Have you ever wondered what a life coach actually does? I had the opportunity to interview Lucy Sheridan about her business Proof Coaching, and I'm excited to share her thoughts with you! I've given talks before about the power of niche, and Lucy has definitely cornered her own! She specialises in helping people to stop comparing and dispairing over people's lives as viewed on social media. The modern form of keeping up with Jones' is causing many people to feel like their lives are not simply good enough.
I asked Lucy about how we can all be happier, procrastination, limiting beliefs and business motivation.
1. Can you tell us about your career journey which led you to being a life coach?
Since I graduated in my early 20’s I have worked in AdLand and before I set up Proof my career was living and breathing brand strategy. Over those years, I had the pleasure of working with a host of big hitters in the fashion and beauty sector to make them famous, for example, cult British make-up brand Illamasqua.
What I can now see is that some of the things that I loved about that professional branding route match up with what I love about my coaching career now, namely, finding out what makes people tick, understanding why they feel certain ways, the psychology of our behaviour and using that insight to give people what they want.
Before I went pro as a life coach and speaker I was reeeeeeaaallly into self development and would access my favourite teachers and coaches and devour their content whenever I had a spare moment outside of my day job. I also started a quiet little blog as an extra outlet purely to help me get my own original content out into the world. As my interest and grasp of certain teachings grew I wanted to make a statement to myself about taking the potential of my self-development seriously and I invested in studying for a coaching qualification that gave me access to a massive secret cave of tools and techniques. Through using these it became more and more clear that my hobby had the potential to be a career at some point and then fate stepped in.
When, a year or so back, some things at my last full time role didn’t work out I decided to set up on my own with the intention that I’d figure it out - so far, so good!
2. What is a life coach, and what sort of clients do you have?
Ask a different life coach and you’ll get a different answer! But one thing I think we’d agree on is a life coach is someone that works with a client to get them where they want to be in their life faster than they would on their own. What’s great about coaching is, like any industry, there are specialists that work in different areas, for example, business, love and relationships, career transition, confidence, body image, going back to work after having a baby and so on. For me, my coaching is focused on helping 20 and 30 somethings get over the compare & despair of social media and create a happy life off line. That’s super niche but it’s an area I’m passionate about as it’s aggressively on the increase and, in my opinion, my generation need as much help as they can get!
3. If you could give the average person 3 key tips to be happier in their life, what would they be?
Avoid comparing yourself to others - It’s so easy to be distracted by what you think others are doing, buying, driving, experiencing or being successful at but we NEVER really know the true story and all we have to go on is a snapshot. Key to being happy is being inspired by what’s going on around us and channelling our energy back into ourselves and creating opportunities rather than expecting a random bit of luck to meet us half way or be distracted by what the ‘Jones’s are doing’.
Practice gratitude - Saying ‘thank you’ is one of the most powerful things we can do in a day. Appreciating what we DO have gets us absolutely in the right frame of mind to receive what else life has to offer us, that we may not yet have. Practicing gratitude is an easy way to give your positivity a Red Bull and although it may seem silly at first you won’t regret it! Start with the little things and see where it takes you when you notice what you notice… thank you for this seat on the tube, thank you for that tenner my friend returned to me, thank you for that meeting being cancelled as I was so not ready to present to my boss, thank you for this nourishing food I get to cook for myself tonight I am so lucky I get to round off my day like this… and on it goes and happiness flows!
Accept that life is not just happening to you - I say ‘notice what you notice’ a lot because people’s default state can often be one of being passive or just wondering when things will change. We’re constantly being given signs and hints from our gut instinct and whats happening around us as to whether we’re on track with what lights us up and makes us happy - we need to wake up to these! If things in life are happening that are dragging you down, making you feel distracted or like a sleepwalker in your own life it’s time to look at making a change. How we choose to spend our lives, is just that, a choice! It may not be immediately obvious or easy but it will always be worth it.
4. When discussing procrastination you talk about the power of rituals, can you explain how you think creating rituals can help create action and beat procrastination?
For me rituals are all about setting things up and creating an ideal state to get the result you want. The time it takes to complete a ritual I think is actually part of the doing, not part of the putting off. Think back to the times you’ve wanted to impress someone on a first date - you don’t skip the shower, avoid ironing your favourite outfit or turn off your favourite music because it’s all part of the setup to get you in the state to be open to what the evening will bring.
The same goes for if you have to clean the house, have a tricky conversation with your mum or nail down a boring task at work - if a ritual as simple as lighting your favourite candle, going for a run or replying to your Facebook messages is going to get you in a state of focus and flow then go with it. Its only procrastination if it doesn’t serve you.
5. In your experience, what holds most of us back from achieving something that we believe we want?
This is a biggy and affects so many people today. We’re often held back by self-sabotage because deep down we feel like we don’t deserve the happiness that goes with achieving our goal. This self-sabotage can show up in many ways but is rooted in the limiting beliefs we have about ourselves that stop us taking the little actions that are necessary to get the big result. This can be as seemingly harmless as “I won’t watch that free webinar that will help my business because I’m probably not going to understand it anyway” right through to serious self-destructive actions like cheating on a partner because we don’t feel like we deserve the love and support that comes with relationships.
6. You call yourself the Comparison Coach, can you explain a little about the negative impact that comparison can have on our lives?
Comparison can be a good thing IF we look at other people and think ‘hey, that looks amazing I am going to go out and pursue that!’ But often most of us don’t have that attitude, rather, we compare ourselves to other people and feel isolated from our peers and like we’re the only ones that don’t have life all figured out.
When we compare our behind the scenes with other people’s showreel it can appear like everyone else is running a stellar successful business, in the most loving and hot relationship, raising the most well behaved vegan children the world has known and so on - all at odds with what we see in our own off-line lives. This can leave us feeling like we’re failures, we’ll never ‘make it’ and that we’re being left behind and unable to keep up with the arbitrary tick list of success that others seem to have nailed.
Ultimately this makes us feel stuck and vulnerable without a clue how to move forward - not fun!
7. What one piece of advice would you give to small businesses about staying focused, and motivated?
There’s no such thing as overnight success so get your wellies on and hustle baby! There’s no reason why you and your business should be *the one* that cracks your industry and suddenly sustains a busy and successful business thanks to a lucky break. It just doesn’t work like that even if social media makes it feel that way some times. Keep your eyes on your won game and your customers will love you for it!