My Story

Monika Kozlowska

“Admit that the life you wanted didn’t work out and come back to Warsaw” – I will never forget the moment my brother phoned me just a few weeks after I moved to London. I couldn’t find a job and I was running out of money. I didn’t expect it to be so hard. I felt powerless, my level of self-confidence dropped to zero and I had no clue what to do.

I eventually found a job at a bar, but after a few months (and a ton of 2-for-1 cocktails made and drunk) I knew it wasn’t part of the great life I wanted. You see, I have always known I wanted more. Despite having my supportive family and friends, I knew the life I had in Warsaw wasn’t what I wanted long-term. It was good. I was fine. Everything was easy. But I ended up spending my evenings watching travel documentaries and Sex And The City.

I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, but I knew I wanted to create a life that would make me proud and let me travel the world. That’s why, after graduating, I bought a one-way ticket to London. After realizing my bar job wasn’t enough, I was determined to find something that would make me happier. That’s why I started juggling that job with another role as a receptionist – thinking maybe that combination would give me the satisfaction I wanted. It didn’t. So, I moved up the career ladder, became really successful and finally had a chance to afford more things than I ever could before…Always hoping that one day the fulfilment would come. Spoiler alert – it didn’t.

And then I met this tall, handsome guy who made me feel things no previous job ever could. Naturally, I was convinced that this was exactly what I needed to feel fully fulfilled. I invested my full attention, time and energy into this relationship desperately hoping it was going to make me truly happy. Fast forward a few years and I was having an anxiety attack in front of my mum with tears streaming down my face as I told her we had broken up.

This time I admitted what my brother suggested a few years earlier – that the life I wanted so badly for myself really hadn’t worked out. I was heartbroken and I felt defeated. I put all the love, energy and effort into my career, my relationship and overall creation of everything that was supposed to make me happy – just to realize I had never felt this unhappy before. I mean, was that fair? When my romantic fairytale came to an end, I also realized I had a job that was really good on paper, but it was also no longer challenging, stimulating or particularly fulfilling. My days were filled with repetitive tasks and no one ever asking for my opinion. One day I met a friend of a friend who wanted to know what I did for a living. Because I was ashamed of admitting to anyone what my job involved (let alone to a successful entrepreneur that this woman happened to be) I ended up saying I did things I didn’t really do – and then quickly changed the subject by offering to buy a round of drinks. It felt horrendous, but I couldn’t face the truth.

On top of this, I didn’t know what to do with myself outside of work. The only places I had in my mind were the ones I and my ex used to go to together. I didn’t even know if I actually wanted to run in the mornings. I started it because of the “you swim, so I will run” routine we used to have. But did I genuinely, deep down at my core, like running? Would I be able to run purely for my own joy? I had no clue and it was like this with pretty much everything.

I was stuck as hell, lost, confused and really, really sad – and I couldn’t Skype my best friend saying how terrible it felt because he happened to be the guy I broke up with.

One day, sitting on the floor with a jar of Nutella and a spoon, I realized that this wasn’t the life I envisioned for myself. I remembered how I moved to London alone and how I saw my future here. I was supposed to be this independent girl who doesn’t give up until she gets what she’s always dreamed of. I wanted to be able to travel the world without having to ask anyone if I can do it. I wanted to hike in south-east Asia and drink cosmopolitans in NYC (thanks, Carrie Bradshaw!). I wanted a satisfying career that would bring value to other people’s lives. I wanted to be able to survive a month without having to check my bank account once. I wanted to have loving people and dogs around me and wake up every day feeling fulfilled.

All that reminiscing made me realise that I had a life, goals, and dreams before that lost relationship even started.

So, I decided to pull myself together and discover WHY despite all those things I had in my life that were supposed to make me happy I ended up being very unhappy – it made zero sense to me. I was angry and determined to find out what needs to change for me to actually become fulfilled. I went to my GP, shared my story and got anxiety pills. I signed up to the gym and started taking care of my health. I couldn’t believe the mental benefits of exercising. That’s how my self-improvement started. 

I went through a TED Talks marathon that resulted in getting a library card that allowed me to take 20 personal development books at once. I was hooked. I wanted clarity. I wanted to find out who I was, what really mattered to me, what I valued the most and whether or not running actually was for me.

