Taking 'Life Changes' in Small Steps

Jennifer Lewis-Hall, author of the new self-help book Life Changes, explains how to make changes in your life — big or small — one step at a time.

ED GORDON, host:

I'm Ed Gordon, and this is NEWS AND NOTES. Whether you're thinking through a major career change, or getting rid of some bad habits, you may consider consulting a life coach. NPR's Farai Chideya spoke with one expert who specializes in helping folks get to their best personal path.

FARAI CHIDEYA reporting:

Jennifer Lewis Hall has been a correspondent at CNBC Business News for four years. She also worked for shows including Early Today and The Wall Street Journal Report. She went on to become a certified life coach after being a mother, a wife, caretaking for an ailing parent. Her new book is Life Changes: Using the Power of Change to Transform Your Life. Welcome, Jennifer.

Ms. JENNIFER LEWIS HALL (Life Coach, Author): Thank you so much. It's great to be here.

CHIDEYA: So, you are now a life coach. What exactly does that mean?

Ms. HALL: A life coach is really a person who helps you move forward. It's very different from therapy. It's not a clinical process, it's a holistic process in that we work on goals, we can coach you for your business, parenting coaching, all types of coaching to get people to move, in a proactive way, to succeed.

CHIDEYA: Why did you decide to make this change?

Ms. HALL: You know, so many things happened in my life. I think it's reflective of many women going from 30 to 40, raising young children, having aging parents, wanting to get the most out of my career and then realizing, have I reached my peak? And what's next? And all of the major factors were happening at once, and it really led me to figure out what these changes were all about.

CHIDEYA: So your book includes a weekly journal. What are you hoping that people who read it get out of it?

Ms. HALL: I hope that they don't only read it but that they are really proactive about using it. When you journal and when you read, and then you affirm what you want in life, those are the three powerful layers of success, because you are internalizing it, you're speaking it, you're setting your intention. And that is fantastic, because it's letting you know first that this is something you want to accomplish.

So in each of those weeks there are words that I hope you will take and make note of and resonate--have resonate with you: hope and faith and peace. And think about that in your life for 52 weeks. But as you're writing, what are the goals that you want to accomplish? How do you want to get there? What kind of lifestyle do you want to live?

CHIDEYA: How did you develop the theory behind the book? You mentioned being a certified life coach, but you must have other theories that you've developed in practice from helping people. And what did you learn on the journey to helping other people?

Ms. HALL: Most of my journey has been through trial and error. I think coming through the business of journalism and seeing so many things in your life, how other people live, getting exposure to--I always call it, kind of, the backstage view of politics and education and covering stories has been an incredible window into the world that we live in.

We get a perspective, as journalists, that many people don't get to see. So we communicate and inform, and that has been such a process for me, even in writing. Now, this is my second book, but having that window into what kind of lifestyle do I want to live after being exposed to so many different types of people in my own life?

So one of the theories that I have is that you have to really follow your personal passion. That's what I did in my career as a professional, but to balance that with the kind of life that I want to live now as an adult and a mother of young children, and someone who's also helping to, in many ways, care for now older parents. It's a very different scenario.

So I wanted to transition my life into something that I would love at this stage. And again, what is my personal passion? And that's what I decided to pursue, which was not only to inform people, which is what I did on the news, but now to really help them live that kind of life that they have always longed for. And it's been just wonderful to be able to go out and speak to women all across the country about personal passion and what they'd like to achieve.

CHIDEYA: You tackle some tough issues, including infidelity. How do you approach a subject like that?

Ms. HALL: You have to be honest. It's something that goes on in society. You know, over 50 percent of first marriages in this country do not survive. Many end up in divorce. Couples are looking for ways to stick together. Families are looking for ways to deal with an expanding family base, as you have stepparents, and the creation of the new family.

So this is one of the biggest things that's happening in our nation. And it's something that people are trying to get their arms around. We know that topics like infidelity exist. We know that people are trying to figure out how to be better in their relationship. And that's one of the major life changes. And, certainly, as you look at relationships and divorce in terms of a marriage, but even as a single person longing for that kind of relationship, infidelity can exist there. It's more about how committed are you? Have you talked about what kind of commitment you want?

When you're single or whether you're married, these are things that affect so many of us. And I thought it would be wonderful to be open and honest and put that on the table. And that's part of really, you know, taking that mask off, as I call it. And as a coach, you have to really make sure that you are touching base with the real issues that resonate with people. It's not just about fluff or colorful words. It's about being very honest.

CHIDEYA: Certified life coach Jennifer Lewis Hall is the author of Life Changes: Using the Power of Change to Transform Your Life. Thank you for joining us.

Ms. HALL: Thank you.

GORDON: That was NPR's Farai Chideya.

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Using the Power of Change to Transform Your Life

by Jennifer Lewis-Hall

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