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E#220 Rebecca Taylor – Coaching Compassion Fatigue

This episode is about Rebecca Taylor – coaching compassion fatigue 

Are you curious about what compassion fatigue is, the signs of compassion fatigue, and how to coach around compassion fatigue? 

We answer these questions in today’s interview with Rebecca Taylor of Exploring Wellness with Coach Bec. Bec is a vet nurse with 13 years’ experience in vet clinics and animal shelters and a recent graduate of Wellness Coaching Australia. 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What is compassion fatigue?
* What are the signs of compassion fatigue?
* Compassion fatigue vs burnout – what’s the difference? 
* How are you getting traction as a coach?

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#219 Becoming a Confident Coach

This episode is about becoming a confident coach

Despite extensive training, a lot of professionals talk about having impostor syndrome and fear of not being good enough. But what do you do about that? How do you flip that on its’ head and tackle impostor syndrome so that you can become a confident coach?  

Why you need to be enough 


Impostor syndrome is rife in many professions – I know, because I’ve been through it, and I’ve spoken to a lot of people who struggle with it. 

Today I want to talk to you about WHY you need to be enough and stop impostor syndroming yourself.  

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Why you need to be enough
* What a digital legacy strategy is
* Four steps to creating your Digital Legacy Strategy

I think the key reason that you need to feel that you are enough, good enough, worthy, and competent, is that then you can switch your focus off your own shortcomings and onto your clients. 

Let’s face it, if you’re worried about your own performance, then you’re not giving all of your attention to the people you are purporting to help and support.  

I think this is SO critical. This was a realisation I had when I started coaching. I was so busy worrying about what to do, whether my questions were good enough, whether they got something out of the session, whether they were engaged and so on, that it was taking up a LOT of real estate in my head.  

I was feeling anxious and would be nervous going into each session. 

THEN one day I reflected on how my feelings and energy would be seen and felt by the people I was coaching. What would they say? 

By worrying about my performance, I was creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was creating tension where there wasn’t really any. 

But most importantly, I realised this behaviour was about me spending too much time thinking about ME and my shortcomings, rather than my client. 

This aha moment flicked the switch for me and allowed me to totally change the way I showed up, coached and the impact of my coaching. It was amazing. 

Here are some benefits and outcomes of dealing with your impostor syndrome. 

Giving your best to clients 

Firstly, when you invest in overcoming your impostor syndrome you become more confident as a person and as a coach. You feel good about what you do and your ability to give value. That means that you invest more time thinking about the people that you’re helping, rather than your own shortcomings. It means that you are flipping the switch from a focus on you into a focus on your clients.  

Imagine how that changes their experience of working with you. Imagine how that changes their relationship with you in a coaching sense. And imagine how that therefore impact their results that they get from the coaching relationship. 

Secondly, if you deal with impostor syndrome and start believing that you can do this, that you are good enough, you be willing to invest enough in your own personal and professional development – because you know that it is worth it for your clients, and that you are worth it. The ripple effect is more advanced skills that will make you a better coach, giving your clients better outcomes. 

I think it’s really important when you’re starting any new career to know that you are not going to get it right all the time – ever. It’s important to manage your own expectations and to know that you will do things wrong and get things messed up along the way. And that’s totally okay. 

What’s more important is your commitment to investing in your own self-belief, personal development and professional development so that you can deal with those mistakes more easily, with grace and candour. 

So how do you get there? How do you beat it and become the best coach you can be, so that you can help people create their desired outcomes and impact the lives of more people? 

How do you beat impostor syndrome? 

Personal Development 

Start by working with your own coach. That way, you will improve your own thoughts habits, well-being and sense of purpose, so that you can be a role model for your clients. Being a strong role model promotes self-confidence. 

A reflective practice is also a must for all graduate coaches. After each coaching session, reflect on what went well, how you used your strengths, the verbal and nonverbal feedback from clients, and any areas for work. Write it down. Then, set specific goals to polish up any areas. One thing I like to do is focus on a particular coaching skill for all clients within a given month, so I can build and hone my craft. 

Ask for feedback and testimonials from your clients. Their feedback is really valuable as it tells you what they liked and didn’t like. Make sure to ask how things have changed for them – not just an assessment of your skills (remember, it’s about them, not you). 

Start hanging around more experienced coaches and having conversations and unpacking challenges so that you can more easily develop the habits and language of a masterful coach. 

Professional Development 

You can also do deep-dive training courses into specialty areas and practice those with your clients to become a better coach. For example, mental health first aid training if you are working with clients who have stress, anxiety and so on. 

There is a caveat on that. A lot of people see education as a tick box thing and they get really interested and they do more and more and more courses but without actually applying the learnings. And I think impostor syndrome comes from this too.  

I know some incredibly smart people who have numerous qualifications, who are full of self-doubt because they haven’t actually used their knowledge and practised with clients and seen the sorts of results that can be gained. 

If you complete a lot of educational courses but you never apply it, then you become potentially a very good teacher but maybe not good at the practice that you have studied.  

I recommend that you invest in practising new skills with clients. Ask permission to try new methods if you know them well, or find practice clients to test new skills and education with.  

Always, always, do market research – keep asking your clients what they need and want – keep learning about other people and their lives and how you can help them – that’s where you can overcome your own self-limiting beliefs, shift the value to what your clients want, and find ways to give it to them. 

Summary

Today we talked about why you need to beat impostor syndrome and start stepping up to be a more masterful coach.  

In short – if you’re focussing on yourself, you can’t focus properly or be present for your clients. 

Flip the switch by investing time, energy and money as needed into personal development and professional development. 

When you do this, you’ll feel more confident, and be able to truly serve your clients in a more authentic, impactful way – because your work will truly be about them. 

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#218 Benefits of Niching Down

This episode is about benefits of niching down

A lot of trainee coaches I meet are terrified of niching down and just want to help everyone, being afraid that they will have fewer potential clients. Today, I’ll help you understand what it means to ‘niche down’, six benefits of choosing a niche and what coaching a niche involves. 

When you’re starting out as a health and wellness coach, the experience you get with practice clients and your first paid clients will help you develop a niche that you can focus on, and market to directly. 

Starting more broadly is ok, but please know that it can be hard to find clients who want to coach with you if your marketing is not specific. 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What it means to niche down
* Six benefits of choosing a niche
* What coaching a niche involves

Why? 

Because, unless you can clearly explain the benefits of coaching (see the previous episode of this podcast) then they won’t understand the benefits and value of coaching. 

That’s why I recommend starting to niche down as soon as you have some clarity. Let’s talk about what that means, and how it works. 

What it means to niche down 

Let’s start with the definition of a niche market. A niche market is a subset of a target market. It is a specific group of people that are desperate to solve a specific problem. 

When you hear the phrase “niching down”, it simply means getting more specific and targeting a certain segment of the group of people you want to work with. 

Why do this? 

Because people are VERY specific when they’re searching for an answer to their problem. They will be ultra-specific about the detail of their problem. And if they find someone who can help them with that specific thing, they’ll be much more interested than finding someone who does ‘all areas of health and wellness.’  

For example, I recently Googled ‘night sweats and insomnia in menopause’ – which is super specific. If I was looking to work with a coach, I’d be choosing someone who works with women in menopause, either listing those specific types of symptoms, or at the very least, indicating she works with business owners. I wouldn’t look for a ‘general’ health and wellness coach, because they wouldn’t necessarily understand what I’m going through!  

Let’s just be clear – you won’t necessarily be able to choose a niche right away, if you are just starting out. You will need to practice with people and work out who your people are and what challenges they’re facing. 

In other words, niching down is a journey. I recommend that you start out by picking what’s called a target market – which is a broader category of either person or type of problem that the market is spending money on. 

Spending is the key – if they’re not spending money to solve the problem, it’ll be hard for you to engage with them for coaching (they may not be ready, willing and able to buy – or the problem may not be big enough). 

Here are some examples of target markets: 

  • Weight loss for women 30 – 40 
  • Weight loss for women in menopause 
  • Stress management for men in white collar roles 

Do these sound specific to you? Actually, they are pretty general! 

As you coach people in a target market like this, you quickly understand that not all people in that group are created equal. There are subgroups! And they are very different. 

For example, the target market may differ in terms of their demographic, take-home income, family situation, and circumstances that are causing the problem. 

But that’s ok – start broadly and then you can get more specific as you get to know the people you are attracting. 

For example, more specific niches in weight loss for women in menopause could be things like: 

  • Female corporate leadership roles who are tired and listless, struggling with sleep 
  • Primary school teachers who are struggling to lose weight due to stress 
  • Women in the beauty industry who want to lose weight because looks are important, but they’re going to lots of lunches and drinks 
  • Women who are emotional eaters. 

ANY of these could be viable and more specific menopause niches. 

If you can’t pick an area of health and well-being, start with the type of person that you want to engage such as introverted women in corporate jobs, or mothers with two young kids, and find out what their problems are. 

Six benefits of choosing a niche and niching down 

Thinking about the more specific menopause niches I mentioned earlier – let’s say you are running group coaching and you put that bunch of women into a group together. 

They’d all think and behave in slightly different ways. For example, you’d have the teachers who are overweight in part due to stress, corporate leaders are overweight in part as they are tired and struggling to sleep, and emotional eaters. 

They might have some common ground, but they’ll potentially all be interested in different things.  

And while that doesn’t matter too much in a 1:1 scenario when you are starting out, any groups you run will be WAY more cohesive and MUCH better equipped to create a community if they can relate to each other on a personal level.  That’s benefit #1 of niching down. 

Number 2i s that you’ll find it much easier to coach even in a 1:1 setting because you’ll be dealing with similar types of people or problems, rather than being stretched in lots of different directions. 

No wonder new coaches think they don’t know enough! Having to face a barrage of different people and issues can make that worse. 

Benefit #3 – imagine you have picked a niche and narrowed it down so it’s more specific. What does this mean for your business? Suddenly you are seen as a one-of-a-kind, unique business. It’s SO much easier to speak specifically to your audience, stand out from the pack and to become a trusted go-to source of support.  

Benefit #4 – you’ll become a proficient and confident coach much more quickly and easily. As you really get to know your audience, you’ll realise that you have really started to master the key areas that matter to them, the main coaching approaches that work, and the interactions with those clients. 

Benefit #5 of niching down – you’ll be working less and achieving more. That’s because you won’t be customising your marketing content for different types of clients or needing to source tons of different resources – you’ll be diving deep into one area and using the same sorts of content and resources for all your clients, saving you LOTS of time. You’ll be marketing in one or two places where your niche hangs out, rather than all over the place, hoping someone will respond. 

Benefit #6 is that you will have a bigger number of clients and more loyal, committed clients because you know them so intimately and deeply. In fact, your sales call conversion rates will be much higher because the more specific niche trusts that you know a lot about them and really understand what their problem is. 

These are six great reasons why niching down is beneficial and valuable.  

But start walking before you run – choose a target market at first, and with practice clients, start to really listen and learn more about them.   

Now, let’s look at what coaching a niche involves. It’s actually not what you think! 

What coaching a niche involves 

Coaching a niche isn’t really much different from coaching different types of people more generally, or in different niches. 

That’s because no problem exists in isolation. 

Let me say that again – no problem exists in isolation. 

No matter who you are coaching, and what their key problem and goal is, there are a lot of other areas of health and that they will need to be coached around.  

For example, weight problems are influenced by sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress and mental health/mindset. Or some combination of these. What changes is the order of priority! 

Or, for example, stress/anxiety problems are influenced by sleep, nutrition, mental health/mindset, and exercise. Same thing – it’s a particular combination, and order of priority. 

Not all areas will be relevant for every person. 

But what the CLIENT is thinking about is the bit that matters to them. Speak to that in your marketing, honour that in your coaching, and know that you will invariably be working around the other areas to some degree, anyway. 

In addition, the likelihood is that the reason behind their perceived problem is a general skills gap. 

For example, someone who is stressed and overwhelmed is likely not very good at setting boundaries, being kind to themselves, and/or making enough time for themselves.  

Those three skills are also relevant to many other areas like eating, exercise, sleep etc. 

So when you work with a niche, you are actually helping a client fill specific skills gaps (they develop the skills through experimentation) that will help them to solve many different problems they’re facing – all because of the same reasons. 

As the saying goes, “the way you do one thing is the way you do everything”.  

Summary

Today we covered what niching down means, and six of the benefits of niching down (there are others!) 

Those benefits are: 

  • More cohesive and connected clients when coaching groups  
  • It’s easier to start with similar types of problems/people rather than being stretched 
  • You’re seen as unique, one of a kind, standing out from all the other coaches 
  • You’ll become proficient and confident more quickly 
  • You’ll be working less and achieving more as you’ll save a LOT of time not customising marketing content and resources 
  • You’ll have more loyal clients and higher sales conversion rates. 

Finally, I discussed the fact that no problem exists in isolation. So while your niche thinks they have a specific problem (which is an area they want to focus on and which you might market to), you will end up coaching them around other areas. In other words, you will actually be helping people to develop skills in one area that are transferrable to many areas of health and wellness. All that changes is the priority!

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#217 How to Describe the Benefits of Coaching

This episode is about how to describe the benefits of coaching

How good are you at describing the value and impact of coaching to potential clients? In this episode, I am going to help you to unpack the benefits of coaching in a way that gets prospective clients interested in learning more and working with you. 

Recently, I was having a conversation about coaching in a workplace context, in terms of mental health, seeking support and duty of care for your own wellbeing.  

As I was describing how coaching works with an employer, his eyes lit up as he totally ‘got’ the way coaching could support his workforce. It got me thinking about how we often describe coaching, why that falls flat, and then what to do instead. 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* How do you describe what “coaching” is? (what not to do)
* What drives people
* How to describe the value of coaching

How do you describe what “coaching” is? (what not to do) 

A lot of coaches struggle to sell their services because they find it hard to describe what they do and how it works.  

I’ve done several previous episodes about this, such as episode 116 Explaining Your Coaching Services with Fiona Cosgrove and more recently, episode 205 How to Create a Magnetic Value Proposition. 

And the problem is exactly what I’ve just said – we try to describe COACHING – not the value or benefits of coaching. 

What I mean is this – we get caught up trying to explain what we do as a profession or HOW coaching works, so we end up talking about US and our modality or methodology, rather than THEM – the value, benefits and results that THEY want to achieve.  

If we focus on how we do the method, then people are, therefore ‘informed’ about us and our method, but they have no idea what’s in it for them. So that’s what NOT to do. 

The way to communicate value is to answer the question – ‘what’s in it for me?’ – and this is what I want to talk about today. 

Back to that conversation, I had recently with an employer about coaching in a workplace context, the conversation was about mental health, seeking support and duty of care for your own well-being.  

We were discussing psychosocial risks, and how they impact worker safety. I positioned coaching as part of the solution, by explaining that the two key goals of coaching are to raise self-awareness and to help people generate self-responsibility. By coaching around these two aspects, we could empower workers to be more aware and proactively seek help or take action themselves, therefore improving the individual’s duty of care and as a consequence, reducing mental health risks and incidents at work. 

He really got the importance of coaching to HIS organisation. I used language that the employer was familiar with, and that tied into the ‘industry vernacular’ that he was familiar with – and showed how coaching can help him achieve the benefits and outcomes he wants. That said, he really understood the value of coaching and his eyes lit up.  

The way you describe ‘value’ is probably different for different market segments, but the point is that you need to use the clients’ language and talk about what’s meaningful to them, to the results and benefits they are after so that the value of your services is really obvious. 

It’s time to think differently about how you communicate value.  

In the example I’ve just described, I thought about the fact that mental health problems are initially hard to see, so it makes sense that self-awareness is valuable. 

Currently, workplaces are focussing on identifying mental health risks and priorities, so it makes sense that helping people self-identify is half the battle won.  I didn’t waste time trying to explain coaching – I described coaching in terms of the benefits and impacts it can create. 

See how unpicking the market’s problem helps you talk about the value? 

What drives people to change (and buy) 


In what I’ve just explained, it’s clear that the value of coaching needs to be positioned around what drives people to change and to pay to get your help. 

Have you ever wondered what those drivers are, and how to know when someone will pay? 

Here are four conditions for change and for buying. 

As you learn in coaching, the first condition of change is ‘a sense that something isn’t right’- in other words, self-awareness is the first step, because if you know or are self-aware that you have a problem you will more likely do something about it or seek help. 

A lot of the general marketing a business does is to make people ‘problem aware’ – and some of the ways we do this are with quizzes, case studies, stories and questionnaires, and by inviting reflection. 

Knowing you have a problem is one thing but doing something about it and paying to get help is another. 

So the second point is, in my experience, that the problem the person has identified needs to be big enough that it is disrupting their daily lives – they can’t ignore it (and they describe the impact on families, relationships, work, and their own wellbeing). Most people are reactive, so they tend to wait until things get really bad until they seek help. 

Thirdly, they feel they can’t tackle this on their own (and they use feeling words around this like frustrated, helpless, irritated, guilty etc). They have obstacles that are situational, behavioural, cognitive or emotional and often talk about what’s hard, or what’s getting in the way. 

Fourth, feel ready, willing and able to get help to make the change (and there are positive feelings they want to have right now). 

These are the four general things that drive people to buy and to pay to get help. 

When you have spoken to people in your niche and truly understand these four elements from the niche perspective, using their ‘feeling words’, then you can use the information to formulate a statement of value that aligns with them. 

How we need to start describing the value of coaching 

To sum it up, we need to start describing the value of coaching by talking in more specifics about the things that matter to the niche client and how that feels, rather than talking about us and our tools or methods.  

For example, when I used to coach in weight loss, a lot of clients talked about not being able to commit to themselves or be consistent and loathing themselves for that. 

