From financial advice to getting more physically fit!
By Narisa ‘Nina’ Phitchitsingh
Self-improvement is a never-ending process. Some become addicted to it, some may seek the advice of experts, while some may even pursue the path to guide others to reach their goals. The challenges we face in 2021 are plentiful. Amidst a pandemic, a difficult job market, and rising cases of depression, we may need a little dose of reinforcement to find our direction and re-examine what truly matters to us.
I interviewed four individuals in the community who have dedicated their careers to making us better people in all facets of life, from coaching and therapy, to dispensing financial advice. These ‘personal consultants’ share what started them on their journey, and impart valuable advice.
What do life coaches do?
Life coaches listen – to the issues that are bothering you, and to your silences. We create a safe space where you can talk out loud with no judgment. By doing this or writing your thoughts down, it’s easier to figure out the next step you need to take. Life coaches help by asking you the right kind of questions to reflect on. We are like a diary where you let out all your thoughts, but we respond with helpful, compassionate feedback and a refreshing perspective.
When you are too close to your own problems, it sometimes becomes hard to think of a way out. You can’t see your own actions clearly, because they get clouded by emotion. Life coaches help by also removing any limiting beliefs you have. We all have a set of beliefs that we think are true, but they are actually just a thought process. They must be altered if it’s not serving you or your loved ones.
What inspired you to become a life coach?
As a young, naïve girl, I often felt helpless, like my destiny was out of my control. Learning how to take back control of my life in a harmonious way, and designing it to be the way I want, was extremely empowering for me. Too often, I would listen to people talk about their situation as they felt helpless, stuck and unhappy.
I started offering the tools that worked for me. Talking to them, I could feel a fire in me and the people around me could feel it too. Seeing other people reach their goals faster than they could have imagined, I realised that this was my life purpose. The lightbulb clicked in my head and I decided to get certified right away.
How can we set goals that will result in success?
It all starts with the mind. You must believe 100 percent in your goal, and act like it has already come true. Then, go about your day trying and failing and trying again till it becomes reality. Don’t give up, and learn from your mistakes. However, there may be times that you do it all and you still don’t succeed. This is where I thank God for his redirection. I truly believe He knows what’s best for me.
What advice do you have for those who struggle with a difficult relationship in their life?
Communication and setting healthy boundaries are the backbone of any relationship. A lot of issues, misunderstandings and expectations come from a lack of these. If you can’t communicate what you are feeling with that person, then I recommend speaking to someone outside the situation. It’s also good to remember that you can’t really change anyone other than yourself, but you can change the way you think and respond in your relationships.
How can we learn to not take things personally?
This is a tough one. I realised that a lot of times, when we clear out a misunderstanding, the most common sentence that comes up is, “It wasn’t intentional.” I choose to think that everyone is going through so much in their lives, and that no one is on a mission to intentionally hurt me or offend me. If they have an opinion about me, that’s their choice and their right. Nothing I can do will ever change it. So, I choose to let things go and use my time and energy on something more productive.
What services do you provide to your clients?
I focus on one-on-one personal training, including online coaching, specialising in strength training and nutrition coaching to help both performance and physical appearance.
What motivated you to become a fitness coach?
I spent a chunk of my childhood overweight, and was unhappy with this aspect of my life. I lacked confidence on a social level and I got fed up of being ‘the fat kid.’ I decided that I had to make a positive change and added exercise and healthy eating to my lifestyle. There’s a natural high I got from transforming myself, and I developed a passion for fitness.
I wanted to help others make positive changes in their life too. The more progress I made, the more I was encouraged to push my boundaries even further. I knew I had to use my journey and knowledge to guide others to reap similar rewards as I did.
Why is exercise so important, especially in a time like this?
Exercise, nutrition, and recovery is essential for our health and longevity regardless of whether there is a pandemic or not. Staying healthy also increases our chances of fighting off illness if we’re unfortunate enough to come across it. Exercise is also a stress reliever and important for our mental health during a time when being stuck indoors is more of the norm compared to before.
What advice do you have for those who struggle to stick to a workout plan?
The more you stick to your plan, the faster you will achieve your goal. Inconsistency will waste time and you may never reach that goal. Adherence may seem hard at first, but once it becomes a habit to exercise regularly, things begin to fall into place. Progress starts to be made and exercise will simply be part of your everyday life.
What benefits can we expect to see if we exercise regularly?
Improved physical appearance and general health are the most obvious benefits and common motivators. Improved self-confidence, energy levels, work ethic, and self-discipline can also be enhanced by sticking to a regular exercise regime. You can apply the dedication you have in the gym to other areas of your life. Surviving a gruelling workout makes running around playing with your kids feel like a walk in the park!
What’s your advice for raising healthy, fit and active kids?
