Linda Magson, Sydney counsellor and life coach

The people who inspire me are generally excited about life’s possibilities and are content within themselves, active and contemplative.

Thought for the Week

“I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” —Herbert Bayard Swope

An image of Linda Magson, Sydney counsellor and life coach, wearing an active bright yellow bike shirt and long black gym pants. She is standing, leaning against a structure outside Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. It looks like a propeller from an aeroplane with climbing ropes surrounding it. It suggests that her personal journey is about activity and fun.

Linda Magson, Sydney counsellor and life coach

In my work, I have a number of people contact me, saying: “I want to do what you’ve done”. Generally they are searching for greater meaning in their lives or a career change. It’s hard moving from a field in which you’re an expert (for me that was music and music education) to a new area in which you’re a novice. So, where does the motivation to make a change come from? The people who inspire me are generally excited about life’s possibilities and are content within themselves, active and contemplative. Perhaps they have overcome an adversity or difficulty, or shown the courage to take a new direction. My motivator was the desire to move away from something (an incredibly stressful job in which I felt like a workhorse) towards what? That was a blank but I knew I needed greater life balance, activity and fun, with more time to connect with myself and friends. But I wasn’t sure how. I just knew I had to get out of the situation I was in and the rest happened by accident, literally!

It happened on Mother’s Day, 2002, taking some valued time out from my busy job in an executive position in a secondary school, where I was working long hours to keep afloat above the workload and losing all life balance. When I thought of giving the job up I was stuck. What would I do? Who was I without work? My identity felt shaken. Then, snap!

A broken ankle in three places and three months of total rest. I really shouldn’t play competitive netball on Mother’s Day! With my right foot elevated for three months, my wonderful partner, family and friends brought me coffee (a must), books and the daily newspaper. Then, a change moment: a message leapt off the daily page: “Become a counsellor”. I dismissed it, of course, having never considered that option. Each day it reappeared, calling my attention. After about a month of subliminal messages, I began to consider doing more study, for personal interest, growth and change. Maybe that would re-energise me in my work?

What about studying counselling, not for a career change, but for my personal development? I had positive memories of my own counselling experiences and personal development courses. So, three months later, I hobbled back to work newly re-energised with a plan to do more study. The outcome? I was re-energised and so loved the study that I started to change my work role and made time to engage with people in both my new and former roles. Still, it wasn’t enough and the workload swamped me again, with the old role threatening to squash the new one.

Then, an opening appeared: an invitation to work in my lecturer’s counselling practice on a Saturday, which I loved. I wanted to do more and added a night during the week, then negotiated with work to spend one day a week counselling. Then, I had a growing realisation that I couldn’t go back to work. The balance was all wrong. Shortly after, I hit a wall and felt a strong need to escape. I rang my partner that night and said: ”I’m never going back” and I didn’t.

I wasn’t sure what I would do, as I only had my counselling work for two days a week and I couldn’t live on that. What I did was trust my decision, though there were many times I doubted myself, and used the time to do more study, furthering my skills in both counselling and life coaching. After working with a counselling organisation for almost six years, I established my own practice: Linda Magson Counselling and Coaching. I am inspired each day by the people I meet and the work we do together. Five years ago I started teaching counselling at a tertiary college and have had the pleasure of now being a Clinical Supervisor for new counsellors starting out in their careers. So, my personal journey continues.

What is my work life balance like now? It couldn’t be better, with my mornings free to do Yoga or Pilates (Counselling requires a lot of self care!), a swim a couple of times a week, healthy food and a long cycle with friends on the weekends. I also reconnected with skiing, which I’d loved a lifetime ago.

Whatever you do in life needs to have meaning for you. Your personal journey will be different to mine. What has helped me is my belief in the self’s ability to rebalance itself and in the art of counselling or coaching to help achieve this equilibrium.

To discuss your counselling, life coaching or Clinical Supervision needs, please contact me at Linda Magson Counselling and Coaching.