Caroline Donohue is a Career Coach & Founder of Caroline Donohue Coaching where she helps with career coaching and transition, individual & group coaching workshops and more.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I had always worked in corporate management roles, mainly in communications and marketing, for well known brands such as David Jones, ANZ and NewsCorp Australia. I had a couple of career breaks when my children were young and this opened my eyes to the value of community based volunteer work and the importance of maintaining a broad network.
When I returned to corporate after a break I found myself far more interested in how people around me were feeling about work – were they enjoying it, what were they stressed out about, how would they rate their self confidence, did they enjoy the company culture, how was their relationship with their manager, what were their true aspirations etc.
This led me to a lightbulb moment where I realised that career coaching aligned perfectly with my strengths and interests. Essentially I really enjoy asking a lot of questions, getting to know and understand individuals’ stories, and I love supporting people to make changes.
So I completed a coaching qualification to compliment my business qualifications, and started my own coaching consultancy. This pushed me right out of my comfort zone!
I believe everyone has natural strengths and abilities, and if you can identify these, maximise self confidence, and be brave, then you can find a career you will love. I work with a range of clients that want to achieve more at work.
By working on their self awareness levels, they instantly improve their relationships at work, and this leads to confidence, opportunities and the ability to drive change for themselves. Helping people own their story and future path is really rewarding. And a lot of people spend a lot of time in roles that don’t really light their fire. Life shouldn’t be wasted!
2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I have three primary school aged children and a very naughty dog so there is a lot I have to get done before I ‘start work’! I typically exercise before 7am, then get everyone out the door by 8.15am, clear my head with a dog walk and then sit down at my home office around 9am.
Between 9am and 3pm I spend most of my time coaching clients, scheduling coaching calls, and doing some research on useful resources for clients. This can involve some time on the road as a I try to meet most clients in person where possible.
Then between 3pm and 8pm I’m generally running kids around to activities and meal prepping. I try to answer emails if I get a spare second, but generally I like to block this time out to family. It is less stressful that way.
Later in the evening I may do some marketing work on the business. I try to allocate specific days a month to personal development work, managing invoicing and accounts, and working on bigger picture strategy as these are activities that need uninterrupted attention.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
It does as I have a home office and this works well in that it helps me make the most efficient use of my time. However it also means I can be easily distracted with whatever needs doing at home eg tradesman around, groceries being delivered, boring old washing etc. It requires self discipline which can be challenging!
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
In regard to working from home, I don’t do any any household admin / chores when the kids are at school as this can be done when they are home (and then they can potentially help do it!) As soon as they are out of the house I prioritise work as the house is quiet (even though it may look like a bomb site!).
I also use tools like Calendly which allow me to block out time so clients can only schedule coaching calls at times that work for my schedule and family commitments. I try to be as flexible as possible with meeting client needs but most clients are very understanding.
5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
For me it means being able to do things well. Whether that be spend time with my kids, walk my dog, coach a client, or meet with an organisation about coaching work. A stressed person cannot concentrate and will not do a good job at anything.
In coaching it is ultra important that you are ‘present’ for the client as this is part of the service. Therefore, when I’m at work I don’t do life admin, and when I’m with my family I try not to do any work. Fair is fair!
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?
Taking action is key. Often people get stuck in fear and don’t know what to do next with a work challenge, so they do nothing. This paralysis is common and it super unhelpful. Keeping yourself moving with small steps forward is the key, even when it feels like progress is slow. Action breeds confidence.
I really benefited from a coach when I wanted to make changes to my career – as corny as it sounds, speaking to someone objective really helps you get clear on your next steps.
In regard to balance, I think making time for exercise actually assists with balance as it is something just for you, and can provide reflection time whilst you’re doing it. It’s often the first thing people drop when they feel too busy but it is the last thing I drop.
7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
- The Art of Growing Up by John Marsden
- Winging It by Emma Isaacs
- The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stainer
- Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I am structured with my time – I don’t do life admin while working, and I don’t try and do work when I’m with 3 kids. Lists are super useful too. Feeling like you are doing nothing well is not good for confidence and general fulfilment.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
If you can find a role or career path that uses your natural skills and strengths then work doesn’t seem like such a chore – in fact it can become like a healthy addiction you want to feed. It’s important you take the time to find out what your true calling is and then go for it! One life, don’t waste it.
If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!