Dr. Sarah Lawson on overcoming the trials of expat life
Time Out Bahrain staff
Life as an expat woman, for some, can have its challenges, which can leave you feeling stuck. Jessica Bailey Ackerman meets Dr. Sarah Lawson, founder of Long Story Short Coaching, to find out how she can help.
‘What is your vision for your life? What are your goals? Are you on the path you want to be on?’ These are the first questions GCC-based Dr. Sarah Lawson will ask you on your first Long Story Short Coaching session.
With an extensive background in clinical and health psychology in the UK, as well as coaching, Sarah uses a holistic integrative approach, in the form of personal development, to help women create a vision for their lives, set goals, understand their unique strengths and to build self-confidence and self-belief in a safe and supportive environment.
‘Far too often I hear about talented women feeling unfulfilled, unhappy and wanting to go ‘home’ to their old life,’ Sarah says. ‘They may be struggling to find a job in their profession, they can’t get a work permit, they don’t know what to do with their time and so all that talent is going to waste. So many women feel like there is something wrong with them, like they aren’t the person they want to be or they’re living a life they don’t necessarily want.
‘One of the first questions people ask you is ‘what do you do?’ and sometimes our profession ends up labelling us,’ she says. ‘It’s easy to say you’re a teacher, a mother, a CEO or an accountant, but the question of ‘who am I?’ is a far more vast topic that encompasses so much more.’
In Long Story Short Coaching, Sarah helps women tackle their fears that stand in the way of accessing insight into themselves. She predominantly hosts hour-long, one-on-one coaching sessions (via Skype from Qatar) that help them to set goals and create a vision for themselves. Throughout the coaching sessions she helps them work towards their goals by facilitating a safe environment for them to explore the ‘Who am I?’ questions and to take action towards creating the fulfilling, successful life they desire and deserve.
Seeking the positives Sarah teaches women to use positive emotion, to look at the many opportunities Bahrain has to offer instead of falling into negative thinking. She says: ‘When we get trapped into negative thinking, we ultimately make ourselves small and restrained, whereas when we open our minds and our vision and look at the skills we have, we can bridge the two together. That’s where I come in, to help you do just that.’
Meeting people Another aspect of what Long Story Short Coaching looks at is helping women take the first steps to ‘get out there.’ If you have a child you have the benefit of meeting other mums at school or in social networks like Mums in Bahrain, but not having a child shouldn’t be an excuse for not networking. ‘We tend to make our excuses for not getting involved, yet there are many ways for women to reach out to other women with similar ambitions, such as Biz Ladies, Internations, social coffee mornings, volunteering within the community for groups like The Palm Association, exercise classes, or even setting up your own network.
‘Facebook is a great tool with many networking communities. All you need to do is find out what you like and what you want to spend your time doing,’ Sarah advises. In her opinion, a lot of women find it difficult to take the first step to join a group/class/network without having someone to do it with them, yet most of the time when you take that first step you realise that a lot of women are in exactly the same position.
‘At the end of the day, I love helping people and I want them to succeed. I get to know my clients and we determine if we can build a working relationship and if Long Story Short Coaching is the right fit for them. It’s important that my client feels comfortable talking to me, so that we can work together to identify what she wants and how to achieve it.
Six steps if you’re feeling fed up 1 Positive emotion: Focus on the opportunities that the decision to move abroad has opened up for you. Write down the strengths, qualities and positive aspects of your current life and situation.
2 Engagement with others: Get out of the house and engage with your community through social clubs, sports activities, voluntary work and anything else that uses your mind and stops you becoming bored and lonely.
3 Positive relationships: When you meet a new person or make a new friend, be the first to take their number or set a time to meet up with them again. Make sure you do seek out positive people however.
4 Do something meaningful: What do you value most? What is most important to you? We get more from being involved in the things we care about.
5 Set a vision: What do you want to achieve or accomplish in your time abroad? Dream big and get specific about what you want. The clearer we are about our goals the easier it is to find ways to get there. Everyone can benefit from a vision and plan.
6 Oh, and finally, have fun because there’s plenty to be had!