Sinead Kelly, Self Health Coach features in our My Career section.
Name: Sinead Kelly
Lives: Blackrock, Cork
Job title: Self Health Coach (supporting both health professionals and those with medical conditions to take charge and embrace their own health and wellness).
Salary bracket: Coaches in Ireland can earn anything from €45K - €150K depending on their speciality area and level of experience.
Education background: Level 8 Higher Diploma in coaching psychology from UCC, Level 8 BSc General Nursing from Napier Scotland specialising in Diabetes and Health promotion, Level 7 BN General Nursing from UCC, Level 8 Higher Diploma in Safety, Health and Welfare from UCC, Continuous professional development courses in Nursing, Health, Wellbeing and Coaching.
Hobbies: I love getting out in nature for walks or jogs, it’s a real mood booster, while yoga is a refreshing break for my mind and connects me with my body. These activities support not only my sense of balance and development but are very aligned with the work I do with my clients.
I get totally absorbed by psychology-based podcasts and would love to one day create my own.
I am obsessed with music, there is nothing more fun than dancing around with my toddler in the kitchen whilst listening to music.
At the end of the day, I enjoy curling up on the couch with my husband to watch a TV show, which has to be either funny or have depth and meaning.
Describe your job in five words: Empowering, Nourishing, Balancing, Creative, Meaningful.
Describe yourself in five words: Insightful, Practical, Supportive, Curious, Passionate.
Personality needed for this kind of work: Someone with self-insight, awareness, and a curiosity about human behaviour and how people think. It’s important for someone to value their intuition whilst also drawing from strong evidence-based knowledge or resources.
How long are you doing this job: Five years.
How did you get this job? It started with nursing in CUH, which felt like the right job for me as it satisfied my need to help people and it felt like meaningful work. I travelled with my nursing and experienced different specialties. I came to settle back in Cork and, without much intention, I kind of fell into doing a Higher Diploma in Safety, Health, and Welfare from UCC.
This led me into a very niche type of nursing called Occupational Health Nursing. Here I supported the health and wellness of employees and spent nine years in companies such as Pfizer, Apple, and Janssen.
At a certain point, I was experiencing life challenges, especially around health and fertility. These challenged me to review my life, one of the realisations I had was I craved a deeper purpose from my work. My self-development naturally led me to do a Higher Diploma in coaching psychology from UCC. This course was a lifeline and helped me get through my hardest year. I started coaching people for free whilst keeping my day job, here I was getting a glimpse of what work could look like and it resonated deeply with me.
I felt I had developed as far as I could as an Occupational Health Nurse and needed to feel I was thriving again. It was safe to stay where I was, but my frustration was growing.
I analysed and weighed up all my options, setting up my own business wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I would forever regret it if I didn’t try. It was very scary but amazingly freeing to move away from public and corporate systems that no longer served me, whilst also being very grateful for the extensive experience and learning it gave me.
My whole journey has been valuable, even the bad times, as it has led me to where I am today.
Now I can combine all my own personal experiences, career experience, and education towards my coaching, helping those needing support to manage long-term illness, fertility, or heart health. And very close to my heart is helping health professionals move out of stuckness and create a healthy work-life balance.
Do you need particular qualifications or experience: I would recommend a college or university qualification in coaching psychology. I feel equally important is a related qualification to the area you want to coach in, as well as some life experience in this area.
Describe a day at work: Generally, I start by spending 10 minutes reflecting on the first client of the day, then I spend an hour with my client. If it’s a new client, we might spend the full session on an assessment and getting a full picture and understanding about their health or work. If it’s an ongoing client, we may look at their habits, beliefs, and behaviours that might be keeping them stuck. We might identify what goals are working and what’s not to direct their progress. We could examine contributing factors that might be affecting motivation.
Or work on deepening their awareness and understanding. I then spend 10 minutes reflecting on the session to help me focus on what went well or where I might improve in the future.
I have two types of clientele. Those who come to me for support to manage long-term illness, fertility, or heart health, and the second is health professionals such as nurses or doctors who want support to move out of stuckness in their work or to create a healthier work-life balance.
All my one-to-one clients are either online or in-person in Cork city. I see these clients in the morning and evening. This frees the afternoons up for either time with my daughter, time for my own health, giving online corporate wellness talks/workshops, or doing admin work such as answering emails, creating social media posts, phone calls to corporate clients, etc.
How many hours do you work a week: Full-time, but I have to be mindful of my own work-life balance. Unchecked, I tend to be very driven and goal-focused so, in the past, I easily deprioritised my own self-care.
Looking after my own health and wellbeing is an ongoing practice and choice because I know how valuable it is. Of course, it is also a great perk that I can give three afternoons to my daughter, to hang out together.
Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: I feel in my ideal zone when coaching my clients so it never feels like stress. It is important for me to be able to coach effectively by being truly present with my client, so I don’t come into a session feeling very stressed.
That’s where my own self-care comes in and managing my own stress by getting enough sleep, exercising, eating healthy, self-reflection, voicing my boundaries, etc.
Do you work with others or on your own: For the most part, I work on my own, I am driven and slightly more introverted in my personality so that suits me. However, it is very important for me to continue to grow and learn through others working in similar areas.
So I love to collaborate with others on projects and I am part of a lovely coaching supervision group too.
When do you plan to retire or give up working: I feel that if it continues to bring me purpose and I am physically and mentally able to do it, then why not keep going in a part-time capacity?
Best bits: I love my clients and seeing the journey they go through. Usually, they start with a sense of stuckness in their health or work and they navigate out of this in their own unique way to a place with a bit more ease and balance.
This could involve learning to set boundaries, listening, and tending to their own needs instead of putting them to the bottom of the list. Or getting clear about the health choices that will actually fit them and their lifestyle, instead of forcing something that doesn’t work.
I love being able to thrive in this job and there is always space to learn more. I feel most like myself in this job, where this work truly resonates with me and my identity on a deep level. I have such a strong sense of purpose and meaning in this work.
Worst bits: Learning to manage the uncertainty of when and where the next client is coming from. Not having a regular predictable income. Learning how to accept the vulnerability that comes with putting myself and my business that I care deeply about out there.
Advice to those who want your job: Besides having the evidence-based qualifications behind you, I truly believe that any type of coach is only as effective as the self-development that they have done on themselves. This is why it’s important to me to continue to broaden my own awareness and understanding whilst working in this field.
Sinead Kelly is a Self Health Coach supporting both health professionals and those with medical conditions to take charge, embrace their own health and wellness both online and in her clinic, based in Cork city. She can be contacted at www.sineadkelly.ie