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146: Finding purpose in the midst of devastation with Carey Conley





Brief summary of show:

In this episode, I interview Carey Conley, a speaker and coach who emphasizes the importance of having a clear vision for one's life. Carey shares her personal story of overcoming hardship and how it led her to her life purpose. The conversation explores topics such as depression, anxiety, and the challenges faced by young adults. Carey provides insights on creating a vision and the power of association in shaping one's life. She also shares resources, including her podcast and book, to help individuals on their journey towards a fulfilling life.


Listen in as we talk about:

00:00 - Introduction and Background

03:05 - The Importance of Having a Vision

05:34 - Understanding Depression and Anxiety

09:08 - Finding Purpose in the Midst of Devastation

13:05 - Challenges Faced by Young Adults

18:39 - Creating a Vision for Your Life

23:08 - The Power of Association

28:35 - Moving Towards a Positive Circle




Notes from Natalie:


Connect with Me


Connect with Carey




View Transcript of the show

Natalie Tysdal 

Carrie, thank you so much. So nice to talk to you. We've traded messages for years. We're from the same area. But when you reached out to me and told me more of your story, I knew that you were just gonna be a perfect guest for the podcast.


Carey Conley

Well, I'm thrilled to be here. Like I said, I feel like I've known you for years. You just met me, you know, but, you know, watching you all those years, this is a joy to be here with you.


Natalie Tysdal 

Well, thank you. Well, your story is so inspiring. And I know when you go through a hardship in life, and I can't even imagine the hardship that you went through, but you had to make a choice at that point, that pivotal point to do something with that hardship. And now it's become your life purpose. So give us some background.


Carey Conley

So thank you first of all for having me. And a little backstory is that I have been a speaker unofficially and officially for over 30 years. And my topic and my area of expertise is the importance of having a really crystal clear, beautiful, powerful, inspiring vision for your life because most people don't. And that scares me and I'll talk about more why that is. But...


Officially I stepped into it about 12 years ago, started speaking at little women's luncheons and things like that, and then I started coaching. It took off, Natalie. I knew I was stepping all into what God wanted me to do, and all of a sudden I had all these clients and I was getting on bigger stages. Unfortunately, during that time, my husband and I had just become empty nesters. We had a son that was getting ready to come out of college and a daughter that was… going in. In the summer, my son graduated from college. My husband took his life. It was July of 2014. And it became a whole different mission that I was on, teaching people about the importance of having vision. And then unfortunately, three years after his passing, I lost my 25 year old son also to suicide.


Um, so you can imagine, you know, what that does, uh, where you just start asking, like we were talking about before we got on here, what am I doing? You know, what does God want me to do with this? And, you know, it was a very, very trying time, as you can imagine. Um, but my daughter and I just kind of locked arms and started speaking together. We coauthored a book together to go out two years after my son, uh, passed called keep looking up.


And then she decided to get married and start having babies, so she doesn't speak with me very often anymore, but. But I still do. So thank you for asking. It's been, it's been hard.


Natalie Tysdal 

How did your mission change? So you were helping people before. When did that light bulb go off that this is how I'm supposed to help people? And how did you deal with that in the midst of devastating life change?


Carey Conley

So a little bit more backstory. So when I was in my late 20s, this was the early 80s, we were all doing what we were told to do, get the good job, get the college degree, the good job and all the things, and we did that. But I wasn't doing the nine to five thing very well, Natalie, so I had a mentor enter my life that told me that I could create my life to look like however I wanted it to be. I just needed to get very, very clear on what that was.


And so I took a day off of work one day and got a journal and started writing out in, you know, every area of my life, what I wanted it to look like, where we were wanting to live, where we wanted to travel, what kind of mom I wanted to be, you know, all the things. And what I know now that I didn't know then, Natalie, is I truly believed that day I was just kind of aligning with God and he was just downloading into me, like all these hearts desires, you know, what, what was going to unfold next.


And the reason I know that is because on that day, for the first time ever, I wrote that someday I thought I wanted to teach other people how to write their vision and how to goal set, right? Not knowing how, not knowing the vehicle, and I think that's where a lot of people get tripped up. But when I stepped into that was when things started happening and I started speaking and coaching. And after my husband passed, so at the time of his passing, I was mostly coaching.


other entrepreneurs, mostly female service-based entrepreneurs, how to run their business after they've written their vision. And so a lot of my vision mission at that point was teaching them how to be better business owners. Super clear, again, that I was the vision expert, that's what I talk on. But after my husband's passing, and then especially my son's, it became very clear to me that all those years, Natalie, that I've been talking about vision, teaching vision.


