In my last week’s solo podcast about being a busy working mum, I touched on how to find joy, purpose and work-life balance. This week I have an interview with a career and life coach, Kelly MacLellan who is passionate about helping people to find fulfilment at work and in their personal life.
Kelly is based in Canada and she offers her coaching/mentoring programs online as well. Her book “Follow Your Heart” offers detailed self-empowerment activities, exercises and challenge you to chase your dreams and discover your life purpose.
In our time together, we talked about her “becoming” story and how she eventually work as a coach and mentor. If you want to learn more about what is the number 1 reason pulling people back not to go for their dreams, why this can be changed and how our life will unfold after, then you got to listen to our podcast! She is a wonderful guest on my show, I just love our conversations!
You can listen to my podcast or watch the video below. There is also a full-length transcript if you prefer to read! 🙂
If you want to connect with Kelly and find out more about her new mentoring program, please go to www.embraceyourlife.ca
Once you’ve listened in to this episode, I’d love to hear from you.
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My Christmas Present for YOU!
Don’t forget you can now get access to my new FREE Audio Program: 3 Keys for More Clarity, Energy and Productivity.
I launched this for busy career mums or mompreneurs like you who are trying to have it all and sometimes it is a struggle, and it is hard not to get stressed out or simply exhausted.
In this program, I am going to share with you my best-kept secrets in creating the life I live right now and how to get more done with less stress, less time but more joy!
This audio program is about 50 minutes in length and you can listen in commuting to work or while washing the dishes.
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Sze Wing: Hi everyone. I’m really happy to be here interviewing my thirst Canadian guest. Today I’m talking to Kelly MacLellan and she’s a personal life and career coach and she’s based in Canada and I haven’t been to Canada but I’m so excited because I would love to go. And so I’m really happy to talk to you today. And she’s passionate about helping people to find fulfilment in work and in life, and her book, Follow Your Heart offers really detailed activities, exercise and challenge you to chase your dreams and discover your life purpose.
Sze Wing: So I can tell we’re kind of doing the same thing at different places and maybe slightly different tools and vocab. But I’m also a coach so I’m really excited to talk to another coach, based in Canada, so welcome Kelly.
Kelly: Oh, thank you so much for having me.
Sze Wing: Great. So yeah, so I would love to, I often like to start with this type of question because everybody has the journey, especially when you become a coach, often it’s because you have done something in your life, learned something in your life and you want to share and help others. That seems to be usually 100% of how people get into the path. So what brought you to become a life coach and career coach, what’s your personal journey that inspires you to do that?
Kelly: Yeah, yeah. And I think you’re right, everybody does have that unique path that brings the kind of to that place in their life. And so when you talk about we’re doing the same thing, I don’t think anybody does the same thing, we all have these, the blend of the, it’s kind of everything coming together and so that we’re contributing in that present moment is unique.
Kelly: So, to answer your question, my story, it really started to evolve in my 20s, I figured out that if I wanted to be successful, I have to really kind of use that as motivation. I remember bragging a lot about being able to juggle two full-time jobs and I did that for about six months. I would work with youth, troubled youth in two different jails and I would go and I would be a counsellor from 7:00 til 3:00 and then this is the part I bragged about was I negotiated that I would get on a bus and I negotiated with my employer that I would have a 10-minute gap, which would give me enough time to get my next employer. And I did that till about 11 o’clock and I kept doing this over and over and over again. In that time I was like, “Look at me, I’m helping people.”
Sze Wing: Superhuman.
Kelly: And I’m learning and I’m doing. And I was like, it had to change. It reached a point where I had to change and I decided to go and specialize in university, which took me on a different career path, where I pursued my master’s degree in rehabilitation counselling on the ground kind of hero, to okay, now my body can’t do that anymore. I’m going to have to really grow. And that’s what I kind of committed to. So I was doing that professionally and personally I was doing that as well. I had this drive where my vision was that I had to get married by this certain age and I had to do this by this certain age. And I remember again, it was still like, by the time I’m 30 I’m going to have my master’s degree. I was very rigid in my accomplishment, the life that I wanted to create.
Kelly: And then we had just moved into this massive home and I realized that this is not where I want to be, this is not the path I want to go on. And I had suffered a miscarriage and I had fallen into a depression and it was during this time when it was like, I worked in a small office and I think there were eight of us and a couple of other people that weren’t directly on our team and literally six of them were pregnant when the time I was going through this whole wanting to be pregnant and struggling and everything. And I had to really face myself that things don’t happen like this, and I couldn’t force it anymore because my body wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do and my life just didn’t feel the way that I wanted everything to happen.
