Some people think they have to abandon the life they have in order to go after their dreams. They don’t see how they can possibly manage both, and think starting from scratch is the only solution. There’s a secret to doing both, something we talk about in our conversation with Mary Sullivan, author of Virtual Vacation. A coach can help guide you through the making tough decisions, knowing when to leap and when to wait, all while giving you the boost you need to help you achieve your goals and dreams.

Q: Could you take our audience back in time to where you were a few years ago in regard to your workload and the ideas that you had?

A:  I had been working as a safety manager in the construction field for fifteen years when a colleague of mine set up a presentation discussing setting goals for yourself. I attended and was able to listen to your talk, Laura! It was so inspiring and the ideas struck immediately. I knew I wanted to create a book, so I wrote that goal down, as you suggested. It was the first time I truly thought about reaching that goal and what it would look like to pursue. When I first came up with the idea to publish a book, it was intended that the book be a small gift. I knew I wanted to put together a book of photographs combined with poems, specifically haikus. It wasn’t a big goal at first, but it eventually became one.

Q: When you had the idea to author your book, did you feel that you had the ability or time to pursue that goal?

A: Managing my time was not easy with my daily workload, but I made it work. However, more challenging than dealing with time management was battling my own thoughts. I had to get out of my own way. If I didn’t, I knew I wasn’t going to succeed or even try to reach my goal. I had to tell myself that I am an author. I am a poet. I am a photographer. I never saw myself as capable of reaching so high until I went through coaching. I learned so much about how to change those negative thought patterns and believe in myself. It’s taught me about the terror barrier and how to overcome the fear of rejection and failure, which can be a hard thing to reconcile on your own.

Q:  Can you tell us how your idea developed from just giving a small gift to fully publishing a book?

A: I originally wanted to create the book as a gift for friends and family. It was going to be a book of poetry and photographs from my travels around the world. I started thinking that if my loved ones enjoyed the book, others would too. I became curious and theorized what it would look like to have an agent and to be a published author. So, I set my mind on publishing it. I reached out to countless literary agents for representation and I faced thirty rejections before someone would look at my work. There was even an offer on the table at one point, but I didn’t feel right about the publisher’s terms. I wasn’t sure if I was being rational or just scared of success when I turned the offer down, but I’m glad I learned to trust my intuition throughout this process. I ended up with a great publisher with whom I’m much more in tune.

Q: How were you sure that the first offer was not the right offer for you?

A: Even facing the uncertainty, I knew that I had to listen to my gut instead of my head. I second-guessed myself at first and ultimately had to trust my abilities and build confidence within myself about my art. Without the guidance of coaching, I wouldn’t have had the tenacity to keep trying after facing rejection so many times. I learned not to take it personally and to move on to the next publisher after hearing “no”. Everything fell into place after I stayed focused on my goal and had a sincere belief in myself, so much that circumstances would feel full of energy and almost magical at times. Goal priming is something you and I have discussed before in coaching, and I am thankful for it! My mind was directing me toward my goal even when I wasn’t actively working at it, so I did feel very much aligned with my vision for the book when I made the decision to pass up the offer.

Q: Where are you at now with your project?

A: I’ve developed my website and expanded the original idea even further. Virtual Vacation is intended to be calming and allowing for an escape, just like a much-needed vacation. I knew I wanted to get the book out to those who may be isolated and stressed or in need of a ‘getaway.’ An overarching idea for outreach with this book was to give, send, or donate it. My sister came to me and suggested starting a GoFundMe so that when people donate, we can send books to hospitals and nursing homes. My goal became so much bigger after that.

Q: What are some of the side effects you’ve experienced after dedicating time to your goal and what kind of ripple effect does that have on your work and personal life?

A: Before I dedicated time to accomplishing my goal, I was severely limiting my potential. I worried about what others thought of me and my work. I wasn’t taking advantage of the opportunities in front of me. Now, I focus my energy on future endeavors while knowing I’m fully capable of achievement. Our coaching sessions taught me how to see myself not only as an author, but also as a leader and a coach within my workplace. A lesson you and I went through during coaching was focusing on someone we have trouble relating to. We discussed the idea of sending this person positive energy as opposed to avoiding the person altogether, and that practice led to a huge win in my workplace. The different techniques I’ve learned have trickled into coaching my coworkers and have helped me become a better leader. It’s led to a huge growth in productivity and morale in our workplace! I have also been applying to speak at an international safety conference for the past few years, and I was accepted this year to speak. My goal transformed from being a Christmas gift for friends to becoming a published book and then it expanded my reach within my community. I can now coach others to learn these techniques, too.

Q:   What advice would you give to those who have a job that they love but also want to take the time to pursue their passions?

A: It all starts with your outlook. I love my job, and there’s no way I could have justified quitting my job to become a photographer or an author, despite my passions. We often compartmentalize ourselves throughout the day, but it’s important to evaluate our daily checklists while also understanding our true needs. I used to cross things off of my to-do list just to get them completed, but it feels good to enjoy my passions. I knew I had to honor my passions and give them deserved time. Knowing now that I’m capable of more than I could have ever imagined, I would encourage others to reach out to a coach if you haven’t already. Belief, confidence, and coaching have prepared me to coach others and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have you as my coach.

Thank you so much for joining us during this interview. I want you to think about what it would be like to have the career you love along with time to pursue your dreams. You can reinvent yourself and your work to better serve your purpose. Write down any goals or ideas that come to mind and let them percolate. Then, take an inspired action. Do something for yourself today.

The Rat Race Reboot podcast is available on your preferred streaming platform. Leave a comment on the blog below and let me know what you think! Visit my website at for some more information and free downloads. Look for my book: Rat Race Reboot: Unlock Your Full Potential to Achieve Impossible Goals this fall! Sign up here ( to be the first to know when it drops! Remember to listen to your intuition, and that everything is created twice, first in your mind and then in your physical form.