If I was speaking to one of those types of people, I’d be talking about how coaching helps you to make a solid commitment to yourself and then learn how to honour that commitment so that you can be consistent, authentic and living with integrity, feeling aligned with who they truly are, and feeling proud and confident.  

Can you see how that very different explanation could be very valuable for someone who really wants to commit to themselves and be consistent and stop beating themselves up? 

There’s no description of visions and goals or what coaching is – just a clear, feelings-based description of what coaching can help the person to achieve, using their language. 

What I’m saying is this – think about the outcome that people want, because it’s a key part of the value of what you do – in your niche client’s eyes. 

A final word 

To really get into the client’s shoes – get coached yourself. This is essential for a few reasons – so that you can be a role model for change – but also experience what it’s like to make and honour a commitment to yourself. 

Then you can authentically talk about the value of coaching from your own experience.  

When people want to know HOW coaching works, you can speak honestly about what it’s like to make a commitment to yourself, how it feels, and how you develop certain skills (e.g. self-regulation, self-discipline, consistency, scheduling, self-accountability) that can transfer to other areas of life. 
 
When people want to know WHAT the RESULTS are, you can speak emotionally about the feelings and changes you experience. For example, you will finally stop quitting on yourself and feeling guilty. You’ll be aligned with your values and dreams. Having some wins in one or two areas builds your confidence to do more and build on those wins. And how, when you are living in line with your values, it is living with integrity which gives you a sense of self-respect and self-worth. 

In other words, we are communicating how forming a few simple habits can give important skills and insights that can be applied to other areas, so they don’t have to doubt themselves anymore or rely on experts anymore. 

Now, how would you feel if someone describe coaching like that to you? 

Summary

Today we talked about how we often get caught up describing “coaching” when we should be describing the VALUE of coaching. 

To do that, you need to know what drives people in your niche, and even better, get coached yourself so that you have the lived experience. 

Then you can more easily craft a statement that describes the value of coaching with such richness that people are excited to join you on the journey.  

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#216 Why and How to do a Coffee Detox

This episode is about why and how to do a coffee detox

Are you struggling with energy rollercoasters, anxiety or poor sleep? A coffee detox might be part of the solution. It may be a helpful way to give your nervous system a break and feel calmer. Going cold turkey on caffeine can be hard, so this episode outlines how to do a coffee detox so that you can go through the process with ease. 

On my investigation of nervous system health and calming down, I’ve decided to do a coffee detox. 

This isn’t one of those fad things – I’ve had a few important realisations and am doing as an experiment to see if it can help me to unwind anxiety, feel calmer, and improve my sleep quality. 

Part of this is working out whether I’m consuming too much caffeine for my body weight, and whether removing coffee all together has a bigger impact on my symptoms. 

So today let’s look at recommended caffeine intakes, who may be susceptible to negative impacts of caffeine, and then, how I’m doing a coffee detox. 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Recommended caffeine intakes
* How do you respond to caffeine?
* Do you need a coffee break?
* My Coffee Detox Plan

Recommended Caffeine Intakes 

Food Standards ANZ states there is no acceptable daily intake of caffeine but mentions evidence of increased anxiety levels with caffeine consumption at about 3 mg/kg body weight per day. 

This equates to: 

  • About 120 mg per day in children (about 2 cans of cola) 
  • About 240 mg per day in adults (about 3 cups of instant coffee). 

These are based on standard body weights, so you’d need to work out your recommended intake based on your own body weight. 

For example, I weigh 52kg, so at 3 mg/kg, I can have 52 x 3 = 156 mg caffeine per day. 

The challenge is partly that caffeine can come from different sources and in different amounts, so it may be hard to keep track of what you’ve consumed. 

To make it a bit easier for consumers, Food Standards Code restricts caffeine in soft drinks and energy drinks and requires labelling of all sources of caffeine, including guarana, tea, coffee etc.  

Soft drinks must not exceed 145 mg/kg of caffeine in the drink, whereas energy drinks must not contain more than 320 mg/L of caffeine. This is the amount in the volume of drink – you then must convert that to what’s reasonable for your body weight. The label should state the amount of caffeine per serve.  

Foods that contain caffeine include chocolate, cola drinks, sports supplements, energy drinks, kola nuts, cocoa beans, coffee beans, tea leaves (and all kinds of tea including green tea), and many weight loss supplements. 

Typical amounts of caffeine in different foods are: 

  • 145mg caffeine in a 50mL cup of espresso 
  • 80mg caffeine in an energy drink or caffeinated beverage 
  • 80mg in a cup of instant coffee 
  • 58mg in a long black (100mL cup) 
  • 50mg in a cup of black tea 
  • 36.4mg in a can of caffeinated cola drink 
  • 13mg in a cup of green tea 
  • 12mg in 20g of dark chocolate with high cocoa solids 
  • 10mg in a 50g bar of milk chocolate 
  • 6mg in a 200mL cup of hot chocolate 

So if my caffeine intake is recommended to be 156 mg per day, I can get that amount from either: 

  • One espresso and 20g of dark chocolate 
  • Three cups of black tea 
  • A cup of instant coffee, a cup of black tea and a chocolate bar 

You get the idea – it’s about quantity. 

How do you respond to caffeine? 

Everyone response differently to caffeine. 

Some people get the jitters after one weak coffee, and some can drink 8 coffees a day and still have a solid night’s sleep. Why is that? 

Well, your weight sets the scene for your recommended intake as I’ve just described. 

On top of that, you might either process and get rid of caffeine quickly or more slowly than other people. On average, it takes between 3 – 12 hours to metabolise and excrete caffeine. 

What you eat can affect caffeine metabolism and clearance. For example, large quantities of vitamin C and eating brassica vegetables can speed up your caffeine clearance, whereas alcohol or grapefruit consumption can decrease caffeine clearance. 

Depending on your genes, you may be a fast clearer or a slow clearer, and some genotypes are less sensitive to the effects of caffeine. 

I had a genetic test years ago that indicated I was a fast metaboliser, but I know that I am sensitive to caffeine because it gives me a noticeable lift and I start talking, thinking and doing fast – sometimes too fast. 

More recently, my HealthType test shows I am a Sensor type, and coffee is generally recommended to be avoided, or consumed about once per month. 

Do you need a coffee break? 

Coffee or caffeine can certainly help you feel pepped up, but caffeine is addictive and withdrawal can have side effects including depression, low energy, shakiness, anxiety, headache, irritability, fatigue, trouble concentrating and/or constipation.  

I recently discovered that going from one espresso to none triggered a terrible headache, brain fog, trouble concentrating and irritability 

And having gone through burnout, have been regularly experiencing anxiety and insomnia, and more recently went into menopause, I suspect my adrenal glands have been working overtime and my nervous system has been heavily taxed. 

This probably explains my night sweats and some of the other symptoms I’ve mentioned.  

I decided I didn’t want coffee controlling me, and it might be worth experimenting with a detox to see how I feel when I don’t regularly drink coffee or consume caffeine, especially during menopause. 

Here’s is my protocol for giving up coffee temporarily to see how it affects me. I will update you once I’ve done a few weeks without coffee on what has changed! 

My Coffee Detox Plan 

There are lots of ways to do this, but I will be starting slow and tapering gradually down to zero so I minimise any withdrawal symptoms mentioned above. 

Also, I will be making sure I reduce caffeine from other foods sources at the same time. When I tried quitting coffee last time, I found myself wanting more chocolate – obviously my body was looking for sugar and caffeine as a source of energy. 

Step 1 

Taper from 2 – 3 coffees per day down to one espresso daily for at least one week. 

At the same time, I’m making sure I’m getting 2L of water into my diet to ensure good that my digestion and elimination is not affected. 

I’ve done this step already at the time of writing. 

Step 2 

I have previously started mixing regular coffee with decaf in my espresso and that has worked, but this time I will swap to black and green tea and taper that way. 

So my step 2 will be to have two black teas per day, and I’ll do that for up to a week depending on my symptoms (or maybe longer). I’ll start this tomorrow. 

Step 3 

Next, I’ll reduce to one black tea per day. 

Step 4 

Finally, I’ll go down to rooibos tea only. 

I will stay caffeine free for 3 or 4 weeks to see what changes for me, knowing that after my body has adapted, it will take up to 3 months being caffeine free before I see the full physiological effects of reducing caffeine. 

Summary

Today we talked about the recommended caffeine intakes and how caffeine may affect different people differently, especially in terms of anxiety, insomnia and other symptoms.  

We covered why some people might want to reduce caffeine, and how to taper gradually and take time away from coffee and caffeine. 

You can develop your own protocol for this, I’ve given mine as an example, and hopefully, this helps you to experiment and discover how coffee and caffeine affect you, and whether it’s something you want to continue using. 

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#215 Reducing Anxiety with Vagus Nerve Stimulation

This episode is about reducing anxiety with vagus nerve stimulation

If you’ve struggled with anxiety or other mental health concerns, you know how debilitating it can be. Today we’ll discuss how vagus nerve stimulation can help you to improve these conditions, and 6 ways you can do this simply and effectively at home. 

If you’ve been following me, you know that I talk about anxiety and sleep from time to time as I am dealing with those things myself. 

One thing I’ve realised lately is that I regularly have a racing heart, racing thoughts, body tension and/or gut issues. A common thread for all these things is the vagus nerve. 

As I explore vagus nerve stimulation as a treatment for myself, I wanted to share the idea with you and explain what it is, how it works, and how you can try it for yourself to gain a sense of physical and mental calmness.  

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What is the Vagus Nerve?
* Applications of Vagus Nerve Stimulation
* 6 Ways to use Vagus Nerve Stimulation at home

What is the Vagus Nerve and How Does it Work? 

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body and is one of the main components of your parasympathetic nervous system (the ‘rest and digest’ system).  

The word vagus means ‘wandering’. It ‘wanders’ from your brain stem through your throat, heart, lungs and digestive tract before descending to your abdomen.  

It plays a role in regulating your metabolism and neuroendocrine-immune function, and it does this by monitoring and receiving information from your major internal organs. 

The vagus nerve maintains homeostasis (maintaining a stable environment) – it does this by sending and receiving information to and from the brain and vital organs.  

If there’s danger about, your vagus nerve will respond with a racing heart, but if you are relaxing with some good music, the vagus nerve that will regulate your breathing and slow things down. 

This nerve contains both sensory and motor fibres, so it deals with both sensation and movement. 

It’s also a key connection in the gut brain superhighway, explaining why diet plays an important role in mental health and immune response. It is influential in inflammation through activation of the immune system in response to stress. 

In fact, 20% of the vagus nerve fibres are efferent which means sending information from brain to body, whereas 80% of the vagus nerve fibres are afferent, meaning that they send information from the body to the brain. 

By now, you can see that the vagus nerve is a big part of our mind-body connection. It can drive calmness and balance from the brain down to cause bodily relaxation, or from the body up to create psychological ease. 

The vagus nerve’s sensory and motor functions, afferent and efferent actions and mind-body links are precisely why vagus nerve stimulation can be a powerful tool in reducing anxiety. 

Neuroscientist Stephen Porges developed a theory called the polyvagal theory, which argues that the stress response can be managed through the sensory, emotional and motor pathways that are controlled by the vagus nerve. 

That’s where vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) comes in.

Applications of Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) 

Studies into VNS state that VNS is an approved therapy for epilepsy (with 40% of patients showing up to 50% reduction in seizures). 

It has also shown promising results for chronic inflammatory disorders including sepsis, lung injury, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, to control pain in fibromyalgia and migraines. 

VNS has great potential for a wider range of applications including inflammatory bowel disorders including Crohn’s disease, as well as Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease.  

VNS has shown effective as a supplemental treatment for some people with treatment resistant depression. There is evidence in its’ efficacy for treating obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), PTSD, and panic disorder, and promise as a treatment for anxiety disorders. 

Further study is required to overcome research challenges like small sample sizes, variability in study participants, test invasiveness, and the interaction of other factors. 

But based on what I’ve just described, it’s clear that VNS can be a powerful tool for a wide variety of health concerns related to the nervous system, major organs, or both.  

6 Ways to use Vagus Nerve Stimulation at Home 

Having explored the application and potential power of VNS, let’s just say it won’t work for everyone, but it may help you to feel calmer, more peaceful, and lower inflammation. 

The 6 ways to use VNS at home include methods that stimulate organs and muscles which are innervated by the vagus nerve – lungs, heart, vocal chords, gut and so on – so that those signals can be sent back to the brain to let it know that all is ok, you can calm down. 

1. Take long, deep breaths 

The 4-7-8 breathing pattern is a good example, where exhalations (8-count) are twice as long as inhalations (4-count) (the 7 is a pause in the middle). 

This breathing pattern, through the nose 5 – 10 times, can slow your heart rate and send messages back to the brain to calm down. 

2. Cold water on your face 

Cold water on the face stimulates the vagus nerve and this may be useful for slowing or regulating a racing heart and reducing pain receptor sensitivity. 

3. Singing loudly, humming, or laughing 

Stimulating the vocal cords can stimulate the vagus nerve to create calmness and well-being. 

4. Coughing or gargling 

Coughing or gargling can stimulate the vocal chords much like singing, humming or laughing.  

5. Dancing 

Dancing affects the neural pathways linked to posture and balance and can communicate a sense of calmness and well-being back to the brain. 

6 Yoga and/or meditation 

Yoga and/or meditation involve breathwork and physical positioning that can create calmness partly due to VNS.

It would also be reasonable to suggest that exercise and healthy food stimulate the VNS through both motor and sensory pathways. 

There are a couple of ways to use these techniques to help you calm your nervous system and potentially reduce anxiety. 

Firstly, develop a regular practice of one or two of these activities, so that you are doing them a few times per week and habituating the calming response in your body. 

Secondly, learn to recognise stress in your body and to then respond by using one of these activities in the moment (rather than what you are currently doing). 

For example, if I check in with myself and notice my heart is racing, I might use deep breathing for a minute to calm it down. 

Or, if I feel anxious about something, I might start humming to myself instead of reaching for a square of chocolate.  

To help you experiment with what works and habituate those techniques, you might like to work with a coach, or to at least start writing down your plans and intentions so that you remember to take these actions regularly and stay accountable to yourself.   

Summary

Today we discussed some of the research into vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), a key part of your nervous system that promotes homeostasis of metabolism, neuroendocrine function and immune function. 

VNS shows promise for the treatment of various neurological and mental health concerns. There are six ways you can practice VNS in the privacy of your own home to help you calm down the nervous system and reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety, panic or stress. 

These include long deep breaths (with longer exhales), splashing your face with cold water, singing or humming or laughing, coughing or gargling, dancing, or meditating. 

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#214 Six ways to boost your professional credibility

This episode is about six ways to boost your professional credibility

Are you finding it difficult to gain credibility with other health professionals? Are they confused about what you do, or facing lots of questions about your qualifications? Today I’ll outline six ways you can boost your professional credibility so that people understand what you do and have trust and confidence in your qualification, training, skill set and capabilities.

I wanted to create this episode today because I’ve had two conversations recently that really got me fired up.

In one conversation, a recent graduate who is out marketing her services said she’d been constantly questioned by professionals about her qualifications – not by potential clients – but by health professionals.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What professional credibility mean
* Why people question your qualifications
* Six ways to boost your professional credibility

In the other conversation, a seasoned coach is starting a degree, following what I would call professionally bullying – being told by a health professional that she isn’t qualified enough to have enough expertise in wellness, and needs to do higher education.

After I got up from pounding my fists on the floor, I decided to develop this episode to help you to understand why these sorts of things happen, and what you can do about it.

What professional credibility means

To set the scene, let’s define professional credibility.

It can be simply defined as your education, experience, performance and demonstrated professional development in a particular field.

This definition gives some clues about what it takes to be a credible professional that is trusted and respected. Let’s dig a bit deeper.

Why people question your qualifications and professional credibility

According to an article in the Organisational Behaviour in Health Care book series, “…professional credibility is a source of legitimacy.” The chapter says that when professional credibility is combined with leadership, you can create respect and trust by peers, and engagement with followers.

So, when people question your qualifications or professionalism, they are looking for evidence that you’re trustworthy, capable, and skilled.

In a healthcare setting, it’s understandable that people might question anyone’s professional credibility because you may be dealing with people in health critical or l

complex medical or psychological conditions, and other professionals with significant experience in patient care and medical systems.

Somebody showing up with a coaching qualification may not fit into their paradigm.

In Australia, Health and Wellness Coaching is a relatively young profession and people don’t understand what it is or how it fits with existing medical frameworks, or within health professions.

Part of the challenge is the range of untrained and unexperienced people giving themselves coaching-related titles and offering services that are clearly not coaching related.

Another part of the challenge is the diversity of coaching professions around – you can be a life coach, a wellness coach, a health and wellness coach, a health coach, an executive coach….and so on. What’s the difference? Which is the appropriate setting for each one?

I’ll address these three issues in a moment.

But to finish up this section of today’s topic, I wanted to say that there is something of a turf war going on in Australia. I have heard of this first-hand from a psychologist a few years ago, who told me that psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors are fighting about who is credentialled enough for what.

Let me ease your mind a bit by saying that professional skills are important, our profession definitely needs some good promotion and PR, our scope of practice needs to be clear, but please also know that human ego and professional bullying exists and is potentially always going to be there, no matter how well known, recognised and accepted our profession is.

In fact, the reason I left my previous career as a biological scientist is that I was sick of all the egotism, barrow-pushing and bullying that was going on in my industry back then. I wasn’t personally affected but I was disheartened by the behaviour, generally.

That said, there are things going on and that you can do to move past the questions and to gain the credibility and respect you deserve.

