Lifestyle review: Penny Davenport Life Coaching

Penny Davenport

Penny Davenport - Credit: Archant

If you need help sticking to your New Year’s resolutions, why not follow in the footsteps of Princess Diana, Bill Clinton and Jennifer Anniston and enlist a life coach to help achieve your goals.

Initially I was sceptical when an email arrived in my inbox suggesting I try out Penny Davenport’s life coaching services – but as I scrolled down and read its contents, I felt quite emotional.

I hadn’t quite realised just how stressed I was - but the thought that someone was out there who could help me achieve a better work-life balance and effectively manage my time was a good one, and the timing seemed to be one of those cosmic “New Age” coincidences.

Not only was I trying to manage a full time job as a single parent with three children, but I had just recently gone through the three most apparently stressful milestones in life – the death of a close family member, a relationship breakdown and moving home. It had all taken its toll.

Penny was promising to help me build my confidence, my health and to help me get the best out of my life - and the thought of having her on board was a good one.

She set up her work and life mentoring business in 2011 after working as a chief exec in the City for a couple of decades, and as a mum with two young children herself she understands the pressures working women face.

A life coach is supposed to help you understand the issues you’re struggling with, while acknowledging your strengths and how you can overcome them.

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Before meeting Penny for the first time I had to complete some forms, thinking about where my life was at and what I wanted to change, as well as take an online personality test to pinpoint my personality type.

During our first meeting which lasted a couple of hours, I could tell Penny understood where I was coming from, because she relayed what I was saying back to me in a way that made things clearer in my head.

I’m not one for setting myself goals, I tend to live in the moment and see where life takes me.

But after two years of working from home - which should have afforded more flexibility - I didn’t seem to have done much more than just held my head above water. Although I am really happy with my job which gives me personal satisfaction and the freedom of working from home, I still wasn’t spending much quality time with the children or finding time to pursue my hobbies like swimming and dancing.

I felt a bit flighty that those were the only goals I could think of. Nothing as lofty as wanting to start up a business which is something Penny often helps her clients with.

But she reassured me for the time being it was best to keep things fairly simple and that my goals were SMART – that is specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

Within a day she emailed me a synopsis of my life, and gave me a concrete plan to stop work creeping into my personal life, which I tried putting into action.

Our second session a few weeks later was illuminating, when we discussed the results of my DISC personality test, which places people into one of four categories – dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness.

I’d never have lumped myself as such an out and out “C”, and would have thought I was more of a mixture of several categories. But there it was on paper - apparently I am someone who adheres to rules, regulations, and structure, someone careful, diplomatic and accurate.

It didn’t initially make sense and Penny said the way you feel on the day of the test can influence its outcome – but the more I thought about it and discussed it with Penny the more it seemed to fit me and I felt as though a part of myself that I had tried to deny was finally revealed.

The idea is to then try and pigeon hole your family, partner, colleagues and everyone else you may come across in life into the categories, to try and get the best out of them when you’re relating to them.

If you suspect someone is a “D” you shouldn’t take anything they say too personally, and if an “I” is enthusiastic in making plans which never come off you shouldn’t take it too badly, they just tend to get carried away sometimes.

I really liked the concept and could have spent hours discussing it with Penny, but as our session came to an end we agreed that I would carry on trying to stick to the spreadsheet I had drawn up accounting for my time throughout the day.

Not easy in practice as the following week I went on a police raid at 2.30am which threw me out of kilter, but Penny said not to be discouraged.

Our third session covered work and pinpointing my strengths and ultimate career aims, and in the fourth and final one we discussed why we can sabotage our own goals and how to make sure nothing stops us achieving what we want to.

Every session spent with Penny was thought provoking and I really enjoyed our discussions.

Things in life will only change if you want them to and if you make it happen – but having Penny on board is certainly food for thought and she will give you a nudge in the right direction helping you achieve any of New Year’s resolutions you might have made.

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