Five years ago I accidentally started Fun Palaces, an organisation that has become very successful at supporting tens of thousands of people and communities to create their own cultural events. Twenty-seven years ago I accidentally became a writer and have since had sixteen novels published, as well as dozens of stories, a dozen plays. I have also been a director, facilitator, workshop leader, mentor and writing tutor. I have never done a course or a training programme for any of these things. I have never had a ‘proper job’ - ie, with sick pay or holiday pay or compassionate leave. I have been freelance my entire working life.
Which is great - except for the part where I have also been exhausted, drained, working too much, too hard, incapable of turning off, scared to take time out for myself, giving away so much.
Working with Nicola is supporting me to create some boundaries - to work out what is work and what is passion, what can be left behind and what moved forward. It is helping me to value time out, time off. It is supporting me in doing all the different work I care about as well as I can - and also (beginning to be!) aware of what else I need, what I need for me, as well as for my work.
For many of us in creative work, our work and ourselves become intertwined and even taking a breath can seem impossible - even as we know that taking a breath, inevitably, supports the work we go on to do.
Practically, things I have found very useful are:
- Nicola’s ability to leave me space to think - I tend to find out what I think as I speak it, Nicola has great skill in leaving space, allowing me to find my own thoughts, my own understanding of the work I’m doing.
- offering strategies not solutions. With the best will in the world, none of us can know what is exactly right for another person, when she does offer possibilities, Nicola offers them in the form of strategies, not solutions. I find this very helpful - open rather than closed possibilities.
- Nicola’s notes and recordings of our sessions give me somewhere to go back to, points to work from and build on.
I am enjoying sessions with Nicola as a time to take a breath, to take stock, to stop and look around. I know the value of this time is showing up in my work, and in my life. And that’s ALL good.
(nb - we're doing this work from London - time zones are no barrier!)
Writer | Fun Palaces director | Theatremaker
I'm an entrepreneur running two businesses from my Mount Maunganui base. Nicola was recommended by a colleague who thought her efficiency coaching would benefit my chaotic head space as I balance growing businesses, staying connected to my family, and honoring my own health, well-being and pleasure.
I was reluctant - there are a lot of people holding themselves out as having the key to peace and happiness and I can be skeptical of them. I was also worried that as a specialist in efficiency, Nicola would be making me feel guilty for not having an organised diary or comprehensive post-it note planning system. The last thing I wanted was a longer to-do list and more guilt and shame for feeling out of control.
Engaging Nicola was the most valuable thing I could have done for myself, my business, and my family at that time. She helped me understand both the "reasonable mind" and the "emotional mind", how to integrate them, and then take calm, balanced, constructive action. Every single time I spoke to Nicola I came out with something practical I could do to feel in control of my head and emotions, and felt like my to-do list was shrinking rather than increasing. She's an expert at devising what I need in a session, and targeting her teaching and tools to meet that.
I now also prefer coaching consultations online - Nicola sends through the audio recording and her written notes after the session allowing me to remind and refresh myself whenever I need it. I've never met Nicola face-to-face but my experience of her is a refreshing glass of water with magical calming properties. The impact of our work together is with me forever and has prompted significant change in what I feel capable of achieving.
Nicola is a gem. She brings wit, compassion and integrity into everything she does.
Her natural gifts shine most brightly when she’s working with her clients, helping them find efficiency and ease in their busy lives.
If you’re looking to make the most of your time — and therefore the most of your life — you need Nicola in your corner.
Before we talked, work was taking over my life and affecting my family, my friends and my health. Thanks to the universe, coaching seemed to be one piece of the puzzle that coincided with a yoga retreat plus intervention by my physiotherapist which meant all three of these things really cemented changing to a more balanced lifestyle.
Nicola is easy to talk to, friendly, professional. I particularly liked the idea of being accountable. Also that you weren't trying to make changes all on your own or all at once. Nicola's knowledge in this area was amazing, she had great practical tips and advice that she herself implements so I felt she 'walked the talk'.
Before talking with Nicola I was struggling with a lack of time & focus on the really important stuff. I found myself too ‘busy’ but not effective at achieving what really mattered in the business.
Her friendly, accessible demeanour and the sense of trust I built with Nicola made it ‘frictionless’ to get to the heart of the efficiency challenges I was facing. Personal reflection is not something that comes firsthand to me.
Delivering something beyond a ‘here and now’ feel great session was the most valuable part – the small habits concept resonated and is helping me make the lasting changes I needed.
One of the key benefits from Nicola’s coaching was the enduring framework she left me with. I’ll elaborate slightly on this – rather than just a review/analysis/ empathy based approach to understanding the efficiency and effectiveness challenges I was facing, I was given some really useful tools (new habits that were really surprisingly effective & easy to set) to help effect meaningful, lasting change. These were effective, accessible and are still in place today. And the scale of the changes I’m making are based on my own steps, through positive & intrinsic motivation – not out of guilt or other external motivation. No, I’m not going to describe in more detail what these great tools/habits were...I recommend you talk with Nicola and find out for yourself!
Nicola is centered, intelligent, insightful, and kind. She was a joy to work with and I would highly recommend her services to anyone looking to tap into their greater potential (in the most efficient (and fun!) way possible). She is approachable and friendly but also professional and knows what she’s talking about. I feel invigorated after our call!
