• Zara Lee went to coaching after a break up

  • Working with her coach helped Zara re-evaluate what she wanted from her life and set clear, manageable goals

  • We have coaches available to support you here

I first heard about coaching from a close friend. I didn’t know much about it but thought it could really help my ex-partner after our difficult break up. I’d found the relationship with him intense, the stakes being higher because he is also the father of my child.

When the coach suggested that it might be beneficial for me to have coaching, I agreed; after all, I was going through the same break up as him.

I had seen counsellors before for help with changes in life and with relationships, and I found it helpful to talk through situations, and get general support for my mental wellbeing. I approached coaching with an open mind and felt it was a way to move forward towards personal growth. I knew it would be a step on from the counselling I had received before.

At the time I began coaching, my focus was on my huge life change post-break up. I knew I needed help with what was happening around me – I was a woman in my mid-30s, suddenly living with my mum again, and with my small child, in what felt like a very confined space. It was also the start of lockdown – I felt lost, lonely, and trapped.

Ever the optimist, I hoped to gain some sort of peace, resolution, and direction from coaching. This was the first time in my life I realised I wanted to live with more intention and so welcomed the opportunity to get help in figuring out where I wanted to be.

I was really excited to see potential outcomes. I wanted to be more confident, to value myself more and to stop making myself small. I also wanted to stop feel lost, find my purpose and to achieve self-love.

Up to that point, I felt I just went along with the flow of life, content to be swept up in the life around me, in my career and relationships. I never had concrete or consistent goals before.

When I filled in the ‘Where Am I Now?’ questionnaire ahead of my first coaching session, I had to take stock; the questions made me look at myself for the first time. Afterwards, I was able to create life goals; before I only knew about goal-setting at work.

It felt great to identify my needs and then to move forward with purpose: to work towards the career and lifestyle I truly wanted. 

In the sessions that followed, I really appreciated the scope that I was presented with. I learnt about true mindfulness, meditation, and the concepts of loving-kindness, compassion, intention, sitting with feelings, parenting the inner child, and so much more. Working with my newfound compassion and loving-kindness, I started to see people in a different way and was able to role-model the two concepts for my ex-partner which I feel changed our relationship drastically.

My coach suggested new books to read, and these changed my perspective on life. I’m grateful to my coach for suggesting them. Tara Brach in particular made a huge impact on me. The way she writes about meditation offers a new way of thinking and helps me to deal with relationships, particularly the difficult ones. I had dabbled in meditation before but the field was much bigger and deeper than I ever thought it was. I'll carry the skill of breath work with me for the rest of my life.

One coaching tool I found particularly helpful was the values exercise. By using it I was able to define my values and by applying them to my decision-making, I can make great changes. With this, I feel I am moving with more purpose.

Other ‘wins’ followed. I felt like a fog I had never acknowledged before was lifted. As a result, I was more clear-minded, more creative and I had more energy than I had in a long time. My life was turning around and was more positive and exciting.

Since finishing coaching I have noticed other benefits from the process. Firstly, I have a more positive outlook on those relationships I had previously labelled as toxic. Secondly, I have a clear sense of direction. I generally feel happy in my own skin. I see the world differently. I’m more present. I can deal with anything that life throws at me. 

When I think of myself a year ago, I see a different person. With hindsight, I was living in a bubble... now I’m in a more enlightened bubble! I’m still working and learning with my coach now he acts as my writing mentor, helping me to tell my stories.

Stories like this one.

Zara Lee is a coaching client; she wrote this article alongside her coach Neil Lawrence

Further reading

5 tips to move your life forward

6 mindful ways to make goal-setting easy

How coaching can help you become a better leader

How coaching can boost your creative career