What is life coaching? 

I feel like there is a need to talk about what life coaching actually is because:

  1. It can be confusing (based on the blank stares I often get when I say what I do) and it’s a relatively new (but growing!) industry.

  2. There are a lot of people calling themselves a ‘coach’ without any training, qualifications, nor the life experience to do so, which is a bit worrying.

Firstly, I’ll talk about what it is not

  1. It is not counselling. Counselling takes into account where people are in their lives (like life coaching) however, counselling supports someone to deal with unhelpful thoughts, behaviours and life patterns. Counselling often looks to the past to discover why someone is in their present situation. Life coaching only looks from someone’s present to their future.

  2. It is not consulting. Consultants are hired for their expert advice and answers, and are able to tell people exactly what to do and when. Life coaching facilitates thought so people can find their own answers within themselves to move forward and create the life they want. It allows space for them to learn more about themselves at a deeper level. 

  3. It is not the same as mentoring, however similar. Coaching and mentoring may use the same skills and approach, however coaching will be contracted to a specific term (which can be extended), whereas mentoring is often a longer term relationship. Coaching does not include providing advice and is focused on the client’s own thinking, whereas mentoring will include some telling or offering advice.

  4. It is not the same as sports coaching. Yes they both may challenge people, provide accountability and cheer people on, but in life coaching there is no winning or losing, nor is it competitive. 

  5. It’s not like hiring a best friend. Even though a strong bond is usually formed, a coach will hold a much more sophisticated role than a friend would. A coach will be direct, honest (with care) and have no agenda or bias, unlike friends who might be worried about hurting feelings or might prefer a certain outcome for their friend.

So what is it?

Life coaching draws upon techniques from psychology, sociology, social work, personal development and career development to assist people to create change, moving them from where they are to where they want to be, it assists people to think and behave differently, whilst consciously learning what is best for them and how they want to live their life. 

The coaching relationship is made up of motivation, education, accountability and helping people to make the lasting change that improves their life. A life coach is non-critical and non-judgemental, and is wholly committed to the goals their clients want to achieve. 

Coaching assists people to uncover what is truly important to them, their personal values, setting goals and creating a plan to move towards where they want to be. A coach reminds the client of their strengths and helps to develop positive feelings about themselves whilst giving valuable feedback. 

Who can call themselves a coach? 

Anyone! Scary right? The industry is not currently regulated. That’s why it’s important to check out who is coaching you. If someone is a business coach and clearly has many years of experience and a portfolio of successful businesses spanning over 10+ years, then I would say they are qualified. Or like me, someone may hold a certified qualification that shows they have undertaken extensive training (not a weekend course) and have completed a certain amount of hours coaching and have passed assessments.

It is not for me to judge who is a credible coach and who is not, it will be down to you. I would encourage you to choose a coach you resonate with, who will get you, along with someone you deem qualified and experienced enough. I believe coaches should offer a free chemistry call with no strings attached, as it is important that you form an instant connection for coaching to be really effective. 

Lastly, I believe it’s better to choose a coach who has a niche, as they are likely to be more of an expert in their field and cater specifically to their audience, for example I focus on helping women through career change, although life coaching will always look at someones life as a whole. 

Have any other questions about coaching? Feel free to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you. 

How to find your passion with ikiga

Ikiga what?

It was some years ago I first heard about Ikiga, which is a wonderful Japanese concept.

If you hate your job and you have no idea what you want to do, then I suggest you try ikigai.

Why? Well the translation is ‘reason for being’ and the place it originates from has the largest happy and healthy population in the world, so they must be on to something! I also used this some years ago when I was figuring out my career and it really helped me!

So what is it? 

It considers only 4 factors, which are: 

  1. What you love

  2. What you believe the world needs

  3. What you’re good at

  4. What you can get paid for

How does it help you to find your passion? 

You’ll need a pen and paper for this part; let’s turn them into questions.

  1. What do you love to do?
    Then does time fly by for you? When do you feel passionate? 

  2. What do you believe the world needs?
    What injustice in the world really gets to you?
    What can you complain and rant about for hours?
    You don’t have to think about the whole world here, a great place to start is your local community. 

  3. What are you naturally good at?
    Something that seems to come to you easily and people often ask you for your expertise in. This doesn’t have to be a passion. 

  4. What skills do you have that people would pay for?
    Again, this doesn’t have to be a passion but things you are very competent at.

As you can see from the diagram below, ikigai is the sweet spot where all four intersect; that’s where you’ll find your passion, your aligned career and fulfilment!

Ikigai

Struggling to answer the questions? 

Start with the questions you can answer and consider what is your most important factor and your least important factor. For example some people are more driven by money than others. These people may be content doing a job they are not the best at, but find happiness in the financial security. Or maybe you want to make a difference in the world and happy to earn less and just enough to get by. We all have a different definition of happiness. 