Um, the first entrepreneurial gig that I did was in the industry of network marketing with a company called Arbonne. So I had a lot of female leaders that I had to teach vision, right? Um, but now I knew that, okay, so this isn't just about teaching business owners how to make money. This is way beyond that now. And you know, so many people are drifting through life now and that's just not a great place to be if you are prone to depression and anxiety. Um, so.


Natalie Tysdal

Was that always, I want to get onto the creating a vision and all of that, but I want to understand, and I hope that you talk about this so much that it's okay to talk about this, but did you know through the years, depression and anxiety and all of this was an issue in your family? Because I think for a lot of us, we see so much of this, me working with high schoolers, even within my family and my friend network.


You see people struggling and you never know if they're at a point where they're gonna do something drastic or if, oh, this is just the way people are. Like, did you see signs of this in your family?


Carey Conley

You know, I always get asked that question and it's such a complicated answer, but here's what I tell people. I do know that both my husband and my son were struggling because I was helping them through that. Most of what they were struggling with had to deal with their professions that they were in. And unfortunately, and I hate to generalize, but I think most men, a lot of their identity is wrapped up in what they do. And so when there's...


Natalie Tysdal 

I know it is.


Carey Conley 

doubt around that. Like my husband at the time that he was starting to really get anxious was his company that he'd been with for almost 25 years was going through a merger. And he was super concerned about what was going to happen with his career, with our lifestyle that we'd built, all the things. Would that be the one and only reason why he would take his life? Probably not. And hindsight is always 20-20. I can look back now and think of probably a lot of other things that led to his mentality and what I did not know, right? I just think it builds to a point where they just lose sight of reality and start thinking that they can't go on and that the rest of us will be better off if they're not here. Right. So, but to say that I was helping them through it, I knew they were struggling. My son was making a decision to quit his job because it was not good for him. And he was super anxious about that as well.


Natalie Tysdal 

which by the way we might mention was in the news business. I relate to that and the toxicity and for people to hear at this point, of course there's not one reason and I appreciate you saying that, but your environment means so much. And if you are putting yourself or your family members or your friends are in an environment that's not healthy and they are not healthy, all of those things can boil over.


And so to be sure that I always like to say, you know, we're putting those faith glasses on first and we're saying God has me here. I can deal with this. But we tend to put these worldly glasses on first and all of these things that pile up and there's not one reason, but yeah.


Carey Conley 

There's not. And did I ever think that they would take their life? No. I just figured, you know, with my husband, I knew he was really worried about the job and we talked about it almost nightly. I told him, I don't care if you go drive a school bus now. I mean, I just want you to be happy, but there's just so much pride in what you're doing and what you've created.


Natalie Tysdal 

Yeah.


Carey Conley 

And again, so many other things happening in the background, probably from childhood and things that I did not know. Physiological things, I think, are another part of it. So, But I never thought he would walk out the door one day and take his life, right?


Natalie Tysdal 

I'm just, I can't imagine. And I just applaud you so much for coming back and helping people because it's an epidemic. It's something we're dealing with in our identities. And I appreciate you saying that too, about identities being often in our careers, our house. I have a daughter who plays college sports and I see so often young athletes who their identity is in their sport or their career, whatever that is and how unhealthy that is because it can be taken away just like a job in a moment, in a second.


You know, I told you I broke my arm a couple of weeks ago. Just within, I don't even remember it happening. Within a second, I lost the use of one arm, which, you know, is nothing compared to what other people go through, but just the flash of when things can be taken away. And if your identity is in the wrong things, how quickly that can be taken away.


Let's talk about when you realized. So you realized, I mean, you had to recover and go through twice within first and the three years later. And I mean, that was probably what, a five year span of devastation for you? And were you still working? And when did the light bulb go off that this is my purpose?


Carey Conley 

Well, as I mentioned earlier, you know, at the time that my husband passed, I had stepped into the speaking and coaching career and it just took off. I had like 25 new clients join me within a span of 90 days during his passing. And so I just ran with that and got my son to Arizona so he could start his job. I got my daughter back to college in Oklahoma and for three years, we just worked on creating a whole new family dynamic, which was challenging. But it was during that time, like you said, that I kind of had to start asking the deeper questions, you know, what am I really doing this for and am I really on the right path anymore? The big thing that happened, Natalie, it was because my husband and I grew up in Colorado and I was a public speaker. We knew a ton of people. We went to a really big church there. People knew what was happening.


