Gaining a desirable work-life balance is a struggle that many of us grapple with on a daily basis. In this edition of The Coaching Conversation, Graham interviews fellow coach Kim Klelund about how she has achieved her own work-life balance as well as helping her clients gain theirs.
Kim has over 20 years of experience running her own interior design practice with a passion to make a change in people's lives, to create environments, both physical and mental where people can thrive and feel amazing.
& Coach for Conscious Living
Graham: Our topic this week is the magical subject of work-life balance, and I think in almost every coaching program I'm involved in, this comes up to a greater or lesser extent, and I think it's been very interesting that the pandemic seems to have given people pause for thought to rebalance their lives and think about the things that really do matter. We've got examples of that with hybrid working and people were now committing to work from home and so on and so on.
In preparation for this session, I was looking for someone with some exceptional experience in managing their own work-life balance so here we are with our guest this week, Kim Klelund. Kim, would you like to introduce yourself to our audience?
Kim: Thanks so much for having me today. I'm Kim. I am a coach. I am an interior design designer and expert. I am a speaker. I am a podcast host ( in the future, I hope) and I also facilitate a lot of workshops and courses around lifestyle, interiors and well-being.
Graham: Well, that's quite a few things to juggle, isn't it?
Kim: Yes, it's a few things to juggle, but in fact, I actually find that having these different streams of income is one way for me to actually be able to plan my life better. Planning didn't always come easily to me, but I've learned with age that structure and planning give you a lot of freedom and allow room for what's really important in your life.
So, from being a self-proclaimed, somewhat chaotic person in the past, I have changed very much, the way I am and created a lot of freedom in my life because of that. Now I can plan coaching sessions, I can plan workshops and I know what's going to happen. I know the system that needs to be implemented; whether it's online or in person. You and I both know from our various experiences, that projects can go on for a really long time and unexpected things happen and that for me, actually wasn't very congruent with having a young family anymore and being the best version of whatever mum I can be to my kids. So, that's one of the reasons why I've moved into other areas over the last couple of years.
Graham: And you don't make it easy for yourself either do you; you are currently talking to me from Berlin, but you don't just reside in Berlin, do you?
Kim: Not quite. Most of the time, because I have two children; two girls, aged seven and nine, I'm in Berlin, but I'm Swedish so I spend a lot of time there as well. During the Pandemic, it was actually a lifeline being able to go there and having support from my parents. I worked remotely for nine weeks during the first summer of the lockdown, and again, the way that I'm able to work now means that I can be in other places.
Last week I was in Stockholm for a week and made a workcation out of it whilst visiting my dad, and later in the year, I'll be in other places. I have a strong connection to my main four places which are Germany, Sweden, England, and Italy.
Graham: I love the word workation. I've just nicked that!
When you think about trying to make these choices of work-life balance, particularly as a coach when you're trying to help somebody else who's struggling, what are your priorities? How do you get things in order?
Kim: One of the best practices that I've learned over the last years is self-reflection and asking questions, and there are a couple of ways that I do this. One has been through journaling, which has been immense - I'm almost getting goosebumps talking about it - it's been an immense resource for me.f From having been stuck in a mindset of thinking 'you are not a writer', because I realised through my own coaching journey that there was a school teacher who told me I wasn't particularly good at writing, so I never did write for anything really. You know, it was even a struggle to make my first website happen because I didn't want to write about myself - I had so much discomfort and resistance going on there. And journaling, in case people don't know what that is or what it could be, is basically a place where you can plan. It's a place where you can reflect. It's a place where you can ask yourself questions. You can scribble.
Alongside this mindset of I'm not a writer, that was stopping me, was this insanity for bullet journaling that I saw on Pinterest; all these beautiful, perfect-looking journals. I mean, I looked at that and I was overwhelmed. It was too much for me. I was in a place of overwhelm, let's say, four or five years ago, and when I started to become conscious I knew that this is not the life that I want. This is not the life I want to look back on. When I'm 80, I want to say wow, that was a good life.
