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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?

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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?

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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?

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E#198 The Impact and Potential of Health and Wellness Coaching

This episode is about the impact and potential of health and wellness coaching

The recent HCANZA conference showcased some of our leading innovators and impactful coaches, as well as the impact and potential of health and wellness coaching. This article summarises how health and wellness coaching is at the cutting edge of health behaviour change in a variety of contexts, and how huge the opportunity is right now for qualified health and wellness coaches.

The inaugural HCANZA conference on June 2-3, 2022 was an incredible opportunity for like minded graduate and professional health and wellness coaches to come together and learn about opportunities for our profession. The conference was made possible by the incredible work by HCANZA Chair Linda Funnell-Milner, whose tireless efforts (supported by the board and leadership team) ensured that everything ran like clockwork.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* The Award Winners
* The Speakers
* The Networking Opportunities

The conference kicked off on the evening of Thursday 2 June with a cocktail party, a keynote address from Grant Schofield, and an awards ceremony which I was invited to MC.

The Award Winners

Let’s start by recognising the movers and shakers in our industry, in Australia and New Zealand. The awards winners were:

1. Giovanna Stewart: Best Emerging coach of the year

Giovanna is a dietician who is gaining success by combining her dietetic expertise with client-focused coaching skills.

2. Jaala Dyer: Coach of the year in a clinic setting –

Jaala has developed a collaborative and creative platform for the most important chronic disease drivers that many in our communities face, and it is now being shared across the wider community.

3. Karina Morris (WCA graduate): Health & Wellness Coach Advocacy Award

Karina shows dedication in delivering coaching to a truly underserved population within the disability community, showing both courage and leadership to take Health and Wellness Coaching to areas that will make a significant difference to people’s lives. Karina is striving to have Health and Wellness Coaching recognised as a professional service within the NDIS that can be funded under many other parallel funding-based systems.

4. The Change Room (employs WCA graduates): Business Achievement Award

The Change Room has successfully adapted to the challenge of Covid and has created and provided resources for the unprecedented health and wellbeing issues arising in this time both for the individual and for organisations. They have adapted their use of technology to facilitate the ongoing

delivery of their core mission – supporting clients involved with return to work via insurance company funding.

5. Sharon Tomkins: Health & Wellness Coach of the Year

Sharon demonstrates committed to ongoing learning and training, individualises her client programs according to needs, and has engaged in many models of delivery and has been active running community programs. Sharon clearly works collaboratively with other health practitioners and shows leadership in her role of training health coaches.

6. Brad Hulcomb: Outstanding Contribution to Health

Brad is an influencer across multiple layers – medical, coaching and sports – and has impacted many on his journey, from his medical work to his ski instructing to now his health coaching. As the director of the Urgent Care Clinic on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu ski field, he led doctors, nurses and radiographers providing high-quality care in austere environments. He ran medical conferences to provide participants with more than just knowledge, but also focus on their own well-being. He is also a coach trainer with PreKure. He is someone who walks the talk.

As you can see, there are many ways that health and wellness coaches can have an impact, and these are just a few – the top six of over 50 coaches nominated for these inaugural awards.

The Speakers

On Friday, the audience was treated to a jam-packed day with speakers from different realms sharing knowledge and innovation from the coaching front.

Session 1 was about thinking big and exploring the possibilities.

Michael Arloski talked about how important it is to deepen our craft – and he discussed the concept of craftsmanship, which is very close to my own heart. Michael says that in the face of global well-being challenges that our clients face, we can double down by focusing on masterful coaching and staying within our scope of practice. Practice, patience and presence are required to become good at what we do, and focusing on this will help us to deliver incredible value to our clients.

Paul Taylor presented a summary of his new book ‘Death by Comfort’ – why modern life is killing us and what we need to do about it. Paul discussed some of the latest research around the benefits of ‘uncomfortable’ things like exercise, cold therapy and heat therapy, and how they can truly improve quality of life and longevity.

Suzie Carmack talked about creating value as a coach, and about building your personal brand and business with a portfolio career. A portfolio career is the idea of having multiple income streams as a coach, but also organising your days and working in batches to avoid burnout.

Session 2 shared exemplars of partnerships from the field.

We heard from Grant Schofield, Troy Morgan, Dr Sandra Scheinbaum, Bee Pennington and Sam McBride.

The speakers illustrated various ways in which coaches can build and leverage partnerships to build their businesses and have an impact.

One thing was definitely clear – as a coach, we need to engage our target market and build relationships there to truly understand their needs, before going in to ‘sell’ anything. It is truly relationships that give coaching a platform to really shine and make a difference.

Troy Morgan discussed two ways to succeed in corporate – firstly, to develop strong partnerships with all stakeholders, and secondly, to collect data that proves the impact and value of the work you are doing. Those two things can make you indispensable within an organisation.

Sam McBride’s ‘Men’s Muster’ in NZ was a particularly interesting example of how to engage men with the idea of health behaviour change, with a little beer and a lot of engaging outdoor activities.

Session 3 was about breaking business ground.

David Carroll, myself, Philippa Flowerday and Michelle Yandle discussed how coaches can establish thriving businesses in a variety of contexts.

We explored different models that can create income and add value, and discussed coaching success in organisations, workplaces, communities and solo businesses.

Michelle showcased a unique ‘ Empowered Eating’ model that is based in the ancient wisdom of her ancestors, and which is relevant to the issues upstream of eating – family,

A key message is that being specific about the problem that you want to solve, is the best and easiest way to build your business and have an impact.

Session 4, the final session, included speakers who are inspiring best practice and stepping into new specialty fields.

Dr Cam McDonald, Shivaun Conn, Sarah Rusbatch and Fiona Cosgrove talked about cutting-edge research and emerging niches in coaching.

Cam discussed the power of combining coaching and technology, focusing how we are extremely variable in terms of our exercise, nutrition, psychology and medication needs, and how digital metrics can identify and predict the needs of individuals so as to fine-tune their habits and protocols in these areas.

Shivaun talked about trauma-informed care – what it means and how to work with it and manage your own triggers as a coach. She explained the signs of a dysregulated nervous system (stuck ‘on’ or ‘off’) and the language that someone might use in either state, as signs that a coach could use to identify a need for referral or support.

Sarah outlined how (and why) her grey area drinking practice has skyrocketed in the past 14 months and shared the personal story behind her journey to becoming a grey area drinking coach. Her talk hit home with a lot of questions and commendations related to her work.

Fiona Cosgrove discussed her PhD research into the development and care of the health and wellness coach, and the four key areas that changed for coaches themselves during their coach training journey. These are self-knowledge and acceptance, better relationships, professional optimism, and personal health and wellness. Fiona’s was a fitting final session that pulled together the essence of the conference – that Health and Wellness Coaching has important impacts on both coaches and clients in terms of physical, mental and emotional health.

Networking Opportunities

The networking sessions created invaluable connections for all who attended. As the MC on the Thursday evening session, I invited everyone to introduce themselves to someone they hadn’t met before, to forge new connections.

By Friday, the ice was well and truly broken, and everyone was eagerly swapping contact details and sharing ideas in the breaks between speaking sessions. Several people were discussing opportunities to work together or to try the services of someone else. All in all, there was significant cross-pollination and the generation of new ideas.

Summary

The recent HCANZA conference was a huge success. It was an event that bought coaches together, showcased new and innovative research in our field, and highlighted coaches who are breaking ground and having an impact. Further, the conference showed that success is available to all who qualify in this field.

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#196 Andy Hampson – Launching her Breast Cancer Coaching Business

This episode is about Andy Hampson – launching her breast cancer coaching business

Andy Hampson of the Inspire Network is on a mission to change lives. Andy has just launched her coaching business with a pilot program to bring out the best in breast cancer patients. Andy is leveraging her skills as a Practice Manager and her professional network to help patients she has previously supported, in a different and more inspiring way.

Connect with Andy https://www.linkedin.com/in/andy-hampson-the-inspire-network/ 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Starting her business and the journey
* Her business traction point
* What her aspirations are

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#195 Danielle Dobson – Breaking the Gender Code

This episode is about Danielle Dobson – breaking the gender code

Danielle Dobson is hot property right now. As Author of the Gender Code, Professional speaker and executive coach, Danielle is making an impact in the corporate and small business worlds by helping women unlock their potential in leadership and life. In this episode, Danielle talks about her own career progression and Gender Code limitations, and how she broke through to create a successful business that is breaking ground and having an impact.

Connect with Danielle

https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielledobsondna/ https://www.codeconversations.com.au/ 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What she’s doing now in her business
* Starting her business and the journey
* Her business traction point
* Challenges she overcame to succeed

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#194 Kristine Gardner Having an Impact With Metabolic Balance

This episode is about Kristine Gardner having an impact with metabolic balance

Kristine Gardener of Melbourne Wellness Coaching is a wellness coach, naturopath and Metabolic Balance Coach who is running a successful weight loss coaching business. But in the beginning, she wasn’t sure how to get traction and where to start. This interview uncovers her journey to success, and what it took to get there.

Connect with Kristine

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristine-gardener-consulting-coaching/ https://melbournewellnesscoaching.com.au/

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What she’s doing now in her business
* Starting her business and the journey
* Her business traction point
* Challenges she overcame to succeed

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#193 Ruth Morgan: Creating Healthy Careers

This episode is about Ruth Morgan: creating healthy careers

Ruth Morgan of Creating Healthy Careers shares her insights and lessons in developing as a coach and creating a viable, inspiring business. Ruth is a coach, author and speaker who knows what it takes to create a more meaningful and purposeful career – and how to remove the blocks that get in the way.

In this interview, Ruth tells the story of how her business came to be, and how her own journey inspired her business.

Connect with Ruth https://www.linkedin.com/in/ruth-morgan-creatinghealthycareers/ https://creatinghealthycareers.com/

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What she’s doing now in her business
* Starting her business and the journey
* Her business traction point
* Challenges she overcame to succeed

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#190 Fear Vs Faith-Based Business

This episode is about fear vs faith-based business

Today I want to talk to you about running your business from a position of fear versus a position of faith. This is such an important conversation to have. If you’re operating from a place of fear, it can really hurt your business. But if you can switch that and operate from a position of faith that you’ll succeed, of optimism, and hope, then it’s a totally different ball game.

If you’re a new coach, if you have just graduated with your qualification, and you are getting ready to start your coaching business or practice, it’s a really exciting time. You have so much opportunity ahead of you!

You have so much enthusiasm about making a difference in the world!

But for a lot people starting out as a coach in business, there is this challenge around self-confidence self-worth and self-value.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What a fear-based business looks like
* HFlipping the Switch
* What a faith-based business looks like

Impostor syndrome is incredibly common.

And that’s why today I want to talk about the impact of starting your coaching business from a position of fear, verses starting your coaching business from a position of faith.

I want to give you some practical tips and tools to help you come from a better place, so that you can build your coaching business easily more quickly and to be more successful.

What a Fear-Based Business Looks Like

I want to start here so that you can see the impact of having this fear-based mindset on both your ability as a coach, and on your business.

From a business perspective, a fear-based approach reduces your ability to make money, attract clients, and get ahead.

A fear-based mentality is a little bit like a circular reference. It might start with impostor syndrome – who am I to coach? I’ve never run a business before – how will I ever succeed?

You might be comparing yourself to others who have spent 10 years of blood, sweat and tears to build their business.

And as a result, you feel like you won’t get things right, or you’ll fail or you won’t be able to find enough clients, or you won’t be good enough.

That puts you into this repeating cycle of not taking action and worrying about the action that you do take – giving your brain the proof it needs that you’re not good enough.

There is a confounding factor in this cycle that I want to alert you to.

Here is a pro tip – If you start working with practice or paid clients who are ready, willing and able to change – even desperate to change – chances are they will love coaching with you and get great results.

A lot of coaches starting out with this fear-based mentality want to find anyone with a pulse!!

But, if the client is not ready, willing and able, they’ll probably be resistant, disinterested, unfocused and uncommitted.

The kicker is that YOU will feel like the failure, but it’s actually probably not you!

See how this fear-based ‘I need any clients I can get!’ mentality is hurting your self-value and self-efficacy – and your business?

