First year of business – Systems overload

So many freaking systems.

That’s what I remember from my first year of business.

So many decisions about software and so many process that I realised I didn’t have, and so many records to keep.

Imagine the most horrified emoji face you can muster. Yes, that’s how it felt.

After all, I just wanted complete freedom and flexibility and creative potential, regular income, great coffee and inspiring collaborators and no paperwork whatsoever. Is that so much to ask??

Apparently here in the real actual world, yes.

So what did I do?

To start with every time I found yet another system or process that I didn’t have that it seemed everyone else had I died a little bit on the inside. ‘Seriously?? More things to do??” I wailed in my inside waily place. Mostly I wrote them down somewhere and lost the list and found it again with pangs of guilt weeks later. I would have these moments of elevated hope, when talking with someone who actually had and uses these systems – hope that I would do the follow up work and that I would somehow become a new person who was excited about tidy completely efficient systems. But this would usually wear off within a few hours and I would return to my usual lumpish disinterest in such detailed admin things. Once I learnt about them I could see their benefit and how they would help me. Sometimes the concept of it all excited me. But hand on my heart the doing or setting up of them never ever excited me. Each time it would sink to the bottom of the to-do list like a marble in a fish tank.

I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants, random and messy.

Part of the avoidance came from not knowing. It’s super hard working in a vast wasteland of unknowns and risk. Not knowing the territory it can be tempting to to venture out. What? I have to get out of my comfortable chair and walk though the potential for confusion and regret?

But what I learnt over time is that it settles down. At first I honestly thought there were ONE MEEEELLION scheduling systems for me to choose from. Eventually it felt like just 3. Eventually I just chose one and when that one felt not quite right I chose another one.

Same as an invoicing and book keeping set up – I just ended up choosing one because my coach had worked with it. And it will do for now until I move onto the one that costs more but I plan to master soon.

So know this.

A) If you don’t super love this stuff you are not alone.

B) Overwhelm is a self-perpetuating panicky thing that really you could better do without.  If you are learning something new and drowning in options try not to compound it by shrieking things at yourself like ‘Oh my gosh everyone else knows what they are doing! I must be a complete loser! When will I just make a decision! I have to make a decision! I can’t make a decision!’. Find some way to take the pressure. Unless the wheels are falling off today from not having it, give yourself permission to not think about it for 3 months. Maybe you have too much other stuff going on and not enough information to make a good decision just yet.

C) You don’t have to be using every cool app and all the best most efficient software to also be offering something of value to the world. I have worked with some AMAZING coaches and empathetic, generous, insightful healers who use less tech than me. Did I get any less from the session just because there was something old skool in their bookings system or they aren’t all over social media? Not at all.

D) So what if you’re messy. I am: I really really am. I often wish I wasn’t (because I dream of being somehow more slick and stylish and having vast tundra-like surfaces and spaces with lots of artful throw rugs) but plenty of time I barely even notice because I am just a happy little fish swimming in creative mess. YOU CAN STILL RUN A BUSINESS if you are messy. YOU CAN STILL OFFER VALUE if you are messy. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO have a bare desk, or shiny laundry, or straightened thighs or skinny hair or posh to-do-list like the woman you read about in the Sunday paper to make a go of things. You really don’t. Books have been written in tracksuit pants and policies drafted with baby food in hair. You can have chipped and shitty nail polish and still be strong and awesome. You can not know what the heck to do about X or Y this week and still know a lot about Z.

E) You’ll make a decision when you need to. When it becomes more of a pain in your butt to have no system, or the time you are spending doing something manually starts to do you head in – you will change!

F) Decisions don’t always happen how we think they should. Sure I know all about ‘proper’ decision making. I could bore you senseless with talk of cost-benefit analysis and multi-criteria analysis and deliberative valuation. I could! But I wont! because we’re friends and friends don’t let friends do MCA. Just joking. What I would say is this: we are not robots and we rarely make decisions the way we actually think we do. So it might be that after WEEKS of telling yourself you ‘should’ read all the fine print on three different online options for doing something very fancy and necessary in your business, and that you ‘should’ then find three different people who have used each one and interview them and make a table listing all the… whatevers… what you ACTUALLY do is wake up one morning and absent mindedly watch a you tube video about one of them while eating a piece of toast and then think ‘oh that doesn’t sound so bad’ and then download it while you sip your tea and watch a youtube video about a turtle that is friends with a kitten and then kind of sort of make an account and give your credit card details. AND THAT’S OK. If you start using it and it was better than before and it cuts all the anxiety and you can always stop and use another thing later – BLOODY BRILLIANT.

