My guest is Life Coach Pam Bauer who says, “You were not born to just go to work and pay bills. You are meant to thrive. Sometimes a path that worked well for you doesn’t fit anymore, or you never found the right one to begin with. It’s okay. Thriving is a skill. It’s not something that just happens to you. It means living deliberately and authentically, and you can learn how.” You weren't born to just work and pay bills. You're meant to thrive. ~ Life Coach @PamBauerATX Click To Tweet One of Pam’s clients has said, “I never expected this to be a magical experience, but that’s exactly what it was. I can’t thank Pam enough for helping me find my road to success!” Another client has shared, “Pam has a way of seeing things you can’t see about yourself, as plainly as if it were written on your forehead.”

To learn more about creating a life that you love, and to download her free guide Four Fast Ways to Feel Good Now, please visit Pam’s website at

Hello, Pam. How are you today?

Pam: Hi, Nichole. I am wonderful. I’m thrilled to be here talking with you today.

Nichole: Great, thank you. I’m so excited. I love your topic. I’ve kind of gone through these pathways myself. I went to school then to college and got the good grades. I got the career and started working. I chose the road to success, and I’ve had a lot of detours since then. I’m curious. What inspired you to become a coach?

Pam: When you look at my background, it’s not at all obvious that I would have become a coach. Going back to when I was first charting my career, just like you said, I was following the typical path. You go to college, get the good grades and go and get a job. It’s happily ever after.

When I was in college, I majored in engineering. I was encouraged to go in that direction because I was good in math and science. Everyone said the degree would lead to a good job. It sounds like good advice, right?

Nichole: Right.

Pam: That’s what I did. By the time I graduated, I had doubts about engineering as the right path for me. At that point I didn’t know what else to do. I got an engineering job. I ended up leaving it a year and a half later because I was miserable.

I ended up zigzagging around after that through different jobs. There were big companies, small companies, for profit and nonprofit. I was trying to find a missing something, but I kept finding myself stuck again doing work that I didn’t like.

Then came what I call my lost year. I was overworked, overstressed, exhausted and missing out on enjoying life for the sake of getting more work done.  There’s this saying that if all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you’ve ever got.

That’s what I was living. I saw that there was this pattern that happened over and over again. I knew at that point that if I went looking for another job, I would end up in the same spot again. That is what I was thinking of doing.

I wanted that to change. I wanted to break out of that pattern. That’s when I started working with a coach. It was that process when I started listening to myself and connecting with what I love.

I connected with how I am intensely curious about what makes people tick. I love working closely with people. I love guiding, teaching and facilitating change. I love nurturing the little spark that starts to light in people when they choose to do this kind of personal growth work until that spark burns brightly for them.

That’s what led me to become a coach. Now I love what I do. It’s so interesting because I didn’t know that this is where I was heading. I deeply believe that I was meant to get here.

Nichole: A lot of times I think it helps, especially in coaching, to have had a variety of experiences. That’s going to make you so much more effective with clients. You can relate to their struggle.

If we had had a straight path like that it would be difficult to relate to. We would say, “I don’t know. I just knew. Hopefully if you do the same…”

Pam: I know there are people out there who from a very young age just know what they’re going to do. They just get on that path. They just know it.

Nichole: I’ve heard of that.

Pam: That is amazing. That didn’t happen to me. There’s a lot of people out there who just follow that path like you and I followed. We ended up thinking, “Why am I not happy? I followed all the rules. Is this it?”

Nichole: I wonder sometimes too about the kids who, like you said, know what they were going to be as kids. Maybe they didn’t listen to the rules. Maybe there’s an element of that.

They thought, “This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to run into a lot of roadblocks. I’m just going to do it. I’m just going for it.” I don’t think kids use the word “roadblocks,” but you know what I mean. What would you say is the benefit of working with a coach?

Pam: Why not just talk to your best friend or keep your problem quiet and not tell anyone. Try to figure it out yourself, right?

Nichole: Yes.

Pam: Here’s a few things that I learned from my own experience and also what I see over and over again with my clients. First, there’s this great quote attributed to Albert Einstein. It says, “We cannot solve our problems from the same thinking that created them.”

I love that because we all have stories about how the world works. We have stories about what we can and can’t do and what other people should and shouldn’t do. We are so immersed in them that we are like fish in water. We’re the fish and the stories are the water. We’ve been in these stories for so long that we don’t even see the water.

A coach helps a person see where their stories have been constraining them. It’s like you’ve been swimming and swimming in this water. A coach like me helps you lift your head out of the water. Then you think, “Oh my God. There’s a whole other world out here.” That’s how a coach helps you discover that there are alternatives and possibilities that you didn’t know you had.

When it comes to talking to a friend or close family member, these are people who love you and want the best for you. Sometimes when you bring them a problem, then they have a bias about what the outcome should look like.

They won’t even consider options outside of that. They will reject solutions that they don’t agree with. As the coach, I’m not invested in your choices other than helping you find the best one for you. That gives you space to really question and explore.