Kelly: So eventually I had to make some choices about what I wanted to do. And during that time when I was coping with the grief of infertility and all that other stuff, I practised meditation and yoga. And I had done a little bit before, but this time I would get up at six o’clock in the morning, actually, 5:30 and I would drive across town and go to this six o’clock class and it was heaven. It was just heaven. And through those few years, it was amazing because I started to realize that the more I was driving myself to achieve, to fit that rigid picture of what I thought success in life would look like, it was completely different. And learning about yoga and practising meditation, I was able to begin to learn who I am, what I really wanted. And then that completely took me on a new path. And I ended up volunteering in the Dominican Republic, it was supposed to be for three months.
Kelly: And then I ended up staying there for two years and I met my husband, my now husband, and we have a daughter and that’s kind of how my coaching business started. They were like, [inaudible 00:06:58] email, “Kelly, what are you doing? What are you doing in the Dominican?” And I was like, “Well, I’m volunteering and I’m writing a book and I’m learning a new language. I go dancing.” And they’re like, “Teach me, tell me how to be happy, how to be fulfilled.” And so that’s how it started. I just started coaching and then it just kind of grew from there. And then when I came back to Canada, I finished up my book and then my coaching business started here.
Sze Wing: Wow. Beautiful story. What I love about what you say, is that, in the first part, also in my mid-20s, that’s when I had those moments too, that people say midlife crisis, but I think we have in the mid-20s, we are so eager because I mean I remember how I was similar to you, you wanted to go to the best university you can, achieve as much as you can. And that’s all about achieving. It’s very much masculine energy to do, to get, and we control this. And I guess sometimes we do need to use our masculine energy in the world to get things done, but sometimes we’re overdriving it and basically we completely forgot who we are, what we really want.
Sze Wing: Because for me, what hit me was when I was exactly 25, I was sitting on my balcony, I have a fantastic job. So I was studying in Norway and then in London from the university and I’d got a job in Australia. So yeah, doing the global thing. And then sitting in a very fancy apartment having my first job and I think, “Wow I’m really doing something in my life.” And then it hit me that, whoa, I think if things keep going like this, in five years I will probably have more. But that means I will probably move to the suburbs or doing this. Maybe having a marriage, I mean starting to imagine how my life will look like. And suddenly I felt no, that doesn’t seem good to me. Just suddenly I had this disconnect about what I imagined I should be, expected to be, versus do I really enjoy it? And that’s the moment where I suddenly have to go back to this, the void, the vacuum of, I need to rethink about it.
Sze Wing: I need to just stop doing this because if that doesn’t feel like my life or I will feel so … I mean I imagine I will feel really sad by having achieved that so-called dream, then something isn’t right. And I think I had it in my 20s as well. I think a lot of people like us that now start to have this situation because we overdrive so quickly in earlier life, so we got into that realization point, could be something happen to us or we just suddenly turns out that we need to reexamine it. But I find it really interesting because then just like you, you go into the feminine face where it’s about costing, receiving, allowing and before all of doing, train our mussels in maybe making a name for ourselves in the world. And that’s really, that is sort of, to move, to do.
Sze Wing: But then when you do meditation yoga, which I also got into, like you, it’s about train the muscles to be still, and this is the opposite. And then you start to know, well I want to do this, I want to do that. And then opportunity falls into your lap, you find out beautiful man, you have a daughter and then things just happen rather than you gunning for, it’s such a different energy. And that’s about curation. And I love your story because many women share the same thing that, you got to go and get it, only what to a certain degree. I mean, I’m not saying you should sit on the couch all your life, but there is a difference and then when you start to allow and do your part, you still have to fly to the Dominican Republic to follow that call. But then magical things start to happen and it’s incredible. And I’m sure when you share your story, you inspire other women to have that magic.
Kelly: Yeah. And it is interesting and that’s, I think what motivates me to keep coaching and writing, is seeing the hope in people’s eyes when that joy sparks because I do talk a lot about joy in my work and that is the motivation that keeps me going. Because when you are able to tap into that feeling of aliveness, which is joy, you know it in a deep way and you want more of it. And then that motivates the person to keep searching for something new, something that’s more aligned, that’s more true to them, or authentic.
Sze Wing: Yeah. And I mean for us when we have experienced the before and after. So after obviously I changed job, I actually went a few years into the movie industry, working with creatives before I actually become a coach. But I have many different sorts of career paths early in my life, that gave me an opportunity to explore the world, learn about people and find myself. I think sometimes for me, I found myself by interacting, learning and being with people. So that’s me.