So that’s my wise words on overwhelm from tech choices. Basically just: ‘yes, you might have it, don’t worry I did too. It kind of goes away if you ignore to long enough. And maybe you kinda know the answer already.’

(Don’t worry, that’s not how I do MCA’s.)

Itty bitty sh**ty days

We all have them, don’t we?

When we have a dark taste in our mouth and feel fidgety. Like nothing of any use is going to come through these limbs today. Like you feel unsettled but some rarely felt mix of agitated, pained, stressed, urgent, and listless. You move around the house, wanting to get more done. At work you might shuffle papers around and not get far with anything.

What could it be?

What is plaguing you? Why is it awful and unproductive today?

The forecast is pointless, with chance of showers and a strong northerly pushing whiffs of wistful in through the afternoon.

You want to want to do something useful.

But you kind of don’t.

There’s plenty to be getting on with, but you can’t seem to get any minutes to stick together in a way that produces anything, they slip away like beach sand streaming out of your sandals in summer.

The day! The day! You can just see how it will bloom and fade without any great achievements or small accomplishments to decorate it with. Night time will come and you will be relieved because now you no longer have a day spanning out in front of you and expectations swarming you ears like flies.

Lost. You feel kind of lost.

Why? Why lost? Where is this coming from? For me, on the last day I felt like this I wondered…

  • Is it disappointment, a feeling of failure that has stuck to me like cold chip shop oil in your hair, slyly following you after that thing I did wrong yesterday?
  • Is it unsettled because of the moving and changing things around me, and the feeling that I can’t quite get a grip or rhythm with anything?
  • Is it some mix of hormones and non-sustaining food I’ve eaten this morning?
  • Is it just tired, and the senseless dreamy state that comes with that?


When you feel like this it can be hard to get a grip of feelings.

Try tapping into the feelings. Try pausing, with pen and paper and using metaphor to explain yourself to yourself in a rambly way, without knowing what you will say (write) next. Try pausing to feel and name those feelings. Maybe you write them, maybe you draw them.

I feel cloudy, foggy, lost, aimless, drifting. I feel walking in circles, I feel adrift.

I feel hopeless and alone and like I can’t make it, I don’t have what it takes and no one will rescue me. I feel disappointed in my self and cynical, like I was deluded and all was for nothing.

I feel like everything is chopped into tiny pieces and everything is crumbly, and nothing comes together to make a coherent whole. I feel pointless, and meaningless, and without direction. I feel like my compass is spinning around and around and I don’t know how to move. I feel weary and like hiding out.

I feel kind of angry for no reason and like everyone around me is hideously annoying and the whole world is full of jerks!

And now the tears come.


And on the movement of the tears our little boat slips forward, no longer quite so stuck. The water feels a little clearer, and we may feel a little more whole.


And then we yawn.

And then we wipe our tears.

And then we get on with however the day will be.


Image: is one of my collage pieces

First year of business – Feeling stuck on the hamster wheel

Imagine a day like this: I feel jangly and unsteady. I feel confused. I feel like I am going around and around in a circle. A hamster wheel, a merry go round, or maybe even a ferris wheel, but stuck either way and not actually getting anywhere despite all the movement.

Really. Some days really did feel like this.

I felt like I had all these great ideas, hanging heavy on the tree like overripe fruit, and me unable to cut them free and share them around because I couldn’t pay anyone to get the help I needed (mindset help, tech help, marketing help).

Sure, I could do lots of things. Sure those things were busy and colourful and fun.

Sure I could write my blog and lots of facebook posts BUT WHERE WERE MY CUSTOMERS?

Meanwhile I had this sense that I couldn’t tell people how I felt because who wants to be stuck with the sinking ship? Like who would EVER hire me as a coach or art therapist if I so clearly was having a hard time myself?