We all have ups and downs and the sh*t will hit the fan for all of us at some point, and that's fine. But the essence of it was that it was not what I wanted. So, asking these questions, something like, what felt really good? Where did I have resistance? Or when talking to a particular client asking What is my intention for this week? How do I want to feel? How can I look after my health? What are things that helped my well-being?
Now, I've done a health tracker because I've realised that I can talk the talk, but walking the walk is always more difficult. And so getting these habits in place - in a tracker - it's a place for me to look consciously, not every day, but almost every day, and just ask Did I do that thing to make myself feel good? Did I get enough sleep? Am I prioritizing that? Because my health depends on it, and if I don't have my health, I have nothing. That's been a really essential part of it.
I think in terms of work-life balance, you can very rarely do everything at one time. You have to simplify it and get to a point where you can ask yourself which is the biggest burden for me right now? Is it my boss? Is it trying to cook healthy meals for my kids?'. But feeling guilty at not having the time, and then it not happening, or then getting angry at whatever is no good. I try to never take more than two or three areas of my life at any one point to focus on because that is manageable. All the other stuff around me is obviously still happening - it's not like it falls to the wayside, but it's not the main focus.
Graham: So as a coach and with your experience of journaling, is that one of the key thrusts of how you help your clients; you show them how it works and how they can use it?
Kim: I do love to share the tool of journaling. As I said, it's been an immensely valuable tool for me. It's not a diary, you know, it's as simple as a reminder, you can do this, or I let my kids draw in it every now and again, and then I open a page and I have a little picture from them or its a page of questions, but let's get rid of the perfection. I use something like this in my workshops. I can offer my clients a resource there where they can use these questions, which have helped me, and generally, once you start, then you get into a flow yourself anyway.
Graham: So, your coaching practice; does it have a mainstream focus? Is there a sweet spot or an ideal client? How does it work for you?
Kim: Well, in terms of my designer aspect, I call myself both a holistic life designer and a transformative life coach. So for me, a lot of my clients are at a point in their lives where, like me a few years back, something needs to change. And to some extent, they don't know exactly what that is. They can't pinpoint that. So that's where the coaching starts. It's a sense of, I've done well, I've had success, but still, there's no fulfilment. There's no happiness, there's no ease and flow. You know, it's like rush, rush, rush. Here, here, here. Everything is reactive instead of proactive.
A lot of my clients (on top of being international) are a very wide plethora of nationalities. I work in English and German. Swedish is actually the hardest for me; my day-to-day Swedish is great, but my coaching Swedish is maybe not ready yet - something for me to practice. but my clients are definitely people who are ready for some transformation, for some changes to happen. And that can be in their private lives. It can also be in a more executive business sense; I've got so far in this job, but it's not quite fulfilling anymore, or my life circumstances have changed, be that something with your family where you moved and so on.
It's a fantastic thing to be able to help people on this path, guiding them to somewhere where they feel a sense of wholeness. To be able to say I know where I am, and I know who I am, and I know where I want to go, even though that path may take many different ways, but you've set the wheels in motion.
Graham: When I look at the kinds of examples I have in my coaching client base, often the work-life balance issue doesn't start, or the conversation doesn't start like that. It starts with, I'm not coping. It starts with I'm not happy. It starts with I'm under stress, and the reality is if you can help them move to a position where they feel that they're in control, that's where planning comes in, it's where time management comes in. It's where being disciplined and getting the right priorities comes in, but once they start to feel that they're back in control of their life, more control of their life, that that's when the peace of mind starts to come in and they do start to make good life choices. They do start to prioritise correctly.
