Mixed signals are rarely mixed. Especially when they’re our own. Intuition shoots us straight, every time. It never has ulterior motives.
And yet, we humans insist on defying it. We argue against our gut out of loyalty for promises made by some long-gone self. We try and rationalize the more sensible option. We advocate for logic and reason and worst-case scenario probabilities; all the things that fit into whatever box keeps us safe when listening to our intuition might be rude, silly, uncomfortable, scary, bold.
You can talk yourself out of anything if you chew on it long enough. What opportunity windows have you let close while stuck, hemming-and-hawing through indecision?
Sometimes, the harder road is the right one for you. Let being “90% sure” suffice, double-down on your gut, say “YES,” and trust that you’ll figure out the rest later.
For each of the next two episodes, I’m conducting live and unscripted coaching sessions with volunteers from Expats on Purpose. That’s right. Unprepared, unrehearsed, raw, and unedited — I won’t even know what we’re going to talk about until I hit that record button.
This week, Sharryn joins us to courageously share her story. Frozen at a professional juncture, Sharryn finds herself swaying side-to-side instead of forward. Tenderly, I’ll lead Sharryn as she swaps uncertainty for clarity and goes from feeling stuck to sorted in 21 minutes and 18 seconds, to be exact.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- How research cancels fear
- Freeing the cat from the mason jar
- The desire to serve people who don’t have a chance
- Build a bridge to the profession you want instead
- Taking comfort that your knowledge is sound
Listen to the Full Episode
Featured on the Show:
Expats on Purpose members saw this coming — did you? If you’re not already in our private group, join it today. It’s fun, FREE, and I’ll share more rapid-fire coaching goodness in the future to get you unstuck.
- Join Expats on Fire right here.
- Sundae’s Facebook Business Page – Sundae Schneider-Bean LLC
- Sundae’s Facebook Group – Expats on Purpose
- Got a great tip or connection for Sharryn that you want to share, I will pass it on!
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Full Episode Transcript:
Hello. It is 7:30 am in New York, 2:30 pm in Johannesburg, and 7:30 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-orientated coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
When I was a teenager, one of my cats got its head stuck in a large mason jar. You know the kind of glass jars that maybe your grandmother used to can peaches in. Well, for some reason it stumbled upon a glass jar and got it’s head stuck and was thrashing about, completely panicked. And I was outside washing my car and I saw this cat with a mason jar go running by me. When I was able to catch it and finally calm that poor sweetheart down, it had this look on its face like it was just completely resigned to like, “Hey, I’m just going to be this cat with this heavy thing on my head. At least I can kind of see out.” And I thought, “No honey. This is not good enough.”
So I grabbed a hammer from our garage and I gently held the cat and tapped on the mouth of the jar so that the glass would break and the cat would be free.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but I can’t think of a better metaphor of how it feels sometimes when you get stuck. You’re asking yourself, “How in the hell did I get myself here? How am I gonna get out and do I just have to accept that this is the way it is?” Like looking out through the mason jar, you can kind of see but you really can’t see clearly. And this is exactly why I am spending several episodes on this idea of Getting Unstuck.
You’ll recall in episode 217. I shared more about the Neutral Zone and why it’s so important to sit in the stuck. But maybe you might need a little bit more. Maybe you want to know how to sit there in the stuck.
So in the next two episodes, I will show you, not tell you.
I put out an open invitation in my free Facebook community, Expats on Purpose to see who was open to being coached by me and having that shared here on Expat Happy Hour. And in the coming two weeks, you’re going to hear those sessions completely unrehearsed, unprepared, and totally raw and unedited. And by the time you’re done listening, I hope you’ll see just how fast you can go from feeling, as this woman said that you’re going to hear, so blocked that no one can do anything about it, to knowing what you have to do and how to do it. All it takes is 21 minutes and 18 seconds to be exact. So listen in:
Sundae: Okay, Sharryn, just want to say thank you so much for your openness to do coaching today, and share that with the Expat Happy Hour listeners.