Six ways to boost your professional credibility

Let’s look at 6 ways you can start boosting your professional credibility.

HCANZA – Look for the Logo

If you’re a regular listener of this podcast, you might remember an episode I did in May 2022 called how to boost your professional credibility. This episode was about showcasing the health coaching profession at the inaugural conference of our industry association, Health Coaches Australia and New Zealand association (HCANZA), and how attending could give you ideas on how to communicate what health coaches do, and what our profession is achieving.

As a current board member of HCANZA, I can say that HCANZA is working hard in the advocacy of our profession at the highest levels of government, insurance and medical sector in Australia and New Zealand. HCANZA serves multiple purposes, including building the knowledge, understanding and reputation of health coaching in Australia and New Zealand. We are running a Look for the Logo campaign that educates the public and health professionals on how to choose an appropriately qualified health and wellness coach.

If you are a member of HCANZA, then you have access to resources to help you also advocate for our profession, and to promote yourself in a professional way. Hot off the press, HCANZA members now have access to a 25 page booklet called The Doctors Guide to Health Coaching, authored by Sandra Sheinbaum from the Institute of Functional Medicine and provided to HCANZA members for the purpose of awareness-building, advocacy and promotion of our profession.

If you’re a current member, this would have been sent to you by email and it’s available in the member toolkit. The document has been sent to 2,000 doctors in this past week.

Professional branding

Whether we like it or not, first impressions count.

That means that any imagery, documents, flyers, email footers, social media pages, websites etc that you have need to look professional.

Professional branding can cost as little as $200 or up to $15,000 but before you leap in, you need to work out your target market and ideal customer and get to know them intimately.

Why? Because your branding colours and styles need to appeal to your specific demographic, psychographic and desired feelings.

Before tackling branding formally, when you are getting started, at least develop a professional looking email signature and a formal LinkedIn profile with a professional headshot and a well written bio on it.

Mentioning your qualifications, training and HCANZA membership is valuable for your professional standing and to raise awareness of our industry association.

Your main goal initially is to have consistent visuals and messaging across any promotional material. If you start with LinkedIn and an email footer, and any other online presence, they should all look similar, use the same fonts, and have the same feel about them.

If you are a HCANZA Professional member, log into your account and look inside your member toolkit for tips on creating a professional bio, getting noticed on LinkedIn, where to use your HCANZA logo, and crafting an elevator pitch (who you work with and the general area – e.g. I help professional women in their 40’s who are struggling with menopause). We also have a HCANZA-badged brochure that talks about the benefits of working with a HCANZA-accredited coach.

A clear value proposition

When you can clearly and confidently describe who you work with (elevator pitch) and how you help your niche (value proposition), it lends credibility and professionalism – and legitimacy.

A value proposition describes the tangible results someone will get from using your products or services. I did an episode unpacking how to do this recently using a tool called a Brand Ladder, which you can listen to, here.

A value proposition might be longer than an elevator pitch and speak more specifically to the tangible results. For example, comparing to the elevator pitch I just mentioned, a related value proposition might be something like:

“I use an evidence-based methodology help menopausal women to become aware of what impacts their menopausal symptoms, and to develop health-giving routines to help them reduce their symptoms naturally and feel healthy, productive, energized and calm”.

When you can clearly explain how you help people, they see the value in working with you.

It’s clear that you know what you’re talking about, and that you are confident in what you do and how it helps people.

Endorsement

Personal or professional endorsements are great ways to build credibility. If someone else likes and trusts you, and if you have proven success, this builds your legitimacy as a coach.

Endorsement can take on various forms, such as:

· Being a HCANZA Professional member and listed on their website

· Client testimonials (on your website or social media platform – or a widget like TrustPilot)

· Client case studies

· Professional recommendations (LinkedIn is a great example)

· Media references

· Employer references

· Corporate or business client case studies

Even as a new coach, you can cover at least some of these.

Professional networking

While networking itself isn’t necessarily credibility building, the act of consistently showing up in professional networking spaces creates visibility and recognition and helps you to build relationships with like-minded people who can become your allies and advocates.

For example, when I started my weight loss coaching business, I made an effort to send introductory letters to prominent health professionals in my area and meet several of them for coffee afterwards.

I also attended various events and presentations in my local area such as Medicare presentations, health expos and health practitioner lunches, where I could leverage those initial contacts and become known in the area.

Also, I started my business by running a pilot program that involved my clients seeing their doctors or health professionals for a health clearance before starting. This gave those professionals firsthand experience in the success of my coaching program, and therefore professional endorsement and recognition.

In the end, GP’s and podiatrists, chiropractors and diabetes educators were referring people to me for weight loss, having seen improvement in my clients weight, BMI, blood pressure, insulin, etc.

You can do this in your local area (four or five surrounding suburbs) or nearest health hub.

Publishing and speaking

Finally, being published in online articles, interviewed on the radio or podcasts, published in print newspapers or magazines, all give you visibility and credibility.

After all, nobody will publish you or interview you if you’re not credible.

While this is a marketing activity, it also gives you a chance to be seen, heard and known by different audiences, so they can validly assess (in their own minds) how professional you are.

Summary

Today we talked about the challenges we face in being recognised as credible professionals. The truth is, no matter how experienced and qualified you are, someone will always take a shot at you or doubt your credentials.

That aside, there are six things you can do to boost your professional credibility right now:

· Being a HCANZA member

· ensure you have professional branding

· develop a clear value proposition

· gain endorsements

· professional networking

· publishing and speaking

Passion to Profit

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#213 How to Set Up a Co-Coaching Agreement

This episode is about how to set up a co-coaching agreement

If you’re a coach, it is essential for you to have your own coach. But what if you can’t afford to pay a coach? Co-coaching – or swapping sessions with another coach – is a great way to give and receive coaching and gain the benefits. Coaching is much more effective if you are working with the right person – and today I’ll describe how to set up a productive, connected co-coaching agreement with a fellow coach.

Why Do Coaches Need to be Coached?

A lot of coaches finish their qualification and start looking for clients but have not been coached themselves.

Why is this important? There are a few good reasons.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Why coaches need to be coached
* How to do a ‘good fit’ call
* How to set up a co-coaching agreement

Firstly, if you’re going to communicate the value of what you do as a coach, you really need to speak authentically and from experience. Imagine trying to sell a car if you didn’t drive one yourself? Imagine trying to sell a skincare product that you didn’t use yourself?

Being coached yourself gives you authenticity and credibility.

Secondly, when you decide to be a professional coach, you are pretty much committing to your own personal growth.

Once again this is about authenticity. If you are not willing to grow and change yourself, how can you be trusted to help others to develop new habits and pursue their own personal growth?

As one professional coach in the US says – you can only take a client as deep as you have gone yourself.

Thirdly, everyone has blind spots. Yes, you can coach yourself through the process of self-talk, reflection and journalling, but there are things about yourself and limiting beliefs that you can’t see. So, no matter how good of a coach you are, you can’t do it all on your own.

Finally, it is through the process of coaching and experiencing the discomfort of change that you really appreciate what your clients are going to go through, how to describe the benefits and value of coaching, and to gain lived experience in problem solving, navigating a journey and defining success on your terms. By working with another coach, you might also learn a few new coaching techniques as you get to increase your skills and go deep on areas that are important to you – perhaps deeper than you would on your own, or with your own clients.

All of this leads to greater resonance with your audience, more impactful marketing, and better coaching skills.

To work with a coach, you have a couple of options.

You can hire a coach and pay a fee for service which suits some people.

Alternatively, you can find a peer coach to work with and do a barter, swapping sessions with each other – which I like to call co-coaching.

The great thing about co-coaching is that the coaching itself is often easier because you are both familiar with the concept of coaching, the language of coaching, and how a session is run. This makes things feel more comfortable and it’s easier to get into a flow. Great if you are new to coaching and lacking a bit of confidence!

Also, co-coaching has zero cost. If you are on a budget, co-coaching is a cost-effective way to help you get some practice, experience and personal growth.

Like any coaching relationship, it’s important that you make sure you have a good fit with the person you are going to work with.

You can identify a co-coaching partner through your coach training school and/or alumni, or through your industry association (e.g. HCANZA).

Once you’ve identified someone you might like to work with, it’s important to make sure you are a good fit for working together.

I like to have a good fit call with any prospective client, and it’s great practice to do it with a potential co-coaching partner.

How to do a ‘good fit’ call

A good fit call is a short conversation (usually around 30 minutes) where you gauge your suitability for working together.

You can use this same process for a co-coaching relationship or to qualify your prospective clients!

The goal is to see if you have the right chemistry – that is, rapport and relationship – and both feel willing to coach each other.

There is no set-in-stone way to run a good fit call, but it might generally involve asking each other some general questions to get a sense of who the person is and what is important to them.

Here are some sample questions you can ask:

· What’s the main area or habit you’re looking to work on right now?

· What are your objectives for the coaching partnership? (e.g. to help you achieve…..)

· How do you want to be coached? (e.g. plenty of silence, direct, empathetic etc)

· Tell me about yourself and your life right now? (e.g. looking for common ground)

· What are your top two values, and why do they matter to you?

Asking a few questions like this is usually enough to get a sense of the person and how aligned you are in terms of demographic, personality, values, priorities and stage of life.

Be very present in the conversation so that you can do the essential piece – which is checking in with yourselves about the chemistry you have with the other person (somatic awareness).

There are three questions you can ask yourself during the conversation:

· How is my body responding in this conversation?

For example, do you notice tightness or tension in your body, or a tingling, free-flowing feeling? Where do you feel that?

· How do I feel in the conversation?

For example, do you feel overwhelmed, tentative or drained, or do you feel calm, open and energized?

· What am I thinking during the conversation?

For example, are you thinking this person seems like hard work, or I’m not sure about them, or they’re too soft/driven for me, or are you thinking this person is aligned, we are getting on well, I feel good about this?

This checking in process leads to one of two outcomes – you’re not a fit, or you are a fit.

There’s really no in between.

If you feel that the two of you are not a fit, that’s ok, you can decide together openly and honestly. In this case, you can be honest and let them know that you don’t think it’s the right fit but it was lovely to meet them and have the introduction.

If this was a client, you might say that you feel there is another coach who would be a better match for them and be able to give better and more relevant support, and would they like you to pass on the other coach’s details?

If you feel you are a fit, you can establish an agreement – I would recommend for a set number of sessions and then review. Allow enough time and sessions for the person to establish (or get back on track) with at least one habit

How to set up a co-coaching agreement

Once you have established that the rapport and relationship is suitable, it’s time to set up a co-coaching agreement.

With a client, you would normally agree on the terms, payment and duration of coaching, and it’s a similar process for co-coaching (without the payment).

It’s important to have agreement up front so that you can ensure you both achieve your goals and are committed to the process. This can be even more important when no money changes hands; as financial investment can strengthen commitment.

The last thing you want to do is start cancelling or postponing sessions, losing enthusiasm and getting to busy.

Treat your co-coach with the integrity and respect that you would a client.

You could either ask the coach to complete your normal client agreement, or, you can establish a less formal written agreement in a document stating the terms of the arrangement so you are both clear on the expectations and commitment.

Your agreement would normally be a minimum of 8 weeks (at least 5 sessions) for working on one or two new habits.

If you were just getting an existing habit back on track, you’d be looking at a minimum of 6 weeks (at least 4 sessions).

You can decide on the cadence of sessions depending on how much support you feel you would need. Starting weekly is a good idea for at least 3 weeks, then you could continue that way, or perhaps move to fortnightly at the time if you both agree.

It’s also a good idea to schedule at least three sessions in advance so you both clear your schedules to make time to focus and give your energy to the coaching relationship.

Summary

Today, we discussed the many reasons why it’s so valuable for coaches to work with their own coaches, including depth of experience, skill development, authenticity, personal growth and marketing insights.

We also covered how to conduct a good fit call to ensure there is suitable rapport and relationship between you, including sample questions to ask each other, and three questions to ask yourself to honestly reflect on the chemistry and suitability of this partnership.

If you’re not a fit, be honest and thank each other for the conversation.

But if you are a fit, you can set up a co-coaching agreement that covers how long you will work together, the cadence of sessions, and which days and times suits both parties. Having something in writing ensures the commitment of both.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#212 What’s the Difference Between ICF & NBHWC

This episode is about what’s the difference between ICF & NBHWC  

Are you a qualified coach who is wondering how to gain professional credibility and endorsement? You might have been looking at ICF and NBHWC accreditation but aren’t sure which way to go. By the end of this episode, you’ll be clear on the difference between ICF and NBHWC as professional associations, what the process is for getting accredited by either, and perhaps some clarity on which option is better for you.

If you’re a qualified coach of any type, then being a member of a respected industry association gives you professional credibility, visibility and a measure of competence as a coach. There are various professional coaching associations around, and the two most talked-about in health and wellness coaching are ICF – the International Coaching Federation – and the NBHWC – the National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coaching association. Let’s compare the two. 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What is the difference between ICF and NBHWC?
* What is the process for getting accredited by either?
* Which option is better for you?

What is the difference between ICF and NBHWC? 

Let’s start with the International Coaching Federation.  

ICF is a global organisation for coaches and coaching, which has been around since 1995 and has over 50,000 members. ICF aims to advance the coaching profession by defining and upholding coaching ethics, standards, core competencies and professional conduct.  ICF also provides independent certification and a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals. 

ICF members are typically life coaches, executive coaches, leadership coaches and similar.  

Having been around a long time, ICF is well known in Australia and in corporate settings, having at least a PCC qualification helps you get in the door as a coach at executive level.  ICF promotes itself as “the most globally recognised, independent credentialling program for coach practitioners.” 

Now let’s compare the National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coaches association.  

NBHWC is an American-based association that has collaborated with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) in the US, to provide a robust board certification exam that assesses competencies in trained health and wellness coaches. NBHWC defines and upholds health and wellness coaching standards and core competencies at an international level, allowing the profession to advance in all aspects of healthcare and wellness.  NBHWC was developed and endorsed by some of the major players in health and wellness coaching. 

NBHWC been around since 2016 and is linked to the medical and Medicare system in the US – but not elsewhere.  Still, NBHWC is considered by many to be the gold standard of credentialling for health and wellness coaches specifically, and at an international level.  

NBHWC is not as well known in Australia as ICF at the time of writing but is becoming better known as more coach training organisations register as recognised providers with NBHWC and promote this status of their program. 

Aside from advocacy and maintaining standards of training and coaching competency, both associations play key roles in advocating for our professions, creating a community for coaches, and for approving training courses that qualify coaches to sit the respective exams.

What is the process for getting accredited by either? 

ICF Accreditation process 

ICF has recently (early 2022) updated their credentialling exam, process and levels. What I am about to describe covers this new process. 

The ICF accreditation process involves submitting a portfolio of evidence first and an application fee. ICF assesses your application and then decides whether you are eligible to sit a three-hour multiple choice exam which they call a Coach Knowledge Assessment.  

The portfolio of evidence varies according to the level of qualification you are pursuing, but all levels include certain types of information: 

  • Proof that you have successfully completed an ICF-approved course of a certain number of live (real-time) hours and evidence of successful completion*, 
  • A coaching log with certain number of hours depending on the level you are applying for,  
    • At least 75% of hours must be paid hours 
    • At least 25% of hours must have been completed in the 18 months prior to your application 
  • Completion of at least 10 hours of mentoring with an approved ICF mentor, and  
  • Submitting 1 recording of a coaching session and a transcript, which demonstrate you have met the ICF core competencies (this is a different session structure to HWC).  This only applies to PCC or MCC level applications. 

As you go higher up the qualification levels, you need more hours of everything before you can sit the exam. 

The bottom level is Associate Certified Coach or ACC, where you need to show evidence of completing 60 hours of coach-specific education and 100 hours of client coaching experience (e.g. coaching log). 

The middle level is Professional Certified Coach or PCC, where you need to show evidence of completing 125 hours of coach-specific education and 500 hours of client coaching experience. 

The top level is Master Certified Coach or MCC, where you need to show evidence of completing 200 hours of coach-specific education and 2,500 hours of client coaching experience. 

*Note that If you have not completed ICF-approved education, you may choose the portfolio pathway for any of these three levels. This requires you to provide specific details of all the courses you have completed, including continuing education courses and the number of hours related to each core competency. 

For example, I completed the PCC application process. I had completed one ICF-approved course, but to make up the 125 hours of coach specific training, I also provided evidence of four other courses I completed, each showing the curriculum, number of hours on each competency, and learning outcomes. It was a BIG job to do this, but I got through. 

If your application is accepted, you will be notified and invited to sit the exam which can be done online from your home computer. The range of possible scores is 200 – 600, and a passing score is 460 or more. 

I’d recommend about 4 weeks of study for the exam, given that your 10 mentoring sessions and private client coaching should have prepared you adequately, and there are no health metrics that need to be studied and learned. 

Your application and the exam are all entirely accessed by a secure online portal in the ICF website. 

NBHWC Accreditation process 

The NBHWC accreditation process is similar to ICF’s.  

You are required to submit a portfolio of evidence first and an application fee. Then, NBHWC assesses your application and decides whether you are eligible to sit a 4.5 hour multiple choice exam. 

NBHWC lists a calendar that shows exam application periods each year. They have 3 intakes per year at the time of writing. 

Once you have applied you have a window of time to submit a portfolio of evidence and then, if that is accepted, to book in and sit your exam and pay the associated fee. 

