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 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. Having a comfortable job already, I invested my full attention, time and energy into this relationship. 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 so many jobs, and then invested it all into a relationship, 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 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. 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 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. I told them what mattered to me and how I really needed a challenge – 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. 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. 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 watched people change their lives for the better and what beats that? I helped unsatisfied professionals from all over the world pinpoint what they had been missing, so they could start living more fulfilling lives. 

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. 

And if you feel like you shouldn’t “complain” because there are others who have less than you and who would probably love to be in your shoes, well, what makes you think they haven’t found fulfilment already?

So focus on yourself, turn a blind eye to what society says that you need and have the courage to explore what it is YOU need. 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. I could have stopped at the point when I got my dream job – I loved coming to work, and it was paying for my trips and a great quality of life in London – but I wanted more. I wanted my life to have a meaning, which is why I will never thank the universe enough for that one time I decided to ask that spinning class guy about his day. Discovering my purpose and investing in my coaching journey was exactly what I needed.

I know how powerful it is to finally find out who you really are and what you have been missing and I help my clients do the same. I feel like myself, I am surrounded by amazing people and love what I do. I don’t have the need to check my bank account, I am excited to meet new people and tell them about what I do for a living (I still offer to buy rounds of drinks, don’t worry!), and I travel exactly how I have always wanted.

My point is that if I didn’t dare to go after my dreams, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It is not always easy and sometimes we all need the equivalent of Nutella jar. But what my clients say – and what I definitely agree with – is that nothing beats waking up in the morning knowing you managed to shape your life around the things that mean the world to you. 

Do you want to live 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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