Balancing the Grind with Shannah Kennedy, Executive Life Coach, Business Strategist & Author

Shannah Kennedy is an executive life coach, business strategist and author of the new book, Plan B: A guide to navigating and embracing change.

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

I have had a wonderful career journey after finding my purpose as a result of severe burnout at the age of 30 – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a result of being an A Type Overachieving Perfectionist with no off button. 

I worked very hard on resetting my mind, my body and my life to build a new roadmap moving forward for high performance with longevity in my career.  I studied Life Coaching 20 years ago to coach elite athletes into retirement after spending 7 years in the sporting industry.

For the past 20 years I have coached elite athletes, CEOs, leadership teams and individuals on building their life plan.  Teaching life and wellness skills to support their dreams and goals moving forward. 

I also speak regularly at conferences and run workshops as well as give keynotes on how to reset, refocus and re-energise your life. It gives me incredible pleasure to be able to share these skills that we don’t learn at school that are vital for success both personally and professionally.

I also love to write and have published 6 books with Penguin Random House books who have been big supporters of my work, and The Life Plan has sold over 100,000 copies now which is wonderful.

My new book Plan B – A guide to navigating and embracing change has just launched.  A book on how to React – Restore – Reset – Radiate through life when you experience change or get thrown the unexpected curve ball.

So I find myself with great fulfilment as an executive coach, workshop facilitator, wellness expert, best selling author and wife and mother of 2 teenagers.

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

No day is ever the same for me and that is what I really wanted to achieve in my career – variety to keep me on my toes!  My day always starts with a great morning routine, which is to make my bed, move my body (walk every morning) and have a mindful shower doing some breath work.

During the day I am coaching individuals, delivering keynotes (via zoom at the moment), doing interviews or meeting with my publisher. 

The evenings are also very important to me ensuring I have had my supplements during the day, writing in my journal, burning the essential oils and enjoying a refuel – laying with my legs up the wall for 20 minutes and having a bit of a stretch before I relax with the family on the couch.

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

I have worked for 20 years from my home office, so am very well practiced for lockdown style work!  I love working from home, but also at the moment miss the meetings and getting out to meet new corporate clients.

Pure flexibility is a part of the reason I wanted to be a coach 20 years ago – to be able to work the hours I wanted whilst I raised my two children and looked after the family as a whole.

I relish in being the driver in life, to working my diary so it gives me excitement, time to refuel and variety.  I use a paper diary still as that is how I feel most in control – and I still love ticking everything off.

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

I don’t think work life balance exists – it is all a blend and a mindset and we need to make the mindset work for us.

I build in great boundaries – both tech boundaries such as no phone in the bedroom, no phone on the couch and also boundaries around work hours and giving myself permission to say no to things/people/events that drain me.

I love routine and think it is incredibly important for us to thrive in life – looking at our habits and constantly fine tuning them, owning them and ensuring they are supporting me to be the best version of myself.

My routines, how I start and finish the day, how I mono tasks during the day and how I take 3 deep diaphragmatic breaths every time I wash my hands and in between every client and presentation to allow myself to feel grounded, to feel in control and to calm the nervous system.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I have not really changed any routines as they are constantly being tweaked slightly. I have moved to more black coffee rather than a latte so as to avoid milk consumption. I feel a lot sharper I have to say.  I also brush my teeth after dinner to ensure I don’t eat any snacks or treats on the couch!

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

One of my favourite books is Essentialism by Greg McKeown which I can read every year and still get a lot out of it. I also love Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert to spark my creativity each year.

Every time I walk alone I will put on a great podcast – The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes or something like a Tony Robbins show to really keep me on my toes while contemplating the great questions he keeps asking.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I can’t live without my 5 minute journal or my essential oil roll ons.  I absolutely love them and use them on my wrists during the day to keep me feeling fresh.

I also love the Calm app and listen to a 10 minute meditation every day before I start work.  They have great night time stories on and also some wonderful masterclasses.

I also love my big tea pot – every day I fill it with boiling water and some cut ginger and fresh lemon to sip on during the day.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

I would love to interview Matthew McConaughey, it would be fascinating.

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

I always say where your focus goes, your energy flows. Focus on building boundaries, taking responsibility for a life that excites you, setting fresh goals, taking massive action and celebrating all your wins, no matter how small. We all have the opportunity to control the controllables, to be incredibly grateful for what we do have and to be kind to others.

So care for yourself, love who you are, and enjoy this wonderful journey of life.

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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.