Sharryn: You’re very welcome. I’m actually looking forward to this. I’m excited.
Sundae: So just for the listeners, Sharryn and I, I have no idea what Sharryn’s going to bring. We just talked on and said “Hi” moments before and this is one of those things where we just dive in and see what happens. So Sharryn tell me where are you feeling stuck?
Sharryn: I’ve got this job, this like business idea that’s been percolating around for a while. I’m currently a teacher, a special ed teacher and I’m working in the African area and see special needs is very very very needed here. So I did have this idea of setting up a special needs unit in Karachi, Pakistan, with a couple of friends who have also already got a school out there. And it was all sorted, it was all planned but now because of COVID, their school has gone from having 350 students down to 90.
So they’re all about not investing in Karachi anymore. So now I’m sort of stuck with this, “How do I move forward with this idea?” It’s a big step because it wasn’t going to be my business. I was going to set up the unit for them. They were going to invest the money. I just have to invest a year of my time, unpaid and then I would take a salary, but now that’s stopped. It’s now become almost like, “Oh my God, it’s going to be your business,” but I don’t want a business. I don’t think. So I don’t know. That’s where I’m at.
Sundae: So how does it feel to be at that spot right now?
Sharryn: Frightened. Frightened, nervous, excited. Oh my God, it’s too much. I should just stay in the job that I’m doing but I can’t retire until I’m 67, and I’m only 54. And the thought of 13 years of working full-time with children just frightens me totally as well. But yeah.
Sundae: It’s a lot. It’s really a lot. So tell me how would you like to feel instead?
Sharryn: I’d like to feel sorted. I’d like to feel like I’ve got a plan because I had a plan. This plan was 60. At 60, I was going to move to Karachi and set up this business and I was working towards it, I’ve been saving, trying to make sure that I’ve got at least three years salary saved before I reach 60 so that I could put my heart and soul into this business and now it feels like the rug has been pulled from under me. I’ve still got money saved and I’m still going to plan to save but I don’t want to work till 67. Not full-time in front of kids. I just don’t want to do it.
Sundae: Right right. So I’m really hearing that you would like a transition strategy from what you’re doing strategy. From what you’re doing now to this business idea, but the “how?” is where it’s really hard.
Sharryn: Yes the “how?” and the “should I?”
Sundae: Right. So I’m going to ask you, some of the things I’m going to ask you to do might seem uncomfortable.
Sundae: Because when we’re uncomfortable, I don’t know about you but when I’m uncomfortable or I feel stuck I want to fix it.
Sundae: And I want to get away from it, but I’m going to actually ask you to do the opposite just for a second. I promise we’ll pull you out of there, but just for a second I want you to sit in the stuck.
Sundae: And when you visually imagine how stuck you are, there might be an image that comes to mind. Like maybe you’re in quicksand or mud or something else. I want to just give yourself a second and see what image do you have when you think about your stuck?
Sharryn: I’m so sort of tied up with ropes but there’s a little bit of give on either side so I can move in one direction. But then when I start moving that way the rope on the other side tightens and then when I move back the other way, almost like when I move towards my plan this rope tightens on the left. But then when I move away from my plan the rope tightens on the right side. So it’s almost like bungee cords, I guess. They’ll let me go so far and then they stop me. And then when I come back into the middle, it feels like equilibrium has happened because I’m stuck in the middle. And neither rope is tight. Nothing is pulling me. I’m just there.
Sundae: Right. Okay, so I see it completely. How many ropes are there?
Sharryn: There appears to be only two, left or right. There’s nothing forward or backwards. There’s nothing. I don’t appear to move forwards or backwards in this vision. I sort of turn and I moved to the left or I turn and I moved to the right. It’s almost like the road I’m on, the road I’m plodding on is just straight and it’s easy. And there’s nothing there. It’s as if I want to divert off this road. Does that make sense?
