Amanda Duarte is an Executive & Wellbeing Coach at The Happy Mondays Co, an inclusion-focused, female-led career empowerment consultancy.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My background is diverse and multicultural. I started in Brazil, where I am originally from, in IT. I quickly noticed that I would fit better in human sciences, and made a move to graduate in Economics. Focusing on Sales/Marketing, I built experience in the Telecom industry.
My passion for understanding how humans behave continued, as I lived and worked in Peru, Dubai, Spain, and currently in Singapore. I have reinvented myself personally and professionally several times, working in MNCs, creating my businesses (in different industries), and working in start-ups.
As the journey led me deeper into myself, I made the most meaningful transition of all, becoming an Executive and Wellbeing Coach. I confidently can say that I never felt so strongly about my endeavours.
I support clients globally and also locally, as a member and volunteer to a Business and Professional Women’s association, where I coach and offer workshops. Along with a good friend and business partner, I am creating new programs to support the Expat community that will be launched early next year.
And aligning with my desire to break the stigma of Emotional Wellbeing, I work with The Happy Mondays Co., an inclusion-focused, female-led career empowerment consultancy that aims to create Happy Mondays for all.
I support professionals and corporates to create their own wellbeing vision and make it happen. We work on holistic and well-rounded solutions that empowers people to make their Happy Mondays a reality!
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My days are never the same! Because I work with people from all around the world, in different time zones, I have to ensure I am creating a balanced routine.
I know what my priorities are. I make sure to consciously make time for them and live them wholeheartedly.
I am an early riser, usually around 5:30-6am, and I like to start with meditation. It makes me connect with my body and it grounds me for the day ahead. Spending the morning with my husband Gustavo (now that travel restrictions are keeping him home) and my kids, Matheus and Mariana make me happy and fulfilled.
I love our morning conversations, singing to wake up the kids, and sneaking into the kids’ beds for a few minutes to enjoy a cozy hug before they wake up. Breakfast with family is a must!
After kids go to school, I exercise (currently training for a half-marathon), take a shower, and get ready for the day. I divide my day with coaching calls or meetings and blocks of time for focused activities. I try to respect as much as possible the times I set.
I find extremely important to have time to focus, moving away from all the distractions (closing email, cell phone on silent, and muting all the alerts that may show up in my computer) and some diffuse time, to move my body, grab a cup of tea, some nuts, walk around, look out of the window (I have a beautiful view), and sometimes even dance a little.
As I work from home, it is important to have a ritual that tells my body that I am done for the day. For me, it translates into organizing my desk, taking a deep breath, and saying “I am satisfied with what I have done today!”.
I also try to balance the week with time for kids after they come from school, and the other activities/classes/meetings that I might have in the evening. Dinner in family, again, is a must! It’s the time we share about our day and discuss whatever is going on in the world.
Then a board game in family or individual time with each kid (where they have the space to talk about whatever they want), reading or just watching something on tv that we all like (usually food-related).
After the kids go to bed, I try to enjoy the last few moments of the night either watching something with my husband or catching up on a conversation. I go to bed quite early, around 9:30-10pm.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Flexibility is part of my life, and I have been remote working for the last 4 or 5 years. I do love having flexibility, but it requires responsibility and consistency to get things done.
My calendar is my best friend! I set time aside and plan for the things that I want to get done. Sticking to a well-rounded routine and knowing my priorities supports me in keeping things on track.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I prefer to use the term “work-life integration”; I do believe that we are the same that show up at work and in our personal life. If we are living a difficult situation in our personal life, we are going to carry that on to work.
The same happens with the stress and pre-occupation we might have at work. When we acknowledge that integration, it’s easier to understand the flow of life, its ups, and downs, and to make sure we are creating space for what is important for us.
One of the most important gifts we can give ourselves is to create time and space for self-perception and self-appreciation. Knowing when we need a break; when to renegotiate a promise and what is driving us, is crucial to living a fulfilling life.
Renewal and recharge is the name of the game. And knowing when to do it, and what activities will do that, is the strategy to win the game.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Definitely! I started mediation over two years ago. It changed the quality of my sleep dramatically.
Most recently, in the last year, it’s been a regular practice, and I notice that this connection with my body and mind allows me to understand better what I really want, and I base my decisions on that. I feel more confident and grounded.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I do have many favorites! I love to read, and I can’t stop filling up my “wish list”!
For a great understanding of the power and intelligence of our body, Your Body is Your Brain by Amanda Blake.
For understanding the difference between talent and skill and get that boost of confidence that we can learn whatever we want, Grit by Angela Duckworth.
And for understanding how to become a life-long learner and come across the plateaus, Mastery by George Leonard.
For podcasts, I like “Unlocking Us” with Brené Brown, “Coaching for Leaders” with Dave Stachowiak, and “Talks at Google”, with many varied subjects.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I cannot live without the Headspace app for my daily guided meditation and courses; Spotify for my daily dose of music while exercising, or for listening to my favourite podcasts. I also love it for a pick-me-up/mood changer during the day. And I could not forget my insulated water bottle.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I would be honestly interested in reading about how anyone creates work-life balance. The more we talk about it, the more we learn from each other, the more we normalize the practices that make us feel balanced.
I find it especially important for leaders, from our communities and also corporations, to talk about it and be the role model.
Be the change you want to see in the world.Mahatma Gandhi
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I have an invitation!
I invite you to think about one thing, the simplest and easiest thing you can implement in your life, which will lead you to increase your well-being and balance.
It could be to stop only 5 minutes before each meeting and take a few deep breaths. It could be having a water bottle at your desk, so you remember to constantly drink water. It could be creating a weekly space in your agenda to talk to loved ones. Something simple and easy to implement.
Commit yourself to it, and notice what changes as you do it over and over again. No attachment to the results, no judgment. We usually tend to forget the big picture and think that we have to make huge changes to have balance. There is no one single formula.
What is important is the constant check-in to see how it is impacting your life and adjusting as necessary. “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility,” said Eleanor Roosevelt.
Before you go…
If you’d like to sponsor or advertise with Balance the Grind, let’s talk here.
Join our community and never miss a conversation about work, life & balance – subscribe to our newsletter.