He is one of the most powerful voices in the field of personal development, but even Executive and Life Coach James Sweetman also had his challenges to get to where he is today, including taking a career break to Australia to figure out what career path was right for him.

James has enjoyed plenty of success in many areas as a motivational speaker, trainer, executive and life coach and a writer, including publishing five books, two novels and has monthly columns in several magazines. He started out working for an insurance company but by the age of 30, he realised he was climbing the wrong ladder. During his time in Australia, a book called ‘Be your own Life Coach’ by Fiona Harrold helped him discover his passion for personal development.

A key habit James has developed is noting at least one thing that he is grateful for every day. As he says himself “without appreciation, nothing appreciates.” James has incredibly kept a daily diary since 1 January 1986. As a writer, he likes to ‘right out’ not just ‘write out’ the issues he is dealing with which helps with gaining perspective.

James is so passionate about what he does and loves to help people realise their potential to live happier and more fulfilled lives, whether it is though one-on-one coaching, group workshops or conferences. He offers so much advice in this wide-ranging interview including how to overcome your fears, building your confidence, the importance of having a sense of direction and much more.

You can listen to James’ full podcast at this link, while it is also available on iTunes.

Here are my five key learns to take away from James Sweetman’s wide-ranging interview:

1. Take time deciding what you want. It can be difficult deciding what career path is right for you, but only you can make that choice. James describes that there was a point in his career that he forgot what was important. With hindsight, he can see that he had to climb his career ladder to see what was going on around him and get a clearer view of what he was doing and what opportunities were available. He took some time out to go to Australia and it was there that he finally figured out what was the next step for him. If you are unhappy with the direction you’re heading, take time to decide where it is you want to go in life. Taking some time out to reflect and reassess is always time well spent.

2. Devote time to yourself. There is so much going on around you that sometimes you need to get away from all the noise and take some alone time. Even 15 minutes to yourself each day will keep you focused and gives you that thinking time to create new ideas and decide what is most important to you. James and many other successful people I have interviewed keep a gratitude diary to write down the things they are grateful for each day and list out the positive things that happened. Make it part of your morning ritual to help you focus for the day ahead. It is a simple step, but it has proved to be successful in terms of adjusting mindset.

3. Three powerful questions. As a life coach, questions are the tools of James’ trade. 1) What do you want? Sometimes you have to start by asking what do I not want or what do I want less of. 2) What does success look like? Look at what those other people you aspire to be and how they have got to where they are. What can you learn from them, even through observation? 3) What will make you feel most proud about yourself? What decision, action or response will make you feel proud? Only you know what the best choice available is.

4. Overcome your fear. You cannot live in fear of something that might happen. Rather than just thinking about what’s the worst that can happen, balance it by also asking what is the best possible outcome. You can’t control certain things like what people think about you, but you can control your own career path and where you are heading. Worry is natural but action cures fear! Put your ideas into action. Failure is not trying things in the first place. Courage is the bridge to confidence.

5. Trust that things will work out. There is always challenges to overcome but if we wait around for conditions to be perfect, you will be waiting forever because they will never be perfect. You just have to put yourself out there, put in the hard work and trust that things will work out. James felt he made the right decision to step out of the corporate world to follow his hearts desire. It is never too late to achieve your goals. James believes that there is “always something more there and that’s the fun bit.” Sometimes we cannot predict what will happen, but if everything was predictable there would be no learning or growth.

Do agree with my key learns from James Sweetman’s interview? What inspired you most from the podcast? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Finally a reminder of the What I Know Now Live Podcast, which takes place on Thursday 28 September at the Hamilton Building in Trinity College Dublin. Find more information and sign up to attend for FREE at this link. Hope to see you there.

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