Kids pick up on everything you do so it’s important to lead by example. If we create an environment where it’s normal to be active and healthy, then hopefully it will programme their mindsets to be the same way. I try to explain why I exercise and why I eat or limit certain foods. At their young age, the most important thing is that they enjoy their exercise. I try not to pressure them to do anything they have no interest in, as it creates negative reinforcement. The older they get, the more structure I’ll add to their exercise.
RITIKA BAJAJ | 29
Financial Advisor, Great Eastern
What do financial advisors do?
Financial advisors help construct personalised financial plans that aim to achieve the financial goals of their clients. Financial advisors don’t only focus on investments, but also on savings, budgets, insurance, and tax strategies. We also do an annual review with our clients to re-evaluate their current situation and future goals.
Would your advice for someone in their 20s differ from someone in their 50s?
It’s the same for both: save, save, save!
Everyone needs to save for their future and retirement, whether it’s through investments or keyman insurance. Just as we’re taught, money doesn’t grow on trees, and we should always remember how hard we have to work to earn it.
It is also important to save money for rainy days, as you can use these funds for emergencies, whether you are in your 20s or 50s. This pandemic is a prime example of how it’s necessary to have income to support us during difficult times.
I would specifically advise individuals in their 50s to be in the midst of legacy planning for their future generation.
What is a good strategy to save more?
• Have a spending chart sheet where you can note down all your expenses • Practice purchasing only what is absolutely required
• Restrict online shopping, as it can lead to impulsive buying
• Eat meals at home more than eating outside
• Cancel unnecessary subscriptions and memberships
Why is retirement planning important?
Retirement is something that we all tend to put off and worry about later, especially when we are young. But have we ever thought, “what if things don’t go the way we planned?” When this happens, it can put ourselves and our family in a less than ideal situation. We all have dreams to sit back and relax by the beach, or travel around the world! But these dreams require us to implement proper financial planning.
People are now living longer than before, which means they will need more retirement funds. There are many reasons it’s important to have sufficient funds when people reach retirement age. For example, it’ll allow you to visit your dream places and to retire comfortably. Having a firm plan in place will also help make sure that you don’t become a financial burden on your loved ones. In your retirement, you should not depend on anyone but yourself. Moreover, these funds can be used as a gift to your children or grandchildren.
SABINA AHUJA | 36
Holistic Therapy Specialist and Trainer at Journey to Love Co., Ltd.
What do holistic therapists do?
I empower my clients to take charge of their life in every area, not just one. This includes their health, relationships, wealth, and who they want to become as a person. They are the healer and coach of their own life; I’m only a guide to support them to unlock the healing power that is within them.
What motivated you to be on this path?
I struggled to be truly happy and fulfilled for a long time. Even though I looked happy and confident on the outside, inside, I felt empty and insecure.
In 2013, I was rushed into an emergency surgery that cost me my left ovary. I had this inner feeling that it was something deeper than just a physical sickness. I knew I had to heal my life and transform my depression into joy. It was then that I embarked on this path, and since then I’ve never looked back.
What is your advice for those who struggle with anxiety, depression, or OCD, especially those whose issues are triggered by the pandemic?
If you are experiencing any of the above, I invite you to be courageous enough to put yourself and your mental health first. This may require connecting with a professional who can support you. When we are in a depressive state, for example, it’s very easy to fall into a trap of thinking that we are alone in this journey, and we must remember that we are not.
A tool that can help tremendously is to read (I recommend Creative Visualization (2010) by Shakti Gawain) or journal before bedtime, and also get proper sleep. We don’t think about it as much, but sleeping has so much effect on our state of being. Avoid reading the news before bedtime and make it a point to tuck yourself in 10 minutes earlier to focus, breathe, and connect within.
What advice do you have for those who are struggling to feel happy even if they are successful and have accomplished a lot?
Many of us think happiness just comes naturally, but the secret is, happiness requires effort. Investigate deeply what makes you feel happy and unhappy, and focus on doing more of what makes you feel peaceful, content and joyful. Prioritise time for other areas of life other than work.
What is your advice for those who struggle with their physical health?
It’s easy to focus on what is wrong in our body than what is right, which creates tension and disharmony in our cells. Shift your focus to gratitude and express thanks to your internal organs, legs, arms, and eyes; sending your gratitude to all the parts that are working. This simple exercise will bring true healing to your cells and body.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to live a more ‘spiritual’ or ‘connected’ life?
Spirituality for me means more than just praying or aligning yourself to a higher power. The most spiritual thing we can do here on earth is to take 100 percent responsibility for our words, actions, and how we choose to respond to this magical thing called ‘life.’ Whatever comes your way, make sure to see where you can be responsible. This will help you get connected to so much power and create a wonderful impact in your life.