#18: Client Convo! Leaving the "Carved Path" & Learning to Talk to Fear w/Ariell Ilunga

career change clarity client success stories decision confidence goals self-trust taking action Sep 15, 2022

This interview was so jam-packed I HAD to make it a two-parter...buckle up!

In this episode, my client Ariell gets totally honest about:

  • What it took to go from "leaving this job doesn't even feel like an option" to "It's now or never: I'm going to start my own business"
  • The many layers of FEAR involved along every step of the way (leaving her job, becoming an entrepreneur, even walking away from an investor/partner and a big pile of money after a year of negotiations!)
  • How it feels to be living her truth 

"I'm not forecasting, and I'm not living in the past, and I'm living true to myself for the first time ever."

Ariell was deeply unhappy in her work -- but at the same time, she knew she was learning a lot and fulfilled in some ways. She got to the point where the unhappiness overshadowed any positive elements of the job, and was able to acknowledge that she needed to make a change.

Up until that point, making any change seemed like a NON-option (as it does for so many of us!)

She describes the process of "putting myself back in the driver's seat of my life" and how the familiar mindsets of It is what it is or I can't do anything about this can easily become "safety blankets" that enable us to stay stuck. 

"I was not living my true self...I was afraid to acknowledge who I really am. I'm an entrepreneur. And I couldn't even say that before - let alone live it."

When she finally OWNED her truth, she quit her job and started a business (whilst parenting two small children, processing the passing of her best friend, and dealing with the beginning of Covid).


How'd she manage the fear of all that?

She asked for help:

  • She had our Group Coaching program, where we all got to be honest and vulnerable, and hold each other accountable to the goals we'd set.
  • She was deeply connected to the spirit of her recently departed friend, who was urging her not to give up on her dream.
  • "What I would say to anyone about to make a big big life choice is: Get some support. Get some accountability."

She took one step at a time:

  • She took on things she had no idea about (...how does one raise $600k??...or build a Pitch Deck?...) -- She literally figured out what she didn't know, then figured out how to do it, step-by-step. She took on Step 2, then Step 3...instead of panicking about all the unknowns of Step 12 from the start.
  • "No one knows anything about Step 12. I don't even think about Step 12 anymore!"

She began seeing fear as information:

  •  Rather than setting the expectation that fear needs to be conquered, she started using Fear as "one of her senses" - which are always gathering info!
  • "My new thing is getting really curious about my feelings...What are you trying to tell me?"

She also walks us through the big decision to cease year-long negotiations with an investor/partner, which meant WALKING AWAY from the money her business needed to launch sooner, in its dream retail space.

  • "I thought I'd lost my dream. This is so embarrassing. It's been two years and I have nothing to show for myself."
  • She shares how amidst all of those loud, painful thoughts and ALL of the crying, she still knew this wasn't the right choice for her.
  • "I learned so much. I'm so grateful for the experience. I'm so much more ready for what's coming for me than I was before...Making mistakes or failing or challenges: I'm less afraid of that now. AND I'm so comfortable saying I have no idea what I'm doing." 


Plus: The 3 Interviewee Questions!

  1. What would you say to someone considering getting coaching? 

 Short answer: Do it.

Even if you have no goals, you're still gonna have to be a human. Your fears will still show up, indecisiveness, cloudiness...joy, abundance, all of these things are still gonna show up. 

I think the best part about having worked with you and continuing to work with you is: Having tools to manage all of that. For me...I didn't know I could ask my Fear a question, a year ago. I didn't know I could talk with my Fear. 

You're still a human, and you're gonna have a lot of feelings. They're not going away — that's not the goal. This whole stupidness around "Don't make an emotional decision"...ALL decisions are emotional! And the problem is, we don't know how to process our feelings, and turn them into powerful tools to make decisions. 

2. What kind of decision maker would you call yourself today? 

Clear. Grounded. Tethered, in a good way, to something.

You know Tetherball? That pole? I have that. If you root it to something, you can sway the course of  your life. I don't think I'm a perfect decision maker, whatever that is, but I have this root thing I can keep coming back to, that helps me stay rooted & grounded.

3. What's the most self-honoring decision you've made in the last week, that you want to share with us?

 Ariell's multi-point answer includes celebrations about parenting, boundaries, money choices, vacation, a margarita and a well-deserved lounge chair nap - SO GOOD!!


Ariell Ilunga is the Founder and CEO of Carla's Fresh Market, a reimagined neighborhood grocery store. They'll be opening their first brick & mortar in early 2023 and are currently selling elevated pantry staples online at Also have a Pop-Up Pantry that pops up all over Los Angeles, selling curated pantry items.


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