The portfolio of evidence includes certain types of information: 

  • Proof that you have successfully completed an NBHWC-approved course of a certain number of live (real-time) hours (e.g. Wellness Coaching Australia’s Professional Certificate course), 
  • A coaching log showing 50 hours of health and wellness coaching sessions  
    • at least 20 minutes long,  
    • at least 75% of the session being coaching and not education,  
    • not including sessions with friends, family or classmates, and 
    • must have been completed AFTER completing your recognised training course. 
  • Submitting evidence of a health-related Bachelor’s degree, or alternatively, that you have completed 4,000 hours of work experience in any field.   

The NBHWC website includes plenty of great resources including a sample coaching log. 

>> Here is a link to the exam study materials and information 

If your application is accepted you will be notified and invited to sit the exam, and will need to find a secure test centre location near you. 

I’d recommend allowing about 12 weeks of study, 2 – 3 hours per week, covering their core competencies and learning the American medical metrics (these are tested). 

Once your exam is completed, you will receive your score about 8 weeks after the closing of the testing window. 

In both cases, the multiple-choice exam asks you to answer questions about specific situations.  

For example, in the NBHWC exam, you might be asked what you would do if your client in their 10th session came in and was lacking motivation to continue. There are also specific questions about US medical metrics. 

In the ICF exam, you might be asked what the best possible or worst possible action might be as a coach if your client presented with low motivation and reluctance to discuss specifics. 

In other words, knowing the theory of coaching isn’t enough – the exams are testing your knowledge of how to implement the skills you’ve learned in real life situations, and related to the stage of change, size of obstacle, scope of practice and ethical considerations. 

This is an overview of the two assessment processes – visit their websites to gain more specific detail of what is involved. 

Which option is better for you? 

The best option depends on your situation. 

For some health and wellness coaches, NBHWC is more relevant as it is more specific to health and wellness coaching and is often desirable or essential for international coaching companies who employ health and wellness coaches (e.g. Noom – though they have an internal training program for this, possibly BetterUp). 

While the general public in Australia don’t recognise NBHWC at this point in time, the credential is becoming better known. Plus, it is more specific to health and wellness coaching and the assessment considers a more specific model around habit change. 

For some health and wellness coaches, ICF is a better fit. This is probably relevant if you want to break into corporate coaching, where ICF is recognised, and PCC is often the minimum standard.  

ICF is more broadly recognised, although the credentialling system does not specifically assess knowledge of health and wellbeing metrics or development of habits. 

Either way, being credentialled by ICF or NBHWC is good for your credibility but possibly involves a whole new suite of qualification courses, time and cost.  

For many coaches starting out, it is better to work with clients and get proof that you can help people to build credibility and trust, before considering a formal credentialling process. 

A Third Option 

There is a third option – joining HCANZA; Health Coaches Australia and New Zealand Association. 

This industry association is not a credentialling body, but it performs many of the same functions and ICF and NBHWC and upholds the standards of ethics and education of those two associations.  

HCANZA provides community and connection in our local area, as well as advocacy for health and wellness coaching professionals and creating visibility and employment in our field.  

HCANZA does not have a lengthy, costly examination process, just a requirement to show successful completion of:  

  • an NBHWC-recognised training program, or  
  • an ICF-recognised training program plus appropriate health and/or lifestyle education.  

Other levels of membership are available if you: 

  • Are an allied health professional with an advanced degree and coaching experience and training 
  • Are a current or prospective student of a health and wellness coaching course, or 
  • Have completed a coaching program with health and lifestyle training meeting the criteria set by NBHWC. 

There are three levels of membership: 

  • Professional membership 
  • Associate membership, and 
  • Student membership. 

To apply for HCANZA membership, you need to provide evidence of training as mentioned above, professional indemnity insurance (or cover note), code of conduct and scope of practice documents, and an online application form and fee. 

Summary

It’s clear that you can bolster your professional standing, credibility and visibility by being credentialed by an industry body such as ICF or NBHWC, or by being a member of an industry association such as HCANZA. 

Any path you take requires you to have completed a certain standard of training by a training provider who teaches and assesses core coaching competencies.  

In the case of NBHWC and HCANZA, evidence of health and lifestyle training is also required. 

For ICF and NBHWC, allow around 4 – 12 weeks of study and evidence preparation. 

If you are new to the industry and not sure where to start, your best option may be to simply join HCANZA, get some practice and experience as a coach, then decide on your future direction before committing to a credentialling process that costs time, energy and money. 

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#211 How to Succeed by Showing Up

This episode is about how to succeed by showing up

Are you struggling to find enough clients, do a good enough job, or achieve your goals, and wondering how to make it happen? Let’s look at why showing up is the key to your success.

What is showing up?

Showing up refers to your ability to do things consistently and to be accountable to yourself for that. It’s a simple as that, but it’s also essential for achieving any outcome goals you have.

Losing weight.

Launching a successful business.

Attracting clients.

Completing a qualification.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What is showing up?
* What does showing up create?
* How do you commit to showing up?

It doesn’t matter what you are trying to achieve – it’s the same principle. Showing up is required for success, and it means that you are committed, disciplined, and consistent with your efforts no matter what, which makes the results possible.

A lot of people I meet come to me for coaching because they are getting half baked results or no results. A lot of the time it’s about not showing up for yourself consistently.

A lot of things happen if you don’t show up.

For example, in marketing one of the keys to becoming visible and known is that you show up regularly and keep your promises to yourself and your audience. It might take 6 to 12 months before somebody even knows that you exist, so you need to be putting yourself out there consistently and regularly in the same places over a long enough period of time that people can start to see you and get to know you, let alone want to buy something from you.

A lot of coaches I meet try something here and there for a month and then give up saying that nobody is interested. Not long enough! And likely, not consistent enough.

The same goes for eating and exercise for example. If you want to be athletic, to lose 5 kg of body fat, to gain 3 kg of muscle, to run a marathon or to consistently follow a Mediterranean diet, then you need to show up for yourself and exercise, eat well or train several times per week and every week consistently for a period of time – usually at least 3 months.

It’s great to start with planning to do something, but that is the easy bit. You feel excited at the prospect of achieving the result. You feel satisfied that you’ve mapped out all of the steps appropriately. You feel like you are ready to go.

But the reality is, as you start to implement your plan life is going to throw you curveballs. That’s a definite – and showing up requires you to figure out how to keep showing up for yourself, or for others, or both.

I know for myself for example, at least two or three nights a week I sleep poorly at the moment. And while it might be tempting for me to take a day off the next day, I have responsibilities and things that are important for me to do so I dig deep, and I show up. I make myself get up on time, shower, get dressed in colourful clothing, eat something nutritious, and prepare myself mentally for the meetings and tasks ahead. Obviously there are exceptions, like if I am really sick, but otherwise I just get over the mind games and move forward.

ALL of us have obstacles in life that prevent us from showing up and that is why working with a coach to be so helpful because it’s about learning how to navigate, troubleshoot, and problem solve those obstacles so that you can be consistent and get the results you want.

Why is it sometimes hard to show up? Simply, because our brains work against us. Our brains are wired to seek pleasure, avoid pain and expend as little effort as possible. This is why we tell ourselves all the lies and excuses that stop us from taking action!

But if we work with our brains, we develop better habits that help us to show up and create results.

What does showing up create?

So, what happens if you do manage your brain better and show up consistently?

Well let’s look at some real life examples.

I have been running this podcast every week for over two years. I have committed to consistently publishing episodes every week no matter what. For example, my father just passed away a couple of weeks ago, and knowing that he was unwell I recorded a couple of episodes in advance so that I could keep showing up.

Some days I don’t feel like recording a podcast but I do it anyway because I am committed to this activity.

People ask, where do I get the motivation? Well, I have learned to embrace this process because it builds my audience over time with more and more people listening to this podcast. I don’t want to let them down by not showing up. If I don’t do an episode or two, or if I’m late, people will get the impression that I’m unreliable and untrustworthy – definitely not helpful! Therefore, I have strategies in place to make sure that I show up every week no matter what.

Actually, weight loss is a really good example of what’s required for showing up. In my experience of coaching people around weight loss, it often takes several weeks before they start to see the impact of habit they have changed. In the meantime, they may get sick, lose motivation, feel overwhelmed with stressors or feel tired as their body changes. But by committing to themselves they can overcome those challenges and still show up for themselves in order to achieve the result that they want.

The interesting thing is that it’s actually not so much about the result because that is a one-off thing. Showing up is actually about embracing the process and developing the habits that will make you a success.

Those habits become who you are, your new identity, and a new way of living.

In the weight loss example, people talk about losing weight and then gaining it again. It just means that they stop showing up for themselves and go back into their old habits which no longer serve them.

In another example, I think about myself as a business owner running my signature weight loss program in my local area for 3 1/2 years.

It didn’t matter how tired I was, or down, or what the weather was like, I showed up consistently for those groups of clients and got myself into a positive mindset to foster an exceptional experience for those clients and hold the space for them so that they could achieve their goals.

Sometimes I definitely didn’t feel like running those group sessions, but I had strategies in place to make sure that my clients got incredible value from those sessions and from working with me. After all, it was the results they got and the way they felt in those sessions that created multiple referrals and sold-out programs every time.

What do you think would’ve happened if I cancelled sessions because I didn’t feel like going, or if I showed up half hearted and listless?

Showing up – or not – creates your results.

How do you commit to showing up?

So how do you commit to showing up for yourself and for other people?

It’s really all about managing your mindset, your energy, your motivation, and maintaining your level of commitment to yourself and or other people.

If you want to show up for yourself or others consistently, the first thing you must do is to define a really good reason why you want to do a particular thing. In my example of podcasting, this is tied in with my ability to have an impact on the lives of other people and to help people to bring their greatness to the world. This is a huge part of my purpose, so if I don’t do this podcast consistently, I might lose my audience, and that might mean that I don’t get to fulfil my purpose.

The nutshell is that having a big why or lots of whys is really important for committing to something.

The second thing is that you have to be doing something that is truly meaningful and important to you. If you are trying to do something that you think you should be doing but don’t really want to do and then it’s going to be hard to stick to. This ties into your why, but is slightly different.

For example, reaching my audience is important to me, but my actions for getting there must be meaningful and aligned. When I tried to run a Facebook group over about a 14-month period, I struggled because I absolutely hated being on Facebook and so I wasn’t able to make myself be consistent and show up for that and I learnt a really important lesson by failing at that. I realise that I was doing something that I thought I should be doing but didn’t really suit me or feel right and it didn’t suit my audience either.

So, choosing activities and goals with importance and meaning is an essential part of showing up.

The third thing is that if you want to be able to show up for yourself or others consistently, choose habits or activities that play to your strengths, or find ways to use your strengths to complete those activities. It’s much easier to be consistent when you are doing something that you are good at or have the potential to develop skills in.

The fourth thing, and this is probably a really important one, is that you just have to stop overthinking things. It’s really easy if you’re tired or stressed to want to give up on yourself and to tell yourself stories about why you can’t do something. That’s just your brain trying not to make the effort.

If you think about it, it’s actually the discomfort of doing something under adversity that helps you to come out stronger and with a greater sense of self belief. If you give in every time and don’t be consistent, then you are just proving to yourself that you can’t. If you grit your teeth and get

through something challenging, you gain a sense of pride, efficacy and a glimmer of hope that you can do it again. This gives your untrusting brain the proof it needs to believe you can succeed.

It’s way better to find some strategies and cues and just make yourself do something and get across the line to prove to yourself that you can because that will create momentum and an upward spiral.

My best strategy to overcome mental hurdles is talking myself into doing the activity and outlining all the reasons it’s important.

The fifth thing is that planning is really important in terms of being able to show up for yourself. Imagine if I was trying to record a podcast every week but didn’t have any sort of activity put into my calendar. I’d probably forget will be trying to squeeze it in around other appointments or double booking myself and then it wouldn’t get done. Planning means you are intentionally making space – a dedicated time slot every week – to recording an episode, doing the gym workout, or posting on LinkedIn – whatever it is you want to commit to.

Planning offers you more than just the ability to complete the task. By making space for what matters to you, it prompts you to clear out the low return tasks so that you don’t waste time and become more efficient and productive. When your schedule is based around important but not urgent tasks and not too many of them, then it’s much easier to show up for yourself.

The sixth thing I want to talk about today in terms of showing up is that sometimes you’re going to need support from another person or some sort of system to help you show up. It could be a coach. It could be an alarm. It could be a ritual or process you used to get yourself into the right headspace. But whatever it is, if you find it hard to be self motivated and self disciplined at times, think about the things you can do to help you show up for yourself.

Using this podcast as an example once again, if I’m not in the mood or am lacking inspiration, I have a few uplifting podcasts that I listen to that help me to come up with a more positive mindset and create some of my own ideas for content. I also have content that I’ve created in the past and I can always go back to that and re-purpose it for a podcast episode if I need to. I have a system of dictating into my iPad or phone so if I get an idea while I’m on the run I can capture it in a document using the microphone function and that means I am constantly adding to the content when the ideas strike me. These are three of my personal strategies for making sure I show up and do this podcast every week no matter what.

The seventh and final thing that will help you to show up is the 7-minute rule. In the practice of yoga, there is a saying that if you just do 7 minutes then you will likely keep going. I apply the same principle to anything else that I need to show up for. Just seven minutes writing some notes for a podcast. Or just seven minutes getting my mind in order so I can still see my clients today and not cancel any appointments. You get the idea. Doing a tiny amount of something means that you get over the initial hurdle of starting, and that you are more likely to keep going

Summary

Today we talked about what showing up is and why it is important.

I also talked about seven ways to help you show up for yourself:

1. Define a specific why, or many whys

2. Focus on activities that are meaningful and important to you (linked to the why)

3. Choose activities that play to your strengths, or find ways to use strengths to complete them

4. Stop overthinking things and just do them with the help of strategies and cues.

5. Planning specific activities for specific time slots

6. Get the support you need from others, systems or tools

7. Commit to just 7 minutes so you get over the hurdle of starting.

Showing up for yourself means that you can do meaningful things in your own life and succeed at those things and feel like you are living a purposeful and intentional life.

It is about learning to embrace the process and become good at that, rather than just focussing on the result. This not only helps you achieve the result, it also helps you to become committed to the regular actions that create your results!

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#210 How to Start a Health Coaching Business

This episode is about how to start a health coaching business

When you’ve qualified as a health coach, what are the steps you need to take to get started? Should you set up a website, or hire a coach? What should you do first? It can be really confusing, especially if you’ve never run a business before. By the end of this episode, you will have an outline of how to start a health and well-being coaching business, so that you can get clear on your priorities and start taking action.

Before you start your business

While this episode outlines how to start a health coaching business, you need to consider a few important factors if you want your business to be successful!

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Before you start your business
* The first three essential, foundational steps
* Developing your marketing materials and sales funnel

Imagine your business is a new puppy. It needs to be fed, toilet trained, cuddled, trained and nurtured so it can grow into a happy, healthy dog that knows how to behave.

Think about the responsibility involved in raising a puppy. If you want to succeed in your business, you need to clear the same amount of time, space and effort in your life to dedicate to your business and ensure it works.

A lot of people are ok with planning in business, but they struggle to implement perhaps due to life circumstances, personal trauma, trying to do too many things at once, or simply not dedicating enough time or being realistic about what they can achieve.

Others don’t research, define or commit to a niche and a clearly defined problem, which means they don’t have a clear value proposition and that their marketing efforts are ineffective.

If you want to start a business, make sure you have set aside at least 6 hours per week, increasing over several months, to start and develop your business.

The three foundational steps

1. Define what your business stands for (vision and values)

Like any good roadmap, you need to start with the end in mind.

If you know what your business stands for and what it brings to the world in terms of the results and outcomes it can create, you will be able to attract the right clients, and get your daily work priorities right and feel motivated to show up each week.

For me, my vision and values create the compass that help me work out whether something is worth pursuing or not – be that a program I develop, a contact I am introduced to, or a client enquiry.

2. Define your value proposition (what will they get from your program?) and offer (what is the thing they buy?)

This is really important for explaining the value of what you do and feeling a sense of value in your own work, and confidence in your ability to invite clients to work with you.

In the words of one of my recent Passion to Profit students, who worked on her value proposition:

“I have actually enjoyed it; I go back to it regularly just checking in on some of the points. It centres me back into the why and what. Kind of helps get those creative juices going, thinking of how to place together information for marketing.”

Each service you offer has its own value proposition.

For example, an 8-week coaching program might have a value proposition that is about creating a transformation of some kind and a path to rapid change.

In contrast, a monthly membership that follows the program might have a value proposition about helping people stay on track and be consistent and develop deeper insights and changes that help them step into their future self.

These are very generic examples, and you would want to be way more specific and relevant to your niche. But what you can hear is that the value of each is very clear and will appeal to different people depending on their stage of change.

In order to get your value proposition right, you need to speak to your target market and understand the results and support they want, need and will pay for. Your value proposition is based around that. You can do this in casual conversations, free coaching sessions, or social media conversations.

3. Outline what you will charge per program/membership and how many you need to sell to meet your income goal (simple math)

The third foundational step is to be really clear on what your income will be and also the timing.

For example, there are many ways you can earn $100,000 per year.

You can sell 2 x $50,000 programs (they’d be one year long for that price, and highly transformational).

Or you can sell 10 x $10,000 programs (probably also around 12 months long and transformational, or very personalised).

Or you can sell 100 x $1,000 programs, which might be a series of groups each school term and/or a few individuals.

Or you can sell 208 memberships at $40 per month (assuming 12 months).

Or it could be any combination of these. These are examples, but it’s important that you get clear on what you’re offering initially.

It will likely be one core program that you offer, with a group and a 1:1 pricing, and you’d focus on selling that and becoming good at it, and known for it, and to learn more about your audience.

Once you have these steps mapped out, you can get on with other business building tasks.

Developing Your Offers, Marketing Materials and Sales Funnel

Once you know who you are talking to and what you are selling, you are ready to develop your marketing materials and sales funnel.

