Hear it from a life coach: there’s always a way to happiness

In our twenties, there is a presumption that we should know what we’re doing and what we want to achieve in life. But, this isn’t always the case, and certainly wasn’t for Adela Mei. After making a dramatic, life changing decision, Adela now works as a sustainability business and life coach, a career which loves, but never envisioned pursuing in her twenties. She spoke to Messy, sharing her personal story of how she took back control of her life’s direction and gave some professional advice for anyone who may be worried they’re stuck in a wrong choice.

Hi Adela. As a life coach, you help so many people manage life’s twists and turns, but could you explain your own journey of how you navigated your twenties?
So, university didn’t work out for me the first time. I was 19 and chose to study philosophy in Brighton, as I wanted to know how the world worked. But I was drawn too much into the nightlife and club and decided to work in my local student nightclub. Five years later, and I was running a student bar opposite one of the university campuses, watching the trials, tribulations and growth of the students as they frequented the pub. And then hit me one day – I realised that I had ‘made it’ as a pub manager and thought there MUST be more to life than this. What had happened to my original quest? I was now 24. 

Adela Mei

I arranged a meeting with a university counsellor who asked me one question: What is it that you want to know? And I replied, I want to understand how the world works. How it’s all connected. How things are as they are. He said that sounds like the study of Ecology.

Long story short, I had to get a couple of qualifications under my belt and then, in the Summer before I started university (again), I ventured on an expedition to the rainforests of Indonesia to work with orangutans on a conservation project. 

Going back to uni as a mature student and changing my career path is one of the best things I have ever done. My undergrad degree in ecology and conservation led me to continue onto a masters in research which led me to spending a lot of time researching in the Amazon jungles of Peru. It was incredible, but maybe a story for another day!

Now, I’m 51 and working as a sustainability business and life coach, and am a devoted environmentalist. I never looked back.

How was it emotionally, realising you weren’t happy and then putting in the work to change your career trajectory?
It was a roller coaster. People thought I was throwing away a successful bar manager career, and didn’t believe I would get accepted back into university as I didn’t have the right qualifications. I had to switch from being an arts student to a science student, but I knew it was the right decision and ignored anyone who wasn’t supportive of me.

Adela on her jungle journey

I sold everything I had, including my car, packed my bags, and went off to my jungle adventure, starting a new life. 

Did you ever imagine yourself doing what you are doing now when you were in your early twenties?
I had no idea that the decision to go back to university to study ecology would lead me to this. I’ve studied in amazing places around the world, including Indonesia and Peru. And now, through my work, I support people working within the environmental sector, as well as help small businesses with their green journey, and I love it.

I am so grateful to the counsellor I saw who helped me realise what I was really passionate about. And now in my early 50s, I’m still passionate about the environment.

As a life coach, do you apply your own life experiences to your work? 
I know what it’s like to make big life changing decisions, and how nervous we can feel. I also know what it’s like to overcome those doubts and worries, and just go for what we want.

Things take time, and if we trust the process one step at a time, we do eventually get to our destination.

I’m a believer that we can support others from our own direct experiences. I understand what it’s like to be in your twenties and think you’ve made a wrong choice. I knew something wasn’t quite right in my early twenties, it just took a while to find out what I really wanted.

Adela swinging to self discovery!

What professional advice would you give to someone who is in their twenties,  overwhelmed by the many potentially life changing decisions they are faced with during this time in their life?
One thing I’ve learned is that there is no wrong choice. When we feel nervous, it can be a sign that we are making a life changing decision for the best, and that nervous feeling is actually excitement. It’s important to connect with your own intuition and trust yourself.

There are no wrong turns in life. We may take a diversion, but along the way we learn valuable insights and lessons. It’s so important to just take that next step, which then leads to another one. As we keep taking those steps, opportunities come up that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. And remember, if you feel you have made a wrong choice, you can just choose again. You are in charge!

Knowing what you know now about the trajectory of your life, what would you say to 24-year-old you who was still managing the pub?
I would say go for it. Absolutely go for it, with all your heart and passion, and don’t look back. Don’t hesitate. When you get an inner prompt, or a quiet voice inside you, listen. And follow your own guidance. 

I would also remind her not to have any regrets, as there are no wrong decisions. Everything happens for a reason.

To find out more about Adela’s work, visit jackdawcoaching.com. If you’re looking for more stories just like this, click here.

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