certification seal for Health and Nutrition Life Coach

This one was really hard and took me SOO much more time than any of the others. I learned a lot, but some of the lessons made my head spin. It’s not often that I’m learning multiple new vocabulary words in a single ten minute period. I mean, I have a pretty good vocabulary to begin with!

Anyway, I’m sharing because it feels like an achievement, and I’m proud of my persistence and… well, maybe endurance? I do not intend to start designing exercise programs for anyone anytime soon: the movement section of my Choosing Happiness course is going to focus on things like short walks and two-minute stretches. But I have the resources and info now that I could if I needed to. (I’m not going to need to: if someone comes to me looking for a full-fledged exercise program, I’m going to be referring them to someone with a lot more experience really quickly!)

I actually want to make it through the course creation classes next, just to see what I can learn from them about designing a good course, and then I’ll be moving on to either the Diet Coach certification class or the Yoga Coach class. Again, my program is not going to be about weight loss — I’m opposed to deprivation diets — or yoga, but I want to get the Master Wellness Coach certification, which does fit into my ideas, and I know I’ll learn a lot from both of those courses. None of those courses, though, are going to get in the way of getting my coaching practice going — they’re going to be things I’m working on alongside the business. And there’s a Mindfulness Coach course with a 21-day mindfulness challenge that I’m looking forward to. Totally up my alley, way more so than a diet class!

So I didn’t write about identity yesterday (my popcorn was, in fact, delicious, however!), but this is what I’m thinking about/struggling with.

My name is not Sarah. Pretty sure that everyone who reads this blog already knows that, but just in case — Sarah Wynde is a pen name I chose for entirely practical reasons.

The number one reason was that my real name (Wendy Sharp, it’s not a secret) is thoroughly taken. Google “Wendy Sharp” and you’ll find a Yale violinist, a social worker from the UK, a television personality in South Africa, some lawyers, some dentists, a singer, an artist, an Ironman competitor! I am not the Ironman competitor, which is not going to surprise anyone who knows me. Fifteen years ago, you could also find an editor, which was me, but I’ve mostly disappeared out of the 19 million results for the name my parents gave me by now. Well, I’m probably in there somewhere, but I didn’t dig down deep enough to find me.

Sarah Wynde, on the other hand, was a name that didn’t exist on the internet. It does now, so I have to feel slightly guilty about the woman in Surrey who should really own the search results for her name, but there are still less than a million results on a search for that name.

There was another reason too, at the time: I was in graduate school to be a counselor and didn’t really want to mix that identity with my author identity. I didn’t expect being an “author” to become a major part of my life, but I didn’t want potential future clients to learn about me from reading books with sex scenes and ghosts. Now, on the other hand, I do feel like my books — specifically Practicing Happiness — are important to what I want to do. I’d love for people to read Practicing Happiness and then feel like I was someone they wanted to work with. But I think it would be really weird to go to a coach who’s using a false name. That just seems wrong.

This is mostly relevant for marketing issues: do I create new social media accounts under my real name? Do I create new social media accounts under my new business name? Or do I use the social media accounts I have and put my real name into them somehow? It’s a question I need to solve. Do I re-do the cover of Practicing Happiness to put my real name on it? Do I add my real name as an author name in the meta tags but ignore the visible evidence of the author name? Ugh.

It seems like it should be easy but it’s also the kind of decision that could ricochet into the future in unforeseen ways and so I want to make it carefully. (Like getting a new phone number back in 2019 — it turns out that it’s really hard to change your phone number these days, because the supercomputers in our pockets never forget the old one, and so I’ve had to wonder innumerable times about what messages might have drifted into the ether instead of making their way to me.)

I’ve also been thinking a lot about identity because — believe it or not — I actually think of myself as a pretty private person. I know, I know, I’ve been writing a personal blog for almost 20 years, how private can I be? But I don’t post pictures of me much at all, I rarely use social media and when I do, it’s mostly to share cute dog photos, and… well, what feels like the way to say this is that I’m not out there. I’m not demanding visibility in the way that sells books, sells ideas, sells a coaching practice. And I never have been. I’m comfortable speaking in front of crowds, but I’ve never tried to build a reputation, or establish myself as an authority, or even wanted to be famous. I don’t even understand why people want to have a video go viral — I am just not that person. Except… well… maybe that needs to change? Maybe I need to become the person who’s speaking up, who’s networking and building an audience, who’s selling an idea? Passionately selling an idea? Or at least open myself up to becoming that person? I don’t know. Things to think about, I guess. But the first question to solve is the literal one of how do I merge my identities in a practical way that feels good and keeps my life simple?

Related, in some sense — my three rules of change, to be covered in the first course module of my Choosing Happiness course and probably in the second chapter of my Choosing Happiness book are:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Make it easy
  3. Have fun with it

So maybe as I think about my identity(ies), I need to think about what would be simple, easy, and fun. A good strategy for change!