The Life Coach shares her tips on how to plan a route to a happy life, work and play. Interviewed by Jo Reynolds.
I'm not an expert in you, I'm an expert in the process.
What brought your to the area?
It was a long journey. I was born in Hong Kong and lived in Sydney till I was seven. Then back to Hong Kong and then Jakarta. By then I was in a boarding school in Berkshire because my father travelled for work. Then I went to university in Newcastle. After that I got the travel bug and worked in New York, but I suppose I've always seen London as home, and West London in particular. My husband's family are from West London, two streets away in fact.
What did you study at university?
I did a combined English and Film degree. I'm fascinated by psychology, by what motivates people.
What is a Life Coach?
Someone who helps you find what you want and the steps that will get you there. I'm like a personal trainer for the mind. I help you retrain your mind to look forward – not in a hippy way, but with practical goals. My parents' generation are suspicious of these things. I understand their cynicism. They think it's presumptuous of a thirty-something to dispense life lessons. They say, does she think her life is so perfect she can preach? But I'm not claiming to be an expert in you: I'm an expert in the process. I don't give advice. I help you answer your questions.
Is it like counselling or psychiatric therapy?
Not really, in that they’re more focused on negative past issues, whereas my sessions are forward-looking. We might touch on the past when we uncover beliefs that are holding the client back. But it’ll be a simple acknowledgement of where the belief came from in order to then work out how to get past it and move on. It’s much more practical.
Are you nosy?
What did you do before?
I worked in advertising for 12 years.
What turned you to life coaching?
Advertising just felt wrong, that moral concern about selling people things they don't always need.
Are you qualified as a Life Coach?
Yes, I'm accredited and trained at the Coaching Academy, London's first school for Life Coaches.
What happens in the first session?
The first thing that usually happens is people phone me and we discuss whether I can help, like an initial consultation. I don't charge for that. If they decide I can help, the first proper session is a complete spill. We work out your priorities. I'll ask you to score eight areas of your life out of ten for satisfaction, areas like work, partner, kids, money et cetera. This gives a good overview of your current situation so you can see which area needs focus first. My impartiality is key. I keep asking questions till we tease out your first goal. It’s then a creative process of brainstorming 20 practical ideas or actions that you could do to help you towards your goal. Then I’ll say, pick one. Or two, or three that you will commit to doing over the next week or so.
What might those actions be?
If your goal is to start doing some exercise, your actions might be as simple as buying some new trainers, researching classes and booking your first session. If you want a new job, make a list of people you know who work in that area, or friends of friends, and email them.
How many sessions does it take?
People tend to sign up for six to nine sessions, usually fortnightly, but there's no magic wand. You've got to put the work in.
Do clients ever resent you, the one driving them?
No, because they choose the goals and the actions. They're accountable to someone but they've decided what's most likely to work. If I think their actions are too easy, I suggest a few more. I ask how committed they are to achieving them out of ten. If it's too hard, I suggest less. Every session ends positively and you leave energized. It still astounds me that it works. It's a brilliant tool. Everyone has the answer within but they haven't allowed themselves the space to find it.
Are you more drill sergeant or indulging mother?
A bit of both, depending on what you need. I'm here to motivate. I've got your back.
What do sessions cost?
Why can't people just talk to a friend?
We all know that you can sit down with a friend and, after a couple of glasses of wine, you think they've found the answer but, in the cold light of the next day, you realise it'll never work. Friends can be too close. They can't be impartial. They love you so they can't help giving you their advice, which might be right for them but not for you and your model of the world. It's not about what they would do: it's about what you should do. And only you know that.
Do your friends expect you to fix them for free?
No. Because they're my friends, I'm already giving them my advice and, of course, advice is not always what they need, mine or anyone's.
What if they beg you?
It has to be impartial. I might email them some questions.
Do you coach more men or women?
There's a minor skew towards women. As a working mum I tend to meet more working mums, but I do have a lot of male clients.
Can you generalize about their problems?
Not really because everyone's different. At a push, I'd say the women who come to me are more likely to arrive in a more negative space, with confidence issues or an identity crisis. Whereas the men are often entrepreneurial and want some focus on how to prioritise. The women tend to want direction whereas men want support.
Do you ever have people in tears?
It has happened, at the start, when people are pouring it all out. All beliefs stem from childhood and initially when you go back, it can be shocking, that sudden realisation of who you were. Or realising whose life you are living, that you're not living your life for yourself.
Do people's problems have common threads?
Yep – we’re all so busy nowadays, doing a hundred things at once. Feeling overwhelmed and inertia crop up a lot; the work/life balance; confidence in your convictions and actions – both socially and at work; mums returning to work after maternity leave.
What area of your life do you want to improve?
Right now I'm in a lucky place, personally. Professionally, I love my work and I want to do more.
Do you believe in luck?
I do, but you can create luck by learning an open outlook. Everyone can change what's within their control to change. You can't change how people treat you but you can change how you react.
As a mother of two, has life coaching taught you any particular lessons that you'll pass on to your children?
Kindness is important. And know what you like. No one is perfect but everyone can evolve. Trust your ability to fix your life.
Thank you, Olivia. It's been a real pleasure to meet you.to top | home