Uprooting your life and moving abroad is often an isolating and all-consuming experience, no matter how many times you may have done it before. The highs are high, but the lows are sometimes lower than you could have ever fathomed.
Change is the only constant, as the trite cliche goes, but when life throws changes at you left and right, there’s little comfort to be found in dusty old cliches. That’s where I found myself before my conversation with Eva Amaral – weary and a tad emotionally disheveled after yet another move. Albeit, this time it was within the Netherlands, but far enough from Delft to register as a move away from “home.”
Little did I know that an interview in which I was supposed to be finding out about Eva’s coaching business was just what I needed to go back to the core of what I want. Because that’s what Eva does, with warmth, honesty and a gentle nudge – she helps her clients make sense of their values in the midst of topsy-turvy lives.
by Mickey Gast
Coaching is about uncovering people’s values
When Eva first set up her coaching business, Multipaths, she started working with mothers. Through word-of-mouth, Eva’s business expanded past serving mothers to helping internationals in general find focus in their careers. She still helps expat mothers refocus when all the change brought on by motherhood starts eroding their sense of self.
“What’s the most common struggle that your clients bring to you?” I ask her. Without any trace of hesitation, Eva says, “It’s definitely a lack of self-confidence. People are not really aware of what their values are. And even though they have achieved things in their lives that theoretically should make them happy – a nice job, a good spouse, healthy kids – they still have a sense of dissatisfaction. They have a feeling that there’s something wrong, but they can’t exactly pinpoint what.”
This is when I start nodding in approval because I’m so aware of how often I’ve felt that way. Eva says that’s common, but many of us don’t talk about it. We have a bias against seeing a specialist because, after all, we feel there shouldn’t be anything wrong with us. The truth is that this niggling feeling rears its head when we don’t live in congruence with our values. In fact, we may not even know what our values are, deep down inside. Having the support of a life coach can work wonders in this kind of scenario.
Coaching nurtures the seeds that are already inside you
“How do you push people to find out what they really want, Eva?” Warm yet commanding, Eva replies, “I don’t push. I never push.”
What follows is the metaphor that has stayed with me in the weeks that followed this interview. And I have the feeling it will linger in my memory for some time.
“Your wishes and values are like plants; the seeds have always been there, but nobody has been watering them,” Eva says. “As a coach, I see that people have these seeds inside. It’s just a matter of nurturing them at the right time, the right way, and the right amount of times. That’s when they flourish.”
The nodding on my side of the table reaches ridiculous levels at this point, as my mind connects this gardening imagery with the depths of my own unnurtured goals and desires. How could it not? Eva has this gift of speaking directly to you when she just seems to be talking in general terms.
Eva adds, “You cannot plant a seed in anyone’s mind. Everything has to come from the core. As a coach, I help my clients discover who they are and what kind of seeds they have inside them. Once we reach that level of self-awareness, it becomes so much easier to work with who they are, what they wish for and what makes them happy and fulfilled.”
At this point in our conversation, I feel emboldened to ask the (partly) tongue-in-cheek question, “Have you always been this wise, Eva?” We both have a chuckle because we know it’s never that simple.
Eva has worked hard to reach the level of self-awareness needed to help clients overcome their mental blockages.
Eva’s own self-discovery journey
When Eva was younger, she used to focus more on the negative aspects of life. “I used to complain a lot, and I felt that I was dragged into this darkness,” she says. “I practiced martial arts, so it was natural for me to tackle things with aggression and persistence. When you were knocked down, you had to get up again, no matter what.”
Seeing that this kind of approach didn’t always work, Eva decided to challenge herself. First, she chose to study psychology and human behavior. She picked up books and started to connect with people who were different from her. She adds, “Then I started doing yoga, which is all about setting your own pace and your own time. You stretch a little bit here and there, and the following day you do it a bit better. It’s all about consistency and gently pushing yourself every time.” This is an apt metaphor for all kinds of growth. “Once you start making small shifts in your life and behaving a bit differently from what you’re used to, you also start noticing different results,” Eva says.
Gradually Eva’s career shifted from psychology to human resources, and she found out about the power of coaching when she connected with her own mentor, who was a coach.
Eva says, “What I didn’t like about psychotherapy was that it tended to focus on the past. I think it’s important to dig into your past, but you shouldn’t get stuck there. I’d rather work with the present. And then focus on the future and on what people can do instead of what they can’t do.”
Working in Human Resources
Eva still keeps her fingers on the pulse of Human Resources requirements in the Netherlands by working in HR. She stays on top of the latest trends by going to networking events and speaking to other recruiters. She then takes this knowledge back to her coaching clients. As a career and life coach, Eva helps people re-adjust their career after becoming parents and after moving abroad. With Eva’s guidance, internationals define job hunt strategies, work on their interviewing skills and gain more self-confidence before they re-enter the job market in this country.
“I speak to friends who work in the Netherlands to understand how recruitment works in different companies. If I’m doing so much career coaching, it’s interesting to go back to the other side and use my new skills on the job,” Eva adds.
What does Multipaths mean?
A lot of coaches market themselves using their own names. So the name that Eva chose for her business intrigues me. Multipaths rolls off the tongue easily and conjures a vivid mental image. “How did you come up with such a poetic name?” I ask her.
“I just wanted to set the ground for what was next. It about exploring new paths in life, both internally and externally. Once you start exploring those paths inside of you, other paths start opening up externally. It’s an amazing shift. You might not be able to control what happens in life, but you should work on yourself and try to see things from different perspectives. That’s in your power.”
Eva’s entrepreneurship advice
“What’s your advice for people who have their eyes set on entrepreneurship in the Netherlands, Eva?”
Her reply comes easy. “Do whatever you can with what you have. Don’t wait until you have the perfect idea. Just start doing things. Set small, realistic and attainable goals and take small steps. Try to achieve those. When I first started my business, I was quite scared. I thought that I didn’t have the right tools and the right knowledge. But once I started, it just came naturally.”
Another piece of advice that Eva has to offer, especially to women entrepreneurs, is to talk to others. Study other women who are running their own businesses and ask them to be your mentor. Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Go to events, such as the ones organized by FemaleVentures in Delft, and talk, talk, talk.
What does the future hold?
I ask Eva where she would like to take her business next. “I’d like to start giving more workshops and help people develop in more aspects of their lives, not just their careers. But I’d also like to give workshops on job hunting, how to market yourself in the Netherlands, how to improve your interviewing skills, and how to boost your self-confidence when you’re looking for a job.”
As our interview comes to a close, I become aware of the choice I’ve unconsciously made as we were chatting. I could have talked about Eva’s professional qualifications and her certifications. But you can find those on her website.
Instead, I wanted to find out more about the person behind the coaching business.
We all carry labels with us: I’m the copywriter, Eva is the coach, the people who work with Eva are her “coaching clients.” But deep down, we’re all connected by a desire to live joyful and content lives. And that becomes possible when you align your goals with your values and nourish the seeds in your “life garden.” If you don’t know yet what your values are, I’ve got a coach I can recommend. Her name is Eva Amaral.
Hi, I’m Mickey Gast. I’m a content writer based in the Netherlands via Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I write about creativity, innovation, personal finance, and why we all need to think about sustainability. Online, you can find me at cleangreencontent.com. But if you want to meet in real life, I’m probably out for a stroll somewhere in Delft (taking pictures and eating massive amounts of oliebollen).
Kate Groves, editor
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