Starting a health and wellbeing business can be especially tough in this regard – because there is an expectation that we are those few steps ahead of our potential customers in every aspect of health and wellbeing and in business. We can create this unrealistic expectation that we skip through all aspects of life with flower crowns in our hair and glitter pouring from our flouncy white skirts. That successful business just sprouts from us as we sit crossleggedly on our beds eating dry toast and kale smoothies and tapping on our silver laptops. Or in my case perhaps that my every day is a colourful dance with crayons (well, some days are).

How could I offer my services as a coach if I didn’t already have a thriving full schedule – what did I possibly have to offer them? But. But then again. Then again I don’t believe that you have to be perfect to help someone else. I don’t believe that being successful means never ever having shit days. I don’t believe that I know NOTHING just because when faced with Mailchimp and a few free hours my skin felt creepy and I wanted to run away.

What I wanted was a VA. What I wanted was a marketing strategy go to helper. What I wanted was a book keeper. And while I’m at it lets be honest, a housekeeper and a personal stylist – if we are making a Christmas wish list here. What I wanted was help designing my first online program, and legal advice and people WHO HAD ACTUALLY DONE IT BEFORE. And I wanted it RIGHT NOW. But all of those people – and I actually knew who I would ask – charge money for their time. Extra money I didn’t have and didn’t feel like I make anytime soon get without their help.

I felt helpless and hopeless, and overwhelmed.

So of course now I wish this wasn’t true and I could tell you that starting my own business WAS all cake and unicorns and Instagram sunsets, but truly it wasn’t. So out of honesty, and out of integrity, I share it here as part of the picture of what the first year of business looked like for me at times. Alongside the wins. Alongside the meaningful work with clients. Alongside those moments of feeling like you’ve walked with someone on their path. Alongside blissful quiet time at my desk and not being in an open plan office. Alongside flexibility to work my own hours and follow my own ideas and being able to work outside in park if I felt like it (only – ants). Alongside the helpful breakthroughs in mindset and the joy in community and excitement of new learning. Alongside the having fun with photos and writing copy and subscribing to WAY too many helpful looking email lists and then promptly forgetting who the hell any of them even were.

So if your first year of business feels a bit like that too, don’t worry. I’m here to tell you it’s normal. It doesn’t make you a failure, it doesn’t mean you’re no good at what you have to offer. It just means it’s hard working without a compass and doing your inner and outer work at the same time. It’s hard making a map while also trying to use one. It’s hard building all the infrastructure of a business at the same time that you are trying to work in it. I so totally get it.

And what to do about that?

What is my reflection on how not to get stuck in the desperate days? Very good question. I’ll share my thoughts on that tomorrow.

Everyone struggles sometimes

You might not see it, they might not speak it but they do.

Don’t be fooled by the white toothed images of advertising or the chirpy baby photos and cat videos of social media. Everyone struggled sometimes.
Everyone has days of blah, or ‘I’m not good enough, or ‘what am I here for, nothing makes sense’.

We do.

And sometimes those days remind us of forgotten parts of ourselves that cry out for recognition and are waiting to be given form.

Sometimes those those days tell us we have reached our limits (physically, emotionally, socially) and need some quiet time to regroup.

Sometimes those days remind us that we have forgotten to include joy in our days and we have oriented ourselves towards trudge and ‘must do’ and ‘should’ and to do lists and forgotten to laugh and sing and cry and dance as well.

Sometimes those days help us catch sight of our inner workings, like a reflection in a store window we are walking past, and we see that our inner messages on automatic loop have been quite harsh, hopeless or demorialising. We stop and gasp, and wonder quietlyif we can replace them.

So if you are struggling, just know that everyone struggles sometimes. It doesn’t make you a freak or a loser or somehow not good at life. We’ve been there. My clients have been there. I’ve been there too, and I will no doubt be there again.

So rather than say ‘what’s wrong with me?? Why can’t I get my shit together? I should be happy/ more efficient /more successful/ more organised/ more productive. Why does everything feel so hard right now?’ Feel free to say “I am struggling right now.”. I am struggling right now and I need my own love and kindness as I work my way through it.

And here’s to the kindness of the people in our lives: who encourage us, who ask after us with interest, who share ideas with us, who support us in practical ways, who mirror back our strengths when we can’t remember what they are. Here’s to our friends and support teams, our fellow group members, our therapists and coaches, our clients, our tribes and our mentors who make space for us to feel ALL our feelings, and accept us when we are angry, sad, lonely and confused just as much as when we are happy and productive.