The fear-based approach sets you up to start looking for – and finding – evidence of failure. In other words, if focus on your fear of failing, then all you will see is the evidence that this is true.

How does this kind of mindset affect your ability to start marketing your business?

What happens to your ability to proactively go out to meet new people, talk about what you do with confidence, or become a specialist in a particular niche area if your head is full of this negative stuff?

I know that when I started my own coaching business, even though I had been incredibly successful in other businesses, I had that same mindset.

I kept asking myself questions like, where will I find clients, and what if they don’t get very good results, and what if I can’t make a living out of this, and what if I’m no good at this, how would I ever know?

What happened is that I started to get more and more agitated and wound up about not succeeding, and I started to doubt myself, and feel threatened and judged by everybody around me who knew what I was trying to do.

I felt disheartened. For the most part what was going on for me was that I didn’t have a specific enough niche, so people didn’t understand my messaging, and I wasn’t going to the right places therefore to find the people who I wanted to work with.

If this sounds like you, then stick with me because now I’m going to talk about flipping the switch and having a more faith in yourself, and having a more positive attitude to your business so that you can start attracting clients more easily and becoming a better coach more quickly, and make more money.

Flipping the Switch

A turning point for me was doing some research to find out that there was a need and I want in my community. Identifying a need isn’t enough. After all, lots of people need help, but not many are

ready, willing, and able to seek and pay for help. So I had to find those people who were motivated to change and were willing to pay to get my help.

As soon as I did this, everything changed. And it’s a story I have seen time and time again with other coaches who have been successful.

As soon as they committed to one thing that they knew people were willing to pay for, everything changed.

If you do that, you create an upward spiral of thinking and acting positively – and this is how that can play out for you.

My second pro-tip for this episode is to create a little roadmap of how to beat the imposter and get started. Here’s how.

First of all, find some practice clients to work with who REALLY want to change and are ready to do so.

Then, invite interest to be part of a pilot program, which is a safe, confidential environment for you to be imperfect, for them not to expect the world, and to get their honest feedback without too many expectations upfront.

Be vulnerable and let them know it is a test for both of you, and that their opinion and feedback will really help you to help others in exactly the right way.

If you get that combination right – the right people and a test environment – then invariably those first pilot clients will stick with your program and finish it, and then, they will more likely to succeed.

And THEN, they will refer others to you!

Imagine how you would feel having coached a handful of people who really wanted to change, and then were able to succeed and feel and look amazing?

What would your mind be telling you in that situation?

Would it be telling you that you were a failure or that you weren’t any good or that your results weren’t worth the money or anything like that?

Of course not. And that’s the whole point.

Once you start working with the right people and getting some initial results and focusing on them rather than your fears and inadequacies – a totally different region of your brain lights up.

It’s the region associated with positive emotions, optimism, and hope.

What a Faith-based Business Looks Like

For me when I started my coaching business, as soon as I got those clients that were successful initially, I started wondering where can I find more of those people, and how can I share those wonderful results, and how can I help those people to continue to succeed?

The initial results that my first successful clients got totally shifted the language in my head. And instead of focusing on me and my supposed shortcomings, I started to focus on the possibilities of change in my business.

And pretty soon, most of my language was very different.

Instead of asking why can’t I? I started asking how can I?

I had the confidence that what I was doing was working. And I started to look for more opportunities. Everything just unfolded as it was meant to because I was moving forward in my mind.

I was believing in what was possible based on some initial results. And I was totally focused on pursuing opportunities knowing that I had something of value to offer, rather than being frightened of speaking to anybody in case I couldn’t figure out the words to describe what I was doing or in case I couldn’t prove my results.

This is such an important episode. It takes courage and a bit of confidence to take those first steps into your profession, once you get those couple of important wins on the board it gives you the confidence to gain momentum to keep going and getting traction and continue taking action in the right direction.

Your brain will switch from how will I ever do it, into where do I go next?

Of course you will probably need support to face and work on your fears, and probably your own personal and/or business coach.

But please know this – as Henry Ford said – If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.

Summary

Today I covered the difference between a fear-based versus a faith-based coaching business.

One involves getting bogged down in everything you can’t possibly do or succeed in, and keeps you stuck there. And unless things change, you’ll probably fail in your business and as a coach.

But, if you commit to a more faith-based approach, where you develop faith in your method and in your ability to succeed, and you put your clients first and find the right people, it will flick the switch in your brain and reveal a positive path of traction, momentum and success.

Today, I walked you through a simple plan to develop a faith-based coaching business.

What are you waiting for? Go out and get started.

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#189 How to boost your professional credibility

This episode is about how to boost your professional credibility

When you start a new profession, one of the most important parts of marketing is developing professional credibility and a good reputation. Today I’d like to share a golden opportunity for you as a professional health and wellness coach, to do just that in June 2022.

Starting out in your health and wellness coaching business is exciting and challenging. And initially, you need to put in a lot of work to become seen, known, liked and trusted.

Further to that, you want to be more than just known – you want to be seen as a reputable professional who is properly qualified and who is confident in what they’re doing.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* 7 Reasons Why the Conference is a Must Attend Event
* How This Event Can Rocket Fuel Your Coaching Business
* Why We All Have a Role in Putting Health and Wellness Coaching on the Map

How do you do that?

Well, there are many ways, and I want to talk about one specific golden opportunity for you to boost your professional credibility if you are a health and wellness coach in Australia or New Zealand.

This opportunity is the HCANZA conference, being held on the Gold Coast on 2 – 3 June 2022. The conference is called Health and Wellness Coaching Conference – Breaking Through – Health and Wellness Coaching in a Post-Pandemic World.

Before we unpack this, I’d like to say that any professional conference attendance gives you similar opportunities, but this particular conference gives you a one-time-only opportunity to be seen, heard and recognised as a professional.

7 Reasons Why the HCANZA 2022 Conference is a Must-Attend Event

There are several reasons why this is such an important event and such a significant opportunity for you as an individual health and wellness coach.

Not in the least, is the fact that the world we know, our workforce, what’s important to us, the awareness of health and the willingness to change have been irrevoc

Now more than ever, coaching is a viable career option, and it’s a golden opportunity to put Health and Wellness Coaching on the map as an important part of navigating health and wellbeing into the future.

1. Showcasing Health and Wellness Coaching as a Reputable Industry

This inaugural conference provides the opportunity for our industry association and its members to showcase the skills and the breadth in-depth of knowledge and experience that health and wellness coaches have and share those with the world.

We have global experts Zooming in or attending live to speak at this event. Some of them are founders of the industry and have played a significant role in building our profession from the ground up over the past 20-odd years.

With global key opinion leaders together in the room, it gives a huge weight of credibility and reputation that we can promote and advertise to medical professionals, allied health professionals and the general public to promote ourselves as an evidence-based, high calibre profession.

This alone puts health and wellness coaching squarely on the map.

2. Showing the Value of Health and Wellness Coaching, and Where it Fits

This conference is our chance to explain our scope of practice and highlight how we complement other health professionals so that their clients and patients can achieve better health outcomes more easily and in a shorter time.

We show our value with case studies, storytelling and real-life examples of business and client success.

We’ll share how coaches and coaching organisations have changed lives by working in a complementary way with other health professionals, giving everyone who attends a clear understanding of exactly how and where coaching adds value to existing health professionals and treatment frameworks, and independent businesses.

Remember, this is the first time in Australia and New Zealand that such a conference has been held, and it’s our opportunity to share these facts and success stories for huge media coverage and collective recognition.

3. Clearly Explaining How We Work

Have you ever had trouble describing what you do and how you work?

The stories, case studies and expert presentations at this conference will equip you, the attendee, with clear insights and anecdotes to share with prospective clients, partners and advocates in your own practice when you get home to explain clearly how you work with people and what sorts of results and outcomes are possible.

You will learn how to describe your profession and skill set in a more succinct way.

You will develop a confident spiel about the important conditions for change such as self-awareness as an essential first step, and how health and Wallace coaching empowers self-responsibility, which saves the health system and the individual billions of dollars each year.

4. Improve Networking Skills and Confidence

Another great reason to attend this conference is that it gives you skills, experience and confidence in networking.

Networking with other health professionals pretty much an essential part of fast-tracking your marketing and gaining success in your business.

By attending this conference, you will get to polish up your skills of breaking the ice, having friendly conversations, making your contacts, and starting conversations that lead somewhere, with like-minded people.

How will you feel, having brushed up your networking skills in a safe environment with trusted colleagues?

How much easier will the next conference or networking event be?

What impact will that have on your business or coaching practice?

5. Build Important, Business Building Alliances

I’ve just touched on the skills of networking, but have you considered what they might lead to?

If you think about it, conferences are networking events that offer business-building opportunities.

The #1 challenge coaches tell me they have is running their business in isolation, feeling alone, with nobody to bounce ideas off.

Attending this conference in person gives you a more personal connection with other coaches that you’ve only ever met online. That live meeting will cement your relationships and help them grow.

Through those conversations, you might even find some opportunities and leads to help you in your business.

Think of how you’re going to feel after walking out of a conference with a handful of really great contacts that you can stay in touch with and possibly even collaborate with or get help from to grow your practice?

Or finding someone who is doing complementary work and you find an opportunity to help each other?

Or simply being inspired by one of the speakers and discovering strategies that you can apply right away to your own business?

One way or another, you have the chance to learn some important skills and develop some strong support networks and alliances.

6. Increased Confidence, Belief and Action-taking

How are you feeling so far, having thought about all these benefits?

I bet you are feeling pretty pumped up. And that leads me to my next point – this conference is essential to your business development, your confidence, and your personal and professional growth.

You might hear that and think, “well that’s a pretty big claim to make”.

Yes, it is – but it’s 100% true.

Think back to the last time you attended a conference or event – how did you feel?

If you have ever been to any sort of sizeable event, you probably remember the huge buzz, sense of enthusiasm, inspiration, energy, confidence, optimism and hope that you felt.

You probably left that session on a high, with so much belief and a readiness to take action based on what you learned or discovered.

There is a saying that we are the average of the five people closest to us. In a professional context, it’s important that you are rubbing shoulders with people who have more experience, more knowledge, and a greater sense of conviction about what is possible with your modality, so that you can continue to hope, believe, and create success that you wish for in your profession.

Listening to professional coaches speaking gives you the sense of what’s possible for you. It makes your discipline in your profession relatable and within your reach. And it gives you the opportunity for some personal growth and to identify what you need to focus on in order to keep moving forward and growing as a coach and as a person.

Remember that we are in the relationship building industry, and your ability to be self-confident is critical to your success. You can learn how other people have built their own self-confidence and their skill as a coach so that you create a roadmap to get there yourself.

That leads me to my last point on why attending this conference is so important.

7. The Ripple Effect

The final benefit of this conference that I want to talk about is the ripple effect.

For this inaugural conference to really help to put our profession on the map, we need to sell all the tickets and speak to everyone we know about it.

If it’s down to the HCANZA board and few members to do this, we’re not going to get very much media coverage or excitement or visibility.

But if the conference is a sell out and we’re all sharing the word and the success stories, it is a totally different ball game.

It shows that there is a strong collective of coaches who are qualified and who uphold a standard of practice, and who stand together as a united voice to speak about the benefits and opportunities that health and wellness coaching provides.

And at a larger scale, the success of our industry depends on the commitment of every person who is certified and working in the capacity of a health and wellness coach, to find their voice and speak up about the profession, this event, and every one that follows.

It’s not something that a few people can do on their own. For this to work we need to have everybody putting their hand up turning up and being part of something that is bigger than the individual, and which has the potential to create a significant impact on our health systems, longevity and quality of life.

Yes, the number of people attending the conference and telling everyone about it, is important for our profession.

But it’s also important at the other end of the conference long after it’s finished. Because you’re going to walk away feeling inspired and enthusiastic and excited, and you’re going to have a head full of new knowledge, ideas and cutting edge information.

And what’s going to happen to that information?

You’re going to be excited to share it with everybody you know.

You’re going to be equipped with information and words that will help you to network with other health professionals, reach potential clients, find collaborative partners, and find cross referral opportunities.

The more people that attend and promote this conference at the same time, the bigger the visibility and impact we can have.

This really is a critical time and event in the development of our industry.