Sundae: Yeah, totally. So are you sitting in a chair with these ropes around?
Sharryn: No, I’m stood on a road. I’m stood on a road and there’s nothing around. It’s a bit like tumbleweed, it could come past me. It’s a long straight road with the dash line in the middle, and I’m stood right in the middle of the road. And then on the left side, it’s almost like there’s a road that takes me to my dream and on the right side, there’s a road that takes me, I don’t know where that road takes me because that’s not the road that I’m plodding on. But if I move left or right these ropes tighten.
Sundae: Okay, I see it. I see it completely. So when you’re standing there in the middle of the road, just take a deep breath. You’re safe. No cars are going to run you over. Right?
Sharryn: Yeah, there’s nothing.
Sundae: Just for a moment. No one’s there. So there’s no impending danger right now, right?
Sundae: So I’m going to just ask you a question that might seem odd. But as you stand there with the bungee cords around you on that road, what are you learning about yourself?
Sharryn: Oh gosh. Don’t know. I think I’m aware that I don’t, like what I said earlier, I don’t want to stay on this road until I can hit my retirement to put my feet up on a beach somewhere. So I think I’ve learned, I’m learning that I do want to make a change, but I don’t know how or why, maybe. Why do I want to or how do I do it? And it’s not easy. It’s not this is the easy option, staying on this road is the easy option, but I know in my own mind and I know in my own head that this is not the right option to do because I’m going to become unfulfilled and unhappy and dissatisfied. So then the next 13 years stuck in on this road, is not the right role for me to stay on. I think that’s what I’m learning as I’m stood here.
Sundae: Wow, that’s a courageous learning to articulate. Right? The easy road is actually not the road that is right for you.
Sharryn: Not anymore. I think previously until I got the job that I’ve got now, this is the job that I’ve always wanted to be a head of a Learning Zone Special Needs Unit, dealing with the kids that need to be, I’ve got my ultimate job. And now I’ve got it, I’m not unhappy, I’m not dissatisfied. I love my job. I love dealing with the kids that I deal with. I don’t like this politics around school, but who does? but I know that there are more needy children out there. So I know that this is not where I want to finish. I know that my skills and my drive and my passion needs to be used for better ends than just serving the middle-class population of the country that I’m currently in.
Sundae: Right. I’m hearing your why there.
Sharryn: Yeah. Maybe. Maybe.
Sundae: If you were to articulate your why, who is it that you want to serve?
Sharryn: I want to serve the people that don’t have a chance. That can’t afford. That can’t afford. Yeah.
Sundae: That just says so much about you Sharryn. Wow. So you’re learning about this road, this dream that you’ve created, you fulfilled and now you’re feeling called to something next.
Sharryn: Yes. Yes. Yeah.
Sundae: How is the struggle that’s sitting there with the bungee cords around you actually making you better?
Sharryn: Uh. *deep sigh* I mean I always try to look on the positive side. So I would say that probably while I’ve been tied up with these bungee cords, and it has enabled me to realize what I want and which direction I do want to go in. I guess it’s made me realize that the road is not my path and maybe if I never had these bungee cords, I’d have been stuck in the middle of this road. I would have just plodded along until I got to 67 and then retired and thought, “Yeah, you find a nice life. You’ve helped lots of kids.” So maybe that’s what I’ve learnt from it. But now I’m at the point now where I know that they’re there and it’s not helping me. Then now I’ve got to learn, now, how do I move on from this now.
Sundae: Right, very good. So I’m curious, you know, if you’re like most people this isn’t the only time you’ve ever been stuck in your life.
Sharryn: No, probably not but yeah.
Sundae: So let’s just get creative for a second. Think of a time when you have been stuck.
Sundae: What did you do to get out then?
Sharryn: I went on Times Educational Supplement. I applied for a job in Dubai, didn’t get the job in Dubai. I got a phone call one Sunday morning from a school in Jordan saying, “Hi. We’ve seen your CV. Would you like a job?” “Yes, please. I’ll take the job.” Took the job, didn’t even know where Jordan was. Didn’t even have a passport.
