An interview with Naomi Buffery

Naomi Buffery

We grabbed a few moments with Naomi Buffery, a Pregnancy, Birth and Motherhood Coach based in Lincoln. 

Naomi has a wealth of experience and expertise, previously as a group marketing manager and marketing specialist. We spoke to her about her career journey…

“I started out working as an Administrator for an Advertising Agency and kind of fell into a Marketing Career. It never really floated my boat but I needed to pay the bills. I knew what I was doing and it was my comfort zone even though it didn’t particularly make me happy. 

I stayed in that career far longer than I should have. I used to dread going into work most days. I wanted to move into a career where I could work with people helping with their mental health but my own limiting beliefs about myself held me back. I never thought I was good enough or capable enough to change careers.”

Not that long ago, in 2019, inews.co.uk reported that more than half of British workers are unhappy in their jobs. “Inadequate pay, lack of career progression and poor company culture were among the main reasons given as to why more than half of UK workers surveyed are unhappy in their jobs.”

Inc.com also wrote about the subject of people being dissatisfied in their jobs, where the CEO of Workitdaily.com spent 15 years studying why people hated their jobs. “For the past 15 years, I’ve been devoted to studying the deep disconnect people feel between themselves and their jobs, and the findings are disturbing.

We spend one-third (or more) of our days at work. Work defines us as people, i.e. when we aren’t happy at work, other areas of our life suffer. Yet more than 70 per cent of workers say they don’t feel satisfied with their career choices, and I believe we have a serious epidemic on our hands.” 

Luckily, 2 years ago Naomi DID find the motivation to jump out of her comfort zone.

“I struggled with my mental health after my son was born in 2013 but I had lived with anxiety and depression on and off for 20 years. It wasn’t until my son was born and I experienced a big drop in my mental health that I realised how little help there was out there. So, I started up a support group for Mums with Postnatal Depression and Anxiety. 

These groups were great but I wasn’t able to offer the women anything other than my understanding, I wanted to offer them actions that they were able to do to help improve their situation. That’s when the opportunity to train as an Emotional Health Coach came up. 

Now I help women overcome their emotional health difficulties with my coaching programs. I specialise in Social Anxiety. Social Anxiety was a big problem for me after becoming a Mum. And I think it’s a big issue for a lot of mums. That fear of judgement, striving for perfection, putting too much pressure on yourself, feeling inferior when you go back to work.

I have two different programs. I offer dedicated coaching on a one to one basis online, using Skype that costs £595 for 8 weeks. And for those on a budget, I offer an online group masterclass program using Facebook Groups. This program includes daily videos with training and actions to take as well as a weekly group coaching session. This is £395 for the 8-week program which also gives lifetime access to the Masterclass.”

When it comes to career women who are at the stage of their life where they may be looking to start a family, there is a very split opinion on whether a choice has to be made or not. We are very much led to believe we can have it all, but in reality, it just isn’t that simple.

An article in the HuffPost says: “So, what to choose: career or motherhood, and what’s more significant? While everyone has to decide for oneself what is more important at a certain life period, I think that once a woman chooses to have a child, she should devote at least some time to the child and put the career aside. When the child grows older, it gets possible to devote more time to work. I believe that setting priorities during different time intervals is going to be very helpful and can eliminate a lot of stress.”

The Independent reported that: “Due to the lack of support from employers on returning to work, women often feel forced to give up the careers they have trained so hard for, to fit into their new role of motherhood. But it shouldn’t be like this.”

The Telegraph published an article that said that women COULD have it all, but Caroline Dinenage who was interviewed said: “I love being a mother and a career woman. But I wouldn’t have been able to carry on working while raising my two boys had I not had help from my family, especially my mum; her support meant I didn’t have to choose. I know that many women feel unable to pick up where they left off in their careers after a break, either because of practical barriers, like childcare or because of workplace cultures that suggest a break means you’ve fallen behind your peers. We simply cannot afford to lose talented women from the workplace in this way.”

Naomi feels that in her personal experience, working full time and developing her career just wasn’t an option as a mother.

“In my experience, after my son was born, if I had wanted my career to thrive, I would have had to work full-time. This just wasn’t an option for me with the price of childcare and I didn’t want to sacrifice spending time with my son. Part-time, flexible jobs that help develop your career are almost non-existent. I think Mums, in particular, feel this pressure to have it all.

