July 31, 2015

Erin Acton

Erin Acton is a Life and Business Coach specializing in the support of career-driven moms. Erin is living in her purpose. Check out the interview for the advice she gives for finding yours.

Q: Hey everybody! We are back at The Soul Purpose Project. And today we are interviewing Erin Acton. Erin, it’s so great to have you here.

Thank you so much. I’m so pleased to be here and to be supporting the project.

Q: Fantastic. So before we get started into the questions, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do for work right now?

Sure. Yeah. I’m a life and business coach. And I love to support career-driven moms, who want it all but instead feel like they run around with their hair on fire. So you know, if I can help that mom to get just even a little bit more time in her day, in her week so she could spend that time watching her kids learn and grow—or to get closer to her version of balance, so that she can actually have a bit more time and energy to foster really meaningful, fulfilling career, then I feel like I’m doing a really great job.

Q: Fantastic. So what comes to your mind or how would you define the words “Soul Purpose”? What does that mean to you, when you hear that?

Soul Purpose. Well, I think what that means to me is: the purpose that is—especially with the word “soul”–I think it’s what is kind of inside of us and what we can share with the rest of the world. And I think when it comes to (like) Soul Purpose, it’s almost like it’s a very integral part of ourselves and what we have inside of us to give to the rest of the world.

Q: Beautiful. So do you know what your purpose is?

Yeah, absolutely. I spent a number of years trying to figure this out, like, “What is my life purpose?” And my purpose in life is to help—in short, is to help other people find theirs. And I know that even though, like as a life coach, I’m helping them find time, but when I do that, what they’re then able to do is actually spend the time where they want to spend it most, and in so doing, really fulfill their own life purpose or even get a little bit closer to doing that. And actually sometimes the people that are coming to me, they’re like, “You know what? My job is crap!” You know, “I want life purpose.” So I’m able to do it directly. But really my purpose—because for the most part it’s—people want help with stuff. But my purpose really is to find—to help them address that stuff so they get closer to finding their life purpose.

Q: Wow, that’s beautiful. So Erin, do you think that everybody has a Soul Purpose?

Absolutely. I don’t think that everyone is aware of it. And I don’t think everyone really embraces it sometimes because I think that—well, particularly because this is kind of like my sphere. This is where I spend a lot of time. It feels like—that a lot of the people that I talk to—that I work with—feel like they just don’t have time for that. They need to pay the bills, get the mortgage done, make sure they’re raising really great, productive kids. And so for them, their purpose really is focused on raising really productive kids. So you know, like their purpose is that. It’s civility. It’s security.

Now, when it comes to like their soul purpose and what it is—maybe their greatest measure and impact on the world—I think that comes along a little bit later. And so I think we all either—you know, we are at various stages of finding our soul purpose, throughout various stages of our life, and also I think we’re at various stages of having those purposes. I think it can shift and adjust over time.

Q: Absolutely. Erin, what was your process around you getting clear on what your Soul Purpose was? Can you give us a little bit of insider scoop on that?

Yeah, absolutely. Well, for me, it was a lot of navel-gazing. I was really trying to find out: Well, who am I? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? What are the things that are unique to me? Well, I have lots of similarities with lots of other people and, you know, all of that good stuff. What are really the things that make me unique and are the things that I can really have the greatest impact in, on the world? So it was a long time of really trying to discover myself. And I blogged about it for a little while. So it’s like processing that internal discovery. It was actually doing interviews with other women to find out, well, how are they—what is their purpose? What advice did they have for someone looking for purpose? And really just using that insight to run my scope of thinking around purpose, around maybe areas I might want to look into. And I think also that—really I think ultimately, it was just learning more about myself and just really, I think, working through it: journaling, asking myself tough questions, all that kind of stuff. And I mean, I still continue to work to find out who exactly I am because I think we all do. So we all become kind of—either we adjust or grow or become more of ourselves over time. And I think that the more in touch I am with myself, the more I’m able to give to others. So that’s a big part of my journey, too—just making sure that I can be as much of myself so I know when I’m in a conversation, I can get myself out of it—really focus on the other person. I hope that makes sense there.

Q: Certainly. Absolutely. In terms of living your purpose, would you agree that you are, and if so, how do you know?

Yeah. Absolutely. I really believe that I’m fully living my purpose everyday. I mean, if I was—I wouldn’t say 100% of my day is focused on living my purpose because, well, there’s bookkeeping to be done. You know, like there are all sorts of like “the paperwork of life” that builds up, however like in the thrust where I’m concentrating my energies—absolutely, living my purpose.

Q: So how do you know that you’re in it?

I think it’s just a feeling. You know? It’s a feeling of fulfillment. It’s a feeling of—I think for me—a bit of accomplishment as well, being able to see big changes happening in the people that I work with. And so that’s my purpose, right—really helping others to find theirs and have those big shifts. So yeah, it’s just that feeling and (yeah) fulfillment and I think accomplishment, a little bit—for me, anyway.

Q: Great! So there’s a lot of talk about sort of passion and money. So do you think that we have to choose between money and passion or money and our purpose probably?

I think it depends on your station in life. So if you’re in a situation where you’re not able to make ends meet, well then, yeah, money is your—I would say, it’s your purpose. You have to take care of those things, like Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs. If you’re not able to really eat and really make sure that you’re feeding your body and the people that depend on you, I don’t know that you could really have this really high level what-is-my-purpose kind of conversation because you just need to meet those needs.

But I think if you are, of course, meeting those base level needs, absolutely. Passion is purpose in some ways. And when you’re fulfilling your purpose, really there’s a lot of passion there. So I think they’re really kind of interconnected and self-fulfilling. They each contribute to the other.

Q: Do you think it’s possible to sort of—to make money doing what you feel your purpose is? Or do we have to choose—like purpose is sort of a higher thing that doesn’t attach to money?What are your thoughts around that?

I absolutely think if it’s your purpose, then you’re going after it with, you know, your soul—your heart and soul that’s going into it. And so yes, absolutely. You can be fulfilling your purpose and—I don’t know that it’s really a choice. I think if someone’s thinking that it is a choice, then maybe they’re looking at it the wrong way. Or maybe they haven’t asked themselves the question about “How can I make this the way that I make money?”–to find that passion being that—you know, it’s just kind of a conversation I think. We hear a lot of—from artists, artistic folks—the story line is that you can’t make money creating art, when we see lots of examples of that all the time. So I think as long as you’re just really, really truly going after it with your heart and soul and making everything work, it does work out. It becomes your passion and your purpose, and I think that you are able to make money. It’s a long way to answer that, but yeah, I think they are—they’re not exclusive.

Q: Great. Now that’s a really, really interesting practical way to look at it, like “Well, have you thought about how you can generate money?” It seems to be a lot of conversation around sort of spirituality and your purpose have to be exclusive for money or a lot of money guilts [0:09:52] around that sort of thing. So it’s a really sort of interesting topic. Thank you so much for your opinion on that. It’s great.

You’re welcome. Well, I was just going to say too. Like, who is it to say that you shouldn’t be able to make money based on your Soul Passion? I mean, who is it that’s telling you that you can’t do that? You know, it seems like a judgment thing.

Q: Absolutely.

Either external or internal. But I, as a coach, I invite you to question that. You know, if that’s a question that—something that you’re telling yourself as a belief, I invite you to really take a moment, maybe journal about it, maybe do a piece of artwork about it, and see what comes out. Yeah.

Q: So Erin, what’s a decision or action that you made in the past to get you on the course that you’re on today that you would make again, if you don’t mind sharing?

That I would make again? Yeah, well I think that it was—the big shift that I made was really finding out, “Okay, I think that my purpose is in a different line of work than what I’m currently in.” And that was a big decision to make. It was a decision that—it was abatiny. It involved [0:11:04] discussions with my spouse and all of that kind of stuff. But I did end up leaving my current place of work—or my former place of work, then current—to seek out my purpose and to go to schooling to follow a new path, which was in alignment with my purpose. And the change that I saw in myself, the change in the person that I was able to become for my daughter and for my husband were huge. And so I’ve just got so much more—(What’s the word?) I think it’s satisfaction with the life that I have now versus the life that I had before, that I would definitely make that move again. I don’t recommend it, you know, for anyone because that’s my choice, and that’s something that I decided and made a decision together with my family. And it’s not the right move for everyone. And at the same time, it was the right choice for me.

Q: Gotcha. So that actually brings me to my next question. Did you feel encouraged or discouraged by your personal community in finding your purpose?

I think, encouraged. Yeah, I don’t think I felt any discouragement. I think I have a lot of support, just thinking back about that. I mean, I think as always, you know, sharing that with my mom, there was some fear—absolutely, like I could tell there was some fear and her concern for me and my welfare and all of that kind of stuff, but always through a supportive way. So I think that might have been the only place where I would have felt that.

Q: Yeah, absolutely. So what’s been hard? What are some challenges you’ve encountered in transitioning into what you are doing now? And more importantly, how did you deal with them?

Yes, absolutely. This is something I felt in a couple of different points in my life, where you build up a lot of, say, contacts or credibility or knowledge in one area of your life. And then when you change track as I did, you are starting out at ground zero again because you don’t have the knowledge. I didn’t have any of the contacts or the credibility in the new sphere that I went into, which was life coaching, whereas I came from a world where I was leading the communications for a $50 million-dollar company, well respected, well regarded by my peers, seeming to be climbing the corporate ladder, know lots of people in that industry, really great making connections to going to this whole new world, where I’ve got to—I think in some ways really feel like I’ve got to show my credibility again and show my knowledge and all that kind of stuff that you learn. And that’s just something that I’ve had to do at various times throughout my career because I was a journalist before that. And so you’d move from community to community. And every time you moved to a community, you have to reestablish your credibility. So I think it’s just kind of something that we’ll have to continue to do throughout our lives, especially if we make any sort of pivots along the way. And that for me has been a challenge, but I think one I’ve had before—a few times before.

Q: So how did you overcome those challenges? Was it just straight perseverance?

Well, sure. I think that’s a good word for it. Though I haven’t really felt like I’ve needed perseverance really in this one. And I think maybe it’s because I’ve had these past experiences before. I know I’ve really struggled with that in the past. And so it was, “Okay, here are some of what I’m experiencing. Okay, well I know it’s going to take time.” So it’s just a matter of, “Okay, showing up everyday. Hey! Dadada.” Just doing the things step by step. Everyday being consistent with it and just knowing that. So that’s how I’ve gotten over that.

Q: That’s fantastic. So you touched on this a little bit, but I want to get some more details—some more dirt. What’s different about who you are now that you’re living your purpose versus who you were when you weren’t?

I think it’s that sense of satisfaction. I think it’s—actually this is a word that’s becoming more and more important to me. I feel like I’m living with more integrity. I hope that makes sense, like more internal integrity, like I feel like I’m more aligned internally or I’m not having to act so much, whereas before I was really working to make things work. Whereas now, it’s just—things are a lot easier and seem just like more flow to everything. So I think that’s how I’m a different person. And yeah, I don’t have to try so hard. Let’s put it that way.

Q: That’s great. Then how has your impact on the world changed? What now that you’re living your purpose versus when you weren’t?

Yeah. I think for me, it’s more tangible. And I like to joke about this because before in the communications, in the marketing world, sometimes you can draw really clear results from the things that you do, whereas most of the time you can’t. Maybe you’ll put an email out, but how do you know if that’s actually increased sales, say, for the company or cause people to do a certain action that you want them to do? Whereas with coaching, I can make an immediate impact for someone in a very short period of time. And I can really—I don’t know—I can just see the results of the input that I’m putting in. So I can see the results of my labors a lot more, and I think that is a big part of it. And so I can see the impact that I’m having on the world. I liked to do gardening before, because I deal with the weed and go, “Oh, look at this great progress that I’ve made.” Whereas now, I don’t really garden so much, so I’ve got some terrible flowerbeds. But you know, like I’m really able to see the impact that I could have in that short time period that I see with people, and I get to hear about both the impacts that they’re then able to make as a result of those actions and the insights that they learned from that time. So I guess, for me, the short answer that I’ve given in a really long way is that I can just—it’s so much more tangible for me now than it was before.

Q: Great! You explained your perspective on the relationship between living in your Soul’s Purpose and work. Can those be separate?

I don’t know. I think that—I don’t know. I think if you really want to feel really meaningful and—I would say if you’re not feeling fulfilled at work, you’re spending eight hours a day on average—eight hours of your life every single day working. And if you don’t feel like you are contributing your core purpose or being able to really give of yourself through your core purpose in those eight hours, “Oh, what a shame” is my initial reaction. And so if I could like encourage any person to find their purpose through the work that they do—doesn’t matter what you do. You know, like it could be me doing communications, but really looking for what is the impact that I’m having on the world—all of those sorts of things, like finding meaning through that, which I was able to do for a while. So start there.

So I don’t know if I’m really answering your question because I don’t—I think, sure, it can maybe as a hobby, but if you’re going to be spending those eight hours everyday in a job. Oh gosh, wouldn’t you really want that to be something that really lights you up and has a big impact on the world and on others?

Q: Yeah, absolutely. That brings me to my final question, Erin. What advice or words of wisdom would you give anyone watching this video that’s searching to find their own purpose?

I would say—I think, take as much time as you need doing it. And at the same time, know that the world can really benefit from you standing in your purpose and your power that really comes from living from your purpose. So the sooner that you’re able to find that out, the better. And just keep going, keep finding, keep rooting and digging through yourself to find that purpose, and before you know it, things will start to click for you. And things will start to happen. So take as much time as you need and make sure you get there quickly so that you can really start giving to the world.

Q: Beautiful. Erin, if anybody wanted to contact you after watching this video, how would they get in touch with you?

Absolutely. Through my website erinacton.com or through my email erin@erinacton.com. I mean, they can call me through my number 250-813-1761.

Whatever works.

Q: That’s so wonderful. Thank you so much for your time, Erin. Appreciate it again.

You’re welcome. Thanks so much.

 

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