Sundae: So what was your contribution. What did you do to make that happen?
Sharryn: I put myself out there. I put my CV out there too. Yeah, I just decided enough was enough and I was fed up with England and fed up with the situation that I was in England. So here I am. That’s what I did.
Sundae: So what would that look like if you put yourself out there?
Sundae: Yeah with this project? You said there’s a lot of things you don’t know how to move forward.
Sharryn: Yeah, I knew in Karachi, I knew that the prevalence of special ed was autistic children in Karachi. So I knew that I’d have to go down the route and be trained a bit more in autism. And I knew I didn’t have to know very much in Karachi because obviously the two owners of the school, they had all the business ideas. They had the building, they had the clientele that were already sitting there waiting for me. I knew that all I had to do when I got there was train the staff and get out the unit and 12 months later, we would open.
So it was almost like I was following their plan which felt very comfortable because I know my knowledge is sound. I know my ICN knowledge. I know how to train staff. I know how to work in that field. I knew I needed more training on autism, but that would have been easy done between now and 60. Now that 60-year-old is gone and it’s looking more like maybe 55 maybe 56. It feels like I’ve got too much to learn with this. I’m not a business person. I don’t have a venue. I don’t have an area. I don’t even know if you can open a business here without having a national be part of your plan.
Sundae: Right. So I’m hearing there’s a lot of unanswered questions.
Sharryn: There is a lot. Yes.
Sundae: How bad do you really want this?
Sharryn: I would have said, before Karachi was pulled from me, I would have said that it was 90%, this is what I want. You always have a 10% where you think, “I could just retire.” Can I save up enough money and retire at 60 and then put my feet up till I’m 67. But I know me. I would know I wouldn’t have been happy with that. So I would say 90% And now on a good day when I’m not stressing about it or not thinking too deeply, it’s still 90%. I don’t want to teach past 60. I don’t want to be in a school in a classroom or even the head of a unit in a school. I want to be needed. I want to be running this unit. Whether it be a special needs unit or whether it’d be like a community center where we have coffee mornings in the morning and mother and toddler group and then in the afternoon. We have a homework club and we do the testing on the kids that need the special ed, and we do all that support. Those I know that’s what I want so I would say it’s still 90%. I just feel like it’s a harder 90% than it was before.
Sundae: So what I’m hearing is you have knowledge, you’ve got training and the capacity to take on more training.
Sundae: You’ve got crystal clarity on how you would like to serve. I have a hunch that those bungee cords are the unanswered questions. Tell me where I’m wrong.
Sharryn: No, you are probably right. Yeah. Yeah. Maybe if I found the answers to the questions, maybe the cords would slacken a bit, I guess. Yeah.
Sundae: So if what got you further last time was putting yourself out there, what would that look like in your quest to get those questions answered?
Sharryn: I guess I’m going to have to go and do lots of research. I have to settle on where as well, I guess. Which country? Do I still do Karachi, knowing that I do have three friends out there who would be a support network, but maybe have to do it on my own out there? Or do I do it here where I am now, where there is also a big need here? Or do I do it more in Europe where I guess there is still also a need there? This is perhaps easier and less hassle with the politics and the diplomatic-ness of the country.
Sundae: Right. So if you’re standing there in the road.
Sundae: How tight are the bungee cords right now?
Sharryn: They’re loose at the moment because I’m not moving anywhere. I’m sort of just stood there. Yeah, they’re okay because I’m making that decision of which way do I go. I don’t even know what the right bungee cord is. I don’t know what that one is. I know the left one is moving towards my dream and I know straight on is staying where I am now, on the path that I am now. But I don’t know what the right one is. I don’t know what that one is.
Sundae: Why don’t you pause for a second? Just get quiet and listen for what that might be.
Sharryn: I think it’s fear. I just think it’s fear. I don’t think it is a destination. I think it’s just fear.