Summary

Today, I got pretty ranty about boosting your professional credibility, and more specifically, using the inaugural Health and Wellness Coaching Conference – Breaking Through – Health and Wellness Coaching in a Post-Pandemic World – as a vehicle to really showcase our profession.

I outlined just seven of the many benefits of attending.

In summary there are so many opportunities for personal and professional growth at this conference. So much rich content, information and relationships to be found in this conference. All you need to do is attend. https://www.conference.hcanza.org/?_ga=2.5600117.73171265.1650423249-552347760.1650423249

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#186 Three Proven Marketing Roadmaps for Coaches

This episode is about three proven marketing roadmaps for coaches

If you’ve finished your coaching qualification and are ready to launch a business, it can be daunting to realize that you have no idea of how or where to find clients and to create a consistent income. On top of that, the word marketing might conjure up a sense of dread and that you need to do all these things that the experts say you should do.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Forget the Facebook ads or webinar skills training courses – in this episode, I’ll discuss three marketing roadmaps for coaches that play to your natural communication strengths and help you start promoting with authenticity, integrity and confidence.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Playing to your communication strengths
* The Writing Roadmap
* The Speaking Roadmap
* The Networking Roadmap

Playing to your communication strengths

When I started my coaching business, I was convinced I needed a Facebook page and Facebook group. All the gurus told me it was the only way to ‘get clients’ – and to set up some ads.

The trouble is, I feel incredible anxiety when I go onto Facebook. But I persisted as I thought I had to be on that platform and that it was the only way to succeed.

So, what happened?

I felt anxious every day. I had to force myself to open the app and create posts.

I spent hours debating over the words, trying to get them right, and picking images. I cringed at the lack of engagement, and I stressed over the future of my business.

For a good six months, I did Facebook training courses, paid for mentoring and joined support groups. I felt miserable and hopeless.

Then I reflected on my communication skills and strengths and worked out that this was not how I should be doing marketing. I needed to do it MY way, so that I could feel energized, motivated and excited about connecting with my audience.

From there, I went on a journey to explore how best to market my business.

I realised that I feel most comfortable and authentic when I’m talking to people, networking and to a lesser degree, writing. My main skills are active listening and relationship building, so these options make sense to me. I get to express my opinions, listen and reflect, and draw on my extensive technical writing skills and experience.

Fast forward to today, and these are the ways I do my marketing.

As part of my ‘visibility’ marketing, I write an article each week and turn it into a podcast, where I speak about things that my audience wants to know about. These build trust and relationship.

I’m pretty busy with contract work and as a board member of HCANZA, our industry association to do much more than this. But If I wanted to go really big online, I’d be looking to be a guest blogger on a nationally-recognised online magazine, or guest on a podcast that is nationally-recognised, or on the radio.

As it is, I share links to articles and podcasts on LinkedIn and Instagram. These are my best promotional platforms because I feel comfortable and more connected with my audience – it’s where ‘my people’ are.

But actually, my preferred way of marketing is networking, so I do a lot of connections with others so I can meet and learn more about what people do, where there are synergies, and work collaboratively via cross-referral and cross-promotion.

As you can see, I have a mix of marketing channels that leverage my communication skills and help me build visibility, and the ability to scale if and as needed.

It’s taken me a while to get to this point, but when you’re starting out, it’s better to start more simply. Let’s talk about three rough marketing roadmaps for coaches that leverage your communication skills and can help you get visibility, new clients and traction more easily.

Please note that it’s highly likely that your ideal clients within your niche have the same communication strengths and skills as you. By playing to your strengths, you’ll more likely attract your people.

Here are three roadmaps that I think are the most effective for building coaching businesses. There are other marketing strategies out there, but these three are more effective because you get the chance to connect more personally and emotively with potential clients or referrers.

As per my previous episodes – it’s the emotional connection between you and your clients that builds the trust and rapport that clients need before they commit to buying from you.

Now, let’s explore the three roadmaps!

The Writing Roadmap

If you’re a great writer and you love writing, chances are your audience is the same.

You’re probably someone who:

  • journals a lot
  • likes writing lengthy passages/stories
  • is creative with the written language
  • writes emotively and descriptively
  • If this is you, then it’s entirely possible for you to engage your audience in this way.

As a skilled writer, it’s relatively easy to gain visibility by guest blogging on highly visible online publications like MammaMia, Forbes, Thrive Global or other platforms.

You could also write case studies, stories and articles for your own blog and build a following, or longform posts on social media platforms where your audience hangs out. Mine is on LinkedIn, yours might be elsewhere.

You can write for your local industry association and/or industry publications to gain visibility.

Of course, any writing you do needs to be publicised via sharing through emails (to your network), and on social media and your client email list.

If most of your audience are readers, then your website can offer a well-written lead magnet (e.g. a how-to guide) that they can download, and join your list.

As you become more comfortable with writing and build a presence, you can start to offer live webinars or 1:1 calls to connect with you.

Writing as a stand-alone marketing tool can take more time than speaking or networking, so if you are starting here, you would aim to build in another marketing strategy later such as networking or speaking, events or PR, to speed up the process of becoming known, liked and trusted.

The Speaking Roadmap

If you’re a great speaker and you love talking, chances are your audience is the same.

You’re probably someone who:

  • enjoys socialising and in-depth conversation
  • likes speaking at length, teaching and/or telling stories
  • has a good vocabulary
  • speaks confidently and articulately and likes public speaking.

If this is you, then it’s entirely possible for you to engage your audience in this way.

As a skilled speaker, it’s relatively easy to gain visibility by being a guest on a highly visible podcast or getting interviewed on the radio or scoring a regular community radio spot.

You could also develop your own podcast or YouTube channel, where you build a following by posting audio files or video files and inviting comments.

You can deliver a signature talk to local groups, allied health professionals or clients. You could engage your local public library to help you promote and deliver a workshop and present your signature talk (promotional) in their space.

You can present at conferences, expos or other events.

Of course, any speaking you do needs to be publicised via sharing through emails (to your network), on social media and your client email list, or the list of the event organiser.

If most of your audience is speakers and listeners, then your website can offer a well-scripted video or audio that they can watch that invites them to join your email list or meetup group.

As you become more comfortable with public speaking you can offer live webinars or workshops that promote your service offering.

Speaking is a fabulous marketing tool that requires confidence and practice. It’s easiest to start small and with people, you know, and build up to larger audiences and/or more complicated means of delivery (e.g. in-person vs online).

One thing is for sure – public speaking is one of the fastest ways to become known, liked and trusted because there is an authentic connection in real-time, and you can build trust and authority easily if you know your subject matter.

The Networking Roadmap

If you love interacting and meeting people to share ideas, chances are your audience is the same.

You’re probably someone who:

  • likes meeting people, breaking the ice and having in-depth conversations
  • likes speaking but is also curious about other points of view
  • enjoys collaborating and brainstorming to build on ideas
  • is comfortable with sharing opinions and exploring differences.
  • If this is you, then it’s entirely possible for you to engage your audience in this way.

As a skilled networker, it’s relatively easy to gain visibility by attending events that are hosted by business, social or online groups, or joining networking groups or social media groups.

You could also develop your own group (e.g. a Facebook group), WhatsApp messenger chat, or live MeetUp group if you don’t like social media that much (MeetUp is a platform to facilitate groups that meet.

You can offer interactive workshops, breakout rooms or discussion/opinion topics with allied health professionals, complementary businesses or potential clients. You can co-host workshops with other professionals to share knowledge and gain insights.

You could also host events like movie nights, book clubs, meditation sessions or other such events that bring people together to meet, connect and share insights and ideas.

This is a lot like the ‘speaking’ roadmap, with a key difference being that you are more interactive and collaborative, with the focus on sharing ideas and listening more.

Of course, any networking you do needs to be publicised via sharing through emails (to your network), on social media and your client email list, or via the event platform.

If most of your audience is interactive too, then your website can offer a live session with you (could be virtual) as a 1:1 on a meeting platform, VR, or to attend an introductory group event.

If you are attending networking events hosted by other people, it’s important to define a goal for the event and complete that goal so it advances your marketing effort. For example, I make a point of finding one or two people at each event that I like connecting with, and to email them afterwards and set up a coffee date. This could be a potential client or a potential referrer.

As you become more comfortable with networking, you can start your own group or simply schedule connections with like-minded people that you’ve built connections with. An allied health professional near me does this well – he emails me every quarter to set up a coffee date.

Networking is a fabulous marketing tool that requires confidence and organisational skills. It’s easiest to start with small local groups and build up to attending larger groups or even creating your own group (which requires learning a bit of tech in some cases).

Networking is one of the fastest ways to become known, liked and trusted because there is an authentic connection in real-time, using both auditory and visual cues to gauge and develop rapport.

My opinion is that while speaking can build a sense of authority, networking can build connection and engagement.

Summary

Today we talked about three marketing roadmaps for coaches.

To create your roadmap, it helps to play to your communication strengths and style to build confidence and to be truly authentic.

Depending on your personal skills and strengths, I outlined three roadmaps:

  1. The writing roadmap
  2. The speaking roadmap
  3. The networking roadmap

There are other marketing strategies, but these are known to be more effective because you get the chance to connect more personally and emotively with potential clients or referrers. If you need help to develop your proven marketing roadmap, book a good fit call to see if I can help you. My books are closed to personal clients until July 2022, but I have space in my June Passion to Profit program if you need help to build the foundations of your business. Click the link to learn more about the program.

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#185 How to Write a Magnetic ‘About Me’ Story

This episode is about how to write a magnetic ‘About Me’ story

Do you want to attract more clients to your business – and the RIGHT kind of clients?

As part of my Passion to Profit course, I ask my students to write an About Me story as a critical part of their marketing. In this episode, I’ll explain how to write it in a way that attracts the right kinds of clients more easily, and with fewer objections.

What An About Me Story Is – and Why It Matters

Statistics show that your About Me story is one of the most-read pieces of content on your website.

So, what is an about me story?

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What an About Me Story Is – and Why it Matters
* Four Things Your About Me Story Must Cover
* How Your About Me Story Attracts the Right Clients
* Four Steps to a Magnetic About Me Story

It’s the story that describes your journey from tragedy to triumph, to arrive at where you are today.

It is an emotive story that captures four important things:

  1. Who you are as a person (your personality)
  2. How do you relate to your niche (your story)
  3. Your values
  4. The position and value of your business

In his 2015 book called Dotcom Secrets, founder of Clickfunnels Russell Brunson describes this as an Attractive Character Avatar – a public persona that people immediately relate to and connect with.

Why does the about me story matter?

Well, because first impressions count, and your About Me page is often the first thing people look for on your website. A well-written story builds connection, rapport and trust with the reader.

Four Things Your About Me Story Must Cover

Remember that people buy you, not your service. There are four things that your About Me story must cover in order to build trust and rapport in the reader. It must show the reader:

1. What they have in common with you – in terms of age, stage of life, problem, values, journey and personality

2. How deeply you understand their day-to-day struggles with the problem

3. That you are a role model for success, giving them hope and a sense of what is possible and achievable for them

4. That you have more than just professional expertise, but personal lived experience with an issue – and how best to overcome it.

Think about how much trust that generates!

How Your About Me Story Attracts the Right Clients

Think about any more generic About Me story that you’ve read on a website or one that is full of qualifications.

How did you feel when you read it?

A dry, boring, linear account of your academic history can cause readers to skim at best, and switch off at worst.

Yes, qualifications matter, but it’s personal engagement that actually sells.

By telling a heartfelt, emotive story of tragedy to triumph, the reader will see themselves in your words.

They’ll know that you ‘get’ how they are feeling.

They’ll get to know you a bit more personally, and to understand your personality, values and approach.

By the end of your relatable story, the reader should be clear about how aligned they are with you, and whether you are the right person to help them or not.

In other words, a well-written story can either attract or repel the reader – so you end up with enquiries from people who are pre-sold that you might be a good personality fit for them – and very few mismatches or tyre kickers!

How To Write a Magnetic About Me Story

Start by doing some exercises to prepare to write your story.

If you haven’t had a journey yourself, you might have had experience with many clients in a niche, or friends and family around you with a certain problem.

Your About Me story can convey your story OR your experience with others.