Dealing with blah

When everything feels flat and pointless, follow your whim.

Sometimes our goals can feel like they are suffocating us, or we can temporarily stop feeling connected to the goals we have been working to.

What to do? How to bounce back?

I put in a vote for some unstructured wandering and musing. Give yourself the morning off – walk down your favourite street. Sit in your favourite forest. Visit your favourite garden. Stroll idly through your favourite museum or shop.

Let random things catch your attention. Take a few photos. Let buried ideas gently surface. Allow your sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing to gently fire up as you walk new paths and see new things.






Sip tea.

Allow space for the new.


Know your gatekeeper

Who stands at the gate stopping us from embarking on our most important creative adventures?

You can be very proficient. Good at doing a hundred things. Confident at doing a hundred more. And yet… there can be one thing that feels off limits. Way too hard. Likely impossible.

You are equally attracted to it and repelled by it.

‘I. Must. Write.’ part of you says, with gritted Clint Eastwood teeth.

‘I. Must. Not. Write!!!’ a shrill Lauren Bacall yells with hands in the air.

Yes. No. Push. Pull. The urge to act. The urge to not act.

No wonder you stay stuck. It’s not laziness, it’s just physics – two equal and opposite forces butting heads against each other, and you, the meat* salad in the too-tight sandwich with your insides spilling out all lettucey and over the place.

Likely you have an inner visionary, who can see the project, feel the project, wants in on the project. And then you have also an inner gatekeeper, who stands at the threshold of the project, hands on hips, saying ‘What you? Coming in here, with those shoes? Nope, I don’t think so’.

Now these gatekeepers look different for different people, and the words they say to us are different:

  • Yours might say ‘people in this family don’t play music – life is hard and serious and needs proper attention, so just you get back to doing something useful thanks very much’. 
  • Mine might say ‘there’s no point trying to print fabric because it’s all been done before and you’re just going to be disappointed when people don’t like it and you realise you’ve made something not very good.’
  • That woman who works in the shop up the road might have one that says ‘only ball-breakers become businesswomen, you’re too nice, you’d be eaten alive, you’re better off working for someone else than going out on your own.’
  • Your friend on social media who loves art but never makes any might have one that says ‘aaaah if you paint beautifully people will notice you and you will be weird and different and life will feel uncomfortable so just don’t even think about that’.
  • The guy siting next to you on the bus might have one that says ‘look, I think just between you and me no one will like what you make so let’s just avoid all that laughter and derision and horrible reviews in the Times and not bother trying to make films’.

On and on and on. These gatekeepers talk to us in voices of ‘let’s not bother’, ‘who are you to try’, ‘it’s not ok for you to be doing this’, ‘you don’t have what it takes’, ‘life wont be safe anymore if you do this’, ‘people wont like you any more if you do this’….. on and on and on.

And beyond them, our gatekeepers and those giant double barred gates they keep locked, we sense glimmers of the gold of our projects – finally embarked upon, finally experienced.


Reflection questions:

What is it that feels really charged and dangerous for you to embark on? Which creative endeavours feel full of dread and portent?

Are you aware of your inner gatekeeper? Have you listened carefully with curiosity to what it says, or written it down in your journal?

Have you ever imagined it as a character and wondered what it’s motivation is? Are you aware of what it is trying to protect you from? Have you listened to see whose voice it reminds you of?


*I don’t eat meat so I figure my metaphors should be brought along for the ride as well

What I wish I could say to every person in therapy

What I want to say to clients who have experienced trauma and are coming to me for art therapy:

You are wounded, not damaged – there is a difference. Wounds are something that have happened to you, not who you are. Wounds can heal.

Just because you feel worthless, doesn’t mean you are worthless, and these feelings can change.

These feelings are real and overwhelming but this is not how you will always feel.

You are not ‘crazy’ for feeling grief and loss and self doubt and pain.

You’re not a failure because these feelings are still here.

You are strong – you have survived and you are still here. You are in counselling – you are taking steps to make things better.

You can feel better, things can get better – there is hope.

You are not selfish for being here, talking about yourself – this is hard work, it hurts, avoiding it is easier, you’re here because you care about having good relationships, doing well in the world, feeling ok in the world. There’s nothing selfish about wanting that.