4. Create a splinter/taster service – low risk way for people to try before they buy (< $100)

The marketing gurus say that if someone spends as little as $1 with you, they will more likely buy something more expensive.

Your splinter service is your first, lowest cost offer. It should be priced between $27 and $97, and it should offer tangible value to the audience. That value is likely to be creating an aha moment (the first condition of change), and perhaps an outline of the steps they need to take.

With this information in hand, your target market will be positioned to decide if they are ready, willing and able to change right now or not – and whether they want to do it with you.

5. Decide on your free thing (is it a FB group, a challenge, a webinar you run or talk you do regularly etc?)

Most people need to spend time getting to know you before they will spend anything with you, especially for a personal service like coaching.

Create a free thing that gives people the chance to get to know you – this is your free, no risk offer.

Make sure your free thing is something that plays to your strengths so you can keep showing up and offering value. E.g. don’t do a group if you hate FB. If you love speaking, do Youtube or Insta reels or live workshops or challenges instead.

Make sure it offers value to the audience. Don’t give away everything, but help them start forming a specific habit, such as giving up alcohol, developing a meditation practice, or something else that will help them achieve their ultimate aim.

If they can get some quick wins on this free thing, they are more likely to want to continue the journey in your full program or at least consider your splinter service.

6. Create a marketing schedule for VISIBILITY/awareness

Once you have your offers mapped out you are ready to create a marketing schedule. This schedule has three aims:

1. To help you become visible and build awareness of how you help people,

2. To ensure you show up consistently with your marketing so that you build trust, rapport and interest that lead to enquiries, and

3. To ensure you are regularly making free and paid offers so people have something to try or buy.

Depending on whether you are marketing online or offline, your marketing schedule should include:

1. Regular posts or content that offer value to the niche and/or

2. Regular networking events that introduce you to your niche or niche referrers (and book follow up coffee chats)

Don’t try to do 100 things in 100 places, just start with one or two tactics for at least 6 months. Give it enough time to see what works, and test and measure as you go.

Focus on building connections first to build the audience over 1 – 3 months, then start promoting offers once you have an audience.

When you these activities, you will be experimenting to see what sticks. You will shape your content around that feedback and then start building your audience.

Then when you have built the audience you are ready to start making offers (not before – know the audience first to fine tune the offer so it is relevant – and give first in order to receive).

After you have built some trust and a following, you can do fortnightly to monthly promotions for

c. Your free lead magnet (e.g. challenge, group, webinar, talk etc), and

d. Your program / membership or whatever your core service is.

Remember that people who sign up for your lead magnet should be offered the next level of service after the lead magnet has been delivered.

For example, if your lead magnet is a downloadable ebook, you would make another offer e.g. for a good fit call within a few days.

If your lead magnet is a live challenge or a workshop, you would make the next offer e.g. for your program at the end of the challenge or workshop.

Notice that trust, rapport and relationship are built more quickly in a live environment so it’s easier to make a bigger offer.

With some careful planning, you could do an ‘intake’ (offer with a start date or week) so that you can manage your work time if you are working at the same time as building your business.

E.g. you know you can handle one group on a Saturday morning, so you promote that, fill the group, then run it and use feedback to refine the program if needed.

Then, decide if you will take paid or unpaid leave for the next group – or run two on a Saturday morning and afternoon.

7. Make sure your systems are in order to deliver the above elements.

Finally, once you have these elements in place, you can look at the systems you will need to deliver the essential parts of your business, such as:

– Email systems

– Invoicing and bank reconciliation systems

– Client onboarding processes

– Program delivery processes

– Feedback and improvement processes.

This overview covers the key things you need to do at a high level to build a successful coaching business.

Summary

If you want to build a successful health coaching business, you need to get a few things in order.

You’ll need to complete some foundational tasks to make sure you are ready and committed to building your business.

Then, you’ll need to do some research and foundational tasks to create a vision, mission and define a viable niche who is ready, willing and able to spend money with you to solve their problem and meet your business and income goals. By doing research with your target market, you will be able to create some specific value propositions for each service that you offer.

Finally, with a clear knowledge of who you are speaking to and how you help them, you are ready to create your offers, marketing materials and sales funnel to help people get to know you, like you and trust you enough to work with you.

If you feel like you are ready to do this now, check out my Passion to Profit course which starts on 27 September.

https://www.wellnesscoachingaustralia.com.au/business-resources/passion-to-profit/

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on

E#209 How Long Does It Take to Form a Habit?

This episode is about how long does it take to form a habit?

Are you thinking about making change but lacking in motivation, and wondering how long it will take to form a new habit that happens automatically and effortlessly?

By knowing how long it takes to form a habit, it can help you to manage your expectations, decide if you are ready to start, and hang in there long enough to be successful.

I’m sure you know what it’s like. At some point in your life, you have wanted to lose weight, or tone up, or establish a better sleep routine, but it can be hard to get started when you’re not clear on how long it will take, and whether you have enough time and energy to even start.

If you search the internet for “how long does it take to form a habit”, you will find a range of answers. Today I want to share the most recent research to answer this question, with caveats included!

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* The Architecture
* What Type of Habit Do You Want to Change?
* What Type of Person Are You?
* What is Your Situation? What is Your Mindset?
* What Does the Research Say?

The Architecture of Habits

To set the scene, let’s look at the architecture of habits. I have done a deep dive on this in previous episodes, so for now let’s recap.

Firstly, any habit has a cue or trigger – something that causes it to happen.

Then there is a routine or process that you go through.

Then, there is a reward you receive by going through the process.

The craving for this reward can motivate you to keep coming back.

What this means for you is that if you want to change a bad habit or form a new habit, you need to work the elements of this ‘habit loop’ to help you get there faster.

Let’s look at how to do that, with some examples.

What Type of Habit Do You Want to Change?

Firstly, consider that the type and complexity of habit that you want to change. Let me give you two examples from my own life so you can see the difference.

If it’s a simple habit you want to form like flossing your teeth once per day, then you can bet that it will happen a lot sooner and become automatic more easily compared to a more complex habit.

A few years ago, a friend of mine told me he had started flossing his teeth each night. This is something I’ve wanted to do for teeth hygiene reasons, but never quite found the motivation and

momentum to be consistent. This is probably because I found it to be a rather fiddly and sometimes painful task, and I had told myself that I hated flossing my teeth, or that I couldn’t be bothered.

But as soon as my friend mentioned he was doing this, I decided that I’d have a go too. I didn’t tell him or anyone else – I just decided one day that I would have a competition with myself to do it every night for 12 weeks, as an experiment to see whether I could turn this into an automatic and effortless habit.

The trigger part of the habit was easy – I would floss before brushing my teeth each night. This is called habit stacking, or as I like to call it, piggybacking. I simply put a package of floss next to my toothbrush and voila, I remembered to even think about doing it each night!

I got off to a good start and in the first few weeks, I realised a few things.

Firstly, I realised that each night I was approaching this habit in the wrong way.

When I got ready to floss, I noticed that I was thinking about how annoying this was, or how I didn’t feel like doing it, or how yukky and gross it was – unhelpful thinking! Instead, I decided to come up with more neutral or positive thoughts as I was flossing. I started thinking things like “I did another night! Yay!” or “This is good for my teeth!”

Secondly, I realised that if I was going to be consistent with this, I would have to be clear on the process. I had recently been to a new dentist, and they’d provided some written instructions on how to brush and floss your teeth. To make it more interesting, I decided to geek it up and deep dive into technique, trying to bring some fresh energy and interest into the process.

I learned about flossing on angles and how long it should take.

Those two things kept me going in the beginning.

Then I started thinking about the reward in earnest, rather than just having that sense of achievement. Sure, that was a reward, but I also ran my tongue over my teeth and made a smug ‘ah’ sound, really celebrating the clean teeth and how I was maintaining the dentist’s good cleaning work.

Something funny happened about 11 or 12 weeks into the routine. I had had a late night and a few drinks and was getting ready for bed. And even being so tired, I realised that I simply couldn’t go to bed without flossing my teeth before brushing.

It was a huge win! I could celebrate more than just the fact that it had become automatic and effortless – I also wanted to floss my teeth because I had created an attachment to the rewards of achievement and cleaner teeth (as opposed to the old rewards of getting out of a boring task).

Now compare that with something like giving up smoking. Smoking is something you do multiple times per day, and your desire to smoke might be triggered by multiple different things.

I smoked socially in my late teens, and in earnest when I was 21 years old after a stressful series of events. It had become a coping mechanism and a way of fitting in socially (these were the rewards).

After a year, I decided it was ridiculous to smoke and I wanted to give up but it was difficult! This wasn’t just one habit loop – it was many habit loops happening in tandem.

For example, there were various cues or triggers for smoking.

After breakfast. While driving. After lunch. When stressed. While hanging out with certain friends. While drinking alcohol. At a pub or nightclub (a common hangout when I was this age). At the end of the day as a pleasant wind-down ritual on the balcony of my unit. Looking cool in front of boys (or so I thought).

Coupled with the perceived rewards of coping better and looking cool (yes, I am groaning about these), I also had a serious nicotine addiction by now so had chemical drivers.

This habit was a lot more complex than teeth flossing!

In the end, I dismantled my smoking habit one piece at a time.

Firstly, I switched from menthol cigarettes (tasted better) to plain cigarettes and the worst-tasting ones – in other words, I made the habit more unpleasant.

Next, I substituted those cigarettes to ones that tasted bad AND had the lowest nicotine.

Then, I started delaying my first cigarette. So instead of around 9am, I would wait until 10am, then 11am, then after lunch.

By now I was smoking fewer per day, so I started buying smaller packets.

I started hanging out with different friends – friends who didn’t smoke. This was a game changer for this habit because it removed temptation and also helped me frame a healthier identity – by hanging around people who placed a higher value on health.

I was going to nightclubs to dance instead of smoke. I was going to the beach in the daytime instead of pubs to play pool.

By the end of about 6 months, I was down to one cigarette per day – the one on the balcony late afternoon. This was the hardest one to give up because I had a positive ritual and feeling of me time. However, I made the decision to stop and do something else at this time.

Voila, the habit was gone.

I had cravings for a while, but it was easier to ride them out once I got this far.

As you can see, more complex habits take longer to break or form and are more involved.

Some people go for substitution for gum or other things, but for me, I wanted to break the habit and rewire all the different areas of my life rather than swap one vice or habit for another.

What Type of Person Are You?

Complexity aside, I think a lot comes down to the type of person you are.

If you are motivated, focused, achievement oriented and proactive, it’s probably easier for you to form a new habit or break a bad habit.

Some people have more addictive personalities – and I am one of these (as revealed in a genetic test I had done a few years ago to look at disease risk factors).

Some people like putting others first and even at their own expense, which can get in the way of forming new habits.

These are all factors that affect your ability to form new habits and the time that it takes.

What is Your Life Situation?

Your life situation impacts your ability to form a habit and the rate at which it happens.

Why? Because making change is hard. It requires a lot of focus and energy from your brain, and brains like taking the easy, low-cost, low-effort route.

That means if your life situation is busy, overwhelming, stressful, painful, difficult, or involving major shifts or even crises, forming a new habit is going to be pretty difficult. Not just in terms of starting but in persisting.

The best time to form a new habit is when there’s little stress in your life, when things are on an even keel, and when there aren’t many other pressures in life.

This is not always possible, but at least you can clear the decks to make time and energy to focus on doing something new, or something different.

The less stress you have, I believe the faster and easier change will be.

This is where working with a coach can be so helpful, because they help you make the time and create the focus, and clear the decks, so that you have enough brain power for forming a habit.

And not too many at once!

What is Your Mindset?

Finally, your mindset is a critical piece of the puzzle.

You heard me say earlier in the teeth flossing and quit smoking examples, that I had decided to do it. And after 13 years of coaching, I can say that the majority of my clients use similar words.

They say that they have decided, or they are in the right headspace, or they are really ready. There is determination in those words.

And to be successful and persist for long enough so that you can form and automate a habit, you need to have a good enough reason which is meaningful to you, because this is your motivator to keep going.

What Does the Research Say About Time Required to Form Habits?

I’ve just given you a lot of backstory about habit formation that sets the scene for discussing the research.

A 2009 paper by Phillippa Lalley et. al. was published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

The study involved 96 volunteers over 12 weeks. Those volunteers chose an eating, drinking or activity behaviour to carry out daily in the same context (e.g. after breakfast).

The time it took to form the habit and for it to become largely automatic was 18 – 254 days, with an average of 66 days (9.5 weeks). A huge range!

It is known that behaviour is likely to become habitual when it is frequently and consistently performed in the same context, this study found that a habit could be formed and become automatic even if it was missed a few times.

More recently, a longitudinal field study considered how self-control capacity affected the development of habits over a period of 90 days.

Contrary to expectations, self-control capacity did not seem to affect the habit formation process and opened the opportunity for future research.

The recent research reveals a few keys to easier and potentially faster habit formation and habit automaticity:

· Habit strength increases steeply at first then levels off

· The more often the behaviour is completed, the quicker the habit forms

· The more inherently rewarding the behaviour, the easier it is to form a habit

· If the environment is comfortable (no threats/obstacles), habit formation is easier

To me, these findings back up my experience with my own habits and with clients.

The recipe for success seems to lie in the goal-setting process and the situation, as described earlier.

If you clear your decks to make time, set specific goals around behaviours that are rewarding, and you commit to doing them frequently, you will more likely succeed.

Having the support of a coach will probably help you get there faster!

Summary

Today we talked about how long it takes to form a habit and covered some of the factors that influence the timing and ease of habit formation.

There is a lot of scope for future research in this area, with the most recent studies having shown that your capacity for self-control is not critical to the process!

Rather, the intrinsic reward, frequency of behaviour, commitment, environment and in my experience, situation, mindset and personality, might all play a role in the timing.

 

References

Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C.H.M., Potts, H.W.W. and Wardle, J. (2010), How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 40: 998-1009. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.674

van der Weiden Anouk, Benjamins Jeroen, Gillebaart Marleen, Ybema Jan Fekke, de Ridder Denise. (2020). How to Form Good Habits? A Longitudinal Field Study on the Role of Self-Control in Habit Formation. Frontiers in Psychology 11. URL=https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00560

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

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E#208 How to Interpret Sleep Data

How to Interpret Sleep Data

Are you trying to get better quality sleep and want to know what your sleep data means? In this episode, I’m going to explain sleep hypnograms and how to use them to understand your sleep and help you sleep better.

Sleep is becoming recognised as a national health priority because it affects so many areas of life. More specifically, sleep quality and quantity are strongly linked to mental health, cognitive function, and physical injury. Sleep is regulated by multiple systems in the body including your circadian control as influenced by light and dark exposure (see previous episode).

So if you want a good night’s sleep, where do you start? Let’s consider sleep data and how you can use it to make positive changes for a better night’s sleep.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What is sleep data?
* What is a sleep hypnogram?
* What does your sleep data mean?
* How can sleep data and hypnograms help improve sleep?

What is sleep data?

Sleep data includes any information collected about sleep.

It can range from information that you manually collect or write down, to data you can collect from a wearable device to data that is collected by experienced practitioners in a sleep lab.

Manual sleep data could include a sleep diary, where you write down information such as:

– the time you went to bed,

– the time you woke up,

– a subjective rating of how well you think you slept, and

– any factors that might have influenced your sleep (e.g. caffeine intake, alcohol intake, medications, use of devices, or any worries or anxiety).

The data is relatively subjective compared to other methods.

A wearable device can be used to capture physiological data while you are asleep. The data captured may include:

– the time you fell asleep,

– total duration of sleep

– sleep phases and how long you spent in each phase,

– sleep quality,

– movement during the night,

– heart rate during sleep,

– oxygen saturation during sleep,

– the time you work up.

These data may be available on a wearable itself, or in an app that syncs wearable data. Commonly, these data are combined using artificial intelligence (AI) to provide an overall sleep score that is visible on the device and/or on a related app. Examples include Whoop, Oura Ring, and Apple watch.

Other ways to capture sleep data can include nearables (non-wearable trackers that are placed near the bed which measures motion, temperature, respiratory rate, and other data), or mobile sleep apps (that detect motion in the night and/or may wake the person at the right time in their sleep cycle).

The data collected by devices like the ones mentioned may be more accurate than self-reported data but are likely to be 50 – 60% as accurate as data collected in a formal sleep lab using purpose-built equipment, according to some studies.

Many consumer wearable devices and apps use AI that is built purely from subjective data such as questionnaires, which may be biased and affect accuracy.

There is an emerging interest in wearable devices and apps such as PhiliaHealth, whose algorithms are based in actual physiological studies in a lab, and who report other unique and more actionable data. In comparison to wearables, clinical sleep studies monitor aspects such as:

– limb movement

– respiratory flow

– electrocardiograms (heart signals)

– electroencephalograms (brain activity and eye movements)

– electromyograms (muscle movements).

For most people, it is that manually-collected data or data from a wearable that is most relevant and accessible, empowering you to take action to improve your sleep.

What is a sleep hypnogram?

There are a few different ways to look at sleep data, and a sleep hypnogram is one of them.

A hypnogram is a graphical representation of your sleep cycle. It is a graph of polysomnography (PSG) data that is collected during the hours that you sleep.

The data is captured by a wearable as an activity, about every 30 seconds while you sleep. While not very precise, it allows you to capture data for different stages of sleep and graph them. These stages and the time spent in each are:

· Times you are awake and moving

· Non-REM 1 sleep (lightest sleep) (10% of sleep time)

· Non-REM 2 sleep (slightly deeper sleep) (50% of sleep time)

· Non-REM 3 sleep (also called deep sleep or slow wave sleep) (20% of sleep time)

· REM sleep (rapid eye movement, dream state, increased brain activity) (20% of sleep time

We cycle through these stages of sleep around every 90 minutes (plus or minus 20 minutes), and each person typically has 4 – 6 of these cycles each night.

