No one should have to wait for a heartbreaking wake-up call

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All about me…

I spent more than 20 years as a strategist in the branding and advertising industry. My job was to create clarity and ways forward for big brands to grow and I loved it. But life can change in a heartbeat; one day I was a pregnant board member worrying about winning a pitch, the next I was mother to a beautiful baby girl, tragically stillborn.

Everything changed after that and I found myself re-evaluating what I wanted to do. There is something called post-traumatic growth that sees people make positive changes after experiencing trauma and I was a classic case study. I still wanted to use my skills to create change and growth but I decided I now wanted to do it for people not brands. I felt passionately that no one should have to wait for a heartbreaking wake-up call before switching off the auto-pilot and taking control of creating a life they love.

I took a deep breath and changed direction. I worked hard to retrain as a coach and neuro linguistic programming (NLP) practitioner. There isn’t a day that goes by when I wish things could have been different but I also thank my daughter every day for leading me to another career that I adore and am hugely passionate about.

Emma Jefferys

Key contributing factors to tackle

We live in such exciting times with endless possibilities open to us but the very things that enable freedom, creativity and connectivity, such as technology and social media, are often the proverbial double-edged sword that can also hold us back. This manifests in different ways for different clients but these are all common problems:

Overwhelm: many clients find the demands of day-to-day life simply overwhelming. Which is not a surprise when you combine the always-on nature of modern working, the juggle of work and family life, a desire to be seen as doing and having it all, and the pressure of making it all work, perfectly and now.

Stuck: so many people, particularly those running small businesses, talk about feeling stuck or trapped. Sometimes this is financial, or they have fallen out of love with their business, or they just can’t identify what needs to happen next or what it is that they want.

Comparison: often fuelled by social media, many clients describe feeling inadequate or having imposter syndrome as they (often subconsciously) compare themselves to others. There is a wonderful saying that comparison is the thief of joy, which is so true – it’s unhealthy and only ever results in negative energy. And half the time we compare ourselves to people we do not know! My young daughter caught me looking at Instagram the other day and asked me who the lady was. Her expression when I said I didn’t know was a picture. And she has a point.

Over-burning: I mentioned the double-edged sword of technology. Just because we can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and from anywhere in the world does not mean we should! We’ve lost the ability to create boundaries, to switch off, to disconnect. We feel guilty if we are not contactable at all times. I have clients who can’t sit for five minutes away from their phone without feeling twitchy. We crave work-life balance and yet so many of us have used the tools to create even less balance.

Limiting beliefs: these pesky things get in the way of us all. Stories we’ve told ourselves over and over again until we believe them to be gospel but powerful enough to hold us back and down. The entrepreneur who says ‘no one will ever take me seriously’, the single 40 year old who says ‘there is no one out there for me’, the mum with a business idea who says ‘someone like me can’t make this happen’. Not truths, or evidenced, and yet they seem to be governing the next part of the plot, unless challenged and replaced.

Common problems solved

Become a no ninja: overwhelm occurs when we have too much stuff going on. So we need to learn to say no to ourselves and others in order to prioritise our time, energy and other precious resources. Then we can feel in control, be satisfied and have room to play and rest too.

Remember there is always a choice: Most of my clients are free birds who feel a bit trapped and then slowly realise that they created the bars of the cage! We always have a choice. Sometimes you need a different perspective (go outside, head to the beach, grab a trusted friend) to see there is another way. With creativity and optimism you can solve the problem and move forward.

Show up for yourself every day: if we all take one step forward every day then before long we’ll be in a different place. What is the very smallest action you could take? Now what is the next one? Focus on celebrating a step every day rather than the long road ahead and you’ll be there in no time.

Keep a ta-da list: I’m sure you all have a to-do list (first thing to go if you work with me!) but how about a ta-da list? There is so much evidence that YOU are amazing, much loved and respected and making a difference. So keep a record of it. Write down the successes in your life, the compliments, the cute things your kids say. Next time you compare yourself unfavourably to someone, grab this list and celebrate what you are.

Choose your beliefs: if you are going to believe a made-up story about yourself then at least create a good one. If you choose to believe you are wonderful then your clever brain will go and find the evidence to support that. Belief work can be life-changing.

I created the brand Action Woman because we are capable of huge things. We can create amazing changes in our lives, our relationships, our careers and in our mindset. And it all happens by doing something.

Emma Jefferys AKA Action Woman is a licensed NLP living in Tunbridge Wells. She offers one-to-one coaching, workshops and small coaching circles. Visit

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