What It’s *Really* Like to Work with a Life Coach, According to One Advertising Exec and Working Mom

As the Chief Marketing Officer at VaynerMedia and mom of two, Andrea Sullivan is no stranger to a busy schedule. So, when presented with the chance to participate in a two-day workshop with the life coaching team at Handel Group to test out their Inner.U program, she wasn’t exactly jumping up and down at the idea of devoting precious hours toward personal growth.

“I was nervous to start,” Andrea tells PureWow. “Because I knew it was going to be deep work. Not just professional work, but looking deeply inside myself as a human, parent, spouse and most importantly someone who is trying to explore the best person I can be.”

Fast-forward two days and Andrea had already signed up for more (a combination of a combination of the Inner.U LIFE and live coaching, to be exact). So, how did this CMO go from apprehensive to Inner.U cheerleader? Read on for three things she learned.

1. Writing Down Your Dreams Is Harder Than You Think

First things first, a little background. Inner.U LIFE is the revolutionary online life coaching platform that is dubbed “the secret sauce to getting yourself unstuck and thriving where it matters most in your life.” Much like a sports coach, the coaches at Handel Group and the method and tools within Inner.U help you to identify the obstacles that keep getting in your way—and assist with finding the motivation to overcome them. “It’s where life meets career,” says Andrea. “They teach you to not compartmentalize, because you can only be as good as your whole self.”

OK, now introductions aside, Andrea gets real. She told PureWow, “The first thing I will say about Inner.U is that it’s one part coaching, one part tough love. But if you want results, it’s the only way to go.” In fact, according to Laurie Gerber, Head Life Coach at Handel Group, the first assignment of the entire program is often the biggest challenge for new clients.

“The very first assignment we give our clients is almost always one of the hardest for them. We have them write down their dreams in 12 areas of their life. To get people willing to admit their big dreams is a huge challenge—especially with adults. Ask a five-year-old to tell you their dreams and you won’t be able to shut them up. Pose the same question to a 35-year-old? You’ll likely find that their head is full of other people’s ideas of success. They’ve likely lost touch with their ability to dream from their own heart, are probably lying to themselves about what would really make them deeply happy and are afraid to admit what they truly want. All because then they have to actually do something about it,” says Laurie. “That’s why we start with dreaming. It gets people in the right fight, identifying the traffic that is in their way, and connected to their deepest desires—no matter how big or scary they might seem to their own current board of directors (aka the negative voices in their head).”

Aside from setting the stage for what you’ll actually be achieving throughout your life coaching experience, writing down your dreams also provides the added bonus of having something to reference. “Once you have it painted, you can go back to it,” says Andrea. “I’m able to check back and reevaluate things throughout the process.”

2. To Keep A Promise, You Need A Consequence

The great thing about Inner.U is that it’s a digital platform that allows you to fit things in on your own schedule and your own terms. The program encapsulates the company’s methodology and spits it out into teachable stories and lessons to help you understand the human psyche. Each lesson focuses on a specific area, and is then broken down into actionable pieces. “It’s like they know that there’s a voice inside of me that says ‘I don’t want to do this homework,’ so the next module that comes up acknowledges that,” says Andrea.

One of those modules? Personal Integrity and The Promise Tracker. So, great—you wrote down your dreams and have some goals. But how do you stick to those goals? By making a promise. “Most people are three to five (kept!) promises away from changing their entire life,” says Laurie. “Personally, when I first started coaching, I made three promises that shifted everything for me. They were in the areas of Body, Love and Career. These promises allowed me to start building the muscle of Personal Integrity (the ability to keep a promise to myself) which left to my own devices had atrophied. Those promises got me fighting for my dreams in those three critical areas of my life. Those promises saved my marriage, my business, and got me wildly proud of myself, every day.”

Every subscription to Inner.U comes with a host of accountability tools to help you build your Personal Integrity. That includes 1) a Promise Tracker to help guide you in making specific, measurable promises that are a match with your dreams, 2) a Buddy System to connect with other humans working on the same shi(f)t as you (as the brand likes to say), 3) a connected community in the ongoing, free six-week masterclasses, and 4) a free 1-hour private session with an HG Life Coach to kick start your journey and personalize the promises to your situation/speed.

Andrea found all the personalized tricks to be one of the most useful tools. For example, her life coach suggested thinking about her decisions from both sides—what would happen if she did something, and what would happen if she didn’t. “If I didn’t have the conversation with [my boss], I had to cut off all my alcohol consumption until I had it,” says Andrea. Another one was admitting that she’s done something wrong to her kids. “I have to admit to them that I’ve broken a promise. Then I have to pay them $20 on Venmo.”

3. Once You Meet Your Inner Brat, It’s Easier To Spot Her

For Andrea, every session with Inner.U has produced a positive change. “I’ve really leaned into this. I’ll tell Beth [my life coach] some of my deepest darkest things, and she’ll teach me how to make a promise with the consequence. And it hasn’t been as hard as I thought.”

Andrea also found that the vocabulary used at Inner.U has helped her to get over her baggage faster and with less shame. Terms like “Chicken,” “Brat” and “Weather Reporter” are used to identify some of the different voices in your head (your inner dialogue). “I didn’t realize how much of an inner Brat I had,” says Andrea. “But once I acknowledge when I’m fighting against something because I feel entitled or owed, it’s been much easier for me to not only hear it, but get over it.”

A reframing of time is another a-ha moment that Laurie says is a big takeaway for many working mothers. “We are all in a relationship with time, and like any relationship, it takes effort to make it great, fun, and inspiring. You need to fall in love with your calendar and remember—if it’s not in the schedule, it won’t happen. Yes, that means not only rocking out your meetings and connecting with your colleagues, but also scheduling hang time with your kids, romantic time with your partner, and Zoom calls with your in-laws. Put it all in the calendar and get real about how many hours there are in a day. Then, you can start becoming a master of time.”

If mastering your time, keeping promises to yourself or addressing your inner Brat sound like something you’d also like to pursue, you can sign up for Inner.U today. The very first module will help you get clear about your dreams. Then, you can work with a coach to make the right promises (and consequences!). And finally, you can finally get real about finding support for everything you want in your life. It’s about time, no?

angela pares

VP, Design + Branded Content

Angela Pares is the VP of Design + Branded Content at Gallery Media Group, where she oversees the ideation and execution of sponsored content campaigns across PureWow, ONE37pm and...