Overall, 20% of sleep is spent in the REM, dreaming phase, and about 80% is spent in non-REM (also known as N-REM).

The hypnogram plot of your sleep cycle data looks something like this:

In a normal hypnogram, we might see more N-REM (Stages 1 -3) or deep sleep in the first half of the night (early sleep). Our hormonal balance is such that stimulation effects are lower at this time. 

Then, in the later part of sleep, we might notice more REM sleep in the hypnogram. During this time, the hormone acetylcholine increases to help you to process information and memories without disrupting sleep.  

People who have disruptive sleep show variations from the normal graph. They might have multiple awakenings, shorter or irregular sleep cycles, less deep sleep, and/or absent sleep stages. These changes can indicate psychiatric disorders, narcolepsy, sleep disorders, or medication effects (for example). 

Where can I find my sleep data? 

If you are using the PhiliaHealth app, your hypnogram can be found by clicking on the sleep icon on the daily dashboard, then scrolling down and click on your sleep session. 

The sleep icon shows an overall score, with total sleep time and your resting heart rate during sleep. 

Below that, the score is explained in terms of: 

  • contributing factors to good sleep (time spent in each stage and efficiency) which are colour coded in a traffic light system to show good, ok and not so good, and 
  • penalties that lower the score (restlessness, elevated heart rate and number of awakenings). 

Scroll down to see your hypnogram including the % time spent in each stage. Remember that 20% of time spent in deep sleep is ‘normal’. 

Below that, the other biometric data collected during sleep, and data on your sleep disturbances (based on arm movement). 

The traffic light colour system used in the sleep score section and the biometric data section make it easy to differentiate the positives (green) from the negatives (red). 

What does my sleep data mean? How can hypnograms help improve sleep? 

Sleep data can empower you with information that can help you make better choices to improve your sleep. According to Villanova University, sleep data can be used to: 

  • Improve knowledge and treatment of sleep conditions 
  • Identify root causes of sleep disorders 
  • Link behaviours to sleep quality 
  • Improve mattress design, and 
  • Personalise recommendations for better sleep. 

Even without going into the detail of the hypnogram and without the accuracy of laboratory-based methods, you can work out whether there are issues with your sleep and when they occur. 

  • Using your hypnogram, biometric data, sleep scores and disturbance data, you can figure out whether you’re getting enough deep sleep, and when there are potential sleep issues. 
  • You might notice that your sleep score, hypnogram and biometrics are abnormal on days that you do certain things like work late, drink alcohol, experience anxiety, use devices before bed or have noise or light nearby.  
  • Your hypnogram can show at a glance whether your sleep cycles are normal or not. 

With this information, you may be able to experiment with modifying your daytime or evening behaviours or situations to improve sleep. The data might reflect positive changes in response to behaviour change. 

By looking at trends over time and whether behaviour changes cause improvements, you can work out whether you are on track or need to get professional help from a doctor or specialist. 

Summary

This episode was a deep dive into what sleep data is, what hypnograms are, what the data means, and how you can use it to improve your sleep or identify a need to get help. 

References 

  1. Lavery, Michael & Stull, Carolyn & Kinney, Michael & Yosipovitch, Gil. (2016). Nocturnal Pruritus: The Battle for a Peaceful Night’s Sleep. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 17. 425. 10.3390/ijms17030425.
  2. How to Use Sleep Data to Effectively Improve Rest. Master’s in Data Science.org website https://www.mastersindatascience.org/resources/sleep-data-to-improve-rest/ accessed 23/8/22.
  3. Neubauer, David N. MD. (1999) Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center, Baltimore, MD in American Family Physician, 59(9):2551-2558, May 1, 1999.
  4. 4. Schellenberger Costa, Michael & Born, Jan & Claussen, Jens Christian & Martinetz, Thomas. (2016). Modeling the effect of sleep regulation on a neural mass model. Journal of Computational Neuroscience. 41. 10.1007/s10827-016-0602-z.
  5. 5. Wahaj Anwar A. Khan, Russell Conduit, Gerard A. Kennedy, Melinda L. Jackson, 2020. The relationship between shift-work, sleep, and mental health among paramedics in Australia. Sleep Health, Volume 6, Issue 3, 2020, Pages 330-337, ISSN 2352-7218, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2019.12.002.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

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E#207 Sleep Hacks for Insomniacs

Sleep Hacks for Insomniacs

If you’re like me, sleep can be hit and miss at times and getting enough sleep can become a drain that affects your performance and productivity. In this episode, we’ll cover a few sleep hacks recommended by leading neurobiologists that can help you to improve your chance of falling asleep and staying asleep.

In the last episode of this podcast, we discussed sleep chronobiology and its impact on health and wellbeing, along with a few simple tips to identify your chronobiology and how to align your routines to your personal type.

Now let’s get specific with some hacks! Many recent (2022) journal articles have revealed how ocular light exposure – that is, light entering the eyes – affects our circadian rhythms and sleep, endocrine function, and cognitive function, which in turn influence human health and wellbeing.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Evening sleep hacks for winding down at night
* Sleep hacks for falling asleep and staying asleep
* Tips for setting your sleep clock

This conversation is partly based around “melanopic light”, which describes the way that blue light frequencies restrict melatonin production in your body until after dusk, after which time melatonin washes through the body to help you sleep.

The recent advances in our understanding of the relationship between light exposure and sleep have led to the development of new standards and practices. By understanding how different light sources and timing of exposure work, neurobiologists have been able to develop recommendations for improving sleep quality and quantity.

Let’s take a look at some of the hacks that you can use, for free, to improve your sleep.

Evening sleep hacks for winding down

An interesting hack is the recommendation for morning sun exposure (outdoors) which can mitigate any undesirable effects of indoor light exposure (during the day and at night), so that you can wind down more easily and sleep better.

We also need to dim the lights in our houses. Recent advances in our understanding of circadian rhythms means that light manufacturers have been able to produce blue light components so that artificial lighting systems in our homes and offices are very similar to actual daylight.

But while this is great for productivity during the day, it is not so good at night when we want to wind down and fall asleep. In that sense, after sunset, the experts recommend dimming the lights in your home, in the evening at least 3 hours before bedtime. This reduces the amount of light entering your eyes and helps allow the melatonin wash to occur.

This also applies to electronic devices. Televisions, computer screens, tablets or mobile phones all emit blue light and are often close to your eyes, so turning off in the around sunset might help you to fall asleep and stay asleep.

While we’re talking about sunset, one interesting study showed that when you couple daytime outdoor light exposure with early evening light exposure (e.g. sunset), it can help to decrease the sleep disruptive effects of nighttime light exposure.

And if you have bright lights on late at night, you will suppress melatonin, the hormone that helps you relax and feel sleepy, which obviously affects your quality and duration of sleep.

Aside from light, there are other things that can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Food and exercise can affect your ability to fall asleep.

People who are early risers (see episode 206) might do better with an earlier dinner, exercising earlier in the day, and minimising socialising at night so as not to disrupt sleep.

In contrast, people who are night owls (see episode 206) could eat later without disrupting sleep but might need a lighter dinner, and to finish exercise before 7pm so as not to disrupt sleep.

Otherwise, and more generally, alcohol intake at night might help you fall asleep but might wake you up between 1 – 3am.

For some people, a high-carb meal (more specifically, higher in simple carbs) might delay sleep onset – in other words, it takes longer to fall asleep – or cause them to wake up hungry.

Similarly, caffeine or other stimulants after 3pm might disrupt sleep in some people, as it takes 3 – 15 hours to metabolise and excrete caffeine.

A heavy meal at night or overeating at night often disrupts sleep. Either can cause indigestion, heartburn, or simple discomfort before bed or during sleep. That’s because, during sleep, our digestive processes slow down but can also create competition for resources in the body if you have an undigested meal in your stomach.

Eating a heavy meal or too much food may cause you to wake up the next day without an appetite or even feeling heavy or sluggish because you’re still working through last night’s meal.

The remedy for this is simple – and twofold:

1. it takes around 4 hours to digest a meal, so finish eating at least 3 hours before you go to bed, and

2. eat a lighter meal before bed with lots of vegetables, and the right amount of complex carbs, fats and/or proteins for your HealthType.

Sleep hacks for falling asleep, staying asleep and waking up energized

The science shows that inadequate daytime light exposure is as detrimental as too much electric light exposure at night, with both of these having adverse effects on your sleep, circadian rhythms and health outcomes.

So, in order to set yourself up for a good night’s sleep, the experts recommend that you get outdoors and get daytime light exposure within 30 – 60 minutes of waking up, if possible during the day, and also around sunset.

During the day (before sunset), aim for at least 2.5 hours of bright light exposure including your early morning exposure, and another hour in the late afternoon or evening.

In terms of light exposure while you’re asleep, the experts recommend that your sleep environment is as dark as possible. If you do need to get up for the bathroom during the night, the recommended

maximum exposure to light is 10 lux (which is a unit of measure of light). You can download an app on your phone that measures light as a rough guide to help you determine exposure.

That aside, anxiety and worry can add to sleep issues. I have discussed this extensively in other episodes but it’s worth mentioning here – get some help, keep a worry diary and/or get on top of your task list to help you sleep easy at night.

Having some light, fun activities that aren’t too stimulating in the early evening can help you switch off!

Shift workers – a special case

Light exposure for shift workers is still an area of study and a challenge that neurobiologists haven’t yet been able to solve.

At this time, there is evidence that increasing melanopic light levels at work (e.g. office lighting) can improve alertness, as measured subjectively (e.g. questionnaire) and/or objectively, but this requires further study in the shift work population.

In any case, I speculate that even shift workers can create some improvements in sleep, and we will look at that in another episode in more detail.

For now, let’s assume that eating and exercise can be modified to improve the chance of a good night’s sleep, and further, block out curtains and getting the timing of light exposure right might help to create a rhythm that facilitates sleep.

Setting your circadian rhythm

In the previous episode of this podcast I talked about determining your sleep chronotype – in other words – the time you wake up and the time you go to bed. Whether you’re an early riser, a night owl or an in betweener, being consistent with wake and sleep times can help you establish a regular daily light-dark cycle which can further benefit sleep, cognition and health.

And as described earlier in this episode, getting outdoor light exposure soon after waking and again late afternoon can help you to sleep more soundly, and wake refreshed.

Summary

And as described earlier in this episode, getting outdoor light exposure soon after waking and again late afternoon can help you to sleep more soundly, and wake refreshed.

If you want to sleep well, also consider the timing, quantity, and quality of food and exercise in the context of your chronotype – nothing within 3 hours of sleep, and reducing or avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and high glycemic foods or heavy meals.

Think about switching off devices after sunset and dimming your house lights.

There is so much coming out about sleep right now, and today’s summary of research includes a few tips to help you manage your sleep better.

References

Brown TM, Brainard GC, Cajochen C, Czeisler CA, Hanifin JP, et al. (2022) Recommendations for daytime, evening, and nighttime indoor light exposure to best support physiology, sleep, and wakefulness in healthy adults. PLOS Biology 20(3): e3001571. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001571

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

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E#206 Understanding Sleep Chronotypes

Understanding sleep chronotypes

Are you intrigued by the concept of chronotypes and want to know how it can help you (or your clients) to optimise sleep, performance, health and wellbeing?

Your sleep chronotype indicates whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, and helps you optimise your sleep patterns for better focus, performance and productivity.

As someone in menopause, I want to get rid of night sweats, insomnia and brain fog as well as anxiety and low mood. For me, the research indicates that aligning with my sleep and other chronotypes will help me to reduce or eliminate these pesky symptoms.

I am trained in assessing and understanding chronotypes, so stick around to the end or check the show notes to find out how about a specific test I can help you with, to determine your chronotypes for sleep but also other areas of life like eating, exercise, focused work and so on.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What Sleep Chronotypes Are
* Are you a night owl or an early bird?
* Benefits of knowing your sleep chronotype
* Aligning to your sleep chronotype

What Are Sleep Chronotypes?

Feeling tired all the time has a massive impact on your mood, work performance, motivation to exercise, and willingness to get out and socialise.

We hear a lot about sleep hygiene and pre-bed routines to work out how to sleep better, but nobody is talking about chronotypes.

Chronotypes are what make us unique. Specifically, your chronotype is the behavioural manifestation of your circadian rhythm (also known as your ‘body clock’), such as when you prefer to sleep and when you are most alert and energetic.

Your natural rhythm also affects the timing of other events in your body like hormone release, meal timing, exercise timing and bowel movements.

In the dawning era of personalised healthcare, we are realising that the old, general rules like “you must get 8 hours of sleep per night” or “we should go to bed by 9pm” are not true.

The truth is – sleep is personal. You are unique in terms of your sleep needs. Emerging evidence suggests that there is a strong genetic component to sleep chronotypes, and that variations in chronotypes might have evolved in hunter gatherers who took turns sleeping so there was always someone to keep watch.

And once you know your needs, certain elements of your lifestyle affect your sleep and should be considered as part of the solution.

Are you a night owl or an early bird?

While there are several quizzes available that can indicate your sleep chronotype, your own personal experience is the key.

It can be challenging to identify your chronotype if your body is ‘out of whack’ for example if you are a shift worker, if you are carrying a sleep debt, or if you are going through menopause or acute stress that is affecting your sleep.

A simple way to work it out is to keep a diary over a week or two, perhaps when you’re on holiday, without work stress, deadlines, over exposure to devices or stressful travel to and from work.

During this holiday time, notice when you naturally feel sleepy and record the time.

Complete your usual pre-bed routine and let yourself fall asleep naturally.

Then in the morning, notice what time you naturally wake up, and record the time.

Over a period of days, without the normal external pressures and influences, you will start to see consistent sleep and wake times, and your natural sleep chronotype will be revealed.

Although we often hear the term night owl or early bird, there are four recognised chronotypes in a quiz by Dr Michael Breus, which are:

1. Lion – the early bird who likes to wake up early and be productive in the morning

2. Bear – accounting for about 55% of the population, their sleep and wake times tend to follow the sun

3. Wolf – the night owl, thought to make up 15% of the population

4. Dolphin – tend to be insomniacs

This is just one chronotype classification systems.

Benefits of knowing your sleep chronotype

If you know your sleep chronotype, you’ll be better able to manage your daily schedule and be alert, productive and focused at the right time.

Imagine of you knew how to structure your day so that you could get things done, get enough rest, feel motivated to exercise, and feel energized and at peace – and then have a good night’s sleep? That’s the power of knowing your sleep chronotype.

Sleep has a huge impact on your appetite, exercise and core temperature, so it also affects your ability to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Various studies show that your chronotype is also associated with some of the ‘Big 5’ personality traits. Lions or early birds (‘morningness’) tend to be associated with conscientiousness and agreeableness, while neuroticism and openness, impulsivity, anger, anxiety and using substances tend to be more common in Wolves or night owls (‘eveningness’). The same studies show that morning people tend to do better in school, and evening people might be better at creative thinking and musicality.

Evening people also tend to be less physically active and sleep less during the week, and more on weekends which can lead to a higher stress response, elevated cortisol levels and a higher resting HR which are risk factors for a variety of sleep, metabolic and mental health concerns.

These are trends, not set in stone, because each person is subject to various external influences that might affect their sleep patterns and overall wellbeing.

Having said that, by aligning your schedule with your chronotype, you will more easily reduce adverse outcomes and be more productive, energized and calm.

Aligning your schedule to your sleep chronotype

Once you know your sleep chronotype, how do you align your schedule so that you can optimise focus, sleep, performance, productivity and recuperation?

While I’ll cover some specific hacks and tips in the next episode, these are some general guidelines to start implementing.

A good starting point is to experiment with going to bed at the time that suits you best, for example, 10pm every night.

Once you establish this time, work backwards and start experimenting with pre-bed routines that will help you have a good night’s sleep and allow you to actually get into bed by this time.

When you have a handle on those two things, your wake-up time should naturally set itself, and you’ll start waking up at a set time every day.

From there, you can work with your energy during the day to adjust your schedule if you can.

For example, early risers might have more energy first thing in the morning and so might do better with exercise, detailed thinking work and any sort of focused action-taking early in the day and could try scheduling those things in the morning if possible. You might also find it better to socialise in the daytime or late afternoon rather than at night as you’ll be winding down.

In contrast, night owls who go to bed later e.g. 11pm might have more energy late in the day, and so could need a more relaxed morning, where you ease into the day slowly, leaving exercise, socialising and intense work for the afternoon and early evening.

If you’re an in-betweener, you may find your energy peak is closer to the middle of the day and could prioritise focused work and exercise from late morning to mid-to-late afternoon.

It may be possible to rearrange your work duties to fit with these frameworks.

A key takeaway is that we are all unique, so experimenting is key as is a need to remove the overlay of stressors, overwork and responsibility that often get in the way of us living our best lives.

Summary

Sleep chronotypes are about more than just optimal bedtime, sleep quality and quantity. By understanding and aligning with your sleep chronotype, you can unlock your full potential in terms of productivity, focus, mental health, motivation to exercise, getting your eating right, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Contact me for support with determining your personal chronotype.

