Coaches / Interviews / Writers

Balancing the Grind With Karen Williams, Coach, Trainer, Speaker & Writer

Karen Williams is a coach, speaker, trainer and writer, helping leaders and managers build cultures of accountability, collaboration and alignment through trust.

Karen’s alignment with co-sharing space, has helped her combat some of the isolation that can come with being an entrepreneur and starting or building a business venture.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I started my career in the corporate world with 10 years in the financial services industry. I was leading and managing teams from the age of 24 years and loved everything about it. I was climbing the ladder pretty quickly and ticking the boxes of life, but I was heading toward burnout and didn’t know it.

At 29 I was made redundant and took the opportunity to explore life and what I wanted a little more. I studied to become a coach and have now been coaching for almost 20 years. I started my own business seven years ago after working in Restorative Justice, facilitating conversations between young people who had offended against the law and the victims of their crimes.

I saw a real need in business for these kind of conversations which were based on accountability, courageous conversations and everyone working toward the same goal – these three themes have become my three core pillars of high performing teams.

2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Every day is a little different, but some combination of the following: coaching, running workshops, conducting meetings with clients and potential clients, preparation for program delivery, program design and many other things.

Last Friday, I hosted my monthly women in leadership brekky event. These events are for women who want to learn how to lead and influence with more authentic confidence, presence and self-awareness to achieve greater results with less stress.

They have been running for six months now and I’m thrilled with how they’re evolving and the kind of conversations we’re having – the feedback is always so positive, women leave having learned something valuable and practical that they can implement that day, while also having made some fabulous connections.

I always allow myself about an hour to regroup and reset after these early events before my next appointments. I take some time to have my own brekky and get ready for my next meeting. After some admin (replying to emails/calls, developing a program proposal for a valued client), I had two coaching sessions.

Most of my individual coaching is with successful senior leaders in business who are looking to elevate their influence and impact. My individual coaching programs run over 6 months with each monthly coaching session being 90 minutes long.

These sessions are focused on developing a leader’s emotional intelligence so they can strengthen trust with their teams. During the coaching process leaders see things about themselves they’ve never seen before, understanding what’s holding them back in any area of life, which means these sessions can be very powerful and all-consuming.

I absolutely love this work and adore working with these leaders. They are brave, they trust me and in our partnership the possibilities are infinite for what they can create.

After these coaching sessions, about 4 hours, I made some calls, conducted a phone interview as I’m seeking a full time Business Manager and by then it was 4.30pm on a Friday and time to start wrapping up for the day.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

One of the best things about what I do is that I run my own schedule. I base myself in a co-share space called Creative Cubes most days, which is absolutely amazing, and all my coaching clients love coming here for their sessions.

I also conduct my brekky events and some client workshops here. It’s a very unique, supportive and inspiring environment that has been a rewarding investment for me. The values of Creative Cubes aligns with my brand, and as soon as I walked into the Hawthorn space I knew it was for me.

I have not been disappointed, in fact I’m continually impressed and delighted with the support of the entire team, including The Happiness Team who go to great lengths to ensure all of the members and their clients are happy.

On Mondays, I usually work from home unless I have appointments and I also work onsite in business with my clients when I run workshops in house. To mix it up I work from a fave café when I’m catching up on emails/calls/admin which is fun too. I love the variety as it keeps me inspired and the flexibility means I can work my life and work in well together.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

I outsource life stuff because I’d rather focus on what I’m good at and get help with the stuff I don’t enjoy or am really bad at. I have an amazing life-support team who do the thinking for me so I can stay focused.

I’ve also had a part-time support team in my business for the last 12 months and am now looking for the right person to work with me full-time so we can keep up with the growth and keep building this exciting momentum.

5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

My focus is on conscious living, choosing to invest consciously in what’s important to me at any given time of my life. My Wellbeing Wheel is a model I developed based on what I learned on my journey from corporate burnout to holistic wellbeing.

It took me a long time to discover that eating right, exercising and doing all the ‘right things’ isn’t enough to be well. I tried everything from raw food to hot yoga, from reducing my work hours from 14 to 7 hours per day, but I was still missing the most important ingredient.

I now have a very different approach to wellness and it sustains me, while invigorating my mind, body and soul every day.

I work long hours because I love it and am insatiably passionate about, and committed to my vision and my clients. To support me in creating what I love, I eat consistently healthy and also enjoy treats (which includes champagne and good wine!), mostly on weekends.

I train at the gym 4 times per week, I swim in the open water 4 times per week, I walk along the beach, and more importantly than all of that, I meditate. Any time I miss a morning of my active meditation due to an extra early start, my day doesn’t flow quite as magically.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Listening to, and honouring, what my body, mind or heart need in any moment. Being in tune means we can make choices that nourish us rather than empty us.

It’s not always easy because there’s always one more thing to do, and there are countless people who have numerous expectations (said and unsaid) of us. But if we can be aware of how our body feels, we can catch the thoughts that increase stress and worry and instead choose thoughts that restore and nurture us.

This has been a game-changer for me and has allowed me to transform my physical and mental wellbeing. Now, it’s exciting to me that I work less, worry less and achieve and create more.

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

So, so, so many! The ones I currently use in my coaching programs are Brene Brown, Dr Joe Dispenza, David Deida, Louise Hay.

I once bought a book called I Could Do Anything if I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It. Hilarious that a book is actually called that, but at the time I was searching.

I don’t recommend it now, only because I’ve discovered that we really do know what we want, we just have to sit with ourselves, our hearts and our truth long enough to hear it.

8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Meditate! But not just any meditations – Dr Joe Dispenza’s work will change your life if you dare!

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I think feeling truly balanced in our lives is less about what we do externally, and more about developing trust from within – self-trust. It’s one of the most challenging skills to develop because it requires us to reflect on where we currently don’t trust ourselves.

Generally speaking, we get stuck in our habits, not realising that we’re stuck, repeating the same thinking over and over, wondering why we can’t sustain the changes we want to make.

When we’re in this place (and according to neuroscience most of us are in that state 95% of our day), we look outside ourselves and blame our circumstances, other people or any number of things for why we don’t have what we want.

When we’re willing to do the real work on ourselves, the inner work and self-reflect, we discover that we are the only ones in our way. Balance then is about awareness, choice and the courage to live in alignment with our hearts and highest calling.

Finally, balance for me is really about wellness in all areas of life. A mentor of mine once said “Your environment is stronger than your willpower”, meaning we can be determined and work hard, but if our environment and the people around us don’t match who we want to be and where we want to go, we will struggle, stress and stay stuck.

Get the right people around you, find the right environment for you that matches what you want to create in your world and allow it to fuel your whole self.

If you found the above conversation helpful and inspiring, be sure to check out Balance the Grind’s guide to achieving a healthy work-life balance.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.