A few weeks later I managed to secure an interview at a company that seemed like something my real self would enjoy. They seemed to value what I value and the job sounded like one that would energise and challenge me at the same time – funny, because before I never really looked into things like values and energising strengths  – I didn’t even know those existed! (so thank you, personal development!)   I told all about myself and I got the job. For the first time in ages, I was genuinely proud of myself. It felt so good that I decided to celebrate. I called my mum saying, “Pack your suitcase and take all your fabulous dresses – we are flying to Rome!” I booked our tickets and met my mum at Fiumicino Airport. That time spent in Rome reminded me of how much I always loved visiting new places. One of my biggest takeaways (apart from the obvious – that carbs are life!) was that the world doesn’t get any less beautiful or fascinating if you don’t travel as a couple.

One year into my new job, I was already a different person. Life felt good. I had my own team and was genuinely happy with my career. I even got nominated for a company award which allowed me to take my oldest friend to the US for a week as my plus-one (and we did have cosmopolitans in NYC!). I also started dating, too. Yet, it still felt like something was missing and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

The lightbulb moment came when I started talking to a man at my spinning class and he told me he had a life coach who helped him get clarity around what he wanted his life to look like – and it did result in him finally living the life he’s always wanted. This was a game changer for me. I saw how this man was buzzing with excitement about his life and I knew I wanted to help people feel this way. It made perfect sense – I was already so immersed in the personal development world anyway! I went home and signed up for an introduction to coaching weekend, at the end of which I was convinced coaching was the missing part of my life.

I realized the main reason I enjoyed my entry-level role at the front desk years ago was that I wanted to do everything in my power to help people solve their problems. Whether it was making an impossible parcel delivery possible or ordering three types of milk to keep everyone happy, people used to come to my desk because they knew I will be happy to listen to them. I realized that deep down I have always wanted to serve people and it was like BOOM! – the missing piece had just been found. I was convinced I wanted to help people live more fulfilling lives, so I decided to do everything in my power to become a transformational coach. I trained with Animas Centre for Coaching and completed additional, also ICF accredited, certificate in Coaching with Trauma followed by NLP Practitioner accreditation. And a part of me wanted to call that friend of a friend I met in the past to tell her that I finally found something I am passionate about, love doing and what finally makes me feel like me.

2018 was a really special year. I had a pleasure of working with people who, just like me back then, had a lot on paper yet deep down felt very unhappy. People who were checking the boxes and living their lives by the book – inside feeling very flat. I was lucky to be on their journeys with them and watch them create positive changes and as a result – more fulfilling lives – nothing, absolutely nothing to me beats that feeling!

The unsurprising truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all formula to fulfilment. You shouldn’t feel bad about admitting to yourself that you don’t come home feeling fulfilled despite all the fabulous things in your life. If you end up convincing yourself that you SHOULD BE happy because you have got so much more than others – it is a sign something needs changing.

One thing I learned through traveling is simply that life is short and there is no point not living it to the fullest or letting it be defined by somebody else’s standards. And you know what? When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in January 2020, I also realised that…we don’t have forever. And it is good to remember that. The time to create the best life possible really is now. 

You see, I love looking back at my own journey. As crazy as it sounds – I cannot believe how much has changed. When I was 26 I really had SO MUCH…on paper. I ticked all the boxes that were supposed to make me happy. But inside – I was falling apart. Now I know it simply wasn’t a life aligned with who I really am – the thing is, I had never really explored who I was at the first place. I was always told to ‘do’ and ‘succeed’ – never just to ‘be’ – let alone ‘be myself’. Coaching helped me understand and love myself. As woo woo as it may sound – it really showed me I am enough just as I am. It transformed my mindset that then helped me deal with my cancer journey. I now run an international coaching business and I wholeheartedly believe I am worth it – and you would never see this level of confidence in me before. You know you attract what you believe you deserve? I FINALLY attract amazing people who love me for me – because finally I love me for me, too. But best of all – I help other women across the world who are sick and tired of ticking the boxes and living their lives by the book find confidence to create the life they truly love – and this is what genuinely makes me smile every day. 

Do you want to create a more fulfilling life or know someone who does? 

Let’s talk. At the end of the day, what’s the worst that can happen?

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