Find out more about our free 2 hours webinars here.
Find out more about our diplomas & programmes
Find out more about DISC.
Links to helpful pages.
Links for existing students.

Sarah Keeley - My light bulb moment


It was early 2015 when I was working as a graduate intern at the University of Cumbria in Student Services, a role I sort of fell into. One of my mentors, a careers adviser herself, recommended the Free 2-Day event that The Coaching Academy runs. I knew nothing about coaching, but I thought it sounded interesting. I booked myself on and within a couple of hours on the first day - it hit me; it was a light bulb moment. This is what I want to do...

What was your profession before becoming a coach?

At university studying musical and technical theatre, I’d often taken on managerial roles during productions, and I’d always been very good at organising people, so I began my working life as an administration manager and personal assistant.

What did you find most interesting to learn?

For me, unlocking the power of listening and tapping into that skill had the biggest impact. As a youngster, I had always been very chatty and talkative, but I realised I wasn’t truly listening to anyone. I was just waiting for my turn to speak!

What was the most rewarding part of the journey? 

Watching my clients achieve their goals and completely change their viewpoint, and all without me giving any advice or my own opinion! This was another skill that, at first, was difficult for me to master. As a ‘fixer’, I’d always been frustrated that I couldn’t solve my family and friend’s problems. Making the transition to letting go of the need to chirp in has been a totally freeing experience. 

Which bits did you enjoy the most?

For me, the Accelerator Days were where I developed a renewed passion for learning. Until this point, I’d always learnt just enough to pass an exam, or just enough to grasp the basics, but the days always left me hungry to learn more and suddenly I couldn’t get enough! The Coaching Academy trainers are so friendly and knowledgeable, and they deliver the content in such a way that I was completely engaged. The feedback I got from my assessments were probably the biggest turning point in terms of increasing my confidence as a ‘real’ coach.

How did the qualification slot in with your current life? 

The fact that I could complete the diploma at my own pace was a massive factor in my decision to train with The Coaching Academy. Alongside working full time, I have some complex chronic health conditions that meant I wouldn’t always be able to dedicate all my spare time to studying or practice. Thankfully, I was able to take my time and study when I felt well enough. I found the recorded webinars really helpful as I could download them and listen to them on my way to work.

Where are you now? How are you using your coaching skills?

I’ve just launched my own coaching business and left my full-time job as a PA. Security is very important to me, so this was a big deal! I’m so excited to have the time and energy to dedicate fully to coaching, and I’m currently building my client base. 

What is your coaching niche and why did you choose it?

I predominantly work as a chronic pain coach. My brand is ‘Focus with Sarah’, because I help my clients bring the focus back on them, what they really want, and what they can achieve, rather than their limitations. Typically, I work with people who are well enough to do some work and they don’t look sick, but they still have to micro-manage every aspect of their lives in order to manage their pain and conditions. My clients often feel like they’ve lost their ‘mojo’ and confidence, so I help them get it back.

I chose this niche because I’ve been through it myself. After falling ill during my teens, I’ve experienced chronic pain for the last 10 years, and it robbed me of much of my twenties. Coaching helped me recover from being wheelchair bound and helped me find an identity beyond my pain. I found there’s not as much positively focused support out there for people with chronic pain who are dealing with it alongside their day-to-day lives. I don’t promise to help ‘cure’ my clients, or even get rid of their pain; the power comes from getting comfortable with it.

What is the best thing that could happen to your coaching business in the next 2 years?

One of my goals is to grow my coaching business to the point where I can make a difference in the chronic pain community, especially for young people. I’m also focusing a lot on CPD whilst working towards my ICF credential. I’m really interested in the areas of confidence and resilience, and having been on The Coaching Academy CPD days, would like to learn more about those areas, incorporating more psychology-based techniques and philosophies into my coaching approach. 


My coaching top tips for:

People who are looking at coaching:

Even if it’s just for you personally, you’ll be amazed at the difference coaching can make in your life. Go to TCA’s Free 2-Day event or get yourself a coach and see what it’s all about for yourself!

Those coaches currently in training:

Soak up as much information as you can and keep learning. Familiarise yourself with the questions on the final paper and jot down anything related to them whilst you study. Also, enjoy the journey and get yourself a coach! 

Coaches that are about to qualify:

Get yourself organised, especially your paperwork, and most importantly look back at how far you’ve come! Make use of the mentor sessions and prepare any questions you have for once you qualify – they can help!

People that are in a similar situation to yourself:

Keep learning! Qualifying isn’t the end of that journey. Keep the same thirst for growth as you had when you were training. And most of all enjoy the process!


Take your first step towards a rewarding & fulfilling career with our Free Introduction to Life Coaching Webinar