And then when my son passed, I was, I had also been speaking on higher levels, been on a lot of radio shows. And, um, so people were following me publicly and they were seeing what I was doing. And so they started reaching out to me saying, how in the world are you getting through this? What is helping you? Um, I still almost daily get messages from people, mostly parents who are super concerned about their kids.


Carey Conley 

What do I do? What are the signs? How can I help them? Or they will reach out to either me or my daughter and ask, you know, I've got a friend that just lost their child. How do I help them? So now it was either I chose a totally different profession and got all the way from that, or I stepped all into it, like you were saying, with my faith glasses on and just which is what I'm doing daily now. It's just following, okay, is this the path you still want me to be on? What do you want me to do next? Who do you want me to talk to next? I'm super focused on young adults right now. Very hyper-focused on 20 to 30 year olds because they are really struggling.


Natalie Tysdal 

Well, they're coming out of, you know, I hate to keep going back to COVID, but they're coming out of a high school mentality, having lost really a year of that, and now stepping into adulthood and trying to figure life out and it's fuzzy.


Carey Conley 

Yeah. So when I'm in my podcast studio, I have a 21 year old, um, intern and he just started and in between takes recordings, I started asking him questions. Um, what's happening with your generation right now? What's going on with you guys? What do you tell you feeling about adulthood and all of that? And the word I get from all of them when I asked them, not only almost right out of their mouth, that's a lot of pressure, a lot of pressure.


Natalie Tysdal 

Yes, I get that from my high schoolers where I teach. And I tried to draw out more like, tell me about that. Why? And if you're, yeah, what does he say?


Carey Conley 

Yeah, they feel it.


Right. Well, pressure from their schools, from their teachers, from their parents, from their peers, you know, a lot of pressure. And he said, you know, it's just on every angle. Money is number one. A lot of pressure, a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety around money. How to make money, how to get out of debt. You know, a lot of them are coming out of college, you know, Natalie, six figures in debt already. Hard way to start a life relationships, it's probably number two, all the things. But he said something to me that I'm gonna repeat and I'm actually gonna record him. I'm gonna have him do a podcast with me. He said, I feel like I'm entering my life in a hostile environment. And I think that has a lot to do with what we have been through in the past four or five years is that the... You know...


You and I, when we came out of school, Natalie was a sure thing, right? Get the drink, get the job, work your way up the ranks. Not so much now, because what they've learned now is anything can happen. The world can shut down in 24 hours, right? So, yeah, I just thought that was really interesting. It was very profound, what he said.


Natalie Tysdal 

That it is, and I haven't thought of it that way. What I am seeing more often is young people feeling like I can't start at the bottom, I have to start with the job that's my dream. And I don't know that that's...


Natalie Tysdal 

an entitled thing like people often talk about. This generation is entitled and they expect. Maybe it has to do more with social media where they feel like, I want to be able to put it on social media that I have this job. For me, it was coming out of college and taking a job making under $20,000 for the year where I couldn't afford food and had to find a random roommate. That was fine. That was kind of normal. Get that first job. Get that second job. Move.


Natalie Tysdal 

work hard and I don't know that they're not willing to work hard. It's just this pressure, as you mentioned, to be something, almost that feeling of, I have to impress people right out of the gate.


Carey Conley 

Right. Yeah. I 3000% agree with you. Because I do remember when my son was coming out of college and all of his friends, the jobs they were getting, um, they were pretty proud of it. My son was very proud of getting the job at channel 12. Right. And I think a lot of that has to do with yes, uh, peer pressure. I think it's also unfortunately wanting to make your parents proud. Um, I think there's a lot of that. Um,


Natalie Tysdal 

How do we advise them then? I mean, you're working now, your focus is young people. For me, it's your identity has to be in your faith in Christ. Everything else will come later. Put it there first. Put those faith glasses on. But I could say that until I'm blue in the face. And I think those who have faith, they hear it. But how do you advise young people then to not feel that pressure?


Carey Conley

Right. So it's interesting. The more I talk about wanting to work with young adults, mostly the ones that come to me are young men in their mid to late twenties. And I was recording a podcast actually with a young man that I started following on Instagram because he's just for a 30 year old, super wise. So we became friends. He had me on his podcast and another young man heard me and reached out to me.


And what he said to me when we got on a call was, I'm just super struggling. I go through bouts of anxiety and depression. I don't love what I do, and I don't know what to do about it. So I asked him, and this is what I've done with thousands of people, Natalie, I asked him to take some time and to project three years out from whatever day he's gonna sit down and do this. And on that three-year date after that, right, how old he will be and how old his family members will be because I needed him to think beyond where he is right now and start dreaming about what he would like his life to look like at that age, in every area of his life. This is what I did in my late 20s, family life, faith life, fitness and health, your finances, your career, what you really want to do, what you want to do, right? Because I need them to get beyond thinking, I have to do what I've been told to do and to start thinking what they really want.