If you are struggling to figure out your passions, then I encourage you to try things out that appeal to you, do something totally different, be open to new opportunities so you can discover what your passions are and what they aren’t. You’ll never find them by doing nothing.

If you want to read further, here is a link to the book Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

Why you don't need to quit your job today

If you know about what I do as a Career Change Coach, then you’ll know at some point I may support my clients to quit the job they hate! However, I want to discuss why you shouldn’t quit the job you hate - today. 

The internet is filled with quick fix solutions, quick loans and quick successes, however genuine coaching and the type of coaching I deliver involves a journey to create lasting change and definitely doesn’t give the false promise of ‘overnight success’. Do you know anyone who has had overnight success, in real life? People tend to be in a job they hate because of financial obligations and let’s face it, they are somewhat real. I would never encourage anyone to quit their job without a plan.

The steps below outline what you can do when you hate your job, but you’re not in a financial position to quit today.

Step 1: Get objective

Ever heard of a downwards spiral? Sometimes when you are stuck in a situation and are feeling all the emotions it is difficult to be objective. Experiencing these emotions can stop us from seeing the other options available to us. Have a conversation with yourself (either in your head, out loud or on paper) as if you are your own best friend giving yourself advice. Ask yourself important questions to get clear, such as why you want to quit your job; why you are still in your job and why you are not doing anything about it. With your objective mindset, ask yourself any other questions you need clarity on.

Step 2: Make the most of a bad situation

Some people might say you have to tolerate or quit a job you hate. Well I say you can make it more bearable - for now. I suggest writing down a list of the things you like or love about your job, whether it’s your lunch break or engaging with clients and apply more of your attention and appreciation there.

Write a list down of the things you dislike or hate. With your objective mind, question what you could do to make it more bearable in the short-term. These are a few examples: 

  • Hate your commute? Talk to your manager about changing your hours to avoid peak times and working from home one day a week. Can your commute time be more enjoyable by listening to your favourite podcast or inspirational book? 

  • Don’t get on with your manager? Talk to HR about reporting to someone else. 

  • Always working late? Set yourself boundaries and stick to your contracted working hours. A recent study of 65,000 U.S. employees found out exactly how unproductive overtime work is, proving that the more people work, the less productive they become. In other words, staying after work hours is practically useless!

  • Is there an office bully? Take control of the situation, ask to move away from them, inform your manager and HR. Start to document incidents and only use email to communicate where possible.

  • Are you really bored? Apply mindfulness in your work, so you are focussing on the task at hand rather than focussing on the boredom. Use your current work to get clear on what you don’t like and focus on how you spend your time outside of work, you could sign up for evening classes or events.

Lastly, buy a desk plant! Always a winner to cheering up a workspace in my opinion.

Step 3: Work on your mindset

The next step will be shifting your mindset to one geared up for success! For example, if you are constantly thinking how awful your dead end job is, maybe you can shift this thinking to: my job provides me financial stability whilst I look for another job, or my job pays for my passion project until I make a living from it.  Shifting your mindset is a great way to lift your energy and attract more opportunities your way. Examine your thoughts, what are you telling yourself?  

Step 4: Take your next best step

Imagine you are feeling more objective, have made your work life much more bearable and have a positive mindset; now you are ready to start taking steps towards your dream career. 

Want to do something different? Start your research, enrol on to a course or start applying for new roles. 

Got a business idea? Start researching the problem you want to solve for others and the ways you can serve. 

Struggling with your next best step?

A great way to figure this out is by defining your personal career values. Take a look at my Career Change Workbook on my resources page to help you on your way. 

Are you a people pleaser?

I often support my clients with their people pleasing tendencies… Why? Because I used to be one and it almost drained the life out of me!

People pleasers might be the nicest and most helpful people you know. They never say no, you can count on them when you need a favour and they spend a lot of time doing things for other people.

They get things done, whilst helping others, they make all the plans within their friendship groups and they always have a shoulder for you to cry on.

Which all sounds great right? Out of balance, it can be very unhealthy behaviour, as I discovered!

Why people please? There is often a deep rooted fear of rejection or a fear of failure. I used to give myself such a hard time if I made a mistake and would hate to upset anyone! I also consider myself a caring person, but that’s no good if you stop caring for yourself first!

Overtime people pleasers neglect themselves, they start to feel resentment, they stop enjoying occasions because they are too concerned with everyone being happy - especially if you are the organiser! I found that this lead to stress and anxiety.

Lastly, you can feel taken advantage of. I found overtime some friends pushed boundaries, asking for more than what was reasonable. Even people who don’t mean to, they just might not realise the stress you are under because you look like you have it all together. This was especially true for me in my job too, I found myself with by far the largest workload - I never said no, ever.