References

David A. Kalmbach, PhD, Logan D. Schneider, MD, Joseph Cheung, MD MS, Sarah J. Bertrand, PhD, Thiruchelvam Kariharan, PhD, Allan I. Pack, MBChB PhD, Philip R. Gehrman, PhD, Genetic Basis of Chronotype in Humans: Insights From Three Landmark GWAS, Sleep, Volume 40, Issue 2, 1 February 2017, zsw048, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsw048

Gjermunds, N., Brechan, I., Johnsen, S.Å.K. and Watten, R.G., 2019. Musicians: Larks, Owls or Hummingbirds?. Journal of Circadian Rhythms, 17(1), p.4. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jcr.173

Tristan Enright & Roberto Refinetti (2017) Chronotype, class times, and academic achievement of university students, Chronobiology International, 34:4, 445-450, DOI: 10.1080/07420528.2017.1281287

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#205 How to Develop a Magnetic Value Proposition

This episode is about how to develop a magnetic value proposition

A lot of coaches find it hard to really communicate the value of what they do in their marketing and craft a viable value proposition. Today, I want to unpack the ‘brand ladder’ with you – a helpful marketing tool that helps you define what motivates people to buy and craft a compelling value proposition that is guaranteed to attract new clients.

Before you develop any marketing strategies to get out there and start becoming known, liked and trusted to attract clients, you have to know what to say and how to describe the value of what you do. A solid brand ladder will make all the difference. It’s what will rocket fuel your opportunities.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What is a Brand Ladder and Why Do You Need One?
* The Five Step Brand Ladder Process
* Crafting Your Value Proposition

What is a Brand Ladder and Why do You Need One?

In all marketing and advertising, we want to write, speak or engage with emotion and values that are aligned with what the clients want to feel and be, because this is appealing and attractive to them.

If you listened to my last episode, you might have heard me mention that 90% of a buying decision is based in emotion, and only 10% is based in logic.

So, how do you create that emotively based value proposition?

Brand laddering is one exercise to help you uncover the right language to develop your value proposition. This tool helps you to unpack the mental and emotional process your potential client goes through as they are becoming engaged to buy, and it leverages coaching concepts including positive psychology, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and unpacking the “why behind the why”.

They start from outlining your service’s most important feature, then it’s benefits, the emotional value to the person, and how those benefits and values might change someone’s life.

The Five-Step Brand Ladder Process

Let’s walk through the five-step brand ladder process, so you can use this to create compelling copy and a rock-solid value proposition that is irresistible to potential clients.

Bottom Rung – Features

Features are the factual statements about your service, about what it can do or what it includes, and why it’s the best choice.

This rung answers the question – “so what is this program, and who is it for?”

If your service is a coaching program, then factual statements might include:

· Weight loss program tailored to women in their 40’s

· 8-week, evidence-based program to help you reduce stress at work

You can hear the points of difference here – firstly both are specific to a problem, the weight loss program is tailored to a specific group, or the 8-week program is evidence-based.

These types of statements speak about the strengths or differences of your service and therefore why it is a better choice.

You will notice that the wording is specific, not general. That way there’s no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding. This is important for all rungs of the ladder.

Second Rung – Functional Benefits

Next are the functional benefits that these features provide. These are the end results of what the service can accomplish for your client.

This rung answers the question – “so what do I get?” or “what’s in it for me?”

Functional benefits are things that help people to:

– Stay connected – e.g. friends, family, socially

– Save money – e.g. reduce time, add value, track success, reduce costs

– Make you smarter – e.g. build skills, support, information, step-by-step process

– Help you be healthier – e.g. prevent, restore, mental health, lose weight, exercise

– Work better for you – e.g. faster, safer, evidence based

– Help you take action – e.g. awareness, motivation, confidence

– Simplify your life – e.g. efficient, easier, time-saving, streamlined, organised.

For a coaching program, these could be things like:

· Making simple changes to your eating habits to help you achieve a healthy weight

· Learning how to better manage your schedule and leave work on time, so you can switch off more easily and have the energy for friends, family and fitness after work.

Notice once again that the language is specific to the client and what their daily life experience might involve. Market research and conversations with your client can help you get there.

Third Rung – Emotional Benefits

Next are the emotional benefits that these functional benefits provide.

This rung answers the question – “how will this make me feel?”

It’s a bit like peeling off another layer of the why in a first coaching session, asking “so if you were to achieve that vision, how would you feel?”

Emotional benefits are commonly things like:

  • Curiosity for knowledge – e.g. competent, smarter, aware
  • Sense of optimism – e.g. motivated, successful, inspired, special
  • Feeling comfortable – e.g. relaxed, nurtured, compassionate
  • Feeling free – e.g. alive, excited, exhilarated
  • Getting noticed – e.g. playful, popular, sexy
  • Feeling liked or self-assured – e.g. friendly, happy, fulfilled, confident, empowered
  • Staying in control – e.g. respect, safe, trust, reliable
  • Feeling myself/my values – e.g. honest, standards, purpose, family, authentic
  • Feeling revitalised – e.g. active, more energized, youthful, getting the old me back
  • Having a sense of pride – e.g. leadership, overcoming, accomplishment

For a coaching program, these could be things like:

· This program is designed to help you feel more confident, comfortable in your own skin and aligned with your values

· By mastering your work schedule, you’ll feel more in control of your time, gain a sense of achievement and have a more relaxed time with the ones you love.

Notice how we are tapping into the client’s aspirations here. We are not promising that the program does this – we are saying how they might feel if they can get on top of their obstacles.

Working with your niche clients to help them create a vision can help you to work out these ‘feeling words’ more specifically.

Fourth Rung – Transformational Benefits

Next are the transformational benefits that are possible when a client can make lasting change.

This rung answers the question – “how will this change my life?”

This is like peeling off yet another layer of the why in a first coaching session, asking “Why is this vision so meaningful for you?”

For a coaching program, these could be things like:

· I’ll be a better, healthier role model for my kids and know that I am doing the best for my health

· I’ll have better, more meaningful relationships with my family, have more fun in life, and perform better at work.

Notice how we are tapping into the client’s deeper values and motivators here. Reflect on how you feel even just listening to these transformational benefits!

(Sometimes) Fifth Rung – Social Impact

Some brand ladders have another layer – related to social impact of the company or even of the person using the company’s services.

This rung answers the question – “how does this change society?”

In a coaching context, this might only really apply to specific niches, but it could also speak to the values of your business and it’s greater mission in the world.

For example:

· XYZ Coaching is on a mission to put an end to diabetes and other avoidable lifestyle diseases. This is your chance to be part of the change and inspire your friends and family with healthier choices for a healthy weight.

· Burnout is a global problem. For every program purchased, we will donate $10 to Beyond Blue, an organisation that supports and advocates for better mental health.

By now, your potential client will feel on a high and be excited to work with you!

Crafting Your Value Proposition

So, how do you use this information to craft a value proposition?

It’s about pulling together the key elements of the ladder into something that speaks to the value of what you do.

Using the weight loss example:

If you’re a woman in your 40’s who is struggling to lose weight, XYZ coaching will take you through a step-by-step process to make weight loss easier. You’ll finally start to feel more comfortable in your own skin and be the role model you want to be for your family.

Using the stress management example:

If you’re sick of feeling overwhelmed by workplace stress, this evidence-based program will help you to manage your time better and feel more energized so you can switch off more easily and have more quality time with the people and things you love.

Summary

The brand ladder exercise is a great tool to help you unpack a statement that truly conveys the value of what you do – your value proposition – and taps into your prospective client’s emotional drivers.

You can build a brand ladder using the words your clients use in their initial vision sessions, by peeling off the layers of the why.

Assuming that you have the best intentions for your client and will do your best as a coach, this is an authentic way to get excited about what you do and the difference you can make in the world.

It helps you to stand out and be emotionally engaging to the right people.

And if you get this right, you’ll easily have more clients heading your way.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#204 How to Better Explain What You Do So You Can Attract More Paying Clients

This episode is about how to better explain what you do so you can attract more paying clients

A lot of coaches have trouble explaining what they do, what health coaching is and how it works. And that’s why I want to get a bit ranty today. We’ll talk about the #1 reason why you may NOT be getting the leads you want, and how best to explain what you do so that you can confidently speak to people and attract more paying clients.

Advocacy vs Niche Marketing

I want to start this episode by talking about advocacy versus niche marketing. The problem I see is that a lot of coaches are so stuck on telling people what health and wellness coaching is BUT they’re not really communicating the value of health and wellness coaching. Let me explain

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Advocacy vs Niche Marketing
* Appealing to Emotions
* Brand Laddering
* How to Attract Paying Clients

For starters, people buy things that they believe will get them a result.

But if you are trying to explain your services in terms of how your profession works, then you’re not really talking about how you help the individual or the results they will get.

For example, imagine a doctor explaining how doctors work. He might say something like:

“Well, patients come to see me when they’re not feeling well. They come in and make an appointment and then we sit down and go through the health history, and I work out what’s going on with them now and I may prescribe medication or treatment that will help them to get better. They might come and see me again in a couple of weeks to make sure everything’s been resolved and that’s how being a doctor works.”

Now, I know that’s a really obvious example, but it illustrates what some coaches are trying to do when they’re explaining Health and Wellness coaching to people.

When you talk about helping clients to set visions and create goals and make lifestyle change, then you’re talking much more about how professionals in our industry work within a session with a client.

For the sake of clarity, let’s call this type of explanation “advocacy”.

The term fits pretty well with the dictionary definition of advocacy, which is “the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending; active espousal.”

How do you know if you’re going down the road of ‘advocacy’ in your marketing?

Well, your copy would include words that focus more on our profession. The language you use would be broader and perhaps more about you as a coach. If you are using more thinking, factual or logical words to describe what you do. He might be also talking about qualifications and standards, professional affiliations, or the science behind what you do.

Let’s be clear – There is a role for advocacy in your marketing particularly if you are talking to other health professionals for the sake of building relationships to gain referrals. But you are not likely to get clients this way directly, because you were not speaking to them emotively in their language.

This is why I’d like to talk about niche marketing now.

Niche marketing is very different to advocacy. In niche marketing, your language focuses more on person, not the profession. You’re using more feeling words and specifically, the words that your clients used to describe their pain points and desired feeling-based solutions. You’re talking about their unmet needs, their perceived problem, how that plays out in their daily life, their desired solution and your value proposition. As a refresher, a value proposition is defined as a basic statement that communicates the benefit you promise to deliver to your customers post purchase.

This is how the hypothetical doctor might discuss his value proposition to a prospective client.

“I’m a Doctor who specialises in helping people who have just been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes or diabetes. I understand that being diagnosed with this might be a shock and leave you feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you are confused about your treatment options, mediation and their side effects, or which areas of your health require attention.

I understand how worrying this can be, especially with your work and family responsibilities at this time of your life. As someone who has treated metabolic conditions for 10 years, I am here to help you to navigate your condition, understand what’s going on in your body and take action to prevent the progression of this condition by taking action to lower your cholesterol, reduce your waist circumference, normalise your liver function and improve your physical and mental health.”

Can you hear the difference in the language? Of course, doctors don’t usually describe their work like that or use emotive language.

But if you had a metabolic condition and you heard those two descriptions, one based in more advocacy language and one about the challenges that someone with metabolic syndrome faces, which one would be more appealing?

Which one of those doctors would you trust more?

Appealing to Emotions

As I mentioned earlier, if you want to explain what you do really clearly and in a way that grabs attention then it’s important that you appeal to their emotions. And to appeal to someone’s emotions, talk with emotional words about things that they are emotionally engaged with.

You want to tell a story, but not just any story – you want to tell the niche client’s personal story.

You want to use descriptive and emotive words, and real examples of what the person might be thinking, living, experiencing and feeling. This portrays your understanding of them as a person and not just as a prospective client. This naturally brings a flavour of empathy, compassion, understanding and relatability to your words and messages.

Imagine how confident you’d feel knowing you had something that engaged people at their very heart and soul!

Brand Laddering

So how do you work out how to describe what you do in a more emotive way?

Brand laddering is one exercise you can do to bring more emotive language into your marketing copy, and to make it more about the person than about your profession. I will talk about that in the next episode, but the premise is that it helps you peel of the why’s behind the service.

It helps you to unpack the mental and emotional process your potential client goes through as they are becoming engaged to buy.

It works just like our very own coaching process of exploring the whys. As coaches, we explore a client’s challenge and desired solution with them by asking several why-type questions to uncover their values, motivators and drivers.

More in the next episode! But first, let’s back up a step and talk about a four step process to help you improve the way you describe your services to potential clients.

How to Better-Attract Paying Clients

If you want to get better at attracting paying clients, you will need to switch out of advocacy marketing and into niche marketing.

Here are four steps to better-explain how you work, and more easily engage paying clients.

1. Conduct LIVE market research interviews with your niche to hear what they are emotional about, and to hear the words they use to describe their problem, desired results and bigger why outcomes.

2. Create a brand ladder that captures the key words from these interviews, moving beyond the ‘features’ of what you do and into the emotional and transformational benefits.

3. Use this to craft a value proposition that clearly explains the tangible emotional benefits that your niche client wants.

4. Ask some of your niche clients for feedback on the value proposition. Why do they like it or why not? What does it mean to them? What would be more appealing, if anything?

Engaging people in your niche for feedback is ALWAYS, 100%, the best way to get your marketing copy, your explanation of what you do, and any descriptions of your services, spot on.

If in doubt – contact a business or marketing coach for support!

Summary

Today we talked about what coaches typically do wrong when describing what they do as a profession, and why it doesn’t work.

We compared the more factual, profession-based ‘advocacy’ approach to marketing, versus the more emotive, client-focused niche marketing approach.

Your ability to attract clients is all about appealing to their emotions. If you want to attract more paying clients, try following my four step process:

1. Conduct market research interviews with your niche

2. Create a brand ladder to draw out the more emotional, why-based words

3. Develop a value proposition using more emotive, client-focused words

4. Practice it on your niche before sharing your insights in your marketing

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#203 The Ultimate Guide to Health Coaching Prices

This episode is about the ultimate guide to health coaching prices

If you are a health coach and want to know how much to charge as a health and well-being coach, you’re in the right place. By the end of this episode, you’ll be clear on how to set health coaching prices that you’re comfortable to charge, and that are good value to your clients.

You know what it’s like when you start working as a health and wellness coach. You’re about to launch your business, and you have no idea of what to charge.

You look at all the other coaches out there and see coaches charging wildly different amounts – where do you even start with working out coaching pricing?

Let’s dive into this very important topic and help you get your pricing right so you can launch your business with confidence and certainty that you’ll find clients who are willing to pay you for your coaching programs and packages.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Health Coaching Pricing 101
* Perceived Value
* The Goldilocks Method
* Getting Your Pricing Right

Health Coaching Pricing 101

There are a few things to consider when it comes to pricing your health coaching services.

Which market are you targeting?

For any service or product, there are pricing ‘norms’ for different markets. In coaching, we could broadly consider four markets:

  1. Corporate
  2. Private niche clients
  3. Healthcare/Integrative Medicine, and
  4. Medical

I have listed them in this order on purpose – businesses or people with higher disposable income tend to pay more for health coaching services, or buy in bigger volume, or both.

In this list, I’ve put corporate clients at the top of the pricing tree as organisations will likely pay more and/or buy more to keep their employees healthy.

Next are private niche clients – those that are not covered under the corporate banner, they tend to have a specific health problem they want to solve and would rather seek support from an independent specialist rather than go to a doctor. Remember, a niche is defined as a group of people with a big problem they will pay to solve, and they generally pay more per session or package compared to people who have fewer big drivers for change.

Next are healthcare/integrative medicine clients. They typically have a big health problem to solve and are seeing multiple professionals to get support, to get to the bottom of things. They’re motivated to pay for a solution that will help them manage their condition but they might also be spreading their available spend across multiple health practitioners.

Finally, there is coaching in a medical setting. People who go to doctors and are referred are more likely to be lower income earners, possibly less motivated to make lifestyle change, and/or looking to get Medicare or Private Health rebates (not willing to pay as much as other cohorts).

If we take these four broad markets as a starting point, it’s pretty clear that there are different levels of motivation to buy, size of problem, and abilities to pay.

Their Demographic and Personality

As a layer over the target market, there is also the type of person you’re dealing with.

Certain demographics have higher disposable income, and they’re the types of personality who are already spending on other health services like massage, PT, supplements, food delivery services etc. This combination of demographics and personality will more likely spend money on coaching with fewer objections – if they can see the value.

Other people have very little disposable income and may be reluctant or simply unable to pay very much for coaching services. They’d more likely pursue the medical/Medicare route.

And regardless of income, some people are penny pinchers, some people have a victim mentality, and some people value health above all else and will do anything to improve it.

There are a lot of demographic and personality factors that affect someone’s willingness to pay for coaching services, no matter what the price.

Perceived Value and Pricing Psychology

Perceived value is a very important factor in setting pricing for health coaching packages and programs. A potential client’s mindset is that something must be ‘worth the money’ – meaning it must ‘give me the result I want’ and it also ‘must be proven to work’.

People are suspicious of anything that’s too cheap compared to the market rate. Cheap generally means ineffective, inexperienced or unqualified – or that a person doesn’t value or back themselves.

Think about how that affects trust, rapport and relationship!

There’s a saying that goes, ‘nobody wants free kittens’ which is really saying that there must be something wrong with it if it’s free or very low cost.

People are also wary of anything that’s too expensive. Part of this mindset is that the person thinks about what they stand to lose if they don’t succeed! This is a double-edged sword, because while a higher price implies greater skill, knowledge and specialisation, people who buy health coaching services usually lack confidence in themselves because they’ve failed before – and what if this doesn’t work for them?

What does this mean for you?

It means that as a coach, you need to be very clear on your value proposition – who your program or package is for (the niche), what problem it helps them to solve, how much they might save as a result of doing this program, what they will avoid, and what they will gain.