You might like to think about and write some notes about:

  1. Your best and most likeable personal traits
  2. A clear journey that matches the niche you work with (your story, or someone else’s)
  3. Your strengths and values
  4. What matters to you most or your vision
  5. Your struggles (or your client/friend’s struggle) to get there
  6. What the turning point was (for you or your client/friend)
  7. How it felt to make the decision, and what the decision was
  8. The success and how it felt

Once you have done this, you probably have all the elements to write a great story about a journey that you or others have had.

It needs to be real, emotive and compelling.

Here are some tips for getting it right.

1. Start with a defining event

You can draw the reader in with a specific event that triggered a chain reaction.

For example:

“The year I turned 35, I was living my best life. I was travelling extensively for work, partying hard, and playing golf and tennis. Then I married my best friend and we knew we wanted to have kids right away. It would be the icing on the cake of a perfect life.

But after 6 months of trying, we were unable to get pregnant, and it was then that I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Suddenly my world collapsed, and we were faced with some hard decisions about what to do. We were facing expensive treatment, a hormonal rollercoaster, and no guarantee of success.”

Notice in that example, I outlined how good life was, and how this one specific event was so big that it stopped the person in their tracks.

It covered specific events in a timeline and described all the emotions that were felt along the way. Remember, this could be your story or the story of a client that came to you for help and succeeded (written in the third person).

This part helps the reader connect with you as a person on a similar journey, or who has helped people like them. It is where resonance and trust start.

Are you someone that they could relate to and work with?

2. Define the emotional turmoil

Next, you want to talk about the pain of this – the cost of the struggle. This highlights the personal reasons why getting help and seeking a solution are so important. In doing this, you get to share your values and motivators, which might be the same as your client.

For example:

“We were told by the specialist that if I went ahead with treatment, life would change dramatically. I would need time off work and our income would drop.

I would have to deal with uncomfortable side effects of the treatment. It would make me more emotional, and it would change my body.

My husband and I talked about the consequences. He would have to be the main income earner, and on top of that I would be relying on him for more emotional support.

We would have to decide whether we really wanted kids badly enough to go through with these massive changes and this uncertainty.”

Notice in this example, I am talking about that initial stage of diagnosis and talking about things that the reader with this problem might be going through. The reader who relates to this would be thinking – YES – this person gets it!

This part helps the reader connect with their version of the problem, and to weigh up how big of a problem something is for them right now.

Is the reader going through this too, and are they ready to make a decision?

3. Describing the turning point

Whenever there is a problem that someone is facing, they weigh up the pros and cons of change before deciding what to do, as we heard in that last point.

Humans are driven to avoid pain, so when there are more benefits to change than not, it creates the motivation to act and seek help.

Describing the decision-making and action in detail – what you realised, what was decided, how it felt and what the next steps were – helps your reader to make their own decision, and get some ideas on what getting started might look like.

It also gives them ‘permission’ to ask for help. After all, if a competent role model like you sought help – then the reader might be able to do it too!

On the other hand, what happens if you were to write about how you did it all yourself? It might be off-putting for the reader. They might feel that it’s too hard, or they’re not good enough to do it themselves!

If you manage to weave in the importance and value of getting support, it could help the reader to find the courage to reach out to you. This is important from a marketing perspective (not so much the resonance of the story itself).

For example:

“Being undecided was an excruciating place to be. We needed to make a decision one way or the other, and we both felt so much pressure to choose the right option – but we had no idea what it was! We had so many unanswered questions.

How would we pay for the expensive treatment?

Were we up for this, financially and emotionally?

Could our marriage handle it?

Or could we face a life without kids?

What would that look like?

As our next specialist appointment drew nearer, we decided to go for it. But it would be hard on our own, and between specialist visits. I would need to make sure I was doing everything possible to make my body healthy and better equipped to handle potential pregnancy.

My specialist recommended a health coach who specialised in optimising health for women trying to fall pregnant.

She was amazing – not just in helping me be consistent with positive habits like eating well and exercising safely, but also with the emotional support I needed. She helped me to set boundaries at work so I could finish earlier, get more rest, and also accept that I needed to slow down!

I have achieved so much in so many areas of my life, but without the support of my coach and the community she offered, I would have truly struggled with so many things.

Notice in this example, I am talking about the fear and questions, the process for getting support, and how the support benefitted the person.

This part helps the reader to understand that help is available, and how it helps them get through this situation. It helps to generate hope and optimism, relief and other positive emotions.

4. Amplifying the outcome

Change is hard, and it is often a struggle. It requires focus, dedication and persistence, and to set time aside.

A person will only go through that if there is a reward at the end – and if it’s the reward they want.

Your ability to articulate that clearly, at the end of your About Me story, is essential for helping someone feel ready, willing and able to change – and that you are the right person to help them.

If your reasons and benefits are the same as theirs, they will likely reach out to you for help.

For example:

“Fast forward two years, and we have an amazing little girl who is healthy and happy. We managed to fall pregnant on the second round of treatment, and my coach was invaluable for helping me keep my physical and mental health in check.

 

I went on to study Health and Wellness Coaching, because I wanted to help women like me who were taking that leap of faith, to do so with their best foot forward.

And even though I’m a qualified coach now with a Professional Certificate of Health and Wellness Coaching, I still check in with my coach every 2 – 3 months. I am healthier than I’ve ever been, thanks to her ongoing support.

Right now, she is that objective, non-judgemental person who helps me to navigate the challenges and the joys of raising a baby while running my business. She helps me make better decisions and to be consistent with the habits that keep me healthy and happy.

I have been working with my own clients for 12 months now and am so excited to be doing this important work.

I am so excited and relieved that things worked out. Finally, we get the family we wanted, and we are even talking about baby number 2! For us, making this decision was the best thing we’ve ever done.

If you are reading this story and going through this right now – please take your time to think about all the angles of your decision.

And if you have taken that deep breath and decided to go for it – please know that there are people who can support you and help you through it, regardless of the outcome.”

This part fast forwards to the joy and reinforces the benefits and importance of getting help. It speaks to what’s possible, helps them to connect with the desired outcome, whether you are the right person, and once again, to work out if they are ready, willing and able to do the work.

Summary

Today we discussed what an About Me story is, why it matters, and four things it must cover.

If you get it right, you will build trust and attract the right clients to your business, and they will be ‘pre-sold’ that you are the right person to help them.

There are four parts of a magnetic About Me story:

1. A defining event

2. Defining the emotional turmoil

3. Describing the turning point

4. Amplifying the outcome If you need help to write an About Me story, book a good fit call to see if I can help you. My books are closed to personal clients until July 2022, but I have space in my June Passion to Profit program if you need help to build the foundations of your business. Click the link to learn more about the program.

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#182 Three Ways to Find New Customers Even If You’re Just Starting Out

This episode is about three ways to find new customers even if you’re just starting out

Have you been watching other coaches online and wondering how they’re attracting all these clients, while you’ve just got crickets?

Today, I’d like to share three super easy ways to find new customers even if you’re just starting out in business. Your core coaching skills are a key ingredient!

When you’re starting out in business, it feels like you have all these things to do and yet you don’t have any clients. It’s a strange kind of limbo. You’re probably posting all sorts of things in an effort to stand out, yet nobody’s liking, commenting or watching

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* The Evolution of a Niche
* Leading With Your Why
* Why Listening is Critical
* Niche Content Marketing – Getting It Right

What do you do?

If you’re like most people, you think you need to do another course or learn how to do social media marketing. But like most things, the problem is waaaay upstream of these things.

Let me explain.

Meredith Hill said, “When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.”

What this means is that if you are speaking broadly and generally, using generic content that covers a lot of topics or problems, then it’s hard for the audience to understand who you are and who you help. People might glance at your content and scroll right past it because it doesn’t speak to them.

Consider the analogy of fishing. Your broad, general content is much like someone standing on the beach with a hook and a pilchard, hoping to catch a fish, but catching nothing.

Next to you, there’s a person who is smashing it online. They’re like the fisher who knows what they can catch at that particular beach, and they have the right hook and bait to catch that fish. If they’re catching tailor, it’s probably a gang hook with a pilchard. But if they’re trying to catch a mulloway, fresh or even live bait like yellowtail is better.

Hopefully, you’re getting the picture – the more you know about who you want as a customer or client, the easier it is to be visible and connect with them in your marketing.

This is what ‘finding your niche’ is all about, where your niche is a problem that exists, that certain types of people are desperate to solve, and will pay money to get help with.

Just like the fisherperson using a specific rig and bait to catch a certain fish, knowing your niche means you can go online and speak about specific topics to attract specific types of people who have specific problems – and in doing this, you stand out like a beacon to them, making it easy to be seen, trusted and purchased from.

So, how do you get started?

The Evolution of a Niche

If you’re in the process of career change, have just completed a training course in a totally new area and you’re starting a business, with no prior experience – please take a moment to acknowledge that that’s a pretty steep learning curve!

And just like you can’t go out beach fishing for the first time and expect to know everything about tides, weather, gutters, rigs, and which bait to use, please know that you can’t expect to know or perfect your niche and connect with them easily when you’re first starting out!

Your niche WILL evolve over time. The way to even start defining your niche is by actively speaking to people, using your coaching skills in daily life, and working with practice or paid clients.

Your clients are your teachers. You can start to notice common trends in the conversation, which people you have the best rapport with and how they describe their problems.

This is the evolution of a niche.

As you get more and more experience in using your coaching skills, you will get more and more clarity about your niche.

In my experience, there are three levels of niche clarity:

1. You are totally clear on your niche.

This is usually because you have been engaging in your own or other groups about this problem, have a lot of experience with clients who have a specific problem, or have been on your own journey as part of a group.

2. You have some level of clarity on your niche.

This is usually based on a passion you have or experience with a specific problem area that is meaningful to you. In either case, you can do market research to further your understanding of your niche person and problem, and work out what they want your help with, so you can find the common ground.

3. You have a great idea but have no clue on who would need or want it.

If you’re really stuck wondering how to attract customers, you’ll need to get started with something. Beyond working with practice clients there are three ways you can start to work out your niche and attract new clients online, beyond just doing practice coaching.

1. Start with your why

When posting online – any kind of post – focus on your why, values and passion area.

One thing’s for sure – when you get ranty and fired up about something, some injustice or area of need, that sense of conviction will be appealing and attractive to the right people. It’s the values and beliefs that we have in common with others, that create attraction between us.

In other words, people form relationships because of shared values. When you lead with your why you put your values on display. This gives people an insight into who you are, and they can work out if you are someone they would like to know more about.

By zooming in on your why, you can find some things to talk about and start to create ideas on specific topics of interest.

The key word here is specific. Having a why of ‘wanting to help people’ is pretty vague. Be more specific at least about an area of health and wellbeing, like weight loss, or exercise, or mental health.

Assuming you are on a social media platform where people can search for content topics easily, you can experiment with why-driven posts to see which ones get the most engagement.

2. Start listening and reflecting

Once you have identified a few topics, do a little live and online research to gain opinions and insights, and to see how engaged other people are with those topics.

For example, if you’re getting ranty about impostor syndrome, or weight gain after 40, or anxiety in menopause, what are other people saying and thinking about those things?

Take your coaching skills out into the world and ask people for their opinions. Notice how fired up they are too – or not. See the problem from their point of view.

How big of an issue is that thing for them? Why or why not?

What is their magic wand solution?

What possibilities might open up, if they could solve that problem?

As you do this work, notice the physical shifts you experience. Notice which topics or particular conversations excite you, grab you by the heart, or make you irritated.

And most importantly, notice how your sense of clarity and confidence develops as you talk to people about what matters to them.

3. Explore niche content marketing

The third way is to explore what’s in the news and social commentary about niche content that’s already out there. This is a slower, longer-term game compared with live conversations.

Think about whether online research is an initial project to help you understand your niche, or whether you will continue building information and content over time as part of your marketing. If you have skills and strengths in research, detail and writing, then this might be a good strategy.

Here are some questions you could ask yourself while exploring niche content online:

  • What are the most popular angles being talked about?
  • Where is the gap?
  • Do you agree, or disagree? Why?
  • Which posts or episodes make you irritated or frustrated? Why?

Write down all the things you like, agree with and disagree with.

Then, look for qualified facts to back up your views, for example, from Google Scholar, or recognised institutions.