You are trying to shift your patterns of thinking and your own belief structures and sometimes your view of and relationship with your family. This is huge work that no-one around you may even recognise or be familiar with.

I recognise how much work this is, how undone you can feel in the midst of it as old pains are remembered and old feelings felt. As best you can, be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for this work that you are doing. As best you can, trust in the process.

You are unique – I don’t know how it feels to be you, but I can listen and try to understand. Together we might help you see yourself more clearly or with fresh eyes too.

I am here with you, we will go on this journey side by side and I will do my best to accept you exactly as you are, with kindness, and no expectation that you should be anything other than you are.

We may work together briefly or for a longer time, and I trust that whatever you choose will be right for you. A lifetime has many steps in it, and even a short journey taken with another can leave lasting ripples, or so it has been for me in my life.

I believe that you are on a path of healing, that something inside you is unfolding, and that you are oriented towards growth. I also believe you have the wisdom of the universe packed deep inside you, and that through facilitating art, meditation and empathetic interpersonal exchange I can help you access this wisdom. I don’t ask or require that you believe this, but I hold this belief deeply inside myself and it anchors me in our work together.

Even if you can’t see it right now, I see the beauty and wisdom and good in you.

Work with me? Contact me to discuss whether we are a good fit for one on one sessions, or whether group work might suit you better.

Join us in an idea party!

There has been a lot of discussion about the concept of Idea Parties lately after Barbara Sher’s recent TEDx talk.

As a follow up, I’m very exciting to be co-hosting (with some other Barbara Sher coaches) an online idea party, for free, for anyone who wants to join, beginning 1st Feb.

[Click HERE to connect with the online Idea Party on Facebook.]

‘What the heck is an idea party?’ I’m glad you asked! According to Barbara:

Idea Parties are a sensational way to get to know the best, most interesting, intelligent and generous people in town. They give you a friendly and stimulating way to do some first class networking. Never underestimate the difference it can make in your life to meet someone who can hand you a piece to your puzzle. You could find out something that changes your life in this best and oldest way of socialising. – Barbara Sher, 2016 ‘How To Throw a Terrific Idea Party’ –  free downloadable booklet from her website here.

The format, for this online Idea Party, is that you share both a WISH and an OBSTACLE in each post you write. In the comments the rest of us will come up with ideas for how you could make your dream come true despite your obstacle, and suggest practical ways to get started. You can ask for ideas on multiple dreams, no problems, just keep it to one dream per post to make it easier for us to help. And of course your inputs and ideas for other peoples wishes is also welcome.

‘Where do I find this mystical magical online Idea Party?’ Well this one is in English, being hosted on Facebook and is open to anyone – you can join the group here. It will run between 1st February and 7th February, and again 3 more times throughout the year.

Getting your two pieces of information ready

Just like any good party there are a few things you need to bring. In this case it’s not your best cocktail dress and a plate of food to share, its a wish and an obstacle.

According to Barbara Sher, these two pieces of information turn anyone into an instant problem solver and ally – even people who don’t particularly care about your achieving your wish. It’s as if we are hardwired to nut out problems, and we LOVE to generate ideas, so with these two pieces of information you transform people around you into idea generators.

Out of interest, these same two pieces of information are very useful if you ever choose to wok with a coach, although a coach will sometimes help you get to this point if you can’t articulate your wish or haven’t yet named the obstacles. In my experience there can be a very powerful cyclical process of going deeper and deeper to uncover the ‘real’ wish and the ‘real obstacles. But an Idea Party is a great place to go if you have already identified a wish and just want help to get moving towards it.

So… getting ready for our party to get started, I thought it might be useful to explain in more detail what is a WISH and what is an OBSTACLE.

Naming your wish

In this idea party what we want you to share with us is a WISH (I always wanted to join the circus / I’d love to travel more/ I wish I had a pair of shiny red shoes and the courage to wear them/ I really wish I could sing in a choir/ I would love to publish my book/ I want to get a part time job teaching piano/ I really want to go to bonsai classes)…

….also share with us the OBSTACLE that is stopping you from doing this thing (I have no idea how to find a job in the circus/ I have no money/ I don’t want to look like a showoff/ I’m too scared/ I don’t know any publishers and anyway how do I know if its any good/ I don’t know how to sell my talents in a job interview/ I’m too scared to go alone).

