What does it mean to live a healthy and productive life?
I used to think that this meant being at the gym at sunrise and working into the wee hours of the night. However as I get older and spend more time in a community of people with different strengths and abilities, I now think it is more an internal feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment. If I go to bed each day feeling at ease, complete and happy then I think that aligns with being healthy and productive. Our intrinsic self knows when we are going well and when something needs a tweak to get back in line.
As we get older what do you imagine the next 20 years of your life could look like?
I have absolutely no idea!! My life has gone through many twists and turns, and I have had some great opportunities and some fairly big challenges too. I would hope that I am continuing to do work that is personally fulfilling, that I have the autonomy in my working life that is essential for me, and I continue to make a contribution to my own family and our community.
As part of the WiserLife network, what area do you specialise in?
I am a career coach – meaning I work in partnership with people who are looking for a change in their working life – either due to external factors like redundancy or internal drivers like more satisfaction, recognition or salary. My experience is mostly working with people in the creative sector, which means I have additional insight into developing a freelance or independent way of working – setting up your own business, finding markets, developing strategy and keeping yourself sane!
How do you incorporate ideas of living a healthy and productive life when you work with clients?
I think the best thing I do for my clients is help them keep a sense of perspective about how much work (in the traditional sense) should take up of your life. Working with professional artists and arts leaders, my clients are incredibly passionate and committed to what they do – motivation is NEVER an issue. However sometimes they need to sit back and assess their world from a different and sometimes dispassionate perspective, so they can make more sustainable choices for themselves and their organisations. We also try to have a bit of a laugh.
What are some of the challenges clients face trying to achieve their goals?
Overwhelmingly the biggest challenge my clients face is their own self-doubts and self-beliefs. I listen to them describe their achievements and think WOW you are amazing! And yet they all feel like they have not done enough, know enough or are enough to go for that promotion OR charge more for their services. Having spent years trying to subdue my own inner critic – I invite my clients to try a bit of self-compassion instead, and try to see themselves with new eyes. And I am pleased to say that nearly all my freelance clients do increase their fees after a few sessions!
What common traits do you see in people that are living a healthy and productive life?
The most common trait I see are a sense of humour and a good dollop of tolerance and compassion. With age we begin to let go of our ego-driven identity, and start to find other parts of ourselves that want to express themselves. Letting go of that push for success can instead open us up to whole new experiences and adventures.
What nugget of advice do you give your clients?
“When you let go
of trying to get more
of what you don’t really need,
it frees up oceans of energy
to make a difference
with what you have.”
― Lynne Twist (author of The Soul of Money)
Judith Bowtell of Albany Lane is an executive coach and strategic consultant offering workshops, mentoring and coaching to individuals and organisations with over 20 years experience within the arts, creative and community sectors.