High Performance Coach: How to Create a Sustainable Lifestyle
“Lower your ambition! Don’t always perform your best!” This advice was given to high performance coach and stress counselor Sandra Furulund, when she became sick from stress. Keep reading to find out why you shouldn’t follow this advice if you self-identify as a highly ambitious individual, and discover how you can develop a sustainable, powerful lifestyle that suits your personality instead.
Hi Sandra! Who are you and what do you do?
Im a curious person whos always loved to be on the move, on my way. I love discovering new places and learning new things, both in my private life as well as professionally.
I work as a high performance coach and stress counselor. That means that I educate and coach ambitious individuals who want to keep delivering great results, but who want to develop a lifestyle where they can achieve this with lots of energy and joy!
What made you want to work within this field?
As I mentioned before, Im someone who loves to be constantly on my way somewhere. Part of this passion is that Ive always been very focused on my goals, with a strong inner drive. This is my biggest strength, but as I found out when I was 28 years old, its also my weakest side.
Up until then Id let my drive, curiosity and determination lead me and always be on. Back then I was working as a communications strategist, but it was actually not my job that was the biggest reason for my burnout.
I simply lacked knowledge about the fact that our bodies and brains need something more than to be constantly in discovery mode or searching for solutions. This, combined with severe sleep deprivation following a personal crisis a few years prior, was the biggest reason why I burned out and became sick from stress.
On my journey to becoming healthy again, I started developing a lifestyle that was sustainable for my physical health. I listened to advice from experts in the field, who told me that I should do things like lower my level of ambition, and not try to perform my best in all situations. So I started following their advice and noticed that I did get better after a while - physically at least. Inside, however, I was left feeling worse that before. In hindsight, Im not that surprised to be honest - I had stopped being myself and expressing who I really was. Im someone who instinctively always wanted to do my best, not because it was demanded from me but because its who I am. And to stop being who you are, well, that isnt the way to a sustainable lifestyle.
Photo: Linda Florvik
In the end, I chose to change career paths and further my education. I became a stress councelor and set up my own practice. Soon, I started seeing a pattern in the people who came to see me: they were all ambitious, driven, loyal, high-performing, curious, determined individuals - just like I was. This lead me to start equipping them with tools and solutions that were outside of what Id been taught during my training. After some time, I felt that stress counseling wasnt the perfect fit for me or what I was doing any longer, but I didnt really have any other word for it.
That is, until I met a business coach from Canada, who introduced me to the idea of high performance. It was like coming home; this is exactly what I did and lived out in my own life: high performance and self-leadership.
Many people associate the concept of high performance with high levels of stress and a negative pressure to perform. But thats actually the total opposite of what high performance is about, instead it says something about how unhealthy our relationship to performance and stress is here in Sweden today.
Today my vision is to help more ambitious people discover that you can create a sustainable lifestyle for yourself, where energy, health, and relationships all have a given place. We dont have to choose either or - we can combine them all!
Photo: Karl-Johan Zaring
You talk a lot about the notion of so called female overachievers. What is a female overachiever? And is it a bad thing?
The concept of female overachievers is thrown around quite a bit today in social media, among other places. But we also have stress researchers who use this concept to describe the majority of women who have become sick from stress today. The epithet comes from what professionals call performance based self-esteem, and is loosely defined as a woman who performs to be accepted.
One of my biggest missions in life is to eliminate the use of the word overachiever to describe so many incredible women - competent, experienced women, who love to contribute and are highly capable of doing so. This antiquated way of viewing high-performing women is like having the 19th century come knocking on the door again!
Instead, I think we should say to these women: Brilliant! Youve got ambition, love performing at a high level, and you obviously have some great stuff to contribute with! Lets build a sustainable lifestyle around that, so youre not only in performance mode all day, every day. Youre ALLOWED to be there, but you need to include more areas in life too, so you enjoy being there in the long run. And let us take you higher than just sustainable: You should feel secure, strong, powerful from the inside out, full of energy and trust. You should be able to enjoy and experience your life on more levels than just professional. And thats why you should be getting tailored solutions that suit you.
What, then, is the great secret to living a sustainable, high-performance lifestyle?
The great secret to this is living with intention - and to have yourself and your human needs as a starting point. To be able to successfully combine high ambition and high performance with a sustainable lifestyle, you need to see to your own needs first. Every day. Sleep, nutrition, exercise, stillness, and other basic human needs that our body, brain and soul needs. This also includes building strong self-esteem, self-worth, and self-trust. From this place, we can then go out and give to others, contributing with intention - however, whenever, and wherever we choose. Theres so much more to say about this, of course, but these are some fundamentals behind the secret to living a sustainable, high-performance lifestyle!
Are you curious to learn more about how to perform according to your ambition, in a way that is sustainable in the long run? Keep an eye out for Sandras new book on this topic , coming out in May (Swedish only for now).
You can see more of Sandras work on her website, and connect with her on Instagram and LinkedIn.
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