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Down to business: Practical positivity

Down to business: Practical positivity

Northern-lass Sophie Cliff tells all about her life as a podcaster and lifecoach

Reader's Digest: How did your business get started, and how would you best summarise what you offer? 

My business officially got started in early 2019, although looking back, I can see that I had been laying the foundations long before that official launch date! 

I’m a life and business coach who specialises in helping people build their most joyful lives, whatever that means to them. I do that via 1:1 coaching, courses and workshops, and lots of free content, including the podcast I host, Practical Positivity.  

The big mission around my business is to encourage people to build their lives and work in a way that feels really good to them, and to invite more joy and positivity into their lives.  

So many of us get stuck in the trap of working towards goals or milestones just because it’s what’s expected of us and end up feeling miserable as a result, so I’m passionate about helping people live more intentionally. 

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Sophie Cliff


RD: What line of work were you in before you started coaching? What lessons have you brought from that into your new career? 

Before transitioning to being a coach, I had a very corporate career, working in sales and marketing for big companies like Hallmark and The Walt Disney Company. It was a career path I kind of fell into after Uni, and although I did very well in it and hit lots of the traditional markers of success, I never felt fulfilled. 

However, I’m really grateful for the experiences I had in those roles—I feel much more confident talking about business or strategy thanks to my corporate career. I got to attend lots of brilliant training and development programmes which gave me my first insight into the power of positive psychology and NLP.  

I also find that my previous experience makes it much easier to relate to clients—they know I understand the feeling of working in a job that doesn’t tick all the boxes, and they can see how I’ve made that transition from corporate life to self-employment work for me.  


How does your work compliment your personality? 

I’m a naturally bubbly person and I thrive on connection, so getting to spend my days connecting with brilliant humans feels like just about the best job in the world for me. Plus, I’m a bit of a geek at heart, so I love learning about the science behind positive psychology and why our brains work the way they do! 

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How does your approach to coaching differ to what else is out there? 

I think the biggest difference in the way I work is that I like to encourage clients to look at their lives as a whole. There are lots of coaches who focus on one specific niche (e.g., business, marketing, relationships, health, etc), but I truly believe that we can only tap into true joy and contentment when we’ve got a good harmony between all elements of our lives. 

I love helping clients make big strides in their careers without sacrificing their social lives, or learn how to take better care of their health without disrupting their time with their families. I also do a lot of work in helping people to identify and understand their personal values, as living in alignment with those can really help us to feel happier and more fulfilled. 

I like to take a very personalised approach with my clients—we’re all unique individuals with different learning styles and experiences, so you won’t find any stock answers or formulaic responses around here! 


Are you good at taking your own advice? 

I think on the whole, yes! Like anyone I have my difficult days, but ultimately I know that the tools I share with my clients really work, so I try to make sure I’m using them as regularly as possible. Things like gratitude lists or journaling can really turn your mood around and get you back on track, even when you’ve had a bit of a wobble.  



Lockdown is leaving people with a lot of time to consider their careers and lifestyles. Why would you say now is a good time to think about making a change? 

This is something I’ve been talking a lot about recently! I think lockdown is giving a lot of us some breathing room to properly reflect on our lives with more space than might have been available previously. It gives us an opportunity to try on a slower pace—one without commutes and office politics—which I think many people have enjoyed.  

I’ve been encouraging my clients to use this time to think about what they’d like their “new normal” to look like once this is all over, by tuning into what they’re really missing, and thinking about which parts of their lives they perhaps don’t feel as compelled to get back to. That information can really help us to figure out what might feel like a better fit.  


What does a typical work day look like for you? 

I always start my day with ten minutes of meditation and some journaling—this helps me to clear any worries I might have and put a bit of a plan together for the day ahead. Then, depending on the day, I might be at my desk catching up with clients, recording a new episode of my podcast, or sharing content over on Instagram. I also run some group coaching programmes, so at least once a week I’ll spend the day preparing the slides and worksheets for those. 

What I love about my job is that the days are always really varied, whether that’s speaking to different clients, or working on different projects. That variety helps me to stay really excited about the work I do.  



What are your favourite and least favourite parts of the job? 

My favourite part of the job is definitely working with my clients—there is nothing more rewarding than seeing them grow in confidence and contentment during our time working together! I think like most business owners, my least favourite part is the admin that comes with running a business—but no job is perfect, right?! 


What do you like to do to switch off? 

I’m a massive bookworm, so reading is my go to method of switching off—I relish the time away from a screen, and I just love getting lost in other people’s worlds. I also love getting out for a walk in the countryside (government rules permitting!) and I find cooking to be very meditative—I’ve been enthusiastically practising some new recipes in lockdown!  



What has been the most valuable business lesson you’ve learnt so far?  

There have been so, so many, but the one I always come back to is this: you wouldn’t have the dream if you didn’t have what it takes to make it happen. I wanted to make this career change years before I actually did, but I put it off because I didn’t think I was qualified enough, or smart enough, or entrepreneurial enough.  

What I’ve learned is that if you’ve got the niggle to make a change, that’s enough—you’ll figure everything else out as you go. That’s been true for me, but also for the brilliant clients I work with.  


If you weren’t the Joyful coach, what other career/industry would you like to be in?  

Ooooh, that’s such a good question! My cousin is a florist and I’ve always loved how creative that industry is. One day, I’d love to try my hand at being a writer too! 

Learn more about Sophie or sign up for one of her courses at sophiecliff.com

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