Check in with yourself to work out which topics are most meaningful and interesting to you. These are the ones that will create a natural energy that is attractive to your audience.

Based on the topic or related topics you have identified, develop some blogs, live videos or podcasts that map out the problem, and outline 2 – 3 things that back your position.

Then, you’re ready to promote these topics to your audience – but not all at once!

For example, let’s say that you are really into natural methods of managing and avoiding stress, and you are super interested in managing the nervous system.

You’d talk about one or two related topics per month over a series of months.

Start your first month talking about one topic in-depth online and offline – in this example, let’s say you focus on comparing different breathing techniques to manage stress. You could find research papers and share the findings, and also your own experience.

Note which conversations or posts get the most interest.

In the second week, start refining the conversations to focus on the specific parts of the topic that are most popular. For example, you might find that people have been talking about the 4-7-8 technique because it’s been in the news and was developed by a Harvard-trained medical doctor, Dr Weill, so you could ask for people to comment on their experiences or insights about the technique. This will get engagement and organic reach.

If you wanted, you could collate all your insights from the month and do a live presentation or in-depth blog at the end of the month. Invite people to attend, invite comments and/or sharing through your networks. The next month, you might start talking about something that goes a bit deeper, like polyvagal theory, which is related to and goes deeper into the topic of the first month.

The first thing that happens here is that by posting on specific topics, you will either attract “your people” – the people who like and trust you based on your messaging and promotion – or you will attract people who are curious and interested in your topics.

You will also be ignored by people who aren’t interested – but that’s a good thing!

This process takes you closer to understanding and clarifying who has the problem that you can help to solve, and what the problem means to them in their lives.

Over the series of months and topics, you will find out which topics are most interesting to your audience, what types of people like each topic, what their main challenges are, and you will be closer to defining your niche.

Over a longer period, you can refine your content and topics to meet the audience, and you can also go back and update older content you created so it is more up-to-date and polished.

Summary

When you’re new to the business, it can be easy to compare yourself to others and wonder why they seem to be so successful, when you’re just getting crickets.

If this is you, remember that your clients are your teachers. By using your coaching skills in daily life, and by working with practice clients, you will start to get a deeper understanding of the people you want to work with, and what sorts of common problems they have that you can help with.

At the same time, you can do three things online to fast-track your understanding.

You can:

1. Develop posts and content built around your why (be specific)

2. Start listening to what people say (live and online conversations) and reflect on the trends, and which topics and people light you up.

3. Explore niche content marketing, by assessing what is in the news, what is a hot topic right now, and which posts irritate or inspire you. Then, start developing content around specific topics that are relevant and meaningful to you and your potential audience and start getting a sense of their reactions.

Live conversations take the least amount of time, whereas online research is more time-consuming and takes longer to engage your niche. Reflect on your skills and strengths to help you decide which way to go.

Welcome to the evolution of your niche! If you need help to understand, define and connect with your niche, book a good fit call to see if I can help you. My books are closed to personal clients until July, but I have space in my June Passion to Profit program if you need help to build the foundations of your business.

References

Balogh, A. Polyvagal Theory: A Simplified Explanation. Swan Counselling website accessed 28.2.22. https://www.swancounselling.com.au/polyvagal-theory-a-simplified-explanation/

Cuncic, A. October 2021. What is 4-7-8 breathing? Very Well Mind website accessed 28.2.22 https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-4-7-8-breathing-5204438

Shatto, R. May 2019. Here’s Why Shared Values Are so Important in Couples, Experts Say. Elite Daily website accessed 28.2.22. https://www.elitedaily.com/p/why-are-shared-values-important-in-relationships-experts-weigh-in-on-this-common-thought-17917975

Passion to Profit Program: Wellness Coaching Australia Website 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:

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E#179 How to Create a Digital Legacy Strategy

This episode is about how to create a digital legacy strategy

Have you got a pile of online passwords, subscriptions and accounts for your business, and are wondering how to handle that when you pass on? Today, I share with you my own personal how-to guide for what I call a digital legacy strategy, so that you can leave a clear wind-up roadmap for your loved ones.

Background

At the moment I have two elderly unwell parents and my family has been talking a lot about their preparations for end of life. It’s a really difficult conversation to have. But my parents are at that age where they are thinking practically and logically about what they will leave behind. There’s a house, the car, the furniture, bank accounts and all of the household bills etc.

I was speaking about this with my husband and we got to talking about how simple their estate actually is, compared with ours.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* How I came up with the idea
* What a digital legacy strategy is
* Four steps to creating your Digital Legacy Strategy

Living in a digital world, and with me running a largely online business, there is so much more to think about when one is preparing to document their estate.

My husband and I are quite different in terms of our assets. He has a lot of toys and physical goods, whereas I have a lot of online digital assets. He wouldn’t have the first clue about my passwords and how to access those assets, and which ones need to be closed down in the event of my passing.

I realise that unless I did something about this, then I could be hit by a bus tomorrow and their would be subscription payments coming out of the business bank account every month and annually without him even knowing where to start winding all of those things up.

In all likelihood, you will live to a ripe old age and may not feel a sense of urgency about this. But for some people, loved ones are taken away suddenly and without warning.

It’s a serious topic that is worthy of careful thought and attention so that your loved ones know how to wrap up your affairs with ease at a difficult time.

What is a digital legacy strategy?

After having this conversation with my husband, I decided to create a document that would equip my husband to sort out my business affairs and online presence with ease, if the worst-case scenario happened.

I decided to call this document a Digital Legacy Strategy.

It’s essentially a 2-page document that describes exactly what I have in terms of an online presence, how to access it, and what to do with all the pieces.

I created it in under 30 minutes using two tools that I had already been using in my business.

Let’s walk through the process that can help you to create your own digital legacy strategy. It might take you a little longer than me if you’re not already using these tools that I have suggested. In any case, I’m going to provide some tools for you in the show notes so that you can create your own version of this

Four steps to creating your Digital Legacy Strategy

Step 1 Set up and categorise a password database

The first thing that you will need is a password database. If you don’t have one already, there are plenty of options that you can subscribe to online or that may be included with your Microsoft or Internet Security software.

If you already have one of these, then it might just be a matter of tidying it up and updating it

And that’s exactly what I did. I have been using Keeper Security password database for the last five or so years.

So my first step was to open my password database and create some sub folders within it so that I could categorise all of my login details for different websites.

I created the following categories

  • Finance
  • Business
  • Paid subscriptions with auto-renew
  • General

The website links and login details in the financial category are all things like my Internet banking login details, my PayPal account, my stripe account, and all of those sorts of things.

The website links and login details in my business category are all things like my ASIC login details, my Service NSW details, The website where my ISBNs for my published books are stored, my self publishing book subscriptions, and anything else to do with business management and the government

The next category is paid subscriptions with auto-renew. This includes anything from any other category that has an auto-renew feature set up for monthly or annual payments.

The website and login links in this category include things like my zoom account, my Xero accounting subscription, my Vimeo account, the online quiz subscription software that I use, domain renewals, Dropbox subscription, Microsoft subscription, Netflix, and anything else that is paid automatically via a digital subscription.

The final category is anything else that is not set to auto-renew and will expire itself. While it is tempting to think about having nothing on auto-renew, it’s simply not possible in many cases, or it a very inconvenient and takes a lot of time to manage.

Step 2 – set up a digital asset register

If your password database is set up properly you may not want to or need to do the second step. But if you want somebody to be able to remove your digital footprint entirely, then it’s probably helpful to have a list of all of the digital assets that you have online.

For me, I have lead magnets, I have podcasts, I have a YouTube channel and a whole bunch of other things on the internet. By including a link to my digital asset register, my husband will be able to see the extent of my whole online footprint, and he could easily pass it all over to somebody if he decided to sell the business in the event that I pass on.

This is quite a time-consuming step but once you have a clear register of all of your digital assets, it’s just a matter of maintaining and incrementally adding to it.

I said this is an optional step.

Step 3 – write your strategy

The strategy is simply a high-level summary of steps one and two, along with some instructions on what to do in the event of passing on.

You could make explicit instructions for what you want to be done with those items, or you could simply provide some options so that the other person can make the decision at the time.

In my case, I would prefer my husband has the option to do what he thinks is best, rather than forcing him to sell my digital assets as part of my will. At the simplest level, I want to know that he can easily get into and turn off any automatic subscriptions In the event of my passing so that he is not unknowingly keeping up payments on something that’s no longer relevant.

Step 4 – access and update

The last thing I’ve done is to save this strategy in a shared digital folder that we both access regularly.

But of course, it’s no use just leaving it there and forgetting about it. My digital footprint is going to change and evolve over time, so it’s really important that I schedule a recurring calendar reminder to review and update my password database, asset register and digital legacy strategy about every 12 months.

It’s a surprisingly easy task to do once it is set up properly, it’s just a matter of having a calendar reminder so that you do.

Summary

To wrap up what we discussed today, it’s never pleasant when somebody passes on and you’re left with the task of unravelling all of their stuff at a very difficult time.

This is even more tricky and intricate when somebody you love has a digital legacy and you have no idea what that legacy is or where to start in closing it down.

Today I described a concept that I’ve developed to help me clearly express some simple instructions to help my husband if the worst-case scenario ever happens.

The four steps I followed are:

1. Set up a password database

2. Create a digital asset register

3. Develop a digital legacy strategy

4. Schedule a review and revision time slot every 12 months

If you need help with this, please check out the links in my show notes, or hit up my contact page for more assistance.

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#178 8 Important Business Boundaries to Beat Burnout

This episode is about 8 important business boundaries to beat burnout

Are you a business owner who is feeling a bit stressed and like you might be heading for burnt-out? Today, I want to talk about 8 important business boundaries – boundaries that you set during your working day – that can help you to beat burnout, so you can maintain flow and productivity at work, with ease.

Burnout is the state of mental, emotional and often physical exhaustion that is created by prolonged or repeated stress.

 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What burnout in business is all about
* Planning, Boundaries and Burnout
* Parkinson’s Law
* 8 Important business boundaries to help you maintain resilience

Burnout is the state of mental, emotional and often physical exhaustion that is created by prolonged or repeated stress.

In other words, it’s when we are regularly stretched beyond our capacity and resources that we start to feel burned out.

Burnout is an important topic that’s relevant right now to so many people. Let’s explore how it can happen, and then, look at 8 work boundaries to help you beat burnout.

Burnout in Business – It’s About More Than Just Self-Care

I have been talking to a lot of people recently about burnout in business and it’s clear that burnout is about more than just self-care.

One story stands out in my mind as an example. She is a business owner who says she has learned to set strong boundaries in her personal life and has been maintaining reasonable self-care, but still feels burnt out, and for quite a while, she couldn’t figure out why.

It turns out that she had mastered boundary setting and goals in her personal life but hadn’t translated these skills into her business.

In her personal life, she is exercising, eating well, meditating, reading and learning, going to bed early and spending time with friends and loved ones.

Yet it’s been the opposite in her business until fairly recently.

In the past, she had been pushing herself hard each day, overbooking herself, setting unrealistic deadlines, rushing through tasks in order to feel productive, using coffee to

maintain her momentum, comparing herself with the perceived success of others, and striving for exorbitant goals.

Because of these behaviours and habits, she’d often been working late and sometimes on weekends without any defined need or purpose and feeling increasingly anxious and stressed.

And previously, she might notice these signs and think she just needed a holiday. She’d have a wonderfully restful break and then, promise herself that she’d take things easier when she got back to work. But pretty soon, things would ramp up again and she’d be back on the road to burnout.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

This is just one version of how burnout can happen. I have been forming some concepts about some of the contributing factors over the past couple of years which I’d like to share with you now.

Planning, Boundaries and Burnout

We all know that beliefs and thought patterns contribute to the behaviours that cause burnout.

But that aside, I have noticed that there is a clear relationship between your planning skills, ability to set boundaries and burnout.

If you’re interested, I have touched on some elements of this in my previous podcast episodes 112, 113, 114, 149 and 150 (if you want to go back and visit those).

Here’s how I see that they are related.

Firstly, if your planning isn’t effective, it can be hard to set and maintain healthy boundaries around the plan in order to deliver on it.

Think about that for a moment in this example. Let’s say you are brand new to business and you make an ambitious plan to service 50 clients by the end of this year.

