Shifting Gears

Not Sure What to Do with Your Next Twenty Years?
Maybe a Life Coach Could Help Make Your Dreams a Reality

By Maureen Scott

“How big is your ‘but’?” asks Mississauga Life Coach Odette Laurie, Owner of Women on Top of Business Enterprises.

Odette isn’t talking about the J-Lo booty butt; she’s talking about all of the excuses she hears as to why people are not living their dreams. In the three years she has been a Life Coach, seeing dozens of clients, she’s heard plenty of “buts”. “People will say they want to be a professional musician, or own their own business, BUT……” says Odette who specializes in Business and Life Coaching for Women. “Time, money and energy are the biggest buts I hear as to why we are not getting the most out of life.

”Surprisingly, fear of not being able to make our mortgage payments is not the reason that holds us back from quitting our day job to join a rock and roll band.

“There’s usually something much more; something deeper,” says Odette. “We get in our own way. We need to change our thinking and our mindset, to change our habits and the way we take actions to change our outcome. The job of a Life Coach is to figure out what is holding you back; fear, self-image, self-perception. We call it unmet needs.”

Darlene Huff is Retail, Leadership and Life Coach and owner of The Coaching Suite. She refers to our nasty, sabotaging thoughts as “gremlins”. Says Darlene; “Our limiting beliefs or stories can be the feeling that ‘I don’t know enough or I’m not smart enough, or how dare I think I’m worthy of this’. Our job as a coach is to help a client peel back the layers, like peeling the skin on an onion, to discover people’s natural gifts and to learn what is holding them back. How to manage limiting beliefs can serve you to a point, but how you address them, the strategy, is what is important. I get my clients to speak in the first person and claim their power, use visualization techniques to sink into what the best of them is and to really discover what their core values are so they can live all parts of their lives in alignment to those values. We call that the Peak Experience – seeing your future self. In 20 years, when I look back, what kind of life do I want; we work backwards and figure out how to help meet those goals.”

Darlene sees about 8 to 10 clients a month and charges $125 an hour. She offers a complimentary discovery session, followed by two or four sessions a month. Darlene says the average time a client works with her is 6 to 12 months, but several clients have been with her since she first began coaching in 2010. “The first three months we spend building trust,” explains Darlene. “At about the six month point there is a dip and often clients want to quit, but this is a denial or defection and usually means my clients are getting close to breaking through those limiting beliefs. Then between six months and a year they start to strategize and begin to see some of their goals coming to fruition.”

Although 80% of Darlene’s clients on her current roster are females in there mid 40’s to 50’s, she says seeing a life coach is not just a midlife crisis craze. Says Darlene, “I have one client who is 19. People seek out the help of a life coach because they are ready to make a change and want more out of their lives personally, professionally, or both.”

Twenty years ago, no one had heard about a life coach, so what is about today’s lifestyles that people are seeking professional help for something Darlene admits we could likely figure out on our own? “Seeking a coach helps my clients get results three to five times faster than on their own, just like a personal trainer can if you are trying to get in shape or lose 20 pounds, “explains Darlene. “We are also experiencing a global awakening and realizing that the 60 to 80 hour workweek is not sustainable. People are realizing that time is passing them by. They want more out of life, they want more balance, and they want to be more present in their lives and to live with more purpose.”

Darlene understands the demands of the corporate world. She worked as a District Manager for Williams-Sonoma and The Disney Store, gaining almost 25 years of retail management experience. “About two and a half years ago I went to a life coach, and it was a life-altering experience.” Inspired by the experience, Darlene completed the Professional Coach Training program with Coaches Training Institute and became a member of the Toronto Chapter of the International Coaching Foundation. In 2010, Darlene became the Founder and President of The Coaching Suite, specializing in Retail Leadership and Life Coaching. She has worked with clients like The Running Room and Square One Shopping Centre, as a clinic speaker, as well as facilitated sessions for The Inter- national Shopping Federation and The Oakville Chamber of Commerce Small Business Week.

Technology allows Darlene to mentor clients online via Skype, by phone, or in person. She has clients in Calgary, Halifax, New York and several clients in Mississauga. Darlene says she also meets clients at local coffee shops, and in one case, she coached a client while jogging!

“I’m a marathon runner so when one client told me they wanted to take up running, we agreed to do our sessions while running,” says Darlene. “This client admitted to me that her goal was to run a 5K and then a 10K and eventually, a marathon. At that point she was only running for about 5 or 10 minutes straight. I asked her ‘what is it about running that is important for you? ‘My client answered, ‘I’m using this as a metaphor for my life. I’m tired of living my life half full.’ Since then she has run her first 10K and has registered for a half marathon. The more she applied herself to running, the more she applied herself to other areas of life, like her business.”

Another one of Darlene’s clients, 55 year old Rosemarie Pereira of Mississauga, credits Darlene for helping her move closer to her dream of retiring to Brazil and running a Bed & Breakfast. “My husband John and I dreamed of retiring to Brazil, where we had lived for 11 years, and opening a B & B along the coast, about 2 hours from Rio de Janeiro,” says Rosemarie. “Since we have family and grandchildren here, our plan is to spend six months here and six months in Brazil.”

Rosemarie and Darlene met at a Networking Breakfast in Mississauga. “Originally the idea was to have Darlene help ee with my home-based business, but then she asked me about my personal goals and I realized that the two were closely related,” says Rosemarie. “She helped map out a plan of long term, 3 year, one year and weekly goals. We put the plan down on paper; things like seeking expert financial planning advice and researching real estate on line. Darlene makes us accountable. We are right on track.”

Daniel Sinniah, who works in retail in Mississauga, says working with Darlene helped him find out why a recurring situation was holding him back. “Working with a Life Coach, I learned to change my internal dialogue giving me the ability to lead my day with clear understanding of my responsibility for my day; my life, my ownership,” says Daniel. “Visualizations have been really helpful in times of struggle, when I find myself singing an old tune with a situation. She helped me to identify how I contribute to the conflicts in all areas of my life and understanding my contribution enables me to re-direct my energy to a more constructive instead of a destructive way.”

Life Coach Odette Laurie says realizing your dreams may take some hard work.

“My first client was a 48 year old female who was divorced, looked after four kids and was stuck in an hourly paying job. She said to me, that she thought she would be more by the time she turned 50. What she wanted was a title – to be called something. We realized she would need to get some post secondary education, but she said she didn’t have the money. She was able to get the money from a variety of sources. There is money out there; you just need to explore all of the options even if they seem like they are not viable. She now works in a law firm and is very happy to be working in this industry.”

Odette knows what it means to start life over. “After my divorce from my husband with whom we had built a successful business, I sold my share of the business, and at age 38, I went back to college and started my life over,” says Odette. “At age 42, three years ago, I decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur.” Although Odette already had a degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kent in England, she went to Sheridan College to earn a diploma in Social Work. Like Darlene Huff, Odette also hired a Life Coach before opening her Life Coaching business. When we spoke, she had just returned from Los Angeles where she was visiting her own life coach and taking a weeklong training session.

Odette charges $150 to $250 an hour and offers various programs including the three-month, $1,500 “I’m a Believer” coaching session to the $3,000 “In it to Win It” program, which includes 12 sessions and in-between-session support.

She also offers what she calls the $95 “Relationship Tester” for those who “want to put their toe in to test the water”. “You never regret what you do; you regret that you never
tried something,” says Odette. “It all comes down to that question we were asked in kindergarten, “What do you want to be when you grow up? If you aren’t doing that at 50, why aren’t you?”

And believe me; these life coaches won’t take any “buts” for an answer.