Sarah Connell is a Business Psychologist and Coach. In 2013 she founded MindingMe Psychologists with the support of The Women's Organisation.
After finishing her degree in Psychology, Sarah Connell was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the age of 22, a neurological condition affecting the nervous system.
Before receiving the news, Sarah was considering doing a Masters degree and despite having doubts she decided that the condition was not going to get in her way. The following year she moved to Liverpool and completed her Master of Science (MSc) in Occupational Psychology.
At first her symptoms were limited, making it possible for her to take a full time consultancy job in Manchester. Unfortunately over the 5 years her symptoms progressed and although her employer was very supportive, Sarah began to question how much longer she could continue in full time employment.
‘My symptoms were getting worse and I was starting to feel anxious about the future. Would I be able to continue working in a full time job? One of the things it is important to ensure with MS is that you manage your symptoms by following a healthy lifestyle, which includes getting enough rest… I was finding it harder and that’s when I started to think about starting my own business.’
It was the flexibility that self-employment allows that appealed to her the most and although the idea was daunting, her friends and family were very supportive of the idea. However, she felt that she didn’t know where to start and needed more help.
By chance, the Liverpool resident came across a leaflet in LEAF on Bold Street about the services The Women’s Organisation can offer to women in Merseyside wanting to start up their own business.
‘It was scary at the start… It took me a long time to accept myself as a business woman. I felt like I needed to make more connections so contacted The Women’s Organisation. I thought that it looked exactly like the kind of thing I was looking for… They provided me with a business advisor who gave me lots of helpful advice. I also attended a number of helpful workshops about Tax and NI, marketing using a social media strategy etc.’
She continued: ‘At first I didn’t understand why a business plan was necessary but it helped to give me a structure, recognise and articulate my strengths and weaknesses and gave me a sense of being a proper business.’
Although Sarah considered her MS as a weakness at the start, she now feels that it has helped give her a different outlook on life…
‘Having a condition like MS is scary but I have overcome big barriers myself and that gives me the confidence to work with others doing the same thing. I am passionate about this and want to help other people to get the most out of their lives’
It was that confidence and optimism that allowed her to open MindingMe Psychologists as a Business Psychologist & Coach. Her unique selling point is that she has over 10 years’ experience working with high profile clients from the private, public and voluntary sectors, including NHS and Macmillan.
Sarah understands the psychology of coaching from a cognitive-behavioural perspective and applies a range of advanced coaching techniques to business, health, performance and life coaching. MindingMe offers clients an objective, supportive and non-judgemental way to help them overcome challenges and achieve their goals, which is completely tailored to the individual’s needs.
‘I work with people to help them reach their potential. I can help to improve their self-awareness, identify when their thinking is impacting on their performance and their ability to move forward in their lives, offering suggestions and strategies to help challenge any negative or unhelpful thinking.’
The most common issues MindingMe deal with include confidence building, overcoming procrastination, dealing with anxiety and stress, clarifying where people are going in their lives and their career.
The main message Sarah aims to get across is that ‘we are sometimes faced with big challenges in life that can feel overwhelming, but we don’t have to let them take over. We can take steps that will allow us to move forward in a positive way. People have the answers within themselves; I’m here to hold up a mirror to help find them.’
With these beliefs, MindingMe is currently going strong with a steady stream of clients and a very impressive 100% return rate. The long term aim is to grow the business further by opening up her own office and employing staff to help more people across Liverpool and the North West of England.
Sarah is a great example of what people can do when they work to keep a positive outlook and are open to the opportunities that arise from both positive and negative situations.
If you are looking to change an aspect of your life that you’re unhappy with, or would just like to find out more, you can visit http://www.mindingme.co.uk or contact Sarah directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07784 574 482.
And if you feel it's the right time to move forward with that idea you've had for a while, there is free support available from The Women's Organisation. Call 0151 706 8111 or email email@example.com for more information.
By Beckie Kinsella