Natalie Tysdal 

It sounds to me like much of your audience, and I know my audience, is the generation above these people. So how can we help them? As a mom, as a teacher, as a mentor, how can I help that neighbor, that student? And I love that advice that you just gave, because the advice I often try to give is the sun will come up tomorrow. I know it's hard right now, but I promise it will be better.


Natalie Tysdal

And that's a hard thing when you're living in difficulty, as your son and your husband and so many others are, if you see in the moment instead of in the future.


Carey Conley 

Right? Yes, it is hard, but I also encourage them to know that they can create something different because they have not been told that Natalie. They've been told from entering kindergarten, unfortunately, this is still the process. And you see my dog keeping us company in the background. You know, they're told from a very, very early age, like I'll use myself for example, I grew up wanting to be a singer and an actress.


Carey Conley 

Right? What I wanted to do was be on stages, sing, dance, act. And it was super cute that I sang in all the school variety shows. The message was clear, that very few people make it in that industry. And you need to get the college degree. Right? There's nobody in my family had ever done that. And make sure you get a secure financial job. Right?


And I was never told until this mentor that I, that may not be the path that is right for me. And I can create something different if I want. So it's just, they need other people, number one, to show them the way. So you ask how to encourage them. The best thing I tell parents is be an example. Are you living your vision? Are you following your dream? Or are you the person that's at home complaining about your job and saying you can't change it? Right, they're looking to you.


Natalie Tysdal 

Yeah, yeah, they absolutely are. We try to pretend that they're not, or we are oblivious to them doing that, but they are, they're watching every step of how we navigate our hardships.


Carey Conley 

Right? Exactly. You know, when I was raising my kids and I was doing the network marketing industry, there were so many days I wanted to quit, Natalie, so many days. But I kept going for two reasons. One, my vision of what I wanted for my family was bigger than the feeling of quitting. Two, I knew my kids were watching me. And if I quit, I was sending them the message that when they grew up and life got hard. that they could quit too on their dreams. I'm happy to report that my daughter is now 30, married, has two little boys, and is full on following what's right for her, right? Instead of following what the world told her to do.


Natalie Tysdal 

Hmm. Yeah. And then, but you know, I read something the other day and this resonated with me that we often say, never give up, don't quit, all of those things. And I say that, like, keep working hard, push for your dreams. But there's something that hit me the other day that I read that was no when to quit. When quitting means leaving the career. For me, it was a 27 year career that I had built and people thought it was a dream job, but I wasn't happy It was toxic. And for me being able to go, okay, God, I think you're leading me in a different direction. And being able to listen to that and then give up if you wanna say, I didn't feel like I was giving up. I felt like I was making a healthy pivot. So I guess maybe it's instead of quitting, it's pivoting and knowing when to do that and when that's okay.


Carey Conley Yeah, or instead of pivoting, expanding. So what I know now is all those years that I was in network marketing, building a team, coaching these women, personally growing, which is the most painful part, God was preparing me for me to step into what I'm doing now 12 years ago. And like you, Natalie, I was in that company 25 years, right?


Carey Conley 

Um, had built a great income, earned a lot of trips. Uh, all my relationships were in the company. Um, for me to step away from it, I never left the company. I just, I just stepped away and expanded because what I've been teaching them, I started thinking, huh, I bet other people could use this too, right? So that's when I started working with other entrepreneurs and that expanded into now. Okay. So I.


Carey Conley 

I very rarely coach an entrepreneur anymore unless they come to me and full on say, you are the only person that I want to help me. Now I know it's, I've got to speak on bigger stages, grow this young adult community that I want to grow. So it's never that you're quitting anything, it's always a part of the journey. Take the lessons and apply it where you need to go next. And I really want to hone in on that for a minute Natalie, because the biggest fear, I think a lot of these young adults and high schoolers, I went in and did a vision workshop to a...


Natalie Tysdal

Yes.


Carey Conley 

group of high schoolers one day. And I asked them what scared them the most. And they said, I'm afraid that if I start down one path, I'll get stuck there and I can't leave. And I said, guys, I'm 61 years old and I'm still changing directions. It's a part of the journey, but it's a big fear they have.


Natalie Tysdal 

Yeah.


Yeah, it really is. But I love what you just said. It's so true that everything you did before plays into what that pivot's going to be. Maybe it is a different career, but you still get to take credit for all those other things. It's going to help you. It might be a different career, but it's going to help you.