Before we spoke, I was struggling with (in the biggest sense) how to be the most productive with the time I have. I would ebb and flow with periods of sitting and staring at my computer (or mindlessly checking email) to being extremely productive and knocking out my entire to-do list in one sitting. I wanted to be more consistently efficient.
After talking with Nicola I noticed an increase in confidence. I think half (or maybe way more than half!) the battle is the mental side of things and trying to keep up that feeling of “I got this” which can be challenging when you’re the only one planning for yourself, cheering yourself on, keeping the momentum up. Our conversation definitely aided in increasing that feeling and giving me another boost that I’m on the right path. Also, it seemed like she was really able to tap into where I was coming from so having that guiding voice of support is pure gold.
It’s like I wasn’t giving myself a chance to figure out when I was at my best, just thinking I had to be a workhorse 100% of the time .. but it’s about working smarter not harder and that little trick you taught me is definitely smart! Thank you, thank you! I truly, truly enjoyed our call and found it so extremely helpful.
Coaching with Nicola has given me the clarity and energy to make wonderful life-changing decisions. She offers gentle but very profound challenges.
The value that Nicola gives is brilliant!
Fit for Life Coaches
Working with Nicola as a personal coach has provided me with fantastic insights about my goals & motivations. Most importantly she has enabled, empowered and embedded lasting change in my habits and thoughts.
Thank you Nicola - you are a brilliant, professional and trusted coach.
Crystal Clear Coaching
My biggest benefit from talking to Nicola has been the deepening feeling of control over my own life.
Talking to Nicola it’s like talking to a close friend even if you just met her. She’s always present, fully listening. She is thinking outside the square, helping with solutions if asked but also letting me work it out.
Nicola has great suggestions and sometimes counters my own ideas and approaches to take them further to be more effective.
She’s my true sounding board, asking the right things and sometimes uncovers when I was just skimming the surface. After our conversations I’m positive and settled, knowing that I can take steps and that I’m in control. She’s my calm amidst my self-created storm!
Nicola has a really open, flexible, and pragmatic approach to helping people achieve their goals and reach their full potential. Her coaching has had a big impact on my life. I was really struggling to prioritise my energy towards the things that were important to me. Instead I was totally overwhelmed by expectations of others. I was spreading myself thin and what’s more, I was putting energy into things that either didn't matter to me or could be done a lot more efficiently with a lot less energy spent.
Through my coaching with Nicola I learnt to prioritise, focus and efficiently tackle the tasks that matter most to me. I now feel a lot clearer about my goals. I learnt some really practical and extremely useful skills for improving organization and efficiency in achieving tasks.
Anybody who feels that they're not quite reaching their full potential in any area of their life would benefit from Nicola's coaching. For anyone who has some big goals but arrives at the end of the day worn out and exhausted and not quite on the path to achieving your goals, then Nicola's coaching is for you.
Dr Kumari Fernando Valentine
Nicola is organised, careful, considered, insightful, creative, and supportive. She was also wonderful as a guest on my podcast – she sounded great, had fab tips and talked for the perfect length of time! Star guest!!
When I talked with Nicola about how I spend time in my business, I really appreciated learning the value of scheduling posts and, perhaps more importantly, having themes for each day of the week. Having themes really was the game changer for me on a number of levels – it helped me sort out the major themes that were important in what I was about and what I was trying to communicate, it decreased the time spent searching for or generating content, and it helped my page become more “cohesive” and consistent. Applying that strategy of themes to compartmentalizing the different jobs I do to different days of the week has allowed me to to be more efficient, say no more easily (as I can see that I literally don’t have the time), and be more organised.
I also found her emphasis on gathering data and reviewing it regularly very helpful. I’ve seen my social media reach increase significantly as a result of the strategies we discussed.
Thank you so much for your positivity, encouragement, enthusiasm, and very practical strategies, Nicola.
After our conversation I realized that I was not clearly addressing the “big picture” of my top goals for the rest of this calendar year. I was always “down in the weeds” with the little to-do’s. Your idea of having one place to make notes about my top projects is going to help me keep my eye on the projects that need to happen to achieve my goals – that was gold!
Nicola knows what on-line entrepreneurs are up against with their business, the demands on their time and what it takes to succeed. Her strategic approach to organizing business growth ideas and making best use of time have given me momentum to move forward in a very deliberate way.
Love More, Eat Less
Nicola really helped me focus on what I have taken out of past experiences – how I learn best, and how I interact with others – in a way that I have never thought about before. It all makes complete sense now, but I wasn’t able to connect that with how I wanted to work with people in my business.
I feel so much more at ease now, knowing I don’t have to do things a certain way , I can really make it work for ME as well as the people I work with, and I know they will FEEL that difference too.
My conversation with Nicola left me feeling a lot clearer and more purposeful about my businesses, and I am more confident in setting goals that have actual impact.
I have been struggling with splitting my focus between www.bemyguest.co.nz and www.southernbride.co.nz – while I have a vision for both, trying to reconcile that with the day to day strategy has been a challenge.
I feel like I have been “given permission” to cut out the stuff that doesn’t excite me, and build my business how I want it, not how others want it. I went away from our meeting with some concrete action steps and a clearer vision of what I want to achieve, and what I need to do to get there.
I am feeling a lot more energised, as I have a better sense of what I want to achieve now. Thank you Nicola!