When I was in my twenties I was a struggling single mother living below the poverty line on a government benefit. So, with nothing to lose I made the choice to study the ‘rules of success’. I pored over all the guides to empowerment and self-improvement that I could find, and this choice both enriched my life and set me on the road to achieving many personal goals.
I started several businesses from scratch, some without investing any money at all, and I sold them all later for a profit. I became a financial planner and ran a financial advisory service for women. I wrote a best-selling book, became a professional speaker, and wrote on money matters for major papers and magazines. I even had a regular spot on TV.
Despite all this good fortune I made the classic mistake of believing that if I achieved all of my work and financial goals I would feel happier, but in fact my success only made it clear to me that something was missing. It took a major mid-life crisis to make me reassess my life. During that time, I made a lot of poor choices that left me in a precarious financial situation.
Whereas previously I had been paid thousands for a one-hour talk, I returned to making $18 an hour as a part-time bookkeeper. It was a rude awakening, a crashing back to earth. My self-esteem hit an all-time low, but this low point motivated me to search for a better way to live.
I started re-reading a heap of self-help books and started practising making small changes. Each day I went for a walk and would ask for guidance, and as I received answers to my questions my life began to change. Over time I created ten steps that had the greatest impact on my life. I continued working part-time, living by my values and focusing on being happy and grateful as I lived from day to day. Within a short period of time, opportunities to ghost write came to me out of the blue. In that first year of acting on the ten-step approach I quadrupled my income and knew that I wanted to share what I had learnt with others. Knowing your purpose is a wonderful thing, and even though my life was far from perfect, I often found myself feeling happy for no particular reason.
I became a life coach and started sharing the steps that had turned my life around with others. My work was so successful that I was asked to teach others how to coach in this way and in 1998 my life coach training school began.
I’d love to say that ever since that time my life has been perfect, it hasn’t been. I’ve experienced wonderful times and challenging times. Despite all the ups and downs I find that the way I respond to life’s challenges today is vastly different to the way I used to respond. Successes or challenges no longer define me, determine how I act, or even how I feel for very long. I no longer feel confused and resentful. I accept 100% responsibility for myself and my actions, and I live by my values.
There are times in life when we come to a crossroads, where we have to make a choice. Sometimes those choices are minor and sometimes they are major. It’s the sum of those choices that determine who we become and what the quality of our lives will be. Our choices become a staircase that takes us from where we are to where we want to be. All we have to do is start taking one step at a time.
Anne Hartley has written seven books. She delivers courses on how to be happier. She also trains life coaches and meditation teachers to do the same. Anne has two adult daughters and lives around Pittwater, on the idyllic northern beaches of Sydney with her two dogs and two cats.