Carey Conley 

Yeah, yeah, I couldn't do what I did. Right. I could not be where I am right now without all of those experiences, the good and the bad.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah, yeah. Well, give us a couple of other nuggets of what you're working on. I love your podcast, by the way. I know you're talking with amazing people who have overcome hardships as well. There's something to learn from every one of those stories. But give us some other nuggets of wisdom and advice in what you're doing now.


Carey Conley 

I think this is another thing that when I do, so I do workshops on vision and how to write it, which I just gave you a little snippet of, and I can give your audience at the end a downloadable workbook that they can write from. So writing the vision is very powerful. The second thing that I teach in these workshops that is the one thing, second thing that when I see people months or years later come back to me and they say, yeah, that thing that you taught on the front row changed my life.


So I'll tell you what that is. So I give people to see their life as they're standing on a stage and they're looking out in the seats, right? In like a theater. And there's about five or 10 rows, seats in every row. And I want them to think about the five or 10 people that they spend the most amount of time with. And after they figure those people out, I want them to rank those people based on how those people make them feel when they're with them not judging them as a person, just how do they make you feel? So on a scale of one to 10, you imagine the nines and tens are the people that you just can't wait to be with. Like they lift you up, they're the ones who've got your back when you wanna quit, they believe in your vision, they remind you of your vision, they're probably also a little bit further ahead than you are of where you wanna be. They're kinda like mentors, right? And on the opposite end of the scale, the ones and twos, you can imagine just suck the life right out of you, right?


You can feel like a nine or 10, but you're with them for a couple of minutes and you know, it's over. The only people that should be in that front row that get the most amount of time with you are the nines and tens. If they were below a nine, they need to be moved back, right, a row or two. And if they're below a five, Natalie, they need to just be in the balcony or locked out.


When I do this exercise with people, it's very eye-opening because what they see is they've got some people in the front row that they need to move. And it's not easy because sometimes you are related to those people. But even allowing one person in that front row thinking, hey, that's not a big deal, they just need me in their life. I know they're not the healthiest relationship. It's not doing any harm. It's doing a lot of harm.


Carey Conley 

It's affecting how you feel about yourself, and it's also affecting the relationships you have with other people. So I really want young adults to hear that, because your power of association is huge at this stage of your life.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah. Yep, it most certainly is. My mom always said, the birds of a feather flock together. And I know that kind of goes along with that. And I tell my kids, they get so tired of my sayings, but they'll remember them one day that you are the people you hang around. And you wanna be that positive force in other people's lives too. Oh, so powerful.


Carey Conley 

Right? Well, and to be honest with you, a lot of the success that I've had in my career, Natalie, is because I've chosen to seek those people out, those nines and tens, to help me accelerate because they're willing to do that. So I really want, the other thing young adults or anybody says to me when I do this exercise is number one, they tell me they've gotta move some people. The second thing I hear them say is


Carey Conley 

Wow, I need some more nines and tens.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah, I need nines and tens. Okay, well, let's do this again. We'll talk again and maybe we'll go a little deeper into how to do that. And I think that's a good second episode down the line is let's move the nines and tens in, move some of those other people out. And how do you do that without offending people and all of that? Because there's a strategy to that. It's not an overnight thing.


Carey Conley 

Yes, yeah, we can do that for sure. Yeah, absolutely.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah. Okay. So tell people where they can find you. I'll put everything in the show notes, by the way, that download you mentioned too, but where can we find you?


Carey Conley 

Yeah. No. Well, I do have a website. It's CarrieConley.com. I'm all over Instagram. I have a free Facebook group people can be in that I go in and do like master classes and things. It's called Vision is Victory. Um, my podcast is called Moving Through and Beyond. It's everywhere. YouTube, Spotify, Apple, all the things. And my first book is called Vision is Victory and it's a workbook, Natalie, that literally somebody can go through. Your, your teenagers can do this. It's written in very simple form to write their vision like they've never written it before and to learn how to properly goal set once they've done that. So I'll give you the link that you can put in the show notes, but you can also text it to get the download by texting the word VICTORY all in caps to 26786. So that downloads the book and it also puts you in my email database so you get my weekly newsletter. So, yeah.


Natalie Tysdal 

Fantastic. So much good information. Carrie, thanks for being so open, for helping people. You could have chosen to just hide under a rock and not share, but you're making a difference in people's lives and I appreciate that so much.


Carey Conley 

Well, doing these kinds of things, Natalie boosts my confidence in that. So thank you for having me.


Natalie Tysdal 

You bet. Take care. We'll talk again soon. We'll do that other episode.



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