Sze Wing: But so with all the work that you’ve done with meeting people, say when you in the Dominican Republic, when you came back. So what is the number one thing that you think pulling people, I mean they hear your story, their eyes sort of go wide, but what blocked them from going for the dreams. A lot of people need a bit of help to launch into and brace the gym, so what is the thing you find tend to pull them back?
Kelly: Yeah, yeah. It’s a combination of many things, but I think the number one thing would be related to awareness, self-awareness, and maybe some limitations around that. So let me explain. Sometimes it’s this all or nothing thinking. My life does not look like that. There is no way I can get on a plane and move to Dominican, so I will never feel joy. So that might be someone’s thinking when they hear my story. However, if you are able to develop a sense of awareness about what you have going on in your life and what your own characteristics are and what your own strengths and your own dreams, so it’s this self-exploration. When there is a commitment to self-exploration and development, a personal development, self-awareness, you’re not going to feel those limitations.
Kelly: So people get stuck when they think it has to be a certain way or they want it right now. And maybe they take a step toward making a significant change in their life, but if it doesn’t happen right away, then they quit. So I think the number one limitation, the one thing that holds people back is, that limited lack of self-awareness. But I think in all, it’s not being able to open your mind and see the possibilities that are actually in front of you. And also to kind of be in that space of gratitude where you are able to take stock and look around and say, “Wow, it’s actually not that bad.” So it’s reorganizing your perception, your ability to be content with what you have. That’s a much easier place to live and kind of create from rather than, “Oh my life is terrible. Everybody else has a better life than me.”
Kelly: That is a very closed way of thinking, a very limited way of thinking. But again, it’s just starting where you’re at and writing a better story for yourself, so it’s easier to move forward and it’s easier to cope when things don’t happen exactly the way you want them when you want them. I often tell people, and I also do it with my own life, in the morning and people used to tease me a lot, but I wonder what’s going to happen today. I wonder what’s going to happen today. Because if you are living from a place of curiosity and you’re open to being like, recognizing the smaller things that are happening that you just normally would push through because you’re focused on something else, you’re able to enjoy your life a little bit more.
Sze Wing: I really like what she said because I’m also a firm believer that you don’t become a millionaire, billionaire overnight. What I’m trying to say is that it’s a lot of small changes, small steps, that lead to a bigger change, a bigger improvement. And sometimes there are some quick wins, but often the thing you really want to achieve is not going to be a fast win. So taking stock and appreciate what you have and just taking the baby steps is so important. And I think that’s when a coach or mentor, consultants, sometimes come in because you kind of need to have that sort of voice to help you to say, “Look, it’s not necessarily going to happen overnight, but doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”
Sze Wing: And I think the growth mindset has a very important piece of what you just said. Because if you have this curiosity, what could happen, many things could happen. It’s not fixed. So if I don’t succeed or don’t have it by now, doesn’t mean you can’t, it’s an ongoing, evolving story. So having a growth mindset, like what you describe, helps people to be able to rewrite their story because so many of us think that we’re defined by the story, but no, we’re actually creating the story ongoing. Because if we didn’t have that adversity in the past, we won’t be where we are now. So that doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop and defined and that’s it. But that’s fixed mindset as in, I was scared and therefore I’m scared. But instead of saying, because of that, I learned how to take care of my self and now have status.
Sze Wing: So I think that’s such a profound message, for people to just hear what you’re saying about having that wonder and curiosity of what could happen next. And you mentioned about awareness. So how could people cultivate awareness, because I think what happens, I’m guessing, that people come to you because they think something isn’t going so well or they see what you have or something like that. But that doesn’t necessarily translate into awareness just yet. So how would you help people, to suggest to them to cultivate a better sense of awareness?
Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. People, people come to me when they are wanting more joy, they want more fulfilment. Something’s just, like you were mentioning, just not right. The way I think to cultivate self-awareness has a lot to do with mindfulness and learning confidence and assertiveness and boundaries and really kind of nourishing that inner sanctuary. You’re creating a space inside of you, your inner world that is peaceful and a place to kind of retreat and rebuild. It really has a lot to do with developing a really loving relationship with yourself. I talk about mindful self-compassion, so learning different strategies on self-compassion, things that you can do to kind of soothe yourself either during difficult times or even just like what I was kind of saying before about just recognizing when things are going well and having that explanatory style where it’s optimistic. So you’re kind of changing the way you talk to yourself, the way you talk about your life, the way you talk about other people. I really believe that if you want to make a change, you have to change your language. I think that’s really important.