I taught myself to release my fears of rejection and failure. I started to say no more and set boundaries for myself. In the process some friends left my life (but new aligned souls came in). I realised we are responsible for teaching people how to treat us, we accept or reject their behaviour. You need to set boundaries of what you can and cannot do and what you will and will not accept. Then you need to stick to it. You cannot place the blame on others. The right people in your life will understand.

I found I had to work through feelings of guilt, however everyone deserves to take care of themselves and so you cannot feel guilty if you think of it this way!

The beginning is the most important part of the work

Happy New Year!


In the words of Plato,

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”

How can you achieve great things if you never start?

Every day is a new beginning, a new day to create change, do something new, be a better version of ourselves. However, I do think there is something special about symbolic new beginnings, whether that be the new year or the new moon.

There’s a tendency within us to delay, possibly due to the fear of change or the unknown.

Do you want a healthier lifestyle, but feel like you need to read all the books about nutrition, listen to all the podcasts and go shopping for your perfect workout gear first? No. Can you do these things, whilst figuring out the best options for you and get started at the same time? Yes.

Do you want to start a business, but feel like you need to read every book, do every course and achieve a master’s first? No. Do you need to educate yourself on starting a business, read relevant books and do a relevant course? Possibly, yes; and this is part of the process of getting started.

We can find ourselves in the mindset to over-educate ourselves without any action, along with waiting for or preparing for the perfect time. This used to be me.

I discovered you will never feel ready, until you are doing it and there is never a perfect time, as perfection is impossible. It’s hard to reach your goals when you don’t take any action to achieve them.

Until you start, no progress will be made. Progress is achieved through action, building momentum and course correcting along the way. If you want more in life whether that’s a new business, healthier lifestyle or to take up a new hobby, you have to go and make it happen!

Get started and let 2019 be your year!

Follow these 4 rules to follow through on your goals

Number 1: Seek pleasure

The way we phrase our goals is so important. If they are not positive then all they do is instil dread in us and so no wonder we don’t achieve them. For example, think about the goal ‘to lose weight’ and then think about the goal ‘to feel great in my body’. Which one is likely to help make the better choices when it come to diet and exercise?

It’s important not to set goals based on what you don’t want in your career. Setting a goal based on doing the job of your dreams, compared to setting a goal to quit the job you hate, will be so much more productive in taking you on the journey to get there. This way you are seeking your pleasure and future, not focussing on the very thing you don’t want. When you set a goal, ask yourself - am I seeking pleasure? 

Number 2: Tell your friends

For a long time I had all these ideas in my head of what I wanted to do, however I never told anyone! Eventually, I made a commitment to be open and tell friends and family, and once I did, it was out there and the accountability hit me - I actually had to try and make my ideas a reality now! So simple, but it worked so well in moving me forwards! The best thing was when I started to self-sabotage myself, I had friends to talk to, whereas before it was just me and my inner critic. 

Number 3: Keep it in view, literally 

I love writing things down, which is the first thing you could do when setting your goal. Writing it down gives your goal a physical presence, something you can hold and see. However, that’s no good if it’s in a note book in your bottom draw. So stick it somewhere visible where you can see it everyday, this is a great reminder of what you are working towards and there is no way it can get forgotten about.

Number 4: Take one step at a time

We live in a world of false promises and stories about overnight success; how to gain 1 million followers and how you can make 100k in one day. My point is, there is a tendency to want to achieve what we want straight away because we think everyone else has, however taking small steps and consistent action is the key to achieving big! Overwhelm is something a lot of us suffer from, including myself. By trying to do everything at once or too much, overwhelm will strike and you’ll likely end up achieving nothing. So avoid this by taking your next best step that will lead to the bigger picture!

Do you need more time alone?

I was with a client this week who had been feeling disconnected and was experiencing a lack of clarity. She had the AMAZING realisation that she doesn’t have enough time to connect to herself and find clarity, simply because she doesn't spend enough time alone.

She fills her free time with friends and family and this makes her happy, however she discovered the balance was off and because of this she was struggling to clearly hear and connect with her own thoughts.

This sometimes can happen when you are busy with work colleagues, family, friends, and even watching television or being on social media. Instead of allowing space for your own thoughts and intuition to shine through, you hear a lot about what other people are doing, how great/terrible their lives are and you can be presented with a lot of opinions and advice on yours.

It’s all about balance
Spending time with other people is one of my favourite things to do, but I do balance this out with what I'll refer to as 'me-time'. I shared with my client that I actually mentally block out me-time in my diary. For example, let’s say I have plans on Wednesday evening and a friend wants to meet up the same week, I tell them I’m free Monday or Friday. This is because I need time to myself, at least every other evening. This might be to stay home and cook, watch a film, or I might go to a yoga class, do a guided meditation, have a bath or read… the nice relaxing stuff. Along with my social life, in my planning I acknowledge my day job, studies, travels, my client sessions and time dedicated to my business. I couldn't do all this if I didn't have a work-study-business-life balance worked out.