* * For example: ‘I really want [WISH] because [heart of my WISH] but it’s too hard right now because [OBSTACLES]”

* * For example “I really want to go to Bonsai classes because I want to be surrounded by bonsai trees because I fid them so beautiful but it’s too hard right now because I’m too scared to go alone and there’s nowhere that teaches it in my area”

ideapartyMore about WISHES

What you can see from these examples is that the wish/ dream can be BIG or SMALL (although of course if they are our dream they are all big to us). The main thing is that it is a real heart yearning, not a ‘should do’ on your list that someone else expects of you. It should be the kind of wish you feel is almost too precious to share, you love it so much, and really wish you would move towards it, only it seems way too hard and scary and impossible.

When you tell it to us, remember to share with us the CORE of the dream – what is the feeling or benefit you want from this dream. e.g. “I really want to go to bonsai classes because I love the elegance of bonsai and would love an affordable way to have a bonsai tree at home that I look after for the next 20 years and it grows old with me”. This helps us see which part of the dream is most important – in this example the important thing is that you get to make and own your very own bonsai, and that you get to spend time around bonsais in general. It might be that we can think up some ways you could get to the ‘heart’ of this wish without actually attending a class – like visiting a Japanese garden during your lunch breaks at work, or finding a way to babysit other people’s bonsai’s, or seeing if there are cheap bonsai’s for sale on Gumtree/ Craigslist –  these fresh perspectives are part of the fun of an Idea Party.

If you are having trouble finding a WISH, think to yourself:

– what am I always drawn to?

– what in my heart of hearts would I really love to be, feel, own or do?

– which famous people’s lives get my heart racing and feeling a bit of envy?

– if I was to die tomorrow which of my projects would I feel sad that I’d never had the chance to do?

– what would I love to do if I had the perfect encouraging family, all the resources in the world, and no one would tell me I was silly?

– what is the very heart of the dream, why do I want it / which part of it makes me happiest?

More about OBSTACLES

And what you can see from the examples above is that the obstacle can be INSIDE YOU (how you feel, information you are lacking, skills you don’t have yet) or OUTSIDE YOU (lack of funds, no contacts in that field, you live in a remote community where there is no school to study that thing – etc). Or a mix of both. That’s perfectly fine – all of these are good obstacles to share. But whatever the obstacles are it’s really important for us that you share with us what your particular obstacles are – otherwise we wont be able to help come up with ideas to overcome them.

For example… you ‘really want to climb the sydney harbour bridge but are terrified of heights’ is a very different proposition to you ‘really want to climb it but don’t want to climb it alone and have no friends in the area’. Do you see why that makes a difference if we are going to help you come up with ideas? We need to know the nitty gritty of your obstacle.

Also check our Barabaras Sher’s wonderful books, including Wishcraft (which she has made available free online) if you really want to get geared up, but don’t worry if you don’t have time, we’ll share what you need to know right here as well.


If you have any questions about the Idea Party, or how to participate feel free to drop me a line, or just join us over at the FB page and see how it works in action.

Hope to see you at the party!

About the facilitator 

JadephotoJade Herriman is a Barbara Sher coach and transpersonal art therapist. She works with clients to help bring more creativity into their lives, plan for their professional development, manage big life change and go after their dreams. She brings a playful, flexible and creative approach to serious issues, and draws on many years of experience working in organisation in project management, policy and research roles to bring practical solutions to her clients.


Seeing the Forest for the Trees – Caren talks about career change

In English we have this saying ‘you can’t see the forest for the trees’ – meaning that sometimes in life we get lost in the detail and can’t see the big picture anymore, can’t piece all the little bits together to see what they make up. 

This interview is with Caren Zimmermann, a Frankfurt-based Barbara Sher trained coach who sees both the forest AND the trees: she specialises in career transitions, and helping her clients reconnect with the big picture. She also has a photography practice for her own personal enjoyment, that keeps her in touch with nature. 


Hi Caren! Well it’s January now, so I guess I’ll wish you a Happy New Year and also ask you how the last month has been. How do you relax and restore ready for a new working year?
It might sound funny but I actually work between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It is a tradition for me. I use this quiet time to clean my desk, get rid of old stuff, do filing, make room for new projects. I also start a rough plan for the next months. What do I want to achieve in different fields of my life? Family, business, own develeopment, etc. Because chances are high that during this period nobody will disturb you, a lot of things can get done and you still have time for a coffee break or a little walk. I find it a very relaxing way of working and it sets me up to start the year feeling relaxed and organised.

