In our modern world of beeping notifications, competitive parenting and constant connectedness, mindfulness is becoming a sought-after approach for creative people looking to rest their busy minds. Kate James of Total Balance coaches her clients on balance, meditation and living purposefully.
What drew you to becoming a coach and mindfulness teacher?
I’ve always been interested in people and what makes them tick. I spent over a decade working as a business manager for creative businesses and while I loved the work I was doing, I wanted to help people in a more purposeful way. I considered psychology or a natural therapy but I wanted to incorporate my interest in creative business into my work so when I heard about coaching in the early 2000’s it seemed like the perfect option.
The mindfulness part came about six months after I started the business. Whenever a client was stressed, I would recommend that they learn meditation. It had changed my life and I wanted to share that with other people so despite a real fear in those early days of speaking in front of groups, I began teaching and a few years after that, it seemed like a natural progression to start running meditation and yoga retreats.
Who is your typical client?
My clients are generally quite similar to me! Most are introverts and deep thinkers. They want to do what they love and what they’re naturally good at. Most are creative in some way and many have their own creative businesses. They live to experience life. They care about making their lives beautiful in simple ways - good food, travel not just to tick a box to say ‘I’ve been there’ but more to learn about new cultures; they want to contribute to society in a meaningful way and they’re interested in the idea of discovering and living a purposeful life.
How would you describe your work?
I work with people who want clarity about their direction. Once they have a greater sense of where they want to go (either work wise or personally), I help them feel confident to pursue the things they care about. This often results in a client starting a creative business even if that business sits alongside a more mainstream role that helps pay the bills.
My interest in mindfulness influences how I work with clients and I’ve developed a framework about how to live and work mindfully which I share with clients who are interested in mindfulness.
The most common feedback I get about my work is that I help people to become conscious of how they hold themselves back. I help them to quiet the inner critic so they can tap into their own innate sense of creativity and wisdom.
What does a typical day involve for you?
These days I’m actually fairly structured in the way I manage my time. It’s taken me years to learn how to do this but it has made a huge difference to my stress levels and my productivity.
I wake pretty early and start every morning with meditation and yoga. I get emails out of the way first and if I don’t have early clients, I’ll work on one of my writing projects for a few hours. Occasionally, I take a notebook and a cup of tea into the garden and sit under the birch tree to write.
I always stop for lunch and I’m generally with clients in the afternoons. Some afternoons, I sneak off for a walk along the beach but this doesn’t happen often enough.
I do the financial stuff on Friday mornings and reward myself by taking the afternoon off to have lunch with a girlfriend.
What has been your proudest career achievement to date?
It’s hard to choose one because I’ve had a few opportunities over recent years that have blown me away. In 2009, Tourism NT took me on a weeklong trip to Darwin and Kakadu so I could help them with a PR campaign about the importance of taking holidays. It was the most amazing experience.
Getting my first publishing deal at the end of 2014 was pretty incredible and it’s been fantastic to see the book selling well and to have a second one published this year.
What do you do for fun?
I love to cook so we have friends or our girls and their partners for dinner here. Chris and I also head out of town every couple of months and we do lots of walking and taking photos (a shared passion). Our lives are pretty quiet these days but that’s my idea of pure joy.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
Be kind, be courageous and be authentic. Share your gifts with the world and dare to play a bigger game than you had imagined for yourself.
You can find out more about Kate at Total Balance.