Also, your friends can get trapped in your stories with you. They just jump into the water. Then you’re both swimming and splashing around. There’s no one outside the water saying, “Hey, over here. There’s something else.”

Nichole: It’s kind of like at the airport when you’re getting back to your gate, and there’s the guy with the two orange things. They almost look like light sabers, but I don’t know what they are. You’re trying to get their attention and saying, “Hey, take a look. Turn here now.”

I love the analogies that you’re using, the fish in the water and how you’re so focused on where you’re at. Your surrounding family and friends might get brought into that same energy with you.

Would you happen to have an example of yourself, or I can share one too, of the difference? I’ve gone through this experience myself. There’s the talking to your hair stylist approach, which a lot of us do.

Then there’s talking with a coach for the first time. It’s such a different experience. I don’t know if you recall any conversations with your coach where you thought, “Oh my gosh. This is so different.”

Pam: Yes. The first time that I worked with a coach, it was so eye opening for me. I love my friends. Everyone around me was really supportive, but it was always the same idea. If you don’t like this job, then you find a new job.

When I started working with a coach, there were these concepts of looking within instead of looking outside of yourself for a solution. You are turning within and really connecting with yourself.

You’re learning about how much time you spend complaining, for example. Where are you making yourself a victim in your life and blaming everyone else? It was these concepts. I thought, “Wait a minute. I get to choose how I react to certain things. I get to choose how I think about things.”

It changed my world to realize how much control I had. It wasn’t really a conscious thought that I didn’t have control. I felt like I was at the mercy of the forces of the world outside of me.

Nichole: Right. That’s a great way of describing it. I agree totally with what you said. In my own life, there could have been the drama around a situation and just feeling stuck. I would think, “I don’t know how I’m going to change this. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Then with those coaching conversations, the drama is gone. It’s all about thinking, “Okay, you’ve expressed yourself. What is a new approach we could look at with this? What is something that we haven’t tried before?”

Sometimes that could change your whole outlook or day. It’s really very cool to be able to look at your situation differently and realize that you do have control. You have the choice of how you react. To have someone who’s not so invested, like you said, in what’s going on in your life is fantastic. Someone who is completely impartial and is only looking for the best in you. It’s a great experience. Pam, what would you say is your coaching super power?

Pam: I am really good at seeing the water. If you go back to the fish in the water analogy, when I am working with someone, I am listening deeply and focused on looking for what’s really going on here. I’m listening to what someone is telling me about this issue in their life.

I’m really looking for what’s deeper than that. All the strategies and all the accountability in the world isn’t going to make a difference if we don’t get to the root of the problem. The root is that story that’s underneath it all. That is what’s driving what’s happening and why you aren’t getting the results that you want. So when we find that, then we can work on it. That’s when the major shift and growth happens.

Nichole: Very cool. I love that the clients that have worked with you have said very much the same thing. You can quickly identify what’s going on and offer some of those other suggestions. Tell me, how does the coaching process work if someone decides to work with you? Are there steps that they go through? How does that work?

Pam: Yes. What we do if someone is interested in coaching, we start with a free get acquainted all. I do this with all of my clients before we start working together. I give my clients my highest level of commitment and service.

Part of that is making sure that we’re a good fit to work together. This call gives us the opportunity to talk about coaching and what the issue is that someone is seeking coaching for. It gives the person some time to ask some questions.

Then when we agree to work together, the first thing that I do is send my clients a guide. It’s an Introduction to Coaching Guide for them to read before our first session. I created this so that they can learn some important foundational coaching concepts.

Then when we talk, we can go further in our first session together. It makes our first session really productive. We can really dive into things. I don’t do as much explaining because they have all that ahead of time.

From there, we continue working together. Each session is all about you the client. You get my undivided attention for each session. It’s tailored for what you need each time we talk. This isn’t a cookie cutter one-size-fits-all program. It’s very individualized work to meet your needs.

Nichole: How long do your clients typically engage in coaching for? Does it vary, or are there some themes?

Pam: It does vary. Generally, it will be a few weeks to a few months. It just depends on the issue that’s come up and how the work progresses. One thing that you learn is that it’s not always a straight line. It goes where it needs to go.

Nichole: You know that I’m going to probe about that one. It’s not a straight line. I’m going to take a guess with this one. A lot of times, you think that something is blocking you or there’s an issue. Usually, there’s something else that comes up that you didn’t realize.

Pam: Exactly. I had a client who contacted me. She didn’t like her job. She was interested in changing jobs or just doing something to change what she was doing. She was really unhappy at work.

After our first session, we didn’t talk about her job again. It ended up that there was something else. The issue might show up in one area, but it’s really something deeper that goes in a different direction. That’s the deeper thing. That’s the thing that is really calling your attention. It got your attention through something else.

Nichole: It’s something that you kind of know, but you’re ignoring it. You possibly don’t even realize that you’re ignoring it, whether it’s a desire to do something differently or a change. I think that’s the most fascinating thing about coaching.

