Katarina Stoltz Coaching and Therapy was founded in 2015 to empower international professionals to prioritise their well-being at home and at work. Katarina is an internationally certified life coach specializing in expat challenges and life transitions, as well as a psychotherapist specializing in the Gestalt Method. She works with clients who find themselves in a purposeless hamster wheel and have lost sight of who they are and what they really want. Through her therapy work, coaching programmes, the Time To Thrive blog, and the Time To Thrive journal, Katarina helps her clients prioritise their own well-being to find fulfillment and avoid burnout. Living in Berlin, her therapy clients attend sessions at her practice in Berlin. Her coaching clients, who are based worldwide, attend sessions either online or in person at her practice.
Katarina, you’re an internationally certified life coach with specialisation in expat challenges and life transitions. Can you share with us your own expat experience, the challenges it presented and how you transformed it, including three tips for other expats?
I moved abroad twice, first to Warsaw when I was young, single and full of ‘go-getter’ attitude. Challenges were easy to overcome with my life of parties and exciting jobs. But when I moved to Berlin I was at a different stage in my life.
I was 35, left my job, friends and a cosy flat to follow my heart and live with the man I had fallen in love with. And it was hard. I lost my enthusiasm, confidence, and blamed the world for my unhappiness.
Many tears and glasses of prosecco later I realised I needed to take responsibility for my own well-being. It was time to rediscover myself and look at how I could feel more alive again. So I went to a psychotherapist. There was no way I could have done it alone.
My three tips for other expats: Learn the language, be friendly to others (including yourself) and ask for support.
You work with clients who find themselves in a purposeless hamster wheel and have lost sight of who they are and what they really want. What is the secret to finding meaning in life and achieving fulfilment?
In his book The Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer writes: ‘What actually gives life meaning is the willingness to live it’.
I’ve learned that jumping into the unknown and living life instead of just talking about all the things I want to do or be, has given me tremendous fulfilment. Even the hardest challenges have given my life meaning, because breakdowns lead to breakthroughs.
I also think the secret to achieving fulfilment is to stop chasing purpose and meaning, and look around and ask yourself ‘what gives life meaning right now’? For me it’s going to a cafe and having lunch in the sun, calling a friend or having a snowball fight with my daughter. There is nothing we need to find, we have what we need right here in front of us. If we’re just willing to live our lives.
You published a blog post about ‘How to survive and thrive as an entrepreneur’. Being a business-owner can be very fulfilling but also lonely and quite challenging at times. Can you share 5 tips on how to improve the entrepreneurial experience and make it more fun?!
- Find a business buddy. Meet regularly to hold each other accountable and brainstorm ideas.
- Join an online network for support. Find a membership suited to the stage your business is in and connect with other entrepreneurs.
- Join or create a mastermind. Find a group of like-minded entrepreneurs to meet with monthly. Bring your business challenges, and get ideas about how to resolve them.
- Get help before you need it. I hired a virtual assistant, designer and SEO manager before I really needed them. Now they’re crucial to my business development.
- Stop comparing yourself to other entrepreneurs! It’s easy to look at what others are doing and lose track of your own progress. The only thing that matters is where you were half a year ago and where you are now.
You offer a guided journal to help identify secret energy-drains than can lead to feelings of exhaustion. From your work experience as coach and psychotherapist – What are typical energy-drains for people and do you have some inspiration for
nourishing habits that boost our energy?!
When I ask my clients what drags them down almost everyone says ‘social media scrolling’. Overworking, drinking, binge watching, and keeping up appearances—upholding the facade that we can cope with everything—also come up frequently.
Overthinking is another big one. Studies show we have about 6,000 thoughts a day and 80% of them are negative. So much energy goes into thinking about what has happened and what will happen. We tend to live in the past and future, forgetting to notice what is good in our lives right now.
As far as nourishing habits, they’re very individual. For me, writing helps identify what drains me so that I can make healthier choices. For those intimidated by an empty page, I created a free guided journal ‘Time to Thrive’. You can download it here.
„The blurring of psychological boundaries during childhood becomes a significant source of future physiological stress in the adult.“, is a quote from Gabor Maté’s book ‘When the Body Says No’. Saying No can be a challenge, especially for women and entrepreneurs. Can you share some advice on how to stop people pleasing and set healthy boundaries and how to deal with people’s negative reactions to that?
Many women have learned ‘the good girl behaviour’, meaning repressing anger and other ‘negative’ emotions and only act friendly and pleasant all the time. We suppress our own needs and focus more on others than ourselves.
Setting boundaries is challenging. Usually, people close to us don’t like when we change our behaviour and can get triggered when we stop trying to please them.
Here’s how you can set healthy boundaries:
- Notice your boundaries. Notice physical reactions like headaches or belly aches and use your body as a compass.
- Identify your needs. Ask yourself: When I notice this boundary, what is it I really need? This will give you more clarity as to why it’s important..
- Start expressing them. Don’t apologise or give long explanations, use a calm, straight-forward tone, and don’t make it personal.
You are going on a semi sabbatical to Thailand for 6 weeks in February. Can you tell us more about it and why it is important for you?
It’s easy for us women and entrepreneurs to fall into the ‘go, go, go habit’ and burn out. During the pandemic we became aware of how uncertain our lives are, and many of us entrepreneurs worked even harder than before.
I’ve decided to step out of my own hamster wheel and bring my family with me to an island in Thailand to slow down and simplify life. This is important not only for me and my business but also for us as a family—to connect on a deeper level, which will be possible when everyone is less busy.
My hope is that we will recharge after living under stressful circumstances these last three years. I also intend to look at my business and see how I can serve more people in the future, so they can start living life on their own terms, and burn bright, not out.