The social butterfly
I wasn’t always this way. I remember my very social ‘London life’ just a couple of years ago. In 2014 I returned to the UK from 16 months away, travelling the world and living in Australia. I was really excited to be moving back to London, after a quiet few months spent with family in Yorkshire. My evenings would be spent in Soho with work colleagues, or catching up with friends, going on dates, or going away for the weekend. I was constantly making new plans and life was good.

After a few years, I felt like I was losing my connection to myself and felt very distracted by everyone and everything around me. I convinced myself I was ‘living for now’ ‘living in the moment’ and that everything was great. And honestly, it was… for a while anyway, until it became too much and I realised I wasn’t allowing enough time for me or the things that light me up. My balance was off.

The niggling thoughts of ‘I think there is more to this’ and ‘I don’t think I’m living up to my full potential’ started to happen around this time. I was also suffering from insomnia, which I couldn’t make much sense of at the time. I remember at least once or twice a week functioning at work on 2 hours sleep and wondering why this was happening. 

Reconnecting with me
I intuitively decided I needed to make a change and I needed to reconnect with myself. I think I’d got a bit blinded by the lights and the pace of my environment. London is an amazing, fun city, but you have to know how to handle her, or she can suck the life from you. I feel that most cities with so much energy sizzling around have to be (mentally) managed carefully.

I created more space for me and I was ready to face whatever that was. I started swimming, I reconnected with my yoga practice, I upped my reading of self-development, books, started meditating again, going on lone walks and generally just being on my own more and learning to enjoy it, as I used to. I remember my housemate (at the time) once saying to me, “You're not going to be much fun to live with if all you do is go to yoga and go to bed early to read every night”.
Maybe... but I was happier… and it wasn’t every night! 

I realised during this time that I was guilty of being a people pleaser… I was doing a lot of things for other people, I allowed friends to push boundaries, I was taking more and more on at work and once I acknowledged this, I realised just how draining it was on me. 

I still loved spending quality time with others, but I started to do this with a more balanced approach and I used my free time more consciously, making sure I did things that light me up and refuel my energy. I started to feel more like my authentic self, talking about the things I am truly passionate about and ideas I had for myself. My intuition became brighter and clearer, which was empowering. 

The bursting point
I remember in March 2017, saying to my friend I was on a girls weekend away with, ‘I have zero plans next month and I’m going to try and keep it that way’ … this is because I’d already been away several times that year, I was really busy at work and I had started to let my balance slip. Well … this whole concept of ‘me-time’ was somewhat intensified when I got sick the following week from my appendix bursting and poisoning me. I spent 1 month barely moving at all, followed by more months of barely doing anything fun.

This isn’t exactly the way I would have chosen to gain more time and perspective, however life magically started to accelerate from there on and during that time is when I decided I would train to become a life coach. I met my boyfriend 3 months later, and it was probably one of my first ventures ‘out’ again (and my first date in about a year). It was quite awkward when he asked … ‘so what have you been up to recently?’… ‘Erm, well you see this thing happened and so nope, nothing … a lot of recovering and me-time!’ (I’m paraphrasing).

Today, I love spending time with people, being busy with projects and by balancing this out with time to myself, I am very content! I am fully connected to who I am and my truth. I create my own energy and I have learnt how to maintain this, my way.

What about the busy times?
Going back to my lovely client who inspired me to write this blog… afterwards when writing up my reflection notes from our session, something was niggling me. I hadn’t felt quite myself that day and I recognised afterwards that her realisation had struck a chord with me. Due to working away for 3 days last week (which was especially full on), followed by a long weekend visiting family (although lovely, still full on), I hadn’t had any me-time in a whole week and that was my niggle, I was really feeling it and was reminded just how important it is to create that space.

Luckily in that moment I acknowledged it, I decided to take the whole next day off to replenish my energy and spend time connecting to myself, which was just what I needed. 

So, do you, do you time?

Here are my 5 top tips:

  • Be organised, plan ahead and block out time in your diary for ‘me-time’. At least once a week would be a good starting point. I realise that we all have different commitments and circumstances, but creating space is nearly always possible if you try.  

  • Have an idea of what you might do. Create a list you can consult that takes in to account low energy (like having a lavender oil infused bath) and high energy (like going to a yoga class) and anything in between like reading, listening to a podcast, drawing, writing, singing, music… It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you create space for yourself to do what you love doing, intentionally. Also, save some time for stillness/relaxation either through a mindfulness practice or a meditation — this is where the magic happens.

  • If you live with someone, tell your housemates/partner/family what you are doing or find your space, which might be the local yoga studio, library or swimming pool. 

  • Switch off and digitally detox from your phone and social media. This time is for you, not the rest of the world.

  • Be present and mindful.