They feel like they need to be this perfect, superwoman. My advice would be, take stock, and think about what it is that you really want. Forget about what other people think. Forget about stuff that you can’t control. Think about what it is that you want. Think about what it is that’s holding you back. Have you got some dusty old beliefs that aren’t serving you well? Is it the fear of failure? And then make a plan to go and get it. You can make anything happen when you put your mind to it.”

It seems as though the point of contention when it comes to career women having children, is that the workplace is not set up or supportive of new mum’s and the flexibility required is not offered. 

In 2020, should a woman still have to choose between being a stay-at-home Mum or a professional that never sees her child and palms her off on a nanny or family member? It seems ridiculous that with flexible working hours, remote working options and modern business models that women are still made to feel as though they can’t have both. Something most men simply do not have to worry about or consider.

“I still think it’s a big issue. I think as a society, it is still looked upon the women to be the primary caregiver to their children. A woman is the one that is expected to sacrifice her career. My partner has not had to make the same decisions as me regarding his job. He continues to grow and develop and get promoted in his work. Whereas I have had to be creative to find the right balance for myself.

Becoming a Mum made me reevaluate everything. Despite what you hear, it isn’t possible to have everything – in my opinion. When you have children, you have to choose between your career and your children. I could no longer work full time, which meant my promotion opportunities were a lot more limited. I went back to my old job after maternity leave and found it impossible to find another part-time job at the same level or above. I had to take a big pay cut and a more junior role if I wanted to move jobs. So, I stayed in a job that I had outgrown and wasn’t happy anymore which made me feel trapped and miserable.

This is why I eventually decided to become self-employed because I was able to follow my dreams, set my hours and be available for my son. Whilst earning the money that I deserved to earn.

There are some great, forward-thinking companies around that are pioneering flexible working but I don’t think there are enough of them. It’s certainly not the norm.”

As a business owner, we asked Naomi what she most enjoys about her job.

“I love the moment when I see a mindset shift in my client. It’s the biggest buzz. That moment when you see in their face that they realise it’s only them that have been holding themselves back. I remember when I went through the coaching program myself and my own shifts and I remember how thrilling they were. And when I see that in a client, I remember how I felt and I can tune in to how they must be feeling. Seeing the transformation from week one to week eight is worth more than any amount of money in the world.

I see a lot of Mums with confidence issues at work as well as anxiety from pushing themselves too hard. We live in a culture where women are expected to have it all together all the time. We paint on these faces of perfection, but underneath we have massive doubts and fears. Women are struggling at work because they don’t feel good enough for the career anymore after having kids. So they are pushing themselves to breaking point to prove to the world that they are capable.”

We asked Naomi if she feels as though mental health is still a taboo topic or if she sees an improvement over the years.

“I think there is still a long way to go on this one. It’s better than it was but we are not

there yet. There is still so much misunderstanding around mental health. A lot of the women I work with want me to keep it a secret that we work together (obviously it’s a confidential service) as they are terrified of their work finding out. There is this stigma around it that you are incapable or weak.

I have struggled with my mental health and I am very open about this. In the past, I have had anxiety, depression and OCD. It’s plastered all over my social media accounts, website etc. I deliver talks about it. I’ve just recently done a TEDx talk all about my issues with mental health around birth and becoming a new Mum.

I use the techniques and methods that I teach in my coaching program to keep it in check. In my coaching program, I help women rid themselves of anxiety for good. And this is through having a better understanding of yourself, your thought processes, your triggers. And learning how to manage your thoughts, behaviours and emotions in a better way. It’s also about understanding my beliefs about myself and how they are holding me back.”

These days it is imperative that a business is online. With this, social media is always brought into the mix.

“It’s a double-edged sword. I think it’s a fantastic tool for getting the message out there and raising awareness. We are talking more openly about mental health now than we have ever done before and social media is a fantastic platform for this.

However, on the flip side, there are also those perfect images of the perfect life that people put out there. Which doesn’t help those struggling with their mental health because they are looking at the pictures, comparing themselves and not feeling like they measure up. If you are vulnerable, seeing those perfect Instagram photos can make you feel like you’re life is rubbish. Some people rely on the number of likes on a post for their self-esteem and if they don’t get loads of likes, it has an effect on them.”

The future of the coaching and wellness industry looks likely to continue to steadily grow through 2020 and beyond.

“More and more people are looking at how to step into the best version of themselves and let go of all their unhelpful behaviours. I’m excited to see how the industry continues to grow over the next year.

I’m interested in developing my own business more focussing on helping more and more women with anxiety, especially social anxiety.”

Website: http://www.naomibuffery.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/naomibuffery/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/naomianne.buffery

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/naomi.buffery/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Naomi_mumcoach

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