Sze Wing: So tell us a bit more about the language. What do you mean by the language? Like not having talked to ourselves in a negative way? What do you mean by the language?
Kelly: Well, I think again, basically saying, look at when things are going right, recognizing when things are going right, recognizing that that person held the door for you, recognizing that, okay, this is where you’re at and all of these things have happened in your life that has essentially been very good to get you into your life. I think people do a lot of minimizing and then skimming and actually don’t recognize the accomplishments and the good things that you have.
Kelly: So language and a lot of it’s all up here. It’s these daily practices of … and I have these, I call them manifestation worksheets, but it is, it’s just recognizing when something went right. You’re planning your goals for the week and just being aware that, oh wow, things are shifting, my relationships are getting more loving and then recognizing that the reason that they’re more loving is actually because I’m less stressed or I’m less angry, irritated because I’m soothing my own needs as opposed to expecting everything to be this way or people to treat me this way. So you’re taking more responsibility for yourself and in the process, you’re changing your relationship with everything that’s happening outside of you, the language
Sze Wing: I love it because what you say is very important. If we don’t recognize it, we don’t put meaning into some of these things, it has no meaning then, for us. We have to be the one who acknowledges the meaning, the progress and appreciate it. If we don’t appreciate, it’s kind of lost. We don’t see it. Maybe you would see it and tell your clients, say, “Look at all this you actually have done.” I think it’s incredibly powerful to the ability to change the language and acknowledge it because we are so conditioned, so programmed that, okay, done next. What’s next? It’s always that forward.
Kelly: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. And there’s so much that happens in a day. There’s so much that happens in a day, so you have to explain what happened today. You pay attention to what is happening and you’re going to say, “Oh wow, that actually was a pretty good day.”
Sze Wing: One day at a time.
Kelly: One day at a time. One moment at a time.
Sze Wing: One moment at a time.
Kelly: Yeah, really.
Sze Wing: So what tends to happen for people when they start working with you or with a coach? What do you think you start to notice, what tends to be the first thing that people realize or happen to them? I guess I’m advocating people to really consider working with someone and get support because I feel so many of us before we get to this path, we’re running on wheels like little mice, all around the wheel. Then once we got on a path and whether you work with someone one to one or a group or even just listening to this, things start to shift. So what do you recognize in your world?
Kelly: I think accountability is huge. I think first making the commitment to yourself, so putting yourself out there and being like, “Okay, this is what I want. This is what I have. I’m stuck. I don’t know how to get to that next place.” So there’s that kind of just naming it may be, so you’re recognizing it. But some people will be like, “I don’t want any commitment. I don’t know how this is going to go. Let’s just try it.” And so I’m like, “Yeah whatever, whatever you want, it doesn’t matter.” Even in group workshops and things, I’m just so excited when people are all coming together and we hear, everybody’s talking and their stories and their ideas.
Kelly: But what is magical about coaching is that when people do commit and they’re like, “Wow, you showed up for me, you’re holding me accountable to the goals that I want and now I actually have to do it. I have to and I want to do it, I want to show up. I wanted this more than I thought I did.” This is what they might be saying, and you sitting there reflecting it back to me gets me excited because now I believe it’s a possibility. Do you know what I mean?
Sze Wing: And you’re not doing it alone.
Kelly: Yes, you’re not doing it alone. And it’s not me with all the answers, my job as I see it is to really pull out their unique qualities, their dreams, to help them clarify their vision. Because when people say, what do you want, 95% of the time, it’s always like, I really don’t know.
Kelly: Everybody really does know because if I said, “Do you want this?” They’ll go, “No, I don’t want that.” So you know you don’t want that. You don’t want that. You don’t want that. So you want something, we don’t know what it is yet. And then it’s this clarifying, just smoothing. And I do this stuff with my hands all the time, I’m very visual and I don’t know if it’s energetic or what, but it’s just like, okay, let’s figure it out. Let’s narrow it down and then let’s open it. So it’s this dance of constantly changing and clarifying and opening and closing and moving and helping people realize that it’s not black and white. It’s not this, this, it’s all of this other stuff and all of this is important. And yes, it is difficult to articulate sometimes in your own mind when you have to turn it off and then go to work or be a wife, be a parent, do all of the things that you have to do in your life.
