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Karen, who worked for 20 years in marketing, PR and business development before switching her own career path, has created a free online challenge which takes less than an hour a day.
And she says the upheaval of coronavirus could be the perfect opportunity for busy working mums and businesswomen to take a step back, and look at what they’re doing and why.
“Even though it might not feel like it, this situation is potentially a gift because you get to find out who you are and what you’re made of,” she explains. “In a crisis, you have to push yourself and that’s when you discover how resourceful you are and how much you’re able to adapt. You often don’t find these things out unless you’re backed into a corner.”
Karen believes that, like having a PT in the gym, women sometimes need someone else to give them the push to make a change they want to make.
“I think there are times when we all wake up and think, right, what do I need to do to get through today? We then just work our way through that string of events on a to-do list. But if someone else gives you the permission and says ‘carve out half an hour where you think about you and you only’ then you do it and something fires up in you and you think, I’ve always wanted that or I’ve always thought that.”
Karen says it’s all about checking what your core values are, especially as they’re likely to change every few years depending on your work, home or health.
For her, that change came when a high-powered marketing job left her with all the material trappings of success, but feeling burnt out and suffering with depression.
“My first career was in hospitality and I worked as a manager at the Living Room for about five years when it was like the social club of Liverpool. From there I moved into marketing and PR and I ran my own business successfully for about 10 years, then the recession hit and I ended up getting a job running a marketing agency.
“It was a great salary, it came with the car, pension, the whole package but I just got caught up in the rat race.
“It was all about my ego, having the Prada handbag and kudos of the director title, but in the process it was like I’d become spiritually and emotionally bankrupt even though I was earning good money.
“I think I was so afraid of failure that I applied every bit of myself to not let it fail which was great for them, I was winning loads of pitches and bringing in lots of business, but my health suffered.”
In 2017, in search of a drastic change, she sold her car and spent her savings on a trip to Thailand.
“I needed to take a long hard look at my life so I spent five weeks in the jungle volunteering on a Buddhist project which was the most amazing experience. I think I’d always had this underlying belief that I wouldn’t be happy unless I had X, Y and Z but in the process of trying to get them I became very unwell. Being in Thailand, in these unbelievably basic conditions, gave me the chance to come to terms with not being attached to things and realise what was really important.”
When she came back to England, she retrained as a life coach and set up The Change Agent KD.
Before the virus, she helped people via face-to-face and remotely, but restrictions mean it’s now all online.
“I did wonder how well it would work but now I’m just more tuned in to things like facial expressions, so I’ve adapted and I’ve sharpened my questions so I can get more clarity about what’s going on for someone.”
Part of that has been creating her free 5-day Core Values Challenge, which will run from October 19 to 23.
“It takes about half an hour during the day, and about another half an hour in the evening. In the morning you download a single simple task sheet and complete the exercise, then at 7.30pm each night I do a live Facebook session where I talk more about the benefits and answer any questions.”
Past sessions have had really positive feedback. “A couple of girls caught one of my previous live videos and they’ve now decided to change their jobs off the back of the challenge because it’s empowered them and made them realise they were staying in a workplace for the wrong reasons or doing something because it was what their family expected of them.”
Anyone, says Karen, can benefit from taking just an hour a day in lockdown to reassess their lives.
“We all want to feel happy, satisfied and that we’ve got purpose but sometimes we can be pushed around by the cornerstones of our life, whether it’s work or an illness, other people or social or cultural expectations.
“This challenge is like turning on your GPS because you then go ‘ah, that’s the direction I really want to go in’.”
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