What happens if you haven’t got clarity on the steps, processes and tasks to get there, and haven’t mapped them out clearly enough?

Chances are, you won’t identify the skills or support you might need to reach your goal.

You’ll struggle to gauge whether your plan is realistic and achievable.

Your poorly mapped tasks might take 3 times as long as you thought.

You might get stuck in the minutiae of putting out fires as you desperately try to wade through your plan.

And as you creep closer to the 12-month mark, determined to stick to your plan, you might start to break some of your own rules in order to achieve the 12-month goal at all costs.

Like working past 5pm. Like working weekends. Like lying awake at night and losing a lot of precious sleep as you ruminate on your to-do list.

Hopefully you can see that good planning can help you to be better with your business boundaries – that they are largely intertwined – and that if you can do well with planning, then boundaries are easier and burnout is less likely.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t want to dive too deep into the psychology and beliefs, but I do want to mention the phenomenon known as Parkinson’s Law.

Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s law is a term coined by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in 1955 to describe the negative relationship between bureaucracy and productivity. Later, it was translated into an adage that “work expands or contracts so as to fill the time available for completion.”

In other words, if you have a 38-hour work week available, your natural tendency is to fill all the gaps with work.

Similarly, if you have a deadline, you can enjoy the luxury of procrastinating for weeks and then finally get the job done in the last hour before it’s due.

This law can apply to money and household items too!

It’s clear that setting time boundaries at work is critical for your ability to be productive and effective. The success of Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-hour Work Week is a testament to this; it’s basically a manual on how to manipulate Parkinson’s Law.

Overall, in this discussion about boundaries and burnout, it’s clear that humans are good at creating work for themselves, whether it is necessary or not, and that is also something that can lead to burnout.

If you have your self-care and personal boundaries in order – great! If not, go back to my previous podcasts I mentioned and take a listen.

Now, let’s talk about 8 important business boundaries that you can set to maintain flow and productivity at work, with ease.

8 Important Business Boundaries

1. Scheduling – one key task per day

Scheduling is the most important part of planning, and it relates to the planning step I mentioned earlier. If you schedule properly, your finish work boundaries and lunch break boundaries are much easier to uphold!

When scheduling your week, remember that new tasks or project tasks invariably take longer than you planned, you will get blindsided by unexpected events, people will cancel, and you will get new and or urgent invitations.

When running a business, accept that you will constantly pivot to some degree, whether you like it or not.

So with all that said, the best way to accommodate this is to set only one key task to complete per day (more is a bonus) and leave a chunk of white space in your diary for the unforeseen or under-scoped tasks.

This is a challenging boundary at first, but it gets easier as you start reaping the benefits of a calm mind and more productivity than you thought possible.

2. Scheduling – one free day (or half day) per week

Building on the planning theme, I find that one full day with no meetings – absolutely not negotiable – is a great chance to catch up, work at a slower pace, and be creative.

Without the urgency or interruption of meetings and appointments, you can be super productive and feel like a champion. Try it.

The boundary is to resist the temptation to squeeze in that meeting or phone call so it’s out of the way. Challenge yourself; stay strong.

3. Maximum meetings

One final point on planning – this is my personal favourite – limit the total number of meetings or client appointments you have each week.

Meetings can be energizing, but too many can be draining, or even frustrating, and they can rob time from tasks that require focus and critical thinking.

Humans are wired to distract themselves, so a day peppered with meetings gives you a mental ‘excuse’ not to start a task because you ‘don’t have time’.

After a good year of observing myself, I realised that my capacity is 10 meetings per week.

More than this, and I start to panic that I won’t get any work done, or I can’t get enough focused time to do the project or other desk work I must do.

Learning to postpone or reschedule fits into this category too – it’s a good boundary to have to help you maintain flow, energy and productivity.

4. Work with your energy

Related to scheduling, and in the vein of David Allen’s model called Getting Things Done, it makes sense to work with your natural energy cycles and make the most of the highs and lows.

The way it works is like this. Let’s say you have 2 – 3 tasks you need to do on a particular day, and a meeting.

If possible, set the meeting at a time when you know you feel calm and present, like 11am.

For your other tasks, you can predict how your energy will be and plan accordingly, and feel free to shuffle around on the day in case anything has changed.

It’s order and disorder in harmony.

For me, I often feel creative first thing on a Monday and it’s a great time to map out podcast topics.

But some Mondays I know I have a deadline and I can’t think creatively, so I’ll do the urgent stuff first, take a break, and relax and get creative in the afternoon.

Honouring your body’s basic needs is a trickier boundary to set as it relies on self-observation and a willingness to adjust last minute. But once again, the reward is greater than the cost.

Imagine feeling like you are in flow every day, making the most of how you are feeling in each moment?

5. Watch your caffeine intake

Putting my health coach hat on, coffee is delightful and it’s a stimulant and diuretic.

There is a t-shirt that says coffee: energy to do stupid things faster. The t-shirt is right.

If coffee makes you speed up, your sense of urgency will increase, you might start rushing, panicking, feeling like you’re short on time….and then comes the frenzy.

Calm the farm and watch your caffeine. It is found in green, white and black tea to a lesser extent, nootropic drinks and coffee, energy drinks and cola drinks.

Most people can stay calm at one or maybe two cups per day. Don’t push the friendship; keep your boundary on simulants at work so you can remain calm and focused.

6. Drink enough water

I created a 50-day program for myself in 2021 and the life-changing moment was realising the impact that hydration has on my energy, focus, mental clarity and cognitive function. I was in a better mood and more motivated.

The boundary is simply this – do something to remember to drink enough water.

My simple trick is to fill my 750mL bottle first thing, put it next to my mouse, and aim to finish it by the time I eat my lunch, and refill it then to finish the second one by 6pm. Works a treat.

Your needs are affected by your age, gender, size, activity levels and temperature, but generally most people need 2 – 2.5L/day (women need slightly less).

If you are thirsty or often hungry, you are definitely dehydrated. Water is a game changer and a great business boundary to uphold.

7. Saying no when you’re tired

So many people try to push through to finish a task, or to be efficient, or to get meetings done. If you can recognise when you’re tired and are at capacity, then you can more easily set a boundary and say no to yourself and others so you can rejuvenate and avoid the slippery slope to burnout.

Let’s face it – tired people tend to make mistakes, do shoddy work or lose concentration and focus, then may try to compensate by pushing themselves. All of that is counterproductive.

Saying no gives you breathing space to re-energize and create true value in your business.

Finishing work at a set time falls into this category – but be flexible enough to finish early if you need to.

8. Step back and review urgency

If you’re busy, tired, have a flood of emails or meeting requests, it’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of urgency for unimportant things, that aren’t really that urgent at all.

Stepping back or as I call it, zooming out each day to review the urgency of tasks is a really helpful way to prioritize time, reschedule and stay calm. I have often caught myself feeling a rising sense of panic, and then ‘zoomed out’ to look logically at the tasks I am working on to ask myself – how urgent is this REALLY?

It’s an eye-opening thought interrupt that helps you calm down, re-assess your priorities and make the changes you need to stay on top of your game.

The boundary is having the discipline to step back and review rather than forge ahead.

Summary

Wow, we covered a lot today.

We talked about how all the personal boundaries in the world don’t prevent burnout – you need to transfer the skills of planning and boundary-setting to your business if you want to remain calm, focused, productive and resilient.

I mentioned the complicating factor of Parkinson’s Law, which is our innate desire to expand our work to fill the allocated schedule.

And I covered 8 business boundaries that might help you to regain your balance, focus, optimism and avoid burnout. They are:

  1. Schedule 1 key task per day
  2. Schedule 1 free day per week
  3. Set maximum meetings per week
  4. Match your work to your energy
  5. Manage your caffeine intake at work
  6. Drink enough water at work
  7. Say no when you’re tired
  8. Step back and review task urgency

These are what works for me, and I encourage you to have a try. And I’d love to hear your feedback – which business boundaries work for you?

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#177 Tragic Optimism

This episode is about tragic optimism 

Are you sick of the relentless stream of drama and bad news and just wish you could find something positive to read and share? 

Then you might be interested in tragic optimism and the opportunities it might bring you to feel more positive and purposeful in these challenging times.

What is Tragic Optimism? 

If you’ve read the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, you will know that he discusses this concept through the lens of life in a concentration camp.  

He talks about making suffering meaningful, seeing guilt as a chance to improve ourselves, and interpreting life’s fragility and unpredictability as motivation to find meaning.  

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What Tragic Optimism means, and the research behind it
* Avoiding the ‘happiness trap’

He found a way to transcend suffering through his own inner decision-making. 

Frankl defined ‘tragic optimism’ as a state of optimism in the face of tragedy and in view of the human potential which, at its best, always allows for: 

  1. turning suffering into a human achievement and accomplishment 
  2. out of guilt, defining the opportunity to change oneself for the better, and 
  3. out of life’s transitoriness, defining an incentive to take responsible action. 

He doesn’t claim that we must suffer to discover meaning, but rather, that meaning can be found despite or because of suffering. 

Where does real happiness come from? 

Frankl says it comes from finding meaning in our lives because this is what provides our reason to be happy.  

More recently with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, research by Anna Gotlib (1) backs Viktor Frankl’s concept of tragic optimism.  

Her study indicates that people who cope better in crisis can do so because they can acknowledge suffering without being pulled under by it.  

Gotlib says it’s not about finding happiness or even distraction from sadness. It is about repairing our narratives and our lives – about learning to let go of the stories around isolation, defeat, loss of control and worthlessness – and to create new narratives and recast a more meaningful future where hope exists. 

I would consider myself to be a tragic optimist in many ways. I believe that the negative stories we tell ourselves are instructions on how to act. It is only when we define new stories that we provide clear instructions to our bodies and brains on how to step into our future selves and flourish. 

Let’s be clear – this is not a ‘don’t’ worry, be happy’ concept. 

It is about honouring uncertainty and encouraging hopefulness. It is about recognising that we can turn inwards to find new words, ideas and valuations, and then share them outwardly and begin again. 

So, how do we do this?

Avoiding The Happiness Trap 

Well, for starters, we can avoid the Happiness Trap. 

What is that? Well, it’s a concept offered by Dr Russ Harris (2).  

In his book of the same name, Russ describes an empirically supported model known as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), an effective model that can help you to address suffering and find meaning. 

And sure, there are many ways and disciplines that can help you to tackle suffering and find meaning, such as self-compassion, mindfulness and cognitive behaviour therapy. 

ACT includes aspects of all of these and more.  

Rather than focussing on striving for happiness, it teaches you to undermine struggle, avoidance and loss using mindfulness, acceptance, cognitive defusion and a focus on values-based living. 

ACT has over 35 years of evidence in treating conditions from anxiety and chronic pain to weight loss and performance enhancement, and over 300 randomised controlled trials that support the efficacy of ACT in alleviating suffering and promoting human flourishing.

Isn’t it amazing to think that by changing your relationship with your thoughts and feelings, you can transcend both physical and emotional pain? 

In my opinion, if you want to find meaning and become a tragic optimist whose life is based on meaning and fulfilment, I think Russ is the best person to help. 

He teaches you how to blow your own mind, so to speak, by naming your stories and becoming a better storyteller, by separating yourself from unhelpful thoughts, and by learning simple tricks and techniques to defusing those thoughts and find true acceptance. 

By doing this, you can stop chasing happiness (which is the trap he describes) and transform your relationship with painful thoughts and feelings to lessen their impact and influence over your life. 

In turn, you create space for a rich and meaningful life, a sense of vitality and fulfilment that is satisfying and long lasting.   

Now I know that some people might rail at the thought of having to ‘accept’ things.  

But have you considered the true definition of acceptance? 

It’s not tolerating or putting up with things – it literally means taking what is offered. It is opening yourself up to what is happening right now.   

And it is your first firm foothold to stop suffering and to start taking action toward more of what you want in life. 

Summary

In these uncertain times, it can be hard to feel positive or find hope in the difficult circumstances that are affecting us all. 

But there are pioneers and researchers such as Viktor Frankl, Anna Gotlib and Russell Harris who have done great work to prove that we can rise above the painful thoughts and feelings we have, to become tragic optimists – people who are able to transcend the unhelpful thought loops and re-craft stories that give us more meaning, purpose and ultimately, freedom. 

