate as the median age continues to climb?
A: Boomers need to understand what type of boomer they are first – there are 5 different types:
- Strugglers – who need to continue to make a living and I help them explore what an encore career might be by looking at their passions, expertise, and opportunities and then helping them find the best fit.
- Anxious – how can I help them make peace with their current situations – what alternatives do they have or can they create for themselves. I help them turn their fear into fuel and find creative alternatives out their plight.
- Tranditionalists – think they can make it solely on their social security and then find out that’s not going to work, my job is to help them create a meaningful encore career which gives them dignity and a sense of usefulness.
- Enthusiasts – who have plenty of money, but get bored with a traditional retirement and now need to figure out how to get more out of life by doing something meaningful.
- Self Reliants – are the golden boomers who have planned well and are financially secure but each wants to create a legacy and do something that gives them satisfaction and has personal meaning to them. I help them figure out what the right fit is.
For all the boomers, of which I’m one, I feel that we are blessed that we have so many opportunities available to us. The only limitation is in our minds and my job as a coach is to expand the possibilities and realities for them by helping boomers think out-of-the-box. Boomers have a great work ethic and lots of skills, gifts and talents which can be repurposed. I help them reinvent themselves in some meaningful way – not just for a job or paycheck, but to express their passion and purpose.
Q: There’s no question that job stress – coupled with economic uncertainties – can cause a lot of professionals to go into an emotional tailspin, a scenario that not only impacts their health but potentially their relationships with others as well. How do you help them finding meaning and purpose in their lives and careers?
A: I explore with them about what brings them personal meaning and fulfillment first, then we explore what the fears, blocks or emotions are that are holding them back in their life and relationships. I tell them to honor them and listen to that voice to understand how it has been serving them all these years, but is now outdated and needs to be healed and given a new assignment. I tell them that their job stress is giving them an inner message and some wisdom to fix or alleviate their current situation – it’s about listening to themselves and their needs and knowing how to reframe and rework the situation so it more fits with who they are and their purpose in life now.
Q: Let’s talk about “100 Ways to Make a Difference and 60 Ways to Be Creative”: What are a couple of your favorites from the list and how can you use these to help people who are laid off or unemployed find new careers or start-ups using their expertise?
A: I have people who have been laid off or are unemployed explore their “RIPEness” – their Resources, Ideas, Passions and Expertise, so that they can see that WHO they are is a gift. They just need some help to “repackage/reposition/reinvent” themselves through my unique process. They learn how they will always then be able to land on their feet, but in the moment, they can’t see beyond the blinders of their lives into what opportunities they have waiting for them.
First you start with the 100 Ways to Make a Difference – the “What”- and then the “How” which is the 60 Ways to Be Creative which looks at your skills, gifts and talents. From there, each person sees where the professional and career alignments can happen. A couple of big picture ways to make a difference in working with aspects of the environment are–helping people reduce their carbon footprints, cleaning up pollution, bringing clean water to Africa, organizing the planting of one million trees in the Amazon.
My actual life purpose is “to connect humanity with the Divine in practical ways so that their conscious vibration will fulfill them and enrich the planet.” I have fulfilled this in each of my many and diverse careers – as a coach, therapist, hypnotherapist, psychic, interior designer, screenwriter, teacher, healer, author, radio show host. Each of these things I have done professionally as a way to fulfill my life purpose. You could also do it in a multitude of different ways – hospice worker, artist or other types of careers.
When I explore this with clients they light up because they can see possibilities where there were none. I encourage them to use this opportunity as a time of reassessment starting with their life purpose – might as well have your personal why guiding and fulfilling you in your new direction.
Q: The ability to stay abreast of new trends (especially in technology) and to reinvent oneself is critical in order to stay viable in today’s job market. What are some of the techniques you use to facilitate this reinvention process?
A: I want people to stay connected and involved with life and other people – read, connect with others, go to trade shows and other events related to your interests or profession and continue to learn about the things that are really important to you. This way you can easily pivot should you need to and there will not be a steep learning curve, plus you will have the needed knowledge and connections to make any transition smooth and easy. If you want to do a start up, you have already been doing necessary research to know industry trends and things that relate specifically to your niche or business.
Q: Any success stories you’d like to share about clients who have used their life purpose to further themselves and their careers?
A: I had a woman who came to me who worked in a non-profit agency for developmentally delayed adults, and while we were working together she moved into the Associate Director’s position then became the Executive Director within a couple of years. When she first started working with me she thought her purpose was to “work with terminally ill children to help them feel better” which is a laudable goal. However, as we worked together, I suggested that she explore types of healing techniques to fulfill her stated purpose. She loved this task and realized her true purpose was to help alleviate people their suffering – which she then took to her agency, staff, clients, family and beyond. Day by day she is fulfilling her purpose.
Another client works as a land planner for her county and she wanted to know what her purpose is. We started to explore her “personal why” and she realized her purpose was to “connect people together’ which she got to do through all of the boards and commissions that she was already sitting on both at the state and local level. Knowing her purpose, made her much more confident and committed to helping people find other people and resources to help the system function more effectively at all levels. Her purpose then empowered her.
Q: If your personal motto about the meaning of life were printed on a t-shirt, what would it say?
A: Every person expresses their life purpose…Magic and fun happen when you know it, express it and live it.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Each person has a life purpose that is expressing consciously or unconsciously, there is no wasted motion, either you are on purpose or preparing to express you purpose. It’s simply a matter of being and becoming.