Often times, you begin with one problem. It’s not as though you’re finding more problems. It’s not like that at all. My experience has been just like you said.

Sometimes something will show up in one way. Giving yourself the space to talk with someone who is nonjudgmental about it can really help you to see other things that are going on. It’s nice to have that unbiased point of view.

Pam: Yes. It’s not like you’re uncovering an entire can of worms. It’s not like a Pandora’s Box. You’re right. Generally, something can show up in different areas of your life in different ways, but it can still be the same underlying issue.

It might show up in one area of your life, but you can see that it impacts you across areas of your life. That’s what I mean. It doesn’t always look like it’s going to go where you think it’s going to go. It goes where it needs to go. It’s a really beautiful process the way that works.

Nichole: Let’s say there’s a listener right now who is thinking about coaching but isn’t quite sure. What could they do to start listening to their intuition or going in the right direction? Do you have any kind of tips?

Pam: Yes. This is one of my favorite little tools. I call it “how to get what you want with three words.” Let me tell you a little story first to set it up.

A friend of mine got married a few months ago. She knew that she didn’t want to wear a traditional wedding gown. A few weeks before the wedding, she went shopping with some friends. They tried bridal boutiques and department stores. At the end of the day, she came home with nothing.

Her friends had vetoed the dresses that she chose. She disliked the dresses that they selected. At the end of the day, she was really disappointed and frustrated. She didn’t have time to keep running all over the city looking for dresses.

I wanted to help her, but I live 1,000 miles away. We were talking on the phone. This is what I did. I asked her, “What three words describe how you want to feel in your dress on your wedding day?” She paused. Then she said, “Comfortable, elegant and celebratory.”

Nichole: Fun.

Pam: Yes. This is the dress that she’s looking for. The dress that feels comfortable. The dress that feels elegant. The dress that makes you feel like you’re celebrating. Once she had these three words, she went back to a store that she had visited on that big shopping day. She purchased a dress that she had tried on but had left behind.

Here’s the thing. It’s that no matter what we want, what we really want is the feeling that the desired result will generate. It’s not the thing itself. It’s the experience of the thing that we seek.

The key to using the three words tool is asking yourself how you’ll feel when you have the thing that you want. The way that it works is, first you think of something that you want. This can be something that you want to acquire, like my friend’s wedding dress, or it can be a goal like a New Year’s resolution.

You imagine the result. What would your life be like if you achieve this? You imagine yourself having what you want. Let your mind fill in as many details as possible of what the experience would be like.

From there, you generate your three words. What does this feel like? Once you have your three words, you look around. What people, places, things and activities can be described by your three words? Then you go and bring them into your life.

Nichole: That’s brilliant. There’s such brilliance and simplicity. We know how to make everything super complicated. You think about pros and cons lists, right? That blows that plan out of the water. This is going back to the water analogy. I could write lists for days that say I want this and this and this. You need three words.

The bridal dress is such a great analogy. I thought, “Wow, my dress was anything but comfortable.” What a brilliant thing to remember. It’s kind of a long day and long night. Comfort does play into it. She’s still elegant.

That’s such a great analogy. It’s such a great tool, whether you’re thinking about what kind of job you want or relationship you want. If you’re moving or going on to college, no matter what, I love that it applies.

Let’s say someone is listening to the call and uses the three-word strategy. What would be the next step then? Is it working with a coach? Are there other things that they should do before they call and hire a coach? What do you think?

Pam: This three words tool can really help you get clear on what it is that you really want. That next step is then taking action to bringing it into your life. That can be a place where people can get stuck.

The wedding dress was something that was fixable through that. You may have a bigger thing that you’re trying to plan in your life, like a bigger goal. If it seems like getting from here to there is bigger than you know how to do, then that’s when working with a coach is really helpful.

Nichole: What if you can’t come up with the three words? Either you have 17 or you’re just at a total loss. You’re thinking, “I don’t even know how to begin to fix this.”

Pam: When you start to feel stuck and think, “I don’t know how to get to those three words,” then that means that there’s something in there that’s holding you back. It’s keeping you from seeing the path forward for you. That’s a place where coaching is really effective.

Nichole: That perspective is great. Pam, this has been such a wonderful conversation with you. I am curious. How can people reach you?

Pam: They can go to my website, which is  You can contact me through there. Ask me any questions. If you want to set up a call, then we can do that.

If any of your listeners are interested in a copy of a one-page reference sheet on how to use this reference tool, then they can just contact me. I will email that out to them.

Nichole: Fantastic. That’s a great idea. I love that. Pam, thank you so much for your time and for being my guest today. I am so honored and had such a great time. Thank you.

Pam: Thank you so much, Nichole. It was a pleasure.

Nichole: The show notes, as you know, are posted at if you want to read or see anything that you may have missed during our episode. This is Nichole Santoro. Thank you so much for joining us. Make it a great day.

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