Sundae: Sharryn I have chills up my arms right now.
Sharryn: I have tears in my eyes right now.
Sundae: You are amazing. Look at how hard you’re working and how clear you are being with yourself and where you are in this process.
Sundae: So if fear weren’t a factor, what would be your next steps?
Sharryn: To do the research? That’s the next step. To find: A. Can I set the business up here without having to have a national attached to it? And I know that the special needs that are needed within this country. How easy would it be to set up. I think it’s very difficult to set up a special needs unit here, but I think it might be easier to set up a community type place here and then you can almost develop into the special needs place. But also my heart is in Karachi. My heart is there and really really serving those who are still like here special ed. They do have scores. They do have units. They are allowed to exist. In Karachi, they’re still kept behind closed doors. They’re not seen, they’re not out there. They’re not so my heart is saying that Karachi is where I should go really? Because I know that it’s a massive big deal there. Babies are still killed if they look like they’re different from any other baby.
Sundae: This is big Sharryn. I just want to really celebrate you on how you’ve shown up today. And we’ve only been talking for under 20 minutes and it’s incredible the work that you’ve done. What are you seeing differently, at the end of this conversation that wasn’t there before?
Sharryn: I’m seeing that I have to. I have to do it. Yeah. Yeah. It’s got to happen. Oh, I’m going to cry. Oh, yes.
Sundae: That’s beautiful.
Sharryn: It’s got to happen and it will happen. And I think Karachi is still where it needs to happen.
It’s going to be a tough battle because the friend that owns the school is very negative at the moment probably because of COVID and all the other things but it doesn’t have to happen this year. It doesn’t have to happen. Now. I’ve got six years till I’m 60. That was my goal. 60 so I’ve got six years in which to generate the cash, go visit the country again when I can get out again, go and see the two people who own the school there. And go and meet with influential people there in Karachi. If I want it to happen, I’m going to have to make it happen not with Judith and Sarges. I’m not going to say they’re backing because it was their backing but they were going to pave the way for me, but they may still do. But even if they don’t, I can still do this without them.
Sundae: Wow. I’m just blown away by the how. You just said like six or seven things on how you can move forward.
Sundae: So I’m totally celebrating you, Sharryn. This is amazing.
Sharryn: Thank you.
Sundae: I am really excited to hear your heart open to the truth that you discovered today.
Sharryn: Yes. Yeah. And I’m so grateful. Thank you for 20, 21 minutes and 18 seconds of your time. And you have unblocked like this whole- when I jokingly put that comment on your Facebook page, I was like, “Ah, she’s not going to do anything about it and nobody can do anything about it. It’s just going to have to fester for a while.” I didn’t for one minute think I would get this opportunity to sit with you and talk with you. And yeah, 21 minutes of your time and I know what I have to do.
Sundae: Yes. Yes, you’ve made my day Sharryn. Thank you so much.
Sharryn: Thank you so much. You’ve made my day. Yes. Yes.
So there you have it. I hope this inspires you as much as inspired me and see that as proof that if we allow ourselves to sit in the stuck, that we might actually just gain momentum. And if you’re like that cat who needs someone by your side to calm you down and help you break free, then I would love to have you by my side. You too can get unstuck.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly. It’s exactly what my contact page is for on www.sundaebean.com and I’ll personally get back to you and share more on the special one-time offer I’ve got going on in March to work with me in one-to-one coaching. And also share what’s going on if you’re interested in a group environment.
And a huge shout-out to Sharryn for showing up so fully in our process today. I know that thanks to your courage you’ve been able to inspire other people to sit in their stuck so they can too get results.
Stay tuned for our next episode where you will listen in on how one business owner went from overwhelmed to calmly and authentically identifying her voice in just under 25 minutes.
You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour with Sundae Schneider-Bean, Thank you for listening. I’ll leave you with the words of Jill Koenig: “Results will show up when you do.”