5 Minutes with Shannah Kennedy
Who wants a life plan? Enter, Life Coach and Author of The Life Plan, Shannah Kennedy. She spends 5 minutes with me and shares some insightful thoughts on decluttering, drainers and being on our own ‘to do’ list!
You are a Life Coach. Could you tell us how you got onto this career path?
My career started in stockbroking and then transitioned into the world of elite sport as I didn’t want to study at night school for years. I was the sponsorship and pr manager for an eyewear company and my job was to basically buy and sell athletes, I had 200 to look after. I LOVED my job, worked hard and excelled – however, this was at the cost of my health.
In my late 20s I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and was very sick and couldn’t work. I got quite depressed, as I was the A type overachiever who had to have everything done yesterday and it had to be perfect. I hired a life coach to help me through.
It was then that I realized that all of my athletes had no plan for when their sport career finished and I had seen a lot of destruction and sadness when this happened.
I studied life coaching 15 years ago – it was something quite unheard of here in Australia. I was ahead of my time and no one understood what I was doing. I started my business coaching athletes in retirement and then it turned corporate very quickly. I thought I would coach people whilst I married, and had my children and then go back to the corporate world. However my business thrived and I have never advertised, it was all referral. So my chronic fatigue was a blessing in disguise.
Could you explain exactly what a life coach does?
Coaching is quickly becoming one of the leading tools that successful people use to live extraordinary lives! Through coaching sessions, clients identify what is most important to them and align their thoughts, words and actions accordingly.
Coaches ignites potential. The individual benefits of coaching are as wide-ranging as the individuals being coached, impacting not only careers, but lives. Some of the most common benefits described by clients include:
• Setting targeted goals and taking deliberate action • Becoming more self-reliant • Feeling more satisfied • Contributing more efficiently and effectively • Taking greater personal responsibility • Working more easily and productively with others • Communicating more effectively • Working more effectively with difficult personalities • Handling challenging situations quickly and decisively • Recognizing efficient ways to change • Aligning individual goals with organizational objectives • Experiencing a more enriched personal life • Sensing greater possibilities
Clearly, these kinds of individual benefits can have a ripple effect throughout a company, a family and even friendships improving morale, retention, efficiency, productivity and satisfaction with life.
By working in a completely confidential setting, coaching breaks down barriers to success and challenges individuals to reach new levels of achievement, satisfaction and balance in life.
Who are the sorts of people you work with?
I am blessed to work with amazing people who all want to be supported in being a better version of themselves. CEOs, athletes, celebrities, managers and leaders from companies that range from small business owners to large organisations, and even younger people who want to learn life skills and get a bit ahead. I love that I have an eclectic mix of clients.
Do you think we could all benefit from having a life coach?
I employ a coach for 4-6 months every year. I think every one can really learn a lot from having a great life coach. Someone who will listen without judgement, someone who will challenge your comfort zone, someone who will hear what is really going on between the lines and someone to inspire you to grow and evolve each and every year. There is so much to learn in life about ourselves and how to get the best out of our authentic selves. For me personally as a business owner it is a must.
When did you become a writer?
I never thought I could write a book to tell you the truth! But after 10 years of coaching and speaking at conferences I came to a realisation – I am only reaching the people who can afford coaching. I want to be able to reach the general public as well. We don’t learn these skills at school and it would save a lot of heartache if we did! My first book Simplify Structure Succeed through the Messenger Group was self published to test the corporate market and sold over 12K copies, so I knew it was time. Penguin supported me and we have now published The Life Plan which is in store and a beautiful way to enter the self help arena which is palatable and not so heavy. I wanted life skills to be presented in a way for everyone to understand the fundamentals, and make it beautiful so you would keep referring to it; like a great cookbook. I have to say there are more books in me, so stay tuned!
You have written a new book called The Life Plan. I love a good planning session, so I loved this book! It has a lot of great tips and tricks on decluttering life and finding your true purpose. What made you write this book?
The Life Plan was for all people to learn some basics which covers everything one needs to build a life with meaning and purpose. There are no limits in our lives and we really can create anything we want to if we know how, have the courage to do so, and some structure to follow. Everything that is in this book is information that my clients understand back-to-front; they know their answers, they know their why and they know their purpose. When we know all of this we can make the best and most informed decisions for ourselves moving forward.
