Melanie White is a Health & Wellness Coach, having found her calling after building a multi-million dollar consulting business in Perth and subsequently burning out.
In addition to her health & wellness business, Melanie also works with entrepreneurs and business owners who are looking to grow and leverage their strengths with better systems and structure.
Balance the Grind spoke to Melanie about growing up in Perth and her background in biology, moving to NSW and transitioning to health & wellness coaching, work-life balance and more.
This conversation is brought to you by HelloFresh, delivering delicious ingredients and simple recipes straight to your doorstep each week.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
What happens when a shy, imaginative 3-year-old’s siblings move out of home? She is forced to become an entrepreneur. Growing up in Perth like an only child, I had to make my own fun and was constantly creating and inventing things.
My love of nature, dance, art, cooking and music followed me through life. I studied to become a Biologist and along the way, had a variety of jobs in various industries that were totally unsatisfying. Even the biology jobs didn’t do it for me. So when I had the chance to found an environmental consulting company, I jumped at it.
And 13 years later after achieving success in a high pressure industry, I was facing burnout and realised the creativity had been replaced with anxiety and ultimately, burnout.
My husband and I packed up and moved to New South Wales where I picked personal training, then nutrition, neither of which were my ‘thing’. And all the while I was busting my gut as I had become entrenched in the process of overworking.
By chance I did a course in health and wellness coaching, loved it, and realised that this was the missing piece in my puzzle. I asked the company for a business-related job (which I got) and started my own coaching business (which became a success) and created a totally different lifestyle for myself.
Finally I had outgrown my old habits and become a healthier version myself, where I could help other people to change careers, build confidence and set up successful businesses without burning out.
2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?
I have two roles. The first is my contract role to the training school (Wellness Coaching Australia) where I train coaches in the coaching models and methodologies, and teach coaches how to start coaching businesses. This role is just a few hours per week and keeps me at the forefront of our industry and abreast with changes, so it’s important to me.
The second is running my own business, I work with (qualified) coaches around confidence, self-belief, business skills and structures that create a successful coaching business. This role helps me bring coaching to the world (my vision) so it’s also important to me.
Living on the south coast of NSW, my study is my office. I set my own timetable for the week, teach students or run my private group coaching via webinar. I also mark assessments and do 1:1 coaching via phone.
3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
A typical day starts with coffee in bed with my husband and we talk about the day. Some mornings I’ll walk with a motivating podcast, but usually I’ll work in the morning on creative stuff like writing and recording for my podcast while my brain is fresh and clean.
I seeing clients if they’re booked from 11am otherwise continue my creative work until lunch, sometimes with my husband if he’s around (he also works from home).
Then it’s back to work in the afternoon, which could be speaking with clients, conducting coaching assessments or developing content. Then I have a break before dinner (this is where walks, exercise etc usually fit in) and then sometimes night work.
This schedule allows the freedom to get up naturally without an alarm and to conduct my day in a flexible manner. I strongly believe in living in tune with the cycles of nature, so having this flexibility is important to me.
My husband’s away at the moment so I blocked today to have a more relaxed day and do some content creation. So I woke up early (5am) to let our chickens and ducks out, then decided to sit in bed a little and ease into the day with the latest fiction I’m reading.
I did 15 minutes of email today, plus my weekly financial ‘maintenance’ tasks. For the rest of today I will record a podcast, have lunch, go for a walk to clear my head, and then do project work. I might do a workout this evening, pick some veggies from the garden and make a healthy dinner.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
Yes, I work to a structure and create a plan every week, as part of a bigger 90-day plan. It’s taken me some time to refine this, but this schedule allows me to create more energy for myself and be 100% present with my clients. I also teach this process to my clients.
I believe that business requires a lot of creativity and imagination (around 80% of the time) so having a set-and-forget plan allows me to get the logical stuff out of the way so I can be present with my clients and my content development.
My ‘official’ working hours (‘client times’) are 11am – 4pm Wednesdays to Thursdays, and I run webinars on at least two evenings from 7 – 8.30pm (usually Mon/Tue or Tue/Weds).
I have Fridays off and go to a craft morning, or sometimes do ‘project work’ if there’s something on the boil. Right now the project is helping to write a Diploma. My creative work fits around these tasks.
I review the week on a Friday and look at the week ahead. Then I revisit my plan first thing on Monday so I know what I’m doing and when.
Other than that, I do my least favourite things early in the week, and aim to have a maximum of 4 clients per day on client days. I am sometimes at risk of pushing myself too hard as I get very focused, so when I feel that creeping up I go outside, even for 5 minutes, to help me pull back.
I also use great tools and software to automate many business processes; Kartra (CRM), Asana (assigning tasks), CoachLogix (client session management), and Acuity Scheduling + Stripe which integrates with Xero. I have a standing desk. I stand for a period while coaching on the phone.
5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?
Living in a wellness retreat really helps! I love my work so it’s not always easy to separate myself from it but the environment is very inviting and it pulls me outside. We moved here to get away from the fast pace and crime of a city.
So instead of traffic noise, I wake up to the magpies and cockatoos. Instead of seeing buildings and cars outside my office window, I watch birds playing in the garden.
Instead of a patch of lawn, we grow our own vegetables and fruit trees. Instead of going to a busy gym, I go walking or have coffee with friends, and duck down to the beach for walk or a surf. I live in a village; people here really care about each other.
There is no work on the weekend or email on my phone; I shut the study door on Friday and open it again Monday. On the weekend, I’m too busy having fun. In short, the environment and the community draw me out into the world and help me stay grounded.
6) What does work life balance mean to you?
I love my work and my life, and I work at home, so the lines are somewhat blurred.
For me, balance largely transcends a formal structure. It’s a feeling. I know I have balance when I’m feeling productive and focused at work and happy and relaxed outside work.
My litmus test is to reflect on my perfect day and I check in with myself at least once each week. If I can only visualise lying on a deserted beach and nothing else, I know I’m working too much.
If my brain is exploding with creative work ideas, it’s time to go back to the desk. Despite having a weekly schedule, I work with this energy as much as possible so I am always focused, present and happy.
7) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
Habits are my business so I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting and working on them.
My best ones are:
- daily self-coaching and/or podcasts to help me manage my mindset and emotions
- dressing up for work so I can more easily focus and take it seriously
- daily exercise to blow off steam and feel strong
- spending at least 3 hours in the garden each week
- a gratitude ritual over dinner each night with my husband
- cooking in bulk on Sunday night for weekday lunches
- reading at night before bed to wind down
8) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
Crime fiction or suspect novels really appease the analytical part of my brain. Two favourites are Deep Survival Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzalves, and the Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton.
On the work front, Change Your Thinking by Sarah Edelman, The Answer by Allan and Barbara Pease and the Four Tendencies by Gretchen Ruben have been like bibles for me.
9) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I define one to three realistic outcomes that I will achieve at work each day and quality time for myself scheduled in to meets my other needs.
10) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
There are two sayings I reflect on at least once a week to help me maintain perspective.
The first is Dale Carnegie’s – “Success is getting what you want, and happiness is wanting what you get.” It reminds me that I have everything I need and want and helps me focus my energy in the right places.
The second is my own personal mantra ‘something will happen.’ I use this to quickly calm any fear or anxiety that pops up – it reminds me that the outcome relies on me following the process.
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