The value proposition outlines why your program or package is worth the money. Your VP includes:

– a list of benefits of what they get (not the features)

– your level of specialisation (niche clarity, lived experience and/or specificity) which conveys “perceived expertise”

– words that your niche clients commonly use, including ‘feeling words’,

– clear explanation of your process or system

– an outline of results (that they want, and including testimonials to back you up)

– a way of making it easier for them (process, money-back guarantee etc).

The Goldilocks Method of Pricing

I have done a whole episode on the Goldilocks method of pricing and I teach this in Passion to Profit.

It’s basically this:

– price too low and you’ll feel resentful and half-hearted about servicing your clients, and they won’t take you seriously

– price too high and you’ll feel scared to ask for the money, and your potential clients might have too many objections

– price just right, and you and your clients will both think your services are great value for money – and you will both ‘buy in’ wholeheartedly.

So, what do you charge for health coaching? Here’s a pricing guide for health coaches.

Getting Your Pricing Right

The common ways that coaches price their services are as follows. These pricing structures are relevant for both 1:1 coaching and group coaching:

– hourly or per session rate (fixed period of time or ongoing)

– price per program (fixed period of time)

– price per package (fixed period of time)

– monthly price with fixed number of sessions (e.g. membership style)

I’ll just distinguish between these options so you know what they are.

Single sessions, charged per session or hour, are typically either for an introductory needs assessment (as a one-off) or as ad-hoc sessions. Ad-hoc sessions can be offered after a program or package has finished, or as an up-sell within a membership.

A program is a set number of consecutive sessions, e.g. 8-week program, 12-week program, 6 month program with either weekly, fortnightly or monthly sessions or some combination of these.

A lot of people use the word program and package interchangeably.

I prefer to define a package as a program of some kind for a fixed period, but with other value-adds bundled in, for a higher price. For example, you package up a coaching program with 4 PT session, or a wellbeing journal and water bottle, or some other combination of services, products, ebooks etc. A package might have a more flexible time period within which it can be used.

A monthly membership implies a set monthly fee on an ongoing basis, with a certain number of group coaching sessions, and usually along with some educational or other content housed in an online social media platform, learning platform or shared folder (e.g. Google Drive).

Basically, the more you include, the higher the price.

So, how much does a health coach charge per hour?

A lot of new coaches think about pricing ‘by the hour’ or session, because we get used to the idea of ‘hourly rates’ as employees and customers.

A better way to go is value-based pricing, where you sell several sessions of coaching for one price, not based on hourly rates, but based on the value of the outcome to the client.

These are general guidelines, but you must work out your pricing in terms of:

1. your income goals,

2. how niched or specialised you are,

3. how experienced you are,

4. what you are comfortable to charge, and

5. how much proof of success you have.

After all, people are buying results, and the better coach you are and the more proof you have of success, the more likely people will pay you for your coaching services.

The best question to ask yourself is this – ‘If I were a prospective client coming to my own business, would I pay that amount of money for this program to get those types of results?’

Summary

There’s a lot of factors to consider when working out coaching pricing, and it comes down to a few key areas.

If you want to build a viable business, select a market that will pay enough money for and value the services you want to offer.

Next, decide on what type of service you want to offer.

Finally, make sure you create a compelling value proposition for your services so that both you and your prospective clients feel good about the exchange of value – that is, your services for their money.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#202 Should I Show Pricing on My Website?

This episode is about should I show pricing on my website?

This is a question that comes up a lot – should I show pricing on my website, or is it better to not have pricing on my website? This episode covers the pros and cons and helps you make this decision.

Recently in my Passion to Profit course, I had a conversation with my current students on whether to include pricing on your website. We had a great brainstorm on the topic including how individuals felt if they were in the customer’s shoes, and I wanted to share some of the insights here.

What do your clients like?

The really easy way to figure this out is to ask your existing clients or practice clients what their opinion is. A client-centric business always starts with this approach.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Getting client feedback
* Price Lists on Websites – Benefits and Inclusions
* Why you might not include pricing on your website

You can either send them a direct message, email or even have a conversation with them and just say “hey, I’m winding whether to include pricing on my website. Would this make a difference to you?” Done just ask any clients, ask your favourite clients. After all, you want more of those, so their opinion matters more!

If you don’t have any clients yet, then think about your own buying preferences, after all, your ideal client is probably a lot like you are in terms of their values.

Imagine that you were going to buy a coaching program from somebody, and you were looking on their website to see what their packages were all about. Would it make a difference if there was pricing there, or not?

Price List on Websites – Benefits, and What to Include

What are some of the upsides of including pricing on your website?

Well for starters, it might seem like you are more authentic, and have nothing to hide. It might seem like you’re very upfront and honest.

Most people assess value based on typical outcomes or results, but pricing is often part of the decision, especially if the person doesn’t know you very well or doesn’t have enough proof or trust that you can help them actually succeed and get results.

If you are going to include pricing on your website, you’d need to make a few things clear. These include things like:

1. What is included in the price (features written as benefits)

2. What are the different package and pricing options? (not too many)

3. What are the payment options?

Let’s unpack these a bit.

What’s included in the price

When we are talking about what is included, it’s tempting to think about features, like workbooks, coaching sessions, etc. And while these are all valuable things, there are ways to describe them that communicate the value clearly.

I call these ‘features written as benefits’. This is where you list a feature and explain why it’s important.

Here are two examples:

1. 8 x 1:1 coaching sessions to give you the support, self-awareness and accountability you need to work out what to do, problem-solve, celebrate wins and become consistent

2. A 20-page workbook to help you develop an action plan, stay motivated and see results

Doesn’t that sound way more exciting than just saying ‘8 coaching sessions and a 20-page workbook’?

I would use this as full descriptive text that goes into detail of what the program includes.

In keeping with consumer protection law, please make sure you are not promising a result that you can’t deliver. Rather, talk about how the feature is intended to help them.

Packaging and pricing options

In terms of pricing options, if you decide to show pricing on your website, make it really clear as to what’s included in each option so the person can see how they’re different.

It’s helpful to include a diagram showing three options and listing what’s included in each.

You can also outline what the market retail price for each option is, and what you are selling it for (e.g. valued at $900, price is $600). This highlights the value of what you are offering without discounting (stay away from that!)

People normally choose the middle of three options, and this is typically your core or main program.

Payment options

In terms of payment options, if you are going to put pricing on your website, it’s important that people know how you will charge them and whether there are options.

For example, is it one payment up front, or three easy payments, or something else?

Sometimes people are interested but don’t have the money upfront, so would potentially buy if they knew there was a payment plan available.

You don’t have to offer a payment plan! And if you do, make sure you have clear terms and conditions, and make it easy for them. This is a whole other podcast, for sure!

Why You Might Not List Pricing on Websites, and What to Include

There may be circumstances where you don’t want to put pricing on your website, and that’s totally ok.

Firstly, a person who sees pricing listed on your website might decide then and there, based on price that they don’t want to work with you – before you have any chance to talk to them about their needs and wants.

That means you potentially lose a customer. Of course, if they are price driven, they might not be the customer you want to work with!

Another consideration is that your program options might be fairly customised and it could be too difficult to communicate easily on a website or landing page.

For example, you might have two or three options for a package that really require an understanding of the person in order for them to make the right choice, so a conversation is necessary first.

Similarly, there might be pre-requisites for a client to complete before they work with you. For example, with my weight loss program DownsizeMe, I required all clients to have a health clearance from their GP before signing up, and that might dictate whether they would buy the program at all, and/or which option is best. I also had this program available via licensees in other states who might have charged different prices, so I didn’t list the price on the website.

If you don’t list pricing on your website, then what should you include?

There aren’t any hard and fast rules, but there are a few things I think are essential to still get enquiries for your services.

Firstly, lots of recent, positive testimonials or ratings are a good starting point. This tells the reader that a lot of people have succeeded as a result of your program, and what they liked about the program. It gets them hopeful and excited, and shifts them into the mindset of ‘value buying’ rather than ‘price buying’.

Secondly, you might like to explain why you don’t list pricing. For example, saying that there are pre-requisites, or options that can be highly customised, or other reasons, would be important to allay any fears of ‘hard sales’ in your website visitor.

Thirdly, you still need to communicate the benefits, value and comparison of your program options, indicating where any tailoring might occur. At least people can see what they’re getting for their money, and you are shifting them into that value-buying mindset.

Fourth, the way you position the enquiry is important. I provide a booking link to a 30-minute good fit call or give them the option to send a contact me message. In my reply, I tell them it’s a chance to see if they’re suitable and if we have the right chemistry – if not, I will be honest and refer them to someone else, rather than set them up for failure. This feels really authentic to me and has been accepted by everyone who has followed this pathway. And there are several I’ve said no to!

Fifth, it can be helpful to put a short video of you on your website (or at least some bullet list points) explaining why you developed this program and who it’s for, and not for. This helps people see that you’re not just desperate for anyone and that you truly are seeking a good fit and to work with the right person – that way, they are more likely to succeed and you’ll both be happy.

Finally, if you want to, you can provide an indicative price range or a statement like ‘programs start from $ (amount)’ so the reader at least has a ballpark guide. This can be effective for getting them over the line.

Summary

It was interesting to have a discussion with my Passion to Profit students on whether to include pricing on your website or not.

We discussed:

· The benefits of including pricing on your website

· The reasons why you might not show pricing on your website, and

· Things to include in either case to position your services and options appropriately.

If you need help with pricing, reach out to me via my contact page for a good fit call.

For enquiries about my Passion to Profit course, click here.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on

E#201 Alcohol and Mental Health

This episode is about alcohol and mental health

Let’s face it – Australia has a drinking culture, which started in colonial times when convicts were partially paid with rum. (1, 2)

Most of us associate drinking alcohol with relaxing, celebrating, sport and ‘fitting in’ with social norms. We might feel that alcohol helps us cope better with stress and anxiety, but is alcohol good for mental health?

How We Think Alcohol Helps

Alcohol is a depressant, which means that drinking alcohol can make you feel calmer and more relaxed. Some people say it helps them manage anxiety in social situations. Others use alcohol to ‘blunt’ their heightened emotions at the end of a stressful day, or to fall asleep easier.

It’s tempting to think that alcohol is helpful, but is it really?

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* How We Think Alcohol Helps
* The Physical and Mental Effects of Alcohol
* Longer Term Impacts of Alcohol Use and Misuse
* Who is Most at Risk of Alcohol-Related Health Issues?
* What We Can Do

The Physical and Mental Effects of Alcohol

While you might feel that alcohol is relaxing you, it’s doing the opposite. There is overwhelming research on the effects of alcohol on mental health and physical health – and the news isn’t good.

A 2021 study shows that binge drinking increases muscle sympathetic nerve activity (fight or flight response), reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, reduces sleep quality overall and increases morning-after blood pressure and heart rate. (3)

In other words, alcohol intake in the evening causes ‘stress’ while you’re sleeping. For example, you might think you fall asleep easily after a few drinks, but then you wake up between 1am and 3am and can’t get back to sleep, or you have ‘night sweats.’

As Head of Growth at Philia Labs,’ I’ve certainly seen these sorts of results in our 2022 data collection studies, in participants who consumed alcohol. Even though they felt more relaxed after drinking, their heart rates were higher and they had a lower amount of deep sleep on the nights they consumed alcohol.

Adding insult to injury, this overnight stress disrupts your body’s natural rest and recovery process that occur during sleep. These processes include physical recovery, blood sugar regulation, brain

detoxification, immune system regulation, learning and emotional processing, and memory consolidation.

And depending on your intake, you might wake up to the symptoms of drinking too much alcohol.

These include elevated heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, irritability, mood swings, lower energy levels, reduced memory, poor focus and impaired work performance.

In other words, you’re starting the next day ‘behind the 8-ball’ in a ‘fight or flight’ state.

Longer Term Impacts of Alcohol Use and Misuse

Research shows that alcohol use and misuse accounts for 3.3 million deaths each year (6% of deaths worldwide) related to accidents, violence, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other diseases. (4, 5)

We also know that mental health tends to have a reciprocal relationship with alcohol. That is, people who are dependent on alcohol are more likely to have mental health issues, and people with mental health issues may drink to self-medicate. (4)

This was reinforced in a cross-sectional study of alcohol intake and mental health during COVID-19 lockdowns. The study found significant links between increased alcohol consumption and poor overall mental health, depressive symptoms and lower mental wellbeing. (6)

The long-term mental health impacts can include increases in aggressive and/or risky behaviours, self-harm, anxiety and depression. (6, 7)

Other risks of alcohol use include the increased chance of having an accident or injuring yourself or others, poorer job performance and negative effects on relationships.

Who is Most at Risk of Alcohol-Related Health Issues?

Certain groups of people may be more likely to drink, or drink more, and therefore be at greater risk of (physical and) mental health problems. Research on US populations (4) shows that:

– men are more likely to drink heavily or binge drink than women,

– Caucasians tend to drink more overall,

– people of higher socio-economic status tend to drink more frequently, and

– lower socioeconomic groups tend to drink larger quantities of alcohol.

Isolation is another risk factor for increased alcohol consumption and related mental health issues, particularly for some age groups.

In 2021, a study of alcohol consumption during COVID-19 lockdown (self-isolation) in the UK showed that increased alcohol consumption was most prevalent in 18–34-year-old people compared with older age groups, and that poorer mental health was significantly related to increased alcohol intake (versus no increase during the study). (6)

Certain work sectors are also in the higher risk category, such as remote mine sites. The fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workforce experiences stressors including isolation, extreme environments and shift work disorder. Levels of psychological distress are significantly higher compared to the general population (8). Drinking is also part of the mining culture. Recent studies in the FIFO workforce in Australia indicate that the odds of risky and harmful alcohol use are much higher in certain groups (8, 9, 10):

  • males,
  • younger workers,
  • smokers,
  • people working primarily for higher income,
  • working in underground mining (vs open cut)
  • those with previous alcohol and other drug problems
  • those who report psychological distress, and
  • those with a history of anxiety and/or depression.

Advertising, marketing and cultural norms (including in the workplace) all play a role in drinking habits, as do lack of support and exposure to stressors.

What Can We Do?

Alcohol intake is a cultural norm in many countries, and it is linked with a complex array of individual and societal factors. There are several ways we can reduce the impacts of alcohol on health and mental health.

Firstly, education on the risks of drinking and binge drinking is important. Knowing the recommended drinking guidelines is a good starting point to work out whether you have risky drinking behaviour. You can use these yourself or share them with others.

Secondly, being self-aware of your drinking habits and after-effects is important for identifying your own risky behaviours and it might help you feel motivated to change your habits or get some support to do so. There are various levels of support available. Alcoholics Anonymous is one association, but also, several health and wellness coaches offer support and behaviour change for grey-area drinkers – those people who aren’t alcoholics but are concerned about their drinking habits. Sarah Rusbatch in WA is a leader in this area and has a free community. You can also ask a trusted friend, family, mentor or colleague for support.

Workplace culture is another place that can support positive change. A lot of workplaces support, condone or endorse a drinking culture that can be uncomfortable and create pressure for people who don’t want to drink.

As an individual, you can approach your HR department to discuss initiatives, find ambassadors and request support to change the workplace culture. As a business owner, you can review employee behaviour and social drinking norms to look for opportunities to better support your organisation.

Whatever you do, by drinking less, you will feel better for it, you will look better, and you will reduce your risks of chronic and acute disease.

Summary

The message is clear – drinking alcohol can seem to have benefits in certain situations, but the reality is, it’s putting stress on your body that can impact your physical and mental health.

There can be flow on effects to your work performance, career opportunities, relationships, and life satisfaction.

Self-awareness is always the starting point for change, so by understanding the guidelines and reflecting honestly on your own drinking habits, you are better equipped to know whether you need help, and what sort of help you might need to make some positive and more healthful changes.

1. VicHealth. Exploring the Role of Alcohol in Victorians’ Lives. Website accessed 16.6.22

2. Moodie, Prof. R. 2013. A Brief History of Alcohol Consumption in Australia. The Conversation Website, accessed 16.6.22.

3. Greenlund, I.M. et al. 2021. Morning sympathetic activity after evening binge alcohol consumption. Am. J. Phys Heart Circ Phys 310(1), H305-H315.

4. Sunhinaraset, M. 2016. Social and Cultural Contexts of Alcohol Use. Alcohol Res 2016; 38(1); 35-40.

5. Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2021. Every alcoholic drink increases your risk of cancer. Website accessed 16.6.22.

6. Jacob, Louis, et al. Alcohol Use and Mental Health during Covid-19 Lockdown: A Cross-Sectional Study in a Sample of UK Adults. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol. 219, 2021, pp. 108488–108488., doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108488.

7. Headspace. How does alcohol affect mental health? Headspace website accessed 16.6.22.

8. James, Carole et al. Correlates of psychological distress among workers in the mining industry in remote Australia: Evidence from a multi-site cross-sectional survey. PloS one vol. 13,12 e0209377. 20 Dec. 2018, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0209377

9. James, Carole L., et al. Alcohol Consumption in the Australian Mining Industry: The Role of Workplace, Social, and Individual Factors. Workplace Health & Safety, vol. 69, no. 9, Sept. 2021, pp. 423–434, doi:10.1177/21650799211005768.

10. James, Carole et al. Factors associated with patterns of psychological distress, alcohol use and social network among Australian mineworkers. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health vol. 44,5 (2020): 390-396. doi:10.1111/1753-6405.13037

11. Alcohol and Drug Foundation Australia. Australian Alcohol Guidelines. Website accessed 5.7.22.

12. Alcoholics Anonymous. Zoom Meeting attendance information. Website accessed 5.7.22.

13. Sarah Rusbatch – Grey Area Drinking Coach. Website accessed 5.7.22.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here: