Sometimes finding the things that set you on fire take some time and require trial and error. A job that seems like a dream might not end up feeling like it when you try it in practice. Cassandra Carlsson knows this in person: she has made several career moves from being a female pilot to corporate HR professional until finally finding her dream job as a coach. Trying different things can teach us valuable lessons, and taking side steps can open doors that we didn’t know existed.
Cassandra Carlsson is an entrepreneur and a coach. She found her mission in helping others and built a career and a lifestyle that she loves. I met her through my previous job at a consulting agency where she did some freelancing gigs. She came across as a warm and empathetic woman, who was equipped with wisdom. And for me, she was someone to admire, someone who had taken the steps I wanted to take myself.
Cassandra is a wonderful example of a person who has created her own job and built a lifestyle that suits her the best. It has required trying different things, doing some self-search and then making some courageous moves.
There has been two core ideas or passions that she has followed throughout her journey in finding her place. One of them is work which she sees as an extension of what she is. Meaningful work has always been highly important for her, and it wasn’t until she became a coach when she truly found it.
The second passion is women: women’s rights and empowerment have been close to her heart since she worked as a pilot. Now she can combine these two in her job: she is working in a meaningful profession and helps others to find meaning too. And she is mostly working with women.
An expert in the process of change
What does it mean to work with coaching and life design? For Cassandra, it’s about helping her clients to create a work-life that is meaningful and purposeful for them. Her clients are in different situations in life, but all of them are looking for meaning. So, it’s not only about work; it’s about creating a fulfilling life, where work often plays an important role.
“Coaching is about creation; I don’t look at you as a patient or from the perspective that there is something wrong. I come from a place where I see you as a naturally capable human being, where you can create what you want. My goal is to help you to find answers on how you can get from a to b”, Cassandra explains.
I learn that a coach is an expert in the process of change. It’s a partnership where the coach and the client explore what is true for the client. Like who are you, what are the desires beneath, and what you want to create. Often it’s about clarity and knowing yourself, recognizing the limiting beliefs that hold you back. Seeing the patterns, and spotting the defence mechanisms.
“Often people just operate in their automatic ways of being. But you can step out of that when you recognize it. What you need is clarity and feeling of empowerment”, Cassandra summarizes.
I wonder if the autopilot mode is the biggest threat to the quality of our lives? Many people are busy and performing their lives without a real connection with themselves. It’s easy to end up overachieving in areas that don’t really matter to us. We might run after approval from people we don’t care about. We are hungry for appraisals about things that don’t mean anything for us. If we feel empty by this paradox, we distract ourselves and run faster. I think quite many could use some advice to improve the quality of life. It can be a coach or a friend, but the key is to take the time for it.
By doing what you love you can become a different version of yourself
Cassandra feels like she has found her mission and is doing work with a purpose. As a coach, she wants to help others to find it too. Her goal is to help people to love what they do. Often in the process, her clients also fall in love with who they become when they find inspiration and meaning. But she also has a wish to redefine what a successful career should look like. She wants to bring more humanity to working life.
“I want the values in working life to be more human; work should be about humans not about money. We should have a shift towards compassion, humanity and love much more than productivity, scarcity, and this never enough mentality that is pervasive”, she states.
Why is it important to find our mission(s)? Why should we look for it? Besides finding meaning and living fully, Cassandra also points out that often people who do what they really love, become different versions of themselves. They transform and grow.
We all have seen those people who light up when they do what they love; the energy is tangible. It electrifies people around and can have a positive impact on the lives of others. This fire can change the world. Who wouldn’t want to experience that?
Success is being true to who you are and expressing that
Cassandra’s definition of success is humane and wise. Success for her means that we can be true to who we really are and express ourselves from that place. She splits success into two parts, commitment and results.
“I see a big difference between results and commitment. My commitment is to be true to who I am, bring my humanity to the world to make it better. How it manifests can be creating a community or creating a loving family. Those are all results that I would love to see. But I can see my life being successful if I just live with my commitment”, Cassandra describes.
Our mind can set unnecessary limits in our way, regardless of how we see success. Cassandra says that the way we think and talk to ourselves has a tremendous impact on our lives.
To simplify; whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you are probably right.
If we can shift our limiting beliefs and thoughts, we can be much more. But we need to know who we are, peel those layers of self-doubt and self-hate and accept ourselves the way we are. It requires work, but according to Cassandra this way we can meet ourselves authentically and start building the life that belongs to us.
From a pilot to HR professional before finding the mission
It took a while and was a process of exploration before Cassandra found her mission. Her first dream job as a pilot didn’t meet her expectations, so she decided to study HR and business. Successful HR career in big international companies was a great learning experience but left her feeling out of purpose. After turning down a promotion and an expat opportunity, she decided to go looking for what she really wanted to do. She promised herself that she wouldn’t stop until she finds it.
After some travelling, exploration and freelancing gigs, she found answers with the help of her own coach. The answer was to become a coach herself. She signed up to a coaching program in New York, and while she was travelling between Sweden and the US, she also realized that she could work online. This gave her the flexibility to work with clients from everywhere, but also helped her to be location independent; it was an important benefit as she had found love from the US.
Cassandra is still creating her own lifestyle and figuring out what type of work schedule is best for her. She’s not used to loving her job this much, so sometimes she has found herself working all day. However, these days she works mostly less than 8 hours a day, depending on the time zones. Weekends are off. She truly loves the fact that she gets to decide how, when and where she works.
Just get started and accept that it might be messy
What are the tips that the coach can give us if we are looking for our mission(s)? Cassandra highlights that messy is ok; we don’t have to be clear when we start making changes. It’s important to accept that there is no such thing as a perfect process, and we don’t necessarily know where we want to go. What we need to do is to explore and try different things to figure out what calls us. Most importantly, we need to start somewhere.
First, we have to deal with fear, as it’s holding back many of us. Cassandra has seen a lot of people who are so afraid of failing that they decide to sit still. But we shouldn’t let fear lead our lives. There is never a perfect time to make a change. But waiting too long is like sitting on a comfy wet blanket.
“There is this myth that we are going to find our passion if we just sit still and try to figure it all out from that spot. But there is a saying that you can’t solve a problem at the same level it was created”, Cassandra explains.
After reflection, we need to take action. To get insights from deep within we need some stillness, but sometimes we need to act first before we get any insights. Regardless of where we stand, whether we are clear with our vision or not, no progress will happen without rolling up the sleeves.
“Don’t sit too long, do something, take a course, make a trip or get a coach. Do something that will shake you and challenge you, something that will bring you new perspectives”, Cassandra encourages.
The thing is that our dreams can evolve, and our visions can become sharper as we go. More insights will come, learning will happen, and goals might get adjusted. That’s just how life works. But sometimes even the smallest steps can make a difference, and lead to bigger steps that might open whole new horizons. So, if you want a change, just start, and do something.