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Leading a Liberated Life

Life coach Shaquinta Richardson empowers professional women of color.

Shaquinta Richardson (photo by Jess Morales/We the Romantics)

“You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have,” Rowan Pope said during a 2013 episode of Scandal. The quote struck a chord with many Black women across the country, including Dr. Shaquinta Richardson, a queer Black life coach and the owner of the consulting company Beyond Achieving. Richardson is focused on empowering high-achieving Black women and other women of color—many of whom were taught to put others’ needs before their own.

“We have been told since childhood that we have to work twice as hard for half as much, so it’s an endless cycle of overworking ourselves, doing more than most people, but always feeling like our labor, our work, our competence, our capabilities are never good enough for anyone,” she says. 

Richardson inspires her clients and changes lives, one coaching session at a time. She strives to show women how they can reduce stress, build confidence, balance their work and personal life, overcome perfectionism, become their most authentic self, and more. 

“The unique thing about me and my work is [that I allow] people to be exactly who they are, to be able to feel that grace and love and care rather than being shamed and beaten down for [the ways in which] they survived throughout their lives.”

“There’s a lot of power in coaching—having a guide to help you move beyond and have a much more fulfilled, confident, authentic, liberated life. The ultimate goal for all of us is to be liberated. And I can help get you there.”

–Shaquinta Richardson

She also provides consulting services for companies, including training sessions that deal with anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Richardson has several tips for people looking to live their best lives in 2022. For starters, people should get familiar with their fears, ask where they came from, how they developed, and what validates (or invalidates) them. “Fear tries to protect us, but oftentimes it keeps you in a place that may feel safe but is just a comfort zone that isn’t actually helping,” she says. 

People should also try journaling, or some other habit that gives them an opportunity to get in touch with their deepest thoughts. 

She encourages folks to incorporate more rest into their schedule, because it will give them the energy they need for self-reflection and growth. “Rest doesn’t always mean sleep,” Richardson clarifies. “Even if you get eight hours a day, you still need 20, 30 minutes or an hour to not be doing anything specific. Just to clear your mind.” 

Rest and self-care come in many forms. Richardson says people must figure out and do what feels good, rather than stick to a strict routine. For example, she loves journaling with fountain pens, meditating, scrolling through social media, cuddling with her dogs, listening to music, watching Netflix, and walking to the mailbox with her wife.

Her journey as a life coach in Houston started after she moved to Space City in June of 2020 to marry her wife, Kim Daily, a lawyer and life coach who helps her clients reconcile their faith with their sexuality. They’ve been together since 2018 and have two dogs—a 12-year-old rescue named Bishop, and a nearly 2-year-old Miniature Schnauzer named Deacon. 

Originally from South Carolina, Richardson is a first-generation college student who had little guidance when it came to college applications and selecting a major. “I didn’t have a lot of role models or help figuring out where I wanted to go. People just said, ‘You’re smart, so go be a doctor.’”

She tried her hand at pre-med studies, but soon realized she did not like science. With little help from others, she decided to major in marketing after watching a film about a marketing executive. She earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Claflin University in 2009. However, after becoming a business analyst at Target, she knew corporate America wasn’t for her, either. While she didn’t enjoy managing inventory for over 17,000 stores, she did love connecting with people, helping them adjust, and serving as their confidant. 

“I was interested in the relationship aspect—how people function in relationships with other people, and how they form or influence our experiences,” she says. 

Richardson left Target and got her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and counseling from Converse College in 2013. She later earned her PhD in human development and family science from the University of Georgia, where she developed an interest in the experiences of disabled people and other marginalized groups that she prioritizes in her therapy practice. 

Richardson has been a therapist for a decade now, and has worked with people from all walks of life. However, she is most passionate about helping marginalized groups because they are often underserved and overlooked by therapists, whose “best practices” were developed to serve mainly straight white clients.

“I wanted to provide therapy that is affirming,” she says. While working with Black queer women, she realized they suffered from a similar problem. 

“Primarily Black queer women come to me, and they are completely burned out, feeling overworked, overwhelmed, constantly having to always be ‘on’ for everybody else,” she notes. “I saw this come up time and time again, and wanted to do work that addresses this.” 

Richardson finds her work as a life coach rewarding for many reasons. “So many of the big moments are not tangible, like the clients who finally feel like they can be themselves in this world, and who get their voice back that they lost so long ago,” she says. “Being able to find our voices, speak for ourselves and our needs—and do that confidently—is huge. You can’t put your hand on it, but you feel it.”

One of Richardson’s clients sums it up well: “Throughout the program, I’ve laughed, cried, and have been forced to confront myself on deeper levels than I’ve been able to achieve on my own. Working with Dr. Shaquinta is not for the faint of heart. If you stay with it, though, the results are transformative.”

Although people are more familiar with the idea of self-care and mental health nowadays, Richardson points out that familiarity is only half the battle. “We can get all this information, but really figuring out how to apply it to our own lives can be a challenge. I think that’s where coaching can be super-helpful.”

Richardson encourages people to find a credible life coach—and to be wary of people who call themselves coaches but provide little help. 

“There’s a lot of power in coaching—having a guide to help you move beyond and have a much more fulfilled, confident, authentic, liberated life. The ultimate goal for all of us is to be liberated. And I can help get you there.”

For more information, visit beyondachieving.com.

This article appears in the February 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Lillian_Hoang

Lillian Hoang is a staff reporter for OutSmart Magazine. She graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in journalism and minor in Asian American studies. She works as a College of Education communication assistant and hopes to become an editor-in-chief.
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