You talk about ‘drainers’ in the book. Could you explain what you mean by that word?
I love this word! Drainers are like sandbags on your shoulders that you don’t realize make you tired! For example when we haven’t done our tax, or paid our credit card, or have a super cluttered wardrobe, it makes us tired without realizing it. And yet, when we do finally get around to washing the car, and it only takes 10 minutes, we feel amazing and then wonder why we didn’t do it earlier! So my mantra is to be sharp and keep the drainers at bay!
What would be some tips you would give to simplify, declutter and focus our lives as a whole?
Do what is essential, drop the stories we tell ourselves and just edit out what we don’t need in life. The art of less is such a great way to live; with relationships, finances, homes and keeping it simple and solid, you will always win. Many people get distracted in life, go off path, and don’t focus on what is essential and then end up in a mess with no focus, direction or confidence.
I think a lot of us are very time poor and always feel like we don’t have enough of it. You give us hope in your book by saying we can create a situation where we feel ‘time affluent’ with all the time we need entirely within our reach. How would you advise busy people to achieve this?
The brain is a powerful and incredible muscle! When we train that muscle to say we are tired, stressed, too busy and we haven’t got a lot of time, we operate that way and feel trapped and stressed. So we can rewire a little – if you say you can you can, and if you say you can’t you can’t. I have deleted the words should, busy, stressed and not enough time from my vocabulary and it is liberating! We just create stress for ourselves when we keep telling ourselves what we don’t have and how busy we are!!
I love how you say ‘Be on your own ‘to do’ list’. What do you mean by this?
By this I mean, don’t worry about everyone else and what their expectations are, instead focus on what you need to do for you. On the to-do list, maybe also include what is good for you, not just chores etc. Make sure that amongst your list there is space, joy and fun for you as that stops resentment building. Life is a blast, so let’s not get too serious about the to-do list, as it will be around until we are finished with this life –it is not going anywhere – so make it great for yourself.
How do you challenge yourself to get out of your own comfort zone?
I need to feel a sense of achievement daily. So I need to set my day up. It is an achievement for me to say no, to do less, to slow down and to breathe. This is just as powerful as going harder and trying to do more! Each month I give myself a bit of a challenge to learn something – it keeps life fun and exciting and it is also great to dream and think big!
On being true to your purpose you ask the question ‘If you didn’t know your age, how old would you say you are?’ I’m going to say I am 19 (on the inside, not the outside!), how old would you say you are?
Well I am now 45 but seriously feel like I am 25! I feel great, fit, strong, excited in life, open to a lot of new learnings and feel like the 40s are incredible as you seem to somehow let go of a whole lot of stuff!
How do you juggle being a career woman, mother and wife?
Well I do love a challenge. I have a husband who travels, an active 11 year old boy, a spirited 9 year old girl, a thriving business, great clients, many speaking gigs and the books. I also exercise (walk, 2xyoga and 2xweights per week). I am a very diligent planner and get a buzz from it which may be a bit weird. But I love making it all happen, I plan space for myself, I have learnt to say no a lot to what is not essential and what will drain me, and I think things through in advance. This planning is solid and then allows me to be in the moment a bit and really enjoy the ride. There are always curve balls and I am still spontaneous and open to new opportunity, but there is a very solid foundation created underneath me to be able to do it all. Oh by the way, date night, girls night and plenty of massages are built in!
Do you often take your own advice, or is it easier said than done sometimes?
I work hard to be authentic as a coach, which means I am working on myself just as hard as my clients. I listen to a lot of audio books when I walk with the dog and keep learning what I can. I have my coaches around me too and yes I talk to myself a lot!
What would you tell your 14 year old self?
Trust the universe and be a lot kinder to yourself please! Stop the self criticism and stay connected to yourself and who you are and you can’t go wrong. Also learn to think a bit less and feel a bit more. Your intuition is perfectly spot on!
Thank you so much for your time Shannah and for writing such an inspiring book!
You can get your copy of The Life Plan here