How I Finally Escaped Feeling Trapped in My Business

After twenty years in business, I realized I felt trapped. In my forties, I wondered how I was going to retire, and not have to travel all the time. I also wanted to leave a legacy; something that would live beyond me. Something had to change.

Back in my twenties, I had job as a waitress at a conference center. One woman speaker blew my mind. I had this vision of being a speaker like that; one who could galvanize people into action. That one experience changed a thousand decisions I’ve made since that day. At that time, there were hardly any women on the speaking circuit, so it seemed unlikely I could succeed. I decided to bet on myself anyway.

I went out on the road as a speaker on contract for two different companies. I found it ten times harder than I thought it would be. I could see that this career was going to require massive boldness on my part. Many groups didn’t respond very well to me. I was devastated. I had to face the fact that I was BAD at my dream career.

That’s when I met someone who was called, a performance coach. She had tools for breaking you free of limiting thoughts at the subconscious level. It didn’t require rehashing negative experiences from your past. Instead, it was about letting all those fall away, so your natural creative brilliance could shine forth. I realized I’d been sabotaging my own success by worrying about failing, and so attracted what I was thinking about.

Instead, every day I focused on what it would look like to succeed. As a result, my actions changed. I started doing things that I hadn’t done before. I joined a business incubator for people under 30 to learn how to run my OWN business. I got involved in the whole meetings industry, and joined masterminds of other people in my field. I hired a speaking coach to improve my material and delivery. My business and income started to go up. I kept going with the performance coaching work, transforming the fears and doubts which kept popping up. I loved this type of coaching, so I studied with everyone. At one point, some colleagues reached out for to me for help. That’s when I started coaching them, and I loved it.

Then I met my life partner, Dave O’Connor, who’d been on a similar journey to me. Both of us had been on the road constantly for years speaking at live events, and doing face-to-face performance coaching. While we both loved it, we also had to sacrifice a lot to live like that. It meant not having a balanced life and being on the road 40 weeks of the year. We thought we had to always show up in order to earn our income.

Around that time streaming video came on the scene. This meant being able to teach our programs online and to coach people on video conferencing. We could now earn money from anywhere and reach far more people all over the world without leaving home. That’s when we also learned we could leverage our offerings by doing group coaching.

We started trying to set that up, but it proved to be a lot tougher than we expected. We had a lot of false starts, and at one point we completely ran out of funds to keep growing. Doubt and fear took over. We went back to our old “time for money” business structure for a few years, to get back on our feet.

Still the desire to leverage our business played in the back of my mind. I realized I was a performance coach who needed performance coaching more than ever. It was only after committing to getting coached twice a week, that things changed. I need someone else to believe in me first, before I could believe in myself. That’s when I got traction.
That new belief led to a tipping point down the line. People started asking us how they could implement some of our more unique coaching methodologies –around the use of stories and audio blueprints. That’s when we created a coach certification program to help them. Again, it was tough going at first with many false starts. Now I was more comfortable with being uncomfortable during transitions. That shift allowed us to duplicate ourselves and reach far more people around the world.

Now, I’m so grateful that I finally believed enough in myself to make the transition. It required sacrificing my old self and old comforts at a much more profound level than I thought. The reward, however, was seeing my dream come true, of feeling free in my business and leaving a legacy that will hopefully live beyond me.


Carla Rieger has 6 books, dozens of online learning programs and a Coach Certification program at MindStory Academy. She has been a coach and speaker on change leadership for over 27 years. In addition, she has spoken to over 1000 groups on four different continents. Her work has been featured on radio, TV and magazines helping leaders and business owners managing challenging transitions.

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