It is interesting that we are perhaps using different techniques, but we're ending up very much in the same place, which is people taking back control and choices that they're able to make in their lives for themselves. What is interesting - and I work primarily with business owners, and business leaders - is that their performance goes up. This is so obvious really with hindsight, but for them at the time, they're so busy being busy. They're so busy being under the Kosh that they don't get that bit. But it comes and you use the phrase 'ease and flow'. That's exactly what starts to happen. They get into a more comfortable place and they just perform better - it's a very interesting thing.
Kim, what are your ambitions for your coaching practice? Do you want to carry on as you are or do you want to see it evolve and develop further?
Kim: I think it's going to take me to some places that I can't even imagine right now, to be honest with you. And that's something that I'm excited about. I don't have a problem with the unknown. I know a few things I would love to do, and I feel very strongly connected that it is easy for me. One of those things was that last year I was in a TV program as an expert, as an interior designer, commenting on something. I would love it if that maybe came to something else. To make that happen, that's my intention. That was fun. I don't know if I'm good at it. Maybe when I start doing it more, I'm going to be terrible and I'm going to be terrible a hundred times, but maybe if I get over a hundred, I'm going to be halfway good!
I've decided with an interior design colleague, that we will start making small videos about including our interiors and our real life and talking about our personal development journey as two business owners, and we are two very different characters as well - he's Hungarian, end forties, gay, no children. I'm a mum. I'm Swedish, we're in Germany, two kids, you know, so kind of different in that sense, but we as people really join. So that's something that I'm really looking forward to developing and just seeing where that takes me.
The courses and workshops I feel are a gift I can give people because I love connecting people - I'm a connector - that seems to be me. I connect an exciting group of people together through these courses, through these workshops, and can offer my knowledge and support and guidance to a greater extent.
I have also started hosting talks as well, which is something I find really exciting. Again, to create a platform where people meet. I do it in an intimate space in my home, and I call them Kim Talks. I'm a big lover of TED Talks, but I find that whenever an expert in something offers their knowledge, you always resonate with something or I have an experience or connection. I need this connection and deep diving. I'm so done with this superficial, my life's so pretty. Everything's fine on Instagram you know, that's just not real life. And, I'm pretty candid with my own life. I don't mind sharing it because I think that's just me. I'm not ashamed of anything that's happened. It is what it is. I stand by it and so to create this space and make it sort of like a Ted Talk meets Supper club, meets women's circle, basically.
Graham: I have no idea how you possibly fit anything else into a day! You have a work life that's very multifaceted. I personally do more than one thing; coaching is a big part of that, but it's not the only thing I do and it's fascinating to meet someone who's equally stretched as I am because I actually get satisfaction from the variety. I actually enjoy the different stresses and strains of the different challenges, and I find it rejuvenating rather than draining.
I think a lot of the stress that we see, a lot of the work-life imbalance we see, is because a lot of people are on a treadmill. They're doing the same thing or similar things continuously. And they don't find themselves to be curious. They don't find the opportunity to explore the new, and as a result of that, it wears them down. And they have to, we said a while ago, getting back in control enables them to reprioritise and perhaps fold other things into their life that they'd otherwise previously excluded. Hence the phrase work-life balance. So, it is an interesting thing to listen to someone who's as is as busy and as stretched and as challenged in different ways as perhaps I am. I find that very, very insightful.
Kim, you are based in Germany. You do travel around Europe. If any of our audience wanted to reach you, what's the easiest way to get hold of you?
Kim: I have two Instagram handles @hausoflund which is my interior design studio and my personal development playground, as I call it, is @Kim_Talks. My website is studiolund.de and I'm on LinkedIn as well as Kim Klelund.
Graham: Well thanks for your time today Kim and here's to the next time. Bye.
Contact Kim Kleund
Instagram (interiors): instagram.com/hausoflund
Instagram (Kim Talks): instagram.com/kim_talks
That was the latest edition of The Coaching Conversation. I hope you found it interesting. I hope you found it useful. You can find out more about our coaching programmes at theexecutivemindset.co.uk
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