Life Coaching with Sarah LitvinoffI work as a life coach and writer from my home in Hackney, east London. Writing came first: most of my books and journalism has been aimed at helping people help themselves. I approached Relate, the UK couples’ counselling service in 1990, because I believed their particular brand of wisdom, commonsense and experience needed a wider audience. I pioneered their series of self-help guides, writing the first three and setting the style and standard for the ones that followed. I have given advice more directly as an agony aunt.

Earlier, my involvement with The Working Mothers’ Association (which has now become Working Families) focused my attention towards how many of us struggle to balance our home and working lives. I eventually chaired the organisation for two years, helping cement its particular mix of giving practical advice and support to parents while working to change the culture within companies and affect government policies. I wrote Working Mother: A Practical Handbook (now out of print) — the first and most comprehensive book of its kind — which was affectionately retitled “The Bible” by its readers. My co-author, Marianne Velmans, was a successful publishing executive with two children, I was a self-employed single mother of one, and we also called on the experiences of other experts: dozens of working mothers from all walks of life.

In 1997 I became one of the first 200 life coaches in the UK. At that time there were no organisations offering training here, so I was delighted to connect with Coach University, a virtual provider of training based in the States. The founder, Thomas Leonard was a great example and inspiration to me.

For me, coaching and writing is the perfect combination. While I can reach hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide through print, there is no substitute for the thrill of working with individuals, and being part of their own excitement as they tackle what has been holding them back and take charge of their own fulfillment.




This is at the core of my coaching. What I want for you is to feel good about yourself, to have a solid sense of your unique worth and abilities. I’ve yet to meet the person who fully appreciates what he or she has to offer before coaching introduces new ways of thinking. Self doubt combined with self punishment holds people back. A confident person is effective, fearless and modest. When you truly value yourself you don’t need to brag, compete or put others down, yet you succeed effortlessly.


All my clients have trouble with this. If they are good about it in one area (work) they fall down in another (personal), and vice versa. It is an area I specialise in because I have the same difficulties. Beating it involves better time management, and more importantly it is about understanding what causes you to procrastinate — usually a message from your subconscious you’ve been ignoring. Learn why you procrastinate and you can change the pattern.


Many of my clients are at turning points in their working lives. They are looking for promotion at work, wanting to change companies or careers, actively involved in job-searching and interviews, looking to become self-employed, or expanding their own businesses.


Both men and women are often concerned to alter the balance between their working and off-duty lives. I specialise in coaching creative, self-employed people who work from home, where the demarcation is often most blurred, though this is also true of my clients who are expected to take work home, or be on call.


Alongside career and other professional issues, many of my clients are also looking to improve their well-being. Top of the list for most is losing weight and becoming fitter. We also work on boosting their energy levels by healthy eating, better sleep patterns and quality leisure time, as well as eliminating what is draining their energies.


Whatever reason clients come to me for coaching, usually we spend some time dealing with the relationships in their lives. This includes colleagues at work, bosses and clients, as well as personal relationships with family and friends. We tackle essential life skills: assertiveness, saying no, asking for help, boundary setting, and building better relationships with people you can’t avoid.


Over the years, well before I became a coach, I have helped many people get themselves a book deal. The key to finding a good agent or interesting a publisher is your proposal. At the start of my career I worked at Penguin, sorting through the slush pile. Many years later I worked with a literary agent while deciding whether I wanted to be one myself. Both experiences gave me insider’s insight into what publishers want, alongside my success in pitching my own books.

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