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Transforming Work-Life Balance For Professionals Worldwide – Exclusive Interview With Neela Pirwitz

Neela Pirwitz is a Jay Shetty certified burnout-prevention and well-being coach. She studied psychology and is now working for an international organization. Based in the Netherlands and coaching globally, she is working with professionals who want to become more efficient in how they work, create a better work-life balance, or restructure their routines and habits to prevent burnout. Neela’s mission is to help her clients to fit their work into their life, rather than life into their work.


Image photo of Neela Pirwitz

Neela Pirwitz, Performance and Well-Being Coach


What inspired you to become a burnout-prevention and well-being coach, and how does your background in psychology contribute to your coaching approach?

 

During my studies, I took a course on organisational change. This course inspired me to better understand company cultures and the effect they have on the mental health of employees. I began to understand that the way employees are treated, and the expectations they have to live up to have a huge impact on their health, and the company’s health. While it may seem to employers that having very high standards is good for the growth of the company, such thinking can be short- sighted. With too much pressure, employees will start getting sick and not be able to work at all. This will inevitably lead to more, preventable, costs for the employer. I read about a study by the UN about how many people suffer serious health consequences, like strokes and heart attacks because they were working too much. Through my studies, I learned about treating burnout after it had happened.


However, this study helped me realize that we should not only treat burnout but also prevent it. That is what I am aiming to do through my coaching. I want to prevent burnout, both on an individual level by coaching clients, and on a company level, by helping companies build sustainable cultures. My vision is to contribute to people's overall health and make the workplace safer and more productive in this way.

 

Can you tell us more about the specific challenges professionals face in maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and how your coaching addresses these challenges?

 

What is important to realise, is that work-life balance is different for every person. Work-life balance does not mean splitting your time 50:50 between work and personal life. That would be very frustrating and impossible to maintain. When I speak of work-life balance, I refer to creating a balance that works for the individual. Some of my clients want to work more, others want to prioritise the time with their family. Depending on their individual needs to feel fulfilled, I help them build a structure that will let them fit their work into their life in a way that is beneficial to them. The most important aspect here is preventing, or relieving, the overwhelm caused by work, which may then lead to burnout and serious health consequences. This overwhelm is often caused by boundary issues around the workplace. A person might constantly work overtime, not take their PTO or take on more projects than they realistically have time for. Hence, they have little time to spend with friends, family and themselves, making them feel irritated and overly tired. This can also lead to burnout. To prevent this from happening, I ask my clients where they currently are in terms of work-life balance and explore where they want to end up.


We then talk about habits they already have, habits they wanted but failed to implement and habits they implemented successfully. Next, we set a big goal together that we will work towards session by session. Often clients already have a concrete idea of what they want to work on, but that is not always the case. Some clients feel that something is off, but can’t quite put their finger on it yet. In those cases, we explore different options through exercises and conversation. You don’t need to know exactly what you want to get out of coaching for it to be beneficial! I am here to guide you through the mess.

 

How do you tailor your coaching sessions to meet the unique needs and goals of each client, especially considering your global clientele?

 

My coaching method consists of three steps. First, we assess the situation the client is currently in and see if they already know where they want to go. If they don’t, we might use an exercise to understand what the big goal of our sessions will be. Then, we reflect on what a client has done in the past to reach that goal, and what has or has not worked. This helps me to see where potential problems could lie and helps the client to uncover potential blind spots. In the final step, we take action. The client will practice building new habits. In this phase too, we regularly reflect on if the approach is working, where we need to make adjustments and if we are still on track to reach the client's big goal. Sometimes the goal shifts throughout the coaching process. Therefore it is especially important to regularly reflect. It can happen that the goal we set in the beginning, will lead us to discover a deeper goal the client may not have been aware of in the beginning.


Since every client is unique, my approach is always different. Some clients prefer to use exercises throughout their coaching process, while others prefer to exclusively talk. Some want me to ask a lot of questions and more actively guide them, while others have a lot to say and mainly need someone to help organise their thoughts. I am always open to the client's feedback. The most important aspect of a coaching session is that they get value from it. They are in the lead. If something is not working for them, we change it.

 

Could you share a success story or testimonial from one of your clients that illustrates the impact of your coaching in helping them achieve greater efficiency, balance, and fulfilment in their professional and personal lives?

 

One of my favourite success stories is about a client who had taken a sabbatical to be able to spend more time with his family and learn a new skill. He really enjoyed being able to play an active role in raising his sons and was worried about losing the time he had with them when reentering his job. We discussed different ways of how he could start working again without having to give up the family time he cherished. Eventually, he discovered that he did not want to return to work in the way he was used to it at all, instead, he decided to become an entrepreneur with the skill he learned on sabbatical. This allowed him to have flexible hours and make enough time for his family.

 

Here is what he said after our coaching:


“Neela has been such a blessing to work with! Her calm, genuine and friendly demeanor allowed me to open up and be vulnerable from the get go. Throughout our sessions together we uncovered multiple blind spots and I walked away with numerous revelations and clear action steps. I cannot recommend Neela enough and look forward to setting up more coaching calls with her in the future.”


Tell us about your greatest career achievement so far.

 

Every time I end a session and a client tells me that they had a realisation and that the session was helpful to them is an achievement. Sometimes I can really see the shift in energy a client has between the beginning and end of a session. Those moments are great!


Next to that, I got to contribute a chapter on burnout prevention through the creation of a healthy work-life balance to Joan Swart’s and Christine Guirguis’ book “The Coach’s Casebook”. The book aims to guide other coaches in addressing common problems clients bring to a session. My chapter explains how to recognise burnout, and introduces some exercises the coach can do with their client to help alleviate symptoms and stop the burnout from worsening. Being asked to write a guide for other coaches based on my expertise was definitely a highlight!

 

If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be and why?

 

If I could change one thing about the coaching industry, it would be to regulate it more. For example, I would find it useful to require a coaching education of a certain standard to be able to practice. Since coaching is relatively new it is currently possible to call yourself a coach with getting no or very minimal education on the topic. A good coach needs to be aware of the impact they can have on a client's life and handle the information the client shares with care. For example, a coach should be able to tell when they can really help and when a client would benefit more from therapy. I think that coaching is not regulated yet, can give it a bad reputation. That’s a shame because it can make a very big difference in someone's life. Regulation could clear some of the doubts around coaching and might encourage more people to seek coaching. I am a Jay Shetty-certified coach and received a very deep education, which I am very grateful for.


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