References 

  1. Gotlib A. Letting Go of Familiar Narratives as Tragic Optimism in the Era of COVID-19. J Med Humanit. 2021;42(1):81-101. doi:10.1007/s10912-021-09680-8 
  1. Harris, Russell. The Science. The Happiness Trap Website accessed 26.1.22. https://thehappinesstrap.com/the-science/ 

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#176 Burnout and Rust Out – Are You At Risk?

This episode is about burnout and rust out – are you at risk?

Have you been working at home, including supporting your clients or teams through mental issues, over the past two years? Let’s talk about some of the mental health impacts that people in supporting roles may face – burnout or rust out – so you can understand and identify these two elements that have the potential to impact your role as a leader, manager, mentor or coach.

This is the first in a series of conversations I’d like to have with you about understanding burnout and anxiety, and how to recover and build resilience.

These are such important topics because our working world has been turned upside down and this has impacted our mental health – and let’s face it – our mental health underpins both our personal and professional success

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Burnout, Rust Out, and Consequences
* Risk factors for burnout and rust out
* Managing or Reducing Burnout and Rust Out

Background

Over the past two years, we have seen significant changes in both working conditions and the mental health of workers and business owners.

If you are an employee, or if you are a manager leading customers or teams, your daily role has invariably expanded to include dealing with other people’s emotional challenges.

If you are a business owner and especially those in coaching businesses, it’s been more than just business as usual – you have faced a multi-pronged challenge of running your business while supporting your clients through greater than usual mental health challenges related to lockdown, home schooling, isolation, separation, loss of income, grief and the consequent depression and anxiety.

On top of this, all of us have been dealing with our own emotional and situational challenges that potentially lead to mental health issues like anxiety or burnout.

In simpler terms, it’s difficult to support others when your cup is empty.

It’s hard to be an effective listener, leader and coach if you are struggling with anxiety.

It’s hard to think clearly and make decisions if you’re overwhelmed.

It’s difficult to be effective if you have lost purpose and direction.

We need to understand what’s going on so we can deal with things more effectively and thrive in spite of what is going on around us.

Burnout, Rust Out, and Consequences

We all recognise the risks of burning out in such circumstances, but there is also the risk of something called ‘rust out’.

At a simple level, we can describe burnout and rust out in terms of the number of challenges being faced, versus the resources we have available to meet those challenges.

In the case of burnout, you may be facing substantial challenges but few resources to cope.

Consider the effect of the pandemic. So many people are dealing with more stress, grief, isolation above and beyond what we they normally experience, or may be in roles where there are high levels of physical and/or emotional demand.

Examples might include mental health counsellors who are trying to cope with an increase in emotionally challenged calls or clients, or on the other hand, there businesses that are thriving in the pandemic and may be working long hours, struggling to keep up with demand.

In either case, workers may eventually lose the energy or ability to meet those demands, and this puts them on the road to burnout.

And the result?

Chronic and excess stress that leads to a sense of overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment, a sense of ineffectiveness, and a lack of accomplishment (professional efficacy) (1). These are the hallmarks of burnout.

Compare that with its’ opposite, rust out, where you may be facing few challenges but have plenty of resources to cope.

Consider again, the effect of the pandemic. Perhaps your work has dried up to the point where you have very little to do, and you’ve started clock watching at 10am. Perhaps your career prospects have dwindled and you’re doing mostly menial work, shuffling papers and attending endless meetings.

The result?

You may become bored, disheartened and directionless. Your day feels monotonous, and you are developing a sense of dissatisfaction with a career. You are also at risk of anxiety – a sense of – where is this all heading? – or depression.

It’s pretty clear that your ability to identify the risks and warning signs of either burnout or rust out means you can adjust, course correct, and stay on top of your mental health and thrive, in spite of what is going on around you.

Risk factors for burnout and rust out

In various studies, burnout risk factors are cited as gender, age, tenure and occupation, but there is variability in each of these.

Generally, though, burnout seems to affect all industries and since the pandemic, it has occurred on a larger scale. In a report by Microsoft, interviews with 9,600 frontline workers revealed that some workers reported feeling an increased sense of connection with co-workers due to shared stress from the pandemic, but many felt underappreciated by supervisors and that lack of communication had contributed to their burnout.

Further, 51% of non-management position frontline workers did not feel valued and wanted help to address physical exhaustion and mental health.

In the mining industry in Western Australia, a pre-pandemic (2018) survey of fly in, fly out (FIFO) workers showed that 1/3 of workers surveyed experienced high or very high feelings of anxiety and depression, and burnout was significantly higher for FIFO workers than the benchmark group.

Within the FIFO-based occupations of all mining employees, highest risk groups were makes 30 – 34 and 40 – 44 years of age, with eight people per week taking their lives in Western Australia.

Other factors contributing to burnout in FIFO workers higher workload, high job demands, reduced engagement, work-family conflict (which had a negative impact).

Burnout was found to be detrimental for safety compliance, contributing to more accidents and unsafe behaviours.

The most influential resources for burnout were social support, leadership and a positive safety culture, good management skills and reasonable job demands.

Looking at these two specific occupations, it’s clear that burnout is more than just about the demands of the job. It’s as much about isolation, loneliness, relationships and leadership.

Managing or Reducing Burnout and Rust Out

There are many strategies to avoid, manage and reduce burnout and rust out.

I will cover many of those in future articles, but for now, I would like to quote my colleague and friend, David Carroll, a Trainer and Leadership Consultant who has extensive experience in this area.

David says:

“It’s important to differentiate between regular work-related stress and the state of being burned out. Stress is usually temporary and easily overcome. Stress is usually short-lived or tied to a specific goal. And when that goal is accomplished, the stress usually goes away.

On the other hand, burnout is an extended period of stress accompanied by emotional changes. Burnout is a long-lasting condition that may need the help of a professional to treat. Regular stress, on its own, is not harmful. Burnout is damaging to both the individual who feels the burnout and those involved in that individual’s life.

Developing your self-awareness and establishing coping mechanisms are the keys to building resilience, replenishing your energy reserves and regaining your passion and purpose in life. It’s all about establishing a healthy business mindset, healthy business body, healthy business relationships and healthy business development tools.”

Summary

The past two years of the pandemic have thrust change up on the way we work and have exposed us to greater, chronic stressors.

Today, we talked about how changes at work may add to the intrinsic mental health risks we face at work and could result in burnout or rust out.

Burnout is a situation of lacking resources to cope with too many challenges, leading to overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment, a sense of ineffectiveness, and a lack of accomplishment (professional efficacy).

Rust out is a situation where your work had diminished and/or become menial, resulting to a sense of boredom, monotony and dissatisfaction which may lead to anxiety and/or depression.

We know that healthy relationships, supportive leadership, and personal care are critical to resolving both of these. I look forward to diving into those topics in coming episodes.

1. Boring-Bray, W. 2020. Behavioural Health Providers are Burning Out or Rusting Out. Psychology Today website accessed 17.1.22

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:

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E#175 Does Your Business Need a Website?

This episode is about if your business needs a website?

A lot of graduate coaches get focused on having and launching a website because we are told that having an online presence is essential to business success.

But is this important? Does your business need a website?

Let’s talk honestly about this so you can take a breather and get clear on exactly what you need to do, and when.

The Reality

There are two realities when it comes to business websites.

Firstly, you need to know a lot about your intended audience, and you need to have spent enough time on income-generating activities to know the value you bring to your audience.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* The two realities of business websites
* A simple website readiness quiz to work out if you’re even ready for a website
* Some ‘for now’ options that are just as good, if not better!

Secondly, when you hit ‘publish’ on the website, it will end up on page 7 gazillion on a Google search. Nobody will know it’s there – so you will need to have a plan to promote and market your website.

What this means is that if you are fairly new to the business, and/or lack client experience, you have a lot of work to do before even considering building a website.

Otherwise, you risk spending a huge amount of time and money on something that won’t generate you any income, delays your getting experience and reviews, and isn’t visible to the outside world.

I have prepared a website readiness quiz to help you get clarity on where you are at. See how you go with answering these questions and check your score at the end.

Website Readiness Quiz

Let me ask you a few questions before we answer this question.

1. How long have you been running your business – or are you brand new?

2. Do people know what you are capable of?

3. What sort of people do you attract?

4. What does your business stand for?

5. Do you have clarity on your niche?

6. Do you truly know and understand your niche client?

7. Can you describe your niche client’s problem and solution clearly, in their words?

8. Do you know their specific desired outcomes in their words?

9. What format is your program?

10. Which dates are you running your program this year?

11. What is your lead magnet for the program?

12. When are your marketing campaigns running – and on which channels?

13. How and where will you promote your website?

Here’s how to score yourself for these questions.

If you could answer all 13 questions clearly and easily, then your business is probably ready for a website. You have a clear offering, clarity on your market, what they want help with, and probably some level of traction and proof of success.

If you could answer 7 or more questions clearly and easily, your business is not quite ready for a website. You need to do some pilot or beta testing, market research and/or planning to truly understand how to position your business on a website, and/or where to promote it.

If you struggled to answer even 7 of these questions, your business is clearly not ready for a website. You need to do or get help with many of the business basics, to develop a blueprint for success, get some experience and start earning an income before you are ready to create a website.

So, If Not a Website, Then What?

It’s super easy to create an online presence and credibility without the time and expense of a website.

Three cheap, very effective options are:

1. Create a professional-looking LinkedIn profile for your business, with good quality photos and descriptions of how you help your clients. You can also ask clients to give reviews on this platform which lends credibility, trust and social proof.

This option is great if your business targets clients in professional roles or corporate settings, or where your leads come from professional networks such as allied health.

In these cases, professionalism is especially important, and a good LinkedIn profile can convey this.

2. Create a professional-looking Google My Business profile for your business, same as above. You can ask clients to give 5-star ratings on this platform which boost your Google visibility.

This option is great for businesses targeting a local area (e.g. your local shire) and/or if your marketing strategy will focus on publishing, guest blogging, blogging, SEO or other online strategies.

It can be an easy entry point for more introverted people who feel exhausted at the thought of daily interaction on a social media platform, or for those who are not on social media.

3. Start a social media following (e.g. Facebook or Instagram).

This option is great if you love being on social media and are a people person, love being in groups, and are extraverted or get a lot of energy from others.

It suits clients who are extraverted and love engaging online, being active in groups, and getting value from a lot of support and interaction from you and their peers.

Summary

Does your business need a website? As you can see, it depends on which stage of business you are in.

If you are brand new, without a track record, it makes sense that you choose a quicker, easier option to gain online visibility.

Then, when you have a track record, experience, a better understanding of your niche, and some social proof – you will have all the information and clarity you need to launch a website that will actually work for your business.

If you need help with understanding your audience, enquire about my February or June Passion to Profit Course intakes, where we go through the foundational work behind understanding your clients, your best marketing strategies and marketing channels.

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#171 Pull Marketing – Attract Clients with Confidence

This episode is about pull marketing – attract clients with confidence

I was asked recently for tips on how to ask clients to work with you, or engage people in a sales process. This episode covers what I call a coaching approach to attracting clients with confidence and creating clients with ease. 

What is Pull Marketing?

I use the concept of ‘pull’ marketing. It means creating demand for your services or products, rather than pushing them onto people.

If you are a coach, you are perfectly equipped with the coaching skills that can help you do this easily. All you need to do is to flip your thinking and redefine the words that currently seem icky and uncomfortable, like “marketing” and “sales”. 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What is Pull Marketing?
* The 4 Step “Pull Marketing” Process
* How to get it right?

The essence of pull marketing, from a coaching perspective, is to speak with conviction about your why, to be aspirational and inspirational, and to build or tap into a community around that. Then to match your values and services with the people who need them, and offer to support them through a journey if and when they are ready to take it.

Here is a rough 4-step process that I use, that others have used, and that really works.

4 Step “Pull Marketing” Process

Step 1 – Start with the Why

Pull marketing starts with clearly communicating your big why and your bigger mission and really unpacking it.

The why naturally speaks to a huge problem that people want to solve – confidence, fear, isolation, self-doubt – or whatever it is. 

