Coach Interview Series: Kali Patrick

by Brandon

Kali Patrick

Sleep Wellness Coach

Our main objective here at the National Coach Academy is to enable aspiring coaches to reach their full professional potential. One of the most effective ways to educate students about the world of coaching is by offering them a window into the world of real, practicing coaches and showing them all the different ways coaches make a difference in the lives of their clients.

We hope today’s interview adds another insightful glimpse into the dynamic world of coaching.

Today we are interviewing Kali Patrick. Kali is a Sleep Wellness Coach based in Waltham, Massachusetts.

NCA: Can you describe your coaching practice and the kinds of clients you typically work with?

Kali: I help busy, stressed-out professionals learn to sleep better and restore their energy.

My clients are busy professionals or entrepreneurs, and they are potentially also in care-giving roles. Perhaps they’re dealing with raising children on one side and caring for aging parents on the other. They may also be single professionals in a high-stress care-giving field such as medicine. They’re overwhelmed and attempting to get ahead or stay competitive at work.

Their sleep is being sacrificed, or when they try to rest, the thoughts or worries that are coming up in their minds prevent them from being able to. Some clients start out getting 4 to 6 hours of sleep per night, which we call “short sleep.” This has all kinds of potentially damaging effects not just short-term but also on long-term health.

The crux of the problem there is that they’re unable to put aside the worries or the busyness of the day to be able to get really refreshing, restorative sleep.

When I work with people one-on-one, we address the root causes behind why they’re not sleeping well and how they might be over-extending themselves energy-wise.

NCA: What led you to this niche? Was there a personal experience involved that made you gravitate toward this topic?

Kali: My background is actually in software design. [laughing] Part of the reason I work with stressed-out, busy professionals is because I was one not long ago. During my 20+ year career I worked both in startups and in larger corporate environments. I experienced high levels of stress from work alone – trying to stay competitive. This is especially true in the digital age when we’re never really done working and always trying to be available. I was personally experiencing what there is now an official diagnosis for: burnout. This stress-related condition often results in insomnia and sleep difficulties, not to mention a host of other health issues.

I’d been practicing yoga for almost as long as I’d been working in tech. When I recognized I needed a break, I decided to learn more about yoga, and specifically how to apply yoga principles practically to help with my specific issues. I trained in Yoga Therapy, mind-body-eating coaching, and Reiki.

In my management roles I learned how to be an effective mentor and coach, about personality types and learning styles, and how to gather and synthesize information from people. I also learned about how to manage change.

Now, I have a 12-week program I use with clients all over the country. It’s a repeatable process but it’s also very customized because while many people are stressed and sleepless, or struggling with exhaustion, everybody’s life and reasons they struggle are a little different.

Studies have shown that sleep-deprived people double their risk of medical conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, anxiety and depression. Driving on short sleep is akin to driving intoxicated. There may also be a link to Alzheimer’s proteins. We don’t think of the long-term implications. We think, “I can power through the day and I’ll be fine.”

The issue is getting more attention lately, and most sleep advice is focused around bedtime rituals and sleep hygiene, but the problems we have with sleep & energy go a lot deeper than that. When I work with people one-on-one, we address the root causes behind why they’re not sleeping well and how they might be over-extending themselves energy-wise.

NCA: In working with your clients, what would you say is the most rewarding part of that process and on the flip side of that, what is the most challenging aspect of the work that you do?

Kali: The most rewarding is definitely seeing the impact that some small changes can have on somebody’s ability to rest and sleep, and the effect that has on their energy. I’m working with a client right now who just wanted to be able to come home after a day’s work and have the energy to do something — cook a healthy meal or go for a walk and not feel like she wanted to curl up and take a nap for three hours. Now she comes home and takes better care of herself because she has gas left in the tank.

That’s the most rewarding because you can see how it impacts people’s lives. That’s why I do this work, to help people. I know personally what it’s like to feel exhausted all the time. You know there’s something wrong but you can’t necessarily find the path to fix it. I wish I’d had a guide rather than just looking up the latest quick fix on the internet and trying it out, not knowing if this the right thing for me. And then when the latest remedy stops working, what do you do? It becomes exhausting in and of itself trying to find the lasting solution!

The most challenging thing is finding clients who are really ready to get to the root cause of the problem. It’s not always pretty and it also requires some devotion to yourself. It could be about taking five minutes for yourself, or paying attention to how you are handling a particular situation. A lot of energy drains and stress come from interactions with other people, with pressures we put on ourselves, with a lack of boundaries. Finding people who are eager and ready to do the work instead of expending time & effort on another quick fix — that’s often most challenging.

When I speak with someone in a consultation, I want to make sure the person is a good candidate for coaching. I want to coach people who are ready for the experience and who want to be successful, because that’s a huge part of what will make them successful.

Studies have shown that sleep deprived people double their risk of medical conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, anxiety and depression. Driving on short sleep is akin to driving intoxicated.

NCA: What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is in the beginning stage of their coaching career?

Kali: There are two things I can think of and I do think they’re equally important.

If the coach owns their own practice, there’s a learning curve when it comes to marketing yourself, networking, sales, administration and finance and all the other aspects of running your own business. While you might be an exceptional coach and be trained in that, all the other things need to happen.

The first piece of advice is to find a mentor. Find a really good business coach and invest in that relationship. Most coaches know that they would benefit from coaching themselves. When you’re not bringing in the income, it can feel like, “oh my gosh. How can I spend this much money on coaching for myself?” When you find the right coach for you, it’s really worth the investment.

Secondly, one of the things that I did when I started out is explore the different areas of coaching. I called myself a mind-body-wellness coach and worked with people to overcome emotional eating, with people who have chronic pain, and with people on sleep and energy and stress. I did all those things and obviously, they’re all connected and they’re all related.

Now, when I work with somebody on sleep, we still talk about all of those areas because I work holistically. But I don’t go out into the world and say “I’m a mind-body-wellness coach and I work with this and this and this and this” anymore. I’m very focused on sleep and energy.

There’s some degree of exploration that has to happen there, but ultimately, finding your niche is going to help you. It’s going to open more doors and make things a lot easier and lighter because when you’re doing the marketing, the networking, the selling, the websites, and everything else, you just have the one thing.

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