Kelly: So you only get to kind of dream for a little bit. You get into it and then you have to like, okay, I got to be an adult, I got to be responsible. But the coaching relationship, it’s so special because it’s your time to connect and dream and play and wonder. And I think that curiosity and that wondering comes back again in that coaching relationship. But to answer your question, accountability,
Sze Wing: I love it because it’s really about exploring the best version of who you can be, that you will enjoy your life the most, living out your potential or living out the best moments that you can have. And it’s kind of like evolving as well. So you may come in because you have a career situation, but then, later on, you realize the self-worth scenario and after that, it’s actually a relationship with yourself and your mother. Things are not always as it seems at the first session. And it’s a relationship and it’s a dance. And I love that big part of the dance as a coach, I mean I feel sometimes we let them do this. Sometimes we’re, not policing, but like, are you sure? Asking challenging questions and that’s trust that you feel over time because sometimes you don’t feel comfortable in the start being challenged in a public place, you’ve got to feel safe to have this conversation because they need to know, we hold the best vision for you. We want you to be your best. And that’s a very sacred honouring commitment.
Kelly: Yes, very much.
Sze Wing: Yeah. It’s so fun. And that’s why we love it. So leading to wrapping this up, I know you offer mentoring, so can you speak about what’s the difference in your world, the difference between coaching and mentoring? Is there a difference?
Kelly: Well, and I think kind of what we just described is that you’re going to be doing different things. You’re going to have to have a strong voice on different occasions, you’re going to use all of these different strategies to kind of help people trust in themselves, even, to just show themselves and present themselves. But the way that I see mentoring, I see mentoring as a longer-term relationship where, because I have been working in social work kind of situations for almost 25 years now, that I like to kind of mentor younger people that are going through the helping profession, so they don’t do the things that I did with working. You don’t have to prove that you can work two jobs.
Kelly: So some of the things that I learned in my earlier time, I think that’s, for me personally, those are the kind of mentoring relationships that I would like to build. Whereas with coaching, I kind of see it as more, and I probably would do coaching as well within the mentoring relationship, but I have other business tools and things that I would like to share as well. But also that professional knowledge and wisdom that I’ve kind of developed over dealing with a variety of clients over all these years. So I guess it’s more profession-specific in my case, the mentoring, whereas the coaching, I just want to work with anybody who is really wanting something that’s more aligned with who they are, so they are more fulfilled in work and in life, that they are closer to their life purpose and they’re feeling those joyful moments more frequently and finding that deeper connection, that deeper satisfaction in their relationships. Because essentially that’s what feels good and that’s what real life and meaningful life is.
Kelly: Is based on meaningful work and meaningful relationships. And then obviously health with when you’re doing all of these things, it all blends. And I try to stay away from the word balance, work-life balance. I always feel like you’re on like this, we’re just like, okay, I got to keep going on the straight and narrow and try to not fall, but it’s more harmony. Kind of like, it’s music, it’s dance, it’s things are going to be stronger and then it’s going to move. And so I like harmony.
Sze Wing: Fantastic. Yeah, like music, you’ve got to have different components, but when you listen to something, you know whether it’s good, it’s in harmony, or not, out of sync or not. So if I want to sing then like fell off from the bottom. Love it. Fantastic. So you talked about mentoring being a bit longer term. And I know you have the mentoring program coming up, so tell us a little bit about it and how long it is.
Kelly: Yeah. Well for this, it’s going to be opening up in December to start in January. And it’s, like I said, for coaches, counsellors, social service workers, et cetera. And it would start in January and I have different, the program’s going to run for the whole year. And then for coaching, I have two months, eight-week sessions, and then I also offer a 90-minute intensive session for somebody who just wants to like, let’s work on this, let’s do this. And then we can always customize something after that if that’s what they chose to do.
Sze Wing: I like it because I remember myself, I started working with someone is the best short, like 90 minutes or something. But then you get a chance to say, “Wow, this is something for me. Is this a fit for me?” Then we built a long relationship after and it happens. Some people kind of know you different ways and then they already know what they want so they start with a long relationship. But I love the flexibility. Sometimes though we have, because we’re all human, we’re all different. Sometimes we just like to do things high intense, or sometimes we like to do it differently. So fantastic. So thank you so much for today’s talking with us. And so if people want to get in touch with you, what would be the best way to find you online?
Kelly: Yeah. Well, people could go to my website, which is www.embraceyourlife.ca. And there you can go and you can learn a little bit more about me, my programs, and my background.
Sze Wing: Fantastic. Thank you so much, Kelly.
Kelly: Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.