It paints an aspirational picture of what’s possible (and what we can achieve together). People see themselves in that and create a shared vision.

Speaking to the why regularly ignites the fire in people who are thinking about change but are afraid (it’s not you, it’s them!) – they move through the stages of change to become ready. 

They sit up and take notice. Your inspirational and aspirational approach gives them a sense of hope, of potential, and that you are the leader who can help them.

Step 2 – Give a Vehicle for Engagement

By communicating your why in your content, people are attracted and engage with you as they become readier and readier to change (and therefore buy).

They want to stay connected because it feels good to be around you.

They may not be ready to buy yet.

So, create a vehicle for engagement. Give them a place to go to stay in touch – a meetup group, a LinkedIn group, or some other ‘container’ for like-minded people.

They will want to be part of that community and they will have ownership if they can co-create it with you (and this is the coaching way). 

In that container, you can speak more to the journey they are on and help them solve day-to-day problems that they’re facing, and to get peer support.

Be authentic, and speak to both obstacles and wins. Keep the positive momentum going.

The community will become very problem aware, and solution aware, and are equipped to evaluate how important it is to change at this time.

Step 3 – Add More Value

With the help of your content in steps 1 and 2, some of the people in your audience will become more ready to change and will start to prepare for change.

You can add more value in an event of some kind – a workshop, webinar, etc.

In that session you would unpacking your why (related to their problem), and then introduce how you help people solve that problem. What has worked for you, and/or your clients?

What you are selling is support to walk people through a 4-step process or formula for helping them go from point A (problem) to point B (solution).

Engage the audience and make them part of it. Make the content specific and relevant to them. And right up front, let them know that at the end you’ll let people know how to work with you if they want to.

Step 4 – Make a SMART Offer 

There is an offer at the end of this event (and you can make this offer once a month at least, for your general audience). The offer is your vehicle to actually help those people to find the confidence and support they need on such a big journey.

The offer is essentially formulated like a SMART goal (I am patenting this idea) 

It talks about the:

  1. Specific problem you are helping with and type of people who have that problem 
  2. Two Measurable elements – how long it is (e.g. 8-week program) and how many people you have capacity to work with (e.g. 5 clients)
  3. Actions that 
    1. people need to take e.g. must be committed to attending weekly sessions, and, 
    2. the actions that you will take to help them overcome their obstacles and objections
  4. Realistic results that people will get if they take the actions – and the outcomes that those actions will generate e.g. have a bigger impact, be a role model for their kids
  5. Timing of the offer – e.g. contact you by a specific date, starting on a specific date

Then, you must have the next steps mapped out clearly to enquire or take up the offer.

I like to have a good fit call to see if the person is truly ready to change, and if they are a fit for working with me.

If they aren’t interested, it might not be the right offer or the right time.

If they aren’t a fit, you can refer them to someone or something else.

In either case, you can STILL offer them value through ongoing connection with you on (LinkedIn, email, community etc) and you can invite them to share the message with others who need the courage and confidence to navigate the journey.

Getting it Right

This method works for me, and others. 

Your courage to do it is borne from your bigger why, the thing that you MUST do no matter what – which is the kryptonite for your fears.

If you can engage people in your why and share the dream with them, and co-create a vision, you will both be able to put the fear of marketing and sales aside and focus on making a change, and a difference. 

Summary

Attracting clients and selling programs is a big challenge for a lot of coaches. There are mental and emotional hurdles and often limiting beliefs in the way.

Your courage to make offers is borne from your bigger why, the thing that you MUST do no matter what.

Pull marketing is a strategy that leverages coaching skills and strengths.

The four-step process I shared today includes:

  1. Starting with the why (as the focus for all your content) 
  2. Creating a vehicle for engagement where you dive into the what 
  3. Adding more value by offering events that truly help the people who are becoming ready to change
  4. Making a SMART offer that helps people connect with you so they can benefit from your skills, abilities and support.

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#170 4 Ways to Beat Imposter Syndrome

This episode is about 4 ways to beat imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome has been a hot topic lately and I have decided to talk about it again in this episode. 

I have worked with several clients in the last year who have been struggling with imposter syndrome. And through the process of coaching conversations, I have seen a few things that have been really effective in helping people to beat impostor syndrome.

The thing with impostor syndrome is that it creates an unhelpful downward spiral. If you are plugging negative thoughts into your head, then your brain takes that as an instruction and starts looking for evidence to prove the thoughts right.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What is impostor syndrome?
* How to overcome impostor syndrome?
* What are the methods that I can use to overcome impostor syndrome?

That’s how our brains work. So you definitely need to learn some skills to manage those impostor thoughts and feelings.

Sure, there is no magical quick fix for imposter syndrome. But there are habits that you can form that will help to diminish impostor syndrome and keep it at bay. They’re things that anyone can use, and benefit from.

What is impostor syndrome?

Healthline defines impostor syndrome as follows:

Imposter syndrome, also called perceived fraudulence, involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience, and accomplishments.

They say that Impostor syndrome may manifest as perfectionism, struggling to deal with anything that doesn’t come easily, the belief that you should be able to do things on your own, believing you should have all the answers and be an expert, or linking your competence to success in all areas of life.

In clients I’ve worked with, these patterns come up in conversation along with a sense that they will be judged or criticised if they don’t succeed, achieve perfection or have all the answers. 

If any of this sounds familiar, then you might have a bit of imposter syndrome going on. 

I want to point something out before we go any further. If you are learning anything new in your life, you know that there is going to be a steep learning curve. There is a period where you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, because you haven’t had enough time to practice your new craft. 

I see this a lot in  my work as in business startups and coach training within a health and wellness coach training school. I work mostly with mature adults who are going through a career change and have a lot of past success and knowledge – but who see their foray into a new career as challenging and disheartening. They are so used to feeling competent and now, suddenly, they are inexperienced newbies!

Enter the impostor syndrome.

Never mind! It is 100% normal to feel insecure when you are learning new things, to doubt yourself, and to feel like you don’t know enough, or aren’t doing it well enough. That’s called learning.

Just like a small child learning to walk, falling down and then getting up to determinedly try again, you can learn to develop new skills and persist without feeling like a failure.

How do you do that? Well, I’ve rustled up some of the ways that you can move past impostor syndrome more easily.

I want to share four methods that have come up in coaching conversations with my clients that have been really effective in helping and overcome imposter syndrome. These are not one-time use methods – they need to be done consistently.

Method #1 – Schedule time to recognise success 

Self efficacy is a key part of beating impostor syndrome. Self-efficacy means that you have a sense of competence around your ability to do certain tasks or activities.

For example, maybe you know that you are a good ballroom dancer, or that you are good at making cakes.

Knowing that you have skills and strengths in a particular area confers a level of self-confidence.

That’s why method #1 for beating impostor syndrome involves reflecting on wins in your daily life, or your progress with learning a skill.

Here are a few ways you can do that.

Firstly, if you are a coach, you can start working with practice clients and develop a self-reflective practice to implement after each coaching session that you do. Focus on being objective and non-emotive in your feedback, using neutral language. 

Note what went well or not so well based on the client’s behaviour and feedback, what you feel went well, and what you might have done differently and why.

A second way to build self-efficacy is to collect external feedback.

If you are a coach, this would involve reading through testimonials and feedback surveys from your clients on a regular basis to remind yourself of the value of what you do. 

This implies that you need to be collecting feedback after every coaching session as part of your business ‘habits’ or processes.

Outside of coaching or your business, external feedback involves asking friends what they think your strengths are, or what they like about you. Ask for candid feedback from people you trust. It might feel a little uncomfortable, but you will probably be surprised about what comes back…..and delighted!

Other than these ideas, you may have access to customer or colleague feedback at work, performance review feedback or simply the kind words of a compassionate friend who always champions you.

A third way to build self-efficacy is to reflect on the value of what you do in your life.

You could consider any area of your life. For example, the importance of being a parent. What is possible for your child because you care for them, house them, feed them and get them to school?

What is possible if you continue to run your business or do your job – what good can that create in the world? Who can you help? And, by doing that work and helping those people – what will THEY be able to do?

If you are new to coaching and are concerned about the value of your services, consider what is possible if your client gets to the end of their program and has made changes in a specific area of life? And THEN what is possible for them? And what else?

In other words – use the big picture coaching questions toward the client who shows up and does their work, to see what is possible because of their work with you.

Hopefully you can see that with a few questions and reflections, it is possible to recognise skills and strengths that you have, and to acknowledge how those things can have a bigger impact in your own life, or someone else’s. 

Method #2 – Say I don’t know

My husband recently told me a story about one of his first jobs in Australia. 

He moved here from California and had no connections. Moving into a new job, he felt such pressure to have all of the answers and was really impacting him. 

One day he was asked a question in a work meeting and he said simply, “I don’t know but I’ll get the answer and come back to you.” 

He describes the sense that a huge weight was lifted from him because he could be totally honest (one of his strengths), he could go away and learn something, and he could still fulfill the request and gain probably more respect than if he had tried to bumble through an answer, as if he knew what he was talking about.

I found the courage to do this a long time ago, and it was liberating.

Think about it – nobody ever has all of the answers all of the time. If you can learn to be ok with that, you can remove at least some of the weight of expectation that you have placed on yourself. 

To get a sense of this, see if you can recall a time where someone gave you an answer that you knew was a fake. How did it feel? What did you think about that person at the time?

Now, imagine if they had been honest and told you they didn’t know, but would find out?

I’m sure you can see the difference. And if we want to be really pointy about this – in those two versions of the situation, only one is an imposter – and it’s not the one telling the truth.

Method #3 – Tap into your purpose 

What I notice with all of my clients – literally all of them – is that when they feel like an imposter, they turn inward and focus on themselves and their own inadequacies.

It becomes an emotional and sometimes judgemental conversation in their head that plays on repeat. And as I  mentioned earlier, when you are plugging those sorts of thoughts into your head, your brain takes that as an instruction and starts looking for evidence to prove the thoughts right.

That’s how our brains work.

So a way to flip that and get out of the unhelpful thought loops is to tap into your purpose.

If you are a coach and/or a business owner, then your impostor syndrome might be around your ability to give value to your clients. It becomes a conversation all about you and your inadequacies. 

But coaching is all about the client! By flipping this, you can get back into that client-centric mindset and start delivering value. 

Reflect on some of those big picture, brain-opening questions.

Why does my work matter to the world?

What could this much-needed skill change in my community?

What will happen when I become masterful – how will it help me and my clients?

Why do I want to make a difference in people’s lives?

As you can see, honing your purpose is a great way to pull away from the useless impostor thought loop and to re-focus on the big picture – your why behind it all.

Method #4 – Accept yourself as a learner 

Finally, if you feel like an impostor, it might be that your expectations are greater than what is realistic or possible right now.

Being honest and objective with yourself and getting external feedback allows you to see clearly where you are at in the learning continuum.

And sure, you might really wish you were further along – but maybe it’s time to step back and accept yourself as someone who doesn’t have all the answers, can’t do it perfectly, and is on the journey toward becoming masterful.

This is the growth mindset!

Accepting yourself as a learner gives you permission to make mistakes, be curious, learn from your challenges and build strength.

Another perspective is this – they say it takes 10.000 hours or 10 years to truly master something.

Consider where you are on that timeline. Yes, it can be sobering. But also, it’s a good reminder that your persistence in doing something you love will lead to a good outcome and, persistence in itself is part of winning in a world where so many people give up.

Summary

After several conversations about impostor syndrome, I wanted to share some insights on how to move through it more easily.

Firstly, you can start scheduling time to recognise success. This could involve self-reflection on performance, reading client testimonials, asking friends for feedback, or reflecting on the downstream value or ripple effect of what you are doing.

Secondly, you can practice saying I don’t know, but I’ll find out and get back to you. This single act will gain you respect and will ease the pressure you’ve been putting on yourself.

Thirdly, you can tap into your purpose. Stop focussing inwards on your flaws, and start focussing outward on the bigger benefits and impacts of what you are doing.

Fourth, you can accept yourself as a learner, on a journey to mastery, which takes 10,000 hours or 10 years – whatever comes first.

Hopefully you are feeling better equipped to tackle your impostor syndrome.

I’d love to know – which one of these methods will you try first?

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: