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Could you use a life coach? Muddy meets a problem-solving pro

Life coaching - sounds a bit wishy-washy, is actually pretty cool. Muddy investigates.

We’re fascinated by the idea of having a life coach – someone calm, objective and patient to help you work negotiate the bumps in life’s road, and who won’t roll their eyes when you witter on about your problems for the 8 millionth time (*glares at Mr Muddy*). So we were keen to pick the brains of Caroline Pakel, a Bucks-based coach, mentor and creative problem solver who’s spent 15 years working with both individuals and corporate clients.Whether you’re stuck in a rut, facing a big dilemma or struggling with your current life phase, she’s your gal – she’s heard it all, basically. We decided to put Caroline through her paces with five problems that we think will resonate with you, dear Muddy reader. Obviously she can’t sort out your life in 30 seconds flat but hopefully she can provide a starting point or an ever-so-gentle kick up the bottom. Over to you Caroline – coach up our lives, please!

I’ve set up my own business but it’s much harder than I thought – help!

Yes, it always is! I suggest you join one of the various groups of independents and entrepreneurs that meet regularly over breakfast and share experiences and skills – you might even get some business from some of them, depending on what you do. And I know I would say this but get a coach! They could help you structure your day and plan the next 6-12 months so you have everything in place and you know what you need to do every day. A coach will often help you see what you do not wish to acknowledge and keep procrastinating about…

 

My work/life balance is non-existent

I’m guessing you know this because you feel exhausted and overwhelmed, and that there’ never enough time for you to complete your to-do list and make everyone happy in your life, let alone yourself. Pause and take a day off – no arguments! – and use this time to reflect on what’s most important to you, in your personal and professional life. What matters the most in that very moment? This is an important question as it will help you discern what you really need to be doing next and how to split your time between the various demands from your life. If you wish to return balance in your life, you’ll need to start caring well for yourself again (self-care is the buzz phrase right now) so that you can accomplish everything else you need to do for others too. Rest well, eat well, exercise and feed yourself well, emotionally and intellectually. It’s not easy to sustain a sense of peace and balance within ourselves but completely essential to live one’s life well.

Image from Vogue

I’ve taken a few years off to bring up my children and now I want to go back to work – but I don’t know where to start.

Make an extensive list of all your wishes, everything you want for yourself now and moving into the future. Then select the 10 most important wishes. Put them in order of importance and see whether you can focus on one wish you can act upon in the short-term, one wish you can plan for in the mid-term and one wish you can start working towards in the long-term. And you will need to re-build your confidence. The big world always seems more intimidating than it really is when you’ve been marooned on an island with small children for a while. So, think about women you know who have been there and ask them for their experiences of working again after raising children. You will be surprised how women are keen to support each other when it comes to this.

 

I’m bored of my career – how do I successfully switch?

You need to identify what would make your heart and mind sing again. What are the things that really interest you and what gifts or talents you can bring to a new career? We all have some but often neglect to acknowledge them. This is a long haul project and a coach, mentor or close friend will obviously give you the support, ideas and encouragement you will need throughout.

 

I always thought my life would follow the usual route – career success, buy a house, marry, have kids – but I’ve gone off piste. Does it matter? Is it OK to not have a plan?

Yes, it’s completely fine to not have a plan – maybe life is best lived in a more creative, and non-linear way? That’s certainly the case in my personal experience. The only thing that matters here is whether you are PL with it and can tolerate the judgement of others which will inevitably be expressed – most often out of envy. There is much in life that happens spontaneously and being too focused on a plan may make us miss the opportunities that come along. So, if you are happy with your choices, enjoy the life you have created for yourself, whether it fits the norms or not.

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