Real life coaching: Jennifer Jenks

If you're curious about what brings people to life coaching, this post is for you. Real Life Coaching is the first in a series of Q&A's with real-life coaching clients. Read first-hand accounts of the issues that bring people to coaching, what they got out of their life-coaching experiences, and how their lives have changed.


Jennifer Jenks was struggling to balance all the demands on her time.

​​At the start of her 10 coaching sessions, Jen knew she wanted to latch on to something specific to improve on and to put a metric in place to gauge how she was doing.

As a full-time account executive for a high-profile advertising magazine, wife of 20 years, and mom to two teenage daughters, Jen was eager to find ways to create fun, spontaneous laughter, joy, better health habits, and a streamlined work process.

Working out of her home, but also on the road a fair bit, it was important to Jen to make more efficient her working hours and how she managed her career responsibilities. Jen was curious to find out if mastering these two things would leave time in her day for healthy cooking, which she enjoys, and spending relaxed evenings with her family, which she longs for.

What brought you to integrative life coaching?

I've been a student of self-improvement for a long time. I'd never done any life coaching before so thought I would try it and see what it's all about. What brought me to working with Sandra was primarily curiosity and the knowledge that there's always room for improvement.

What did you set out to accomplish or to learn through life coaching?

I wanted to learn about the process of life coaching. What does a session look like? What would a session consist of? Then I hoped to set a goal, and make progress toward it. I wanted to make progress toward something. I had a preconceived sort-of goal in mind, which is an ongoing goal of health and fitness. But ultimately that wasn't the goal I ended up working on.

Why did you shift away from your original goal?

Because of the process Sandra took me through and the questions she asked. Her questions led me to understand some of my underlying barriers to my vision, and a goal grows out of your vision. She had me close my eyes and imagine the details of my vision as if I'd already fulfilled it. Once I did have those details, then always referencing my vision, that drove me to a different type of goal.

What did you like most about coaching?

I liked my coach. She has a good, soothing voice. Sandra has a way of asking questions, making me feel comfortable, and not judging. And I think as much as it was sometimes hard for me to stop everything I was doing, and really get in the mindset of the coaching call, I was always glad I did it and felt better after it was done. I felt more at peace. I had done something just for me; something that was good for me.

What was the hardest part of participating in life-coaching sessions?

The hardest part of coaching, for me, was looking inside and doing the internal exercises. But I appreciated it. That's where I received the most value. Some weeks I dreaded that part of the call. I had to learn to not say what I thought Sandra wanted to hear versus what I truly felt. I'm a good tester. I can anticipate what someone might want to hear. Sometimes you don't say what you really feel, which is what I needed to do in coaching - speak my truth.

What was your biggest take-away from the coaching process?

Two things. Refocusing on my vision and really picturing that - always having a visual picture in my head and bringing my work back to that. Relentless pursuit of vision, I think is what Sandra said. I thought that was so cool, and I need to keep realigning with my vision because it's so easy in the day-to-day to get away from it, and to start doing things and engaging in behaviors that are actually counterproductive. Sandra's help to visualize what I want in life, to see it, to find it, and then that constant focus on my vision throughout the 10 weeks to keep coming back to the vision - that was so useful.

The second take-away was around how I spend my time. I figured out how to hone in on and honor my to-do list, which is really important to my career and to my family relationships because it means I can be more present when I'm with my husband and daughters. It sounds so corny, but I had some questioning at the beginning of the coaching process. I wondered what other types of goals others set. I wondered if I was a lunatic to be getting coaching on a to-do list.

But the to-do list is the lynch pin for me in certain ways. But it wasn't working in the right way when I came to coaching. I've made progress with it. It's a daily thing. Better time-segmenting for my work was also important, so I had to better segment my to-do list. I am trying to map those to-do list items to true-life productivity. As soon as motivation dips on what I set out to do, I can move to another of my to-do lists and knock a couple things out, which gives me that sense of productivity and fuels me to go back to the first list.

My vision is me during the evening hours cooking and being with my family in a more relaxed state. I was done with coming out of my office at the end of the work day and thinking "oh shit, everybody needs to be fed."

Now that I've been through coaching, I know my evenings will be less stressed when I've honored my to-do list - I am more relaxed, more engaged, and more present. And that's what I want: To be present in the moment and not worrying about other stuff.

What is the biggest "aha" you got out of the life-coaching process?

Understanding how I self-sabotage my success. This was something that had been nagging at me for many, many years, but to say it and face it was pretty huge. One of the things that's different is that I've been nominated a handful of times as chairperson for a committee I've been on for a couple years, and every time I've turned it down. I've used bandwidth as an excuse. In reality I didn't want to take it on if I couldn't do it well. It will take time to do it well, and I needed time to focus on my book of business. When I was nominated this time, I said yes. Technically I don't have any more bandwidth than I've had in previous years. But you know what? I will do it well, and that comes down to a fundamental belief in myself. So, I got over some self-doubt.

For those of you questioning the confidentiality of a coach/client relationship, please know that Jen gave her full permission for this posting, and even reviewed its content before going live.