Let’s talk a little bit about your work as a coach. What is the single biggest issue you find your coaching clients have – and how do you help them with it?
Loss of energy! I often hear from clients “something does not feel right”. Often my clients have been dragging this akward feeling with them for quite some time. It has become heavier and heavier, used up their energy and slowed them down. We figure out together what it is that “does not feel right”.

Is it the work load, particular activities, their boss, the evironment, something in their family?

Sometimes it is their own beliefs and expectations that make it so hard for them. Depending on the source of their discomfort we find different strategies and evaluate the steps it would take to follow that path. I often act as a kind of idea volcano throwing all different kinds of ideas their way.

That is a very creative and fun process. The client finds new ways to look at things and develops new solutions.

When we find the right solution and strategy SOMETHING always changes. It might be the clients gesture, positioning, facial expression or voice. Suddenly their energy begins to come back. It’s like the heavy feeling suddenly falls away. The client regains power to shape their life and act. I love that part of the coaching process.

What do you think is the most important first step to take for anyone to achieve their goals?
Doing…instead of dreaming, hoping, pondering, wondering about the perfect plan.

Get up and get some help: maybe a coach, or at least write down things that are important for you, do some research, get to know yourself better, be creative, make a rough plan and then get going. Find other people on your path to help you. As Barbara Sher says: ‘Isolation is a dream killer’. We need help, and sometimes a little push to make our wishes come true.

What inspires you in your work?
People. Individuals. They are all so different and finding a solution for their wish can be a challenge. I like that. I also love to learn from my clients. During our talks I get a little insight into their current work field or the work field they would like to enter. During the recent coaching sessions I learnt about kindergarden management, wine tasting and the real estate market!

Tree Faces
Some of Caren’s sweet and beguiling ‘tree face’ photos

I know you have an interest in art making for your own relaxation and expression. Can you tell us a little bit about what role art plays in your life? How does it make your life richer?
Art is always present in my life. For example I like to go to art exhibitions. Mostly art of the early 20th century. But I also the saw Jeff Koons and the Yoko Ono show here in Frankfurt.

From time to time I go to the opera house or the theatre. There is an English theatre here in Frankfurt that I regularly visit.

Art is not something I just consume. I am also active. I take photos, I paint and draw a little. In my home I have hung up some of my photos of “tree faces” and my drawings. The process of creating or discovering something new is magic. I don’t do much planning when I go out to take pictures or when I collect my drawing material. I try to be open for the opportunities that come up. There is often a good opportunity for a good picture if keep your heart and mind open.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, and how you came to be working as a coach?
I was born in the north of Germany but moved around several times before I fell in love with the Rhine-Main-Area near Frankfurt. I have a degree in European Business Administration and held positions in several departments and businesses. Recruiting and personnel management were the two constant factors during my career. My education, the broad professional experience and my thirst for new knowledge helped me to quickly feel at home in nearly every business.

In 2015 I swapped roles and now I help other people finding their career path. The people who come to me want to find the next career step, change their line of work or escape from a toxic work environment. Together we find solutions that fit their values and needs.

I also support them in the application process with updating and formulating their CVs and cover letters. If they need it, I can also provide advice later during the important first weeks of the probation period in their new job. I mainly work with clients via SKYPE. I love that with SKYPE you are not bound to your local area. My clients can choose the coach they prefer the most. It is comfortable, time saving and discreet for them.

About the interviewee

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Caren Zimmermann works as a coach focusing on career development and career change. Caren works with both English-language and German-language speaking clients. As well as career development and career change, she can help people who are planning to begin working in Germany for the first time, or Germans living abroad who are planning a return to the German workforce. She can be contacted via her website or E-Mail:

About the interviewer

JadephotoJade Herriman is a Barbara Sher coach and transpersonal art therapist. She works with clients to help bring more creativity into their lives, plan for their professional development, manage big life change and go after their dreams. She brings a playful, flexible and creative approach to serious issues, and draws on many years of experience working in organisation in project management, policy and research roles to bring practical solutions to her clients.