Kate Stevens

Kate Stevens, Life Coach

How to do ‘hard’ things (like resist meatballs at IKEA)..! Developing a Growth Mindset.

Woman with glasses pulling a face that suggests she is uncomfortable

5 min read


I did a ‘hard’ thing last week. I resisted meatballs and chips whilst at IKEA…


It got me thinking, how to do ‘hard’ things or what we perceive as ‘hard’ comes up in coaching conversations a lot – we want to stretch and grow in a coaching environment, to achieve our intentions and goals. But it’s uncomfortable and those voices of doubt can creep in…

Sp how to do hard things?

Here’s how, and it involves developing a Growth Mindset.


The story

I chose to do some work in the cafe at IKEA Croydon last Thursday – a change of work scene after a nearby meeting. Thursday is my fasting day – Monday is my other day (and also my HRT swap patch days – for another time 😊).

It’s lunchtime – I’m surrounded by meatballs, chips and gravy…oh the smell of those balls of deliciousness…Hard to resist – as normally I’d be in there. It seemed everywhere, people were tucking into meatballs… 😋

But I didn’t, because it was my fast day.


How did I resist? (!)

Willpower and motivation – yes.

But I don’t just ‘have’ willpower and motivation. Like – ‘oh hello willpower, switch on please…’!

I have to work at willpower, motivation and the belief that ‘I can”, ie a Growth Mindset because those characteristics and belief help me do hard things.

This comes up frequently in coaching conversations. When we try hard things, we grow – we stretch and expand outwards and are open to new possibilities. We move out of our comfort zone and into a growth zone.

Doing ‘hard’ things – especially things we thought were impossible, often gets easier with time (although it might not feel like it)! Or, we get better or used to doing those hard things and gain the intended outcome – and that’s useful in LIFE.

Here are some tips for doing ‘hard’ things and develop a Growth Mindset. This is taken from my coaching and personal experience.



TIP 1. Make mistakes

Making mistakes (or failing) is an essential part of learning.

By making mistakes we learn far beyond the thing we planned to do. A baby literally falls over 100’s of times before she can walk. What does she learn? To get back up and try again.

Make mistakes, learn from them and try again.

How you respond to making mistakes and what you do with it is the telling part. 🫶


TIP 2a. Ask yourself, ‘Can you wait 5/10 minutes?’

By asking yourself compassionately, ‘can you wait 5 or 10 minutes?’ is doing two things;

a.  you’re asking yourself from an Adult Ego State; stepping back, being level-headed, centred and rational, while talking to the Child Ego State which is on the brink of having an almighty tantrum (what do you mean you don’t have tantrums?!)

Find out more about Ego States and how we communicate with each other, here.

b.  you’re delaying the urge (ie the urge to eat meatballs and break my fasting day!)

I used this approach at IKEA – I delayed the urge to eat those bloomin’ meatballs (in their gravy) by talking to myself from an Adult Ego State, kindly. It allowed me to step back, listen and gain perspective.

On this occasion it worked. I responded pretty well, I felt quite good. I gained control of the situation to resist…!

Plus I had the additional, external motivation for sticking to my fast – see next.


TIP 2b. Just do 5 mins OR 5 mins more…

In a recent conversation, someone said to me they try this approach with their studies to help with procrastination – ‘just do 5 mins’…It’s like a jumpstart into action, with the permission to stop if after 5 mins it’s not working.

It helps, including the co-founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom (article below).

I do it tallying expenses (urgh!) – ‘just 5 mins more and then you are done..’.

It’s encouraging, motivating you on. And you’re talking to yourself from an Adult Ego State.

We might even end up doing more than 5 mins (ha!). Or we might choose not to – which is OK too – our own choice, our control.

The great news is that we are rewarded at the end – the external motivation is to finish the task, whether it’s finishing that particular part of the studies or successfully completing another fast day…! 💪🏻


TIP 3. Watch your Language!

Are the words you speak negative and self-limiting?

If you notice you often say or think ‘I can’t’,  or ‘I’m not good enough to do x’, then that suggests you’re coming from a Fixed Mindset as these phrases are self-limiting.

By changing the word ‘hard‘ (negative connotation) to ‘challenge’ (positive),  that instantly works better for me. It appeals to my competitive and curious streak. Resisting meatballs, chips and gravy is a challenge that I want to rise up to! My outlook is different – open (growth) rather than boxed (fixed).


This is two things;

a.  Growth Mindset – a belief that intelligence and skills and strengths can be enhanced with effort and action. How we speak is an example of where our mindset is at.

b.  Perception – the way I perceive the word by ‘hard’ limits me, whereas ‘challenge’ is freeing – more useful in allowing me to grow and achieve. It impacts me in such a way that I respond more positively – I want to take action and believe it’s achievable.

I WILL resist IKEA meatballs!



This is GREAT news in a coaching conversation because that’s where the shift happens; moving from a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset allows you to open up to new possibilities and see things differently.

It’s like the penny drops. 💥


Growth Mindset phrases include;

  • “I can”
  • ‘I’ll try”
  • ‘I learned something’ instead of ‘I got it wrong’…
  • ‘and YET’ instead of ‘but..’


Dr Carol Dweck gave us the term, Fixed and Growth Mindset. Teaching Growth Mindset has become popular in schools to empower children to believe they can be more, can do hard things and that getting it ‘wrong’ is ok.


Benefits of a Growth Mindset

I’ve seen these Growth Mindset characteristics in people I’ve worked with;

Resilience, belief, hope, a more abundant/expansive outlook, positivity, acceptance, comfort/confidence in taking greater risks, higher performance.


As a Coach, I know that to achieve your goals and intentions, we have to work on freeing yourself from limiting beliefs and a Fixed Mindset because they are likely to be holding you back. I know, see and hear (and I experience this too) that it’s uncomfortable – that’s kind of normal.

So when you move from that uncomfortable, limiting, Fixed Mindset into a place of freeing Growth Mindset and develop and nurture the awareness and know-how, magic happens.💥


I’ve a great Growth Mindset activity – available only to my email subscribers. So if you want to develop and nurture a Growth Mindset, subscribe HERE to get it.


What works for you? Any tips you can share? Join the conversation here.


One last thing – fasting; I don’t find fasting particularly easy YET I’ve got used to it. I’ve got my strategies like those above and it has changed the way I eat and approach food. I fast intermittently and with a light touch.



Join my mailing list HERE for the Growth Mindset freebie

Dr Carol Dweck; Changing the Way you Think to Fulfil your Potential

How the co-founder of Instagram uses the 5 minute rule


Client agreement - ground rules.

1. Bring my whole self to this process; professionally and personally.

You cannot separate your professional and personal ‘lives’.

2. Be present in the moment and connected.

… to the coaching; what you’re thinking, feeling, experiencing. And…to nature if and where we are outdoors. If we’re on headphones, I’ll invite you to be descriptive of your environment too.

3. Bring the agenda to each session and keep your overall objective alive.

You can do this in several ways:

  • Be goal and action orientated – bring what you want to discuss and achieve to the session; OR
  • Talk and see what lands – exploratory and intentional.

I will bring the process, tools, ideas, resources and best practice to best support you towards your goal/intention/objective. More in your pre-coaching questionnaire. 

4. Give feedback and be responsive.

Coaching is collaborative. Neither of us should guess where we stand. I ask you to give me feedback and respond – you can rely on me to give and do the same.

I aim to get back to you within 24 hours of you emailing me, even if it’s just to say ‘I received your message’ before I respond properly. If it’s over the weekend or holiday, this may take longer.

5. Do the work in the session and in between sessions.

…so that you get the best value, even when it’s challenging. I might suggest a piece of work based on what you brought to the session. Mainly you will decide your course of action.

Whichever way, I’ll invite you to:

  • Reflect more; through walking, writing and whatever else fires you up, to help you achieve your objective.
  • Explore more; be curious and follow those trails of thought, intentionally
    Practice more; habits? Actions? Keep trying/tweaking.
  • Note what’s coming up that’s important or interesting to you in the session. I may share a few bullet points with you after, via Google Docs.

6. Session duration and timescale.

Generally a session is an hour but happy to shorten or increase session lengths, as and when we both can, that day. Where either of us thinks it appropriate, let’s say in the session. Timescale – let’s keep to the timescale agreed in the contract.

Additional information...

  • Coaching is a relationship designed to facilitate the development of personal or professional goals and develop a plan/strategy for achieving those goals.
  • It is comprehensive; it may involve other areas of your life beyond what you may have originally intended. It is your responsibility to choose and decide how to handle this, or even whether to.
  • It can be challenging; digging deep, creating better habits, becoming more self-aware, changing unhelpful beliefs you hold about yourself to something more helpful. There will be ups and downs. You will gain new insights, learnings and perspectives to help you achieve your goal.
  • You – the Client, are solely responsible for creating and implementing your own physical, mental and emotional well-being, decisions, choices, actions and results arising out of or resulting from the coaching relationship and your coaching calls and interactions with me – the Coach. As such, you agree that the Coach is not and will not be liable or responsible for any actions or inaction, or for any direct or indirect result of any services provided by me – the Coach. 
  • You – the Client, understand that in order to enhance the coaching relationship, you agree to communicate honestly, be open to feedback and assistance and to create the time and energy to participate fully in the program. I will do the same.
  • Coaching is not a substitute for counselling, mental health care or substance abuse treatment.  If you are in any kind of therapy, please tell me.  Tell your practitioner (medical or therapeutic) of you working with me.
  • I ask you to agree to commit to the coaching sessions to facilitate the required change.
  • I will treat you as the expert regarding the subject matter, which is…YOU.
  • I will allow time and space for you to explore your thoughts and think for yourself, no interruptions. There may be long pauses or silence sometimes to elicit more.
  • What goes on in your sessions is confidential. I do not discuss it with anyone. There may be occasion when it is my duty to break confidentiality:
    > If I feel you or I are at risk of harm.
    > Criminal / illegal activity.
    > A safeguarding concern or something else so serious that warrants concern.
  • I may talk to my coach or supervisor about issues arising in our sessions without ever naming or giving away you as the client. This is to ensure I am following professional and ethical guidelines and delivering my best. I subscribe to these by the ICF; https://coachfederation.org/code-of-ethics
  • Qualifications and CPD; I am an accredited coach. This means I have trained, practiced and qualified with Animas Centre for Coaching (Nov 2020). I hold a ‘Diploma in Transformational Coaching’. This is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
    > I have my own coach and group supervision
    > My CPD includes –  Outdoor Intelligence for Online Coaching (Oct 2020) -Positive Psychology (Feb 2021

My accreditations


My story

I’d been trying to work out ‘what else’ I could do with my career and life.

After 20 years in HR and with the children getting older, I wanted to change careers, but into ‘what?’ And ‘how’ was that even possible? And…’who would take on a mid-40’s apprentice?’!

I took small steps to boost my confidence and mindset; a regular ‘walk and whinge’ with friends to offload, short courses to up-skill, more running, more netball.
I asked my workplace ‘what else’ they needed that I could help with – ‘job crafting’. 

I was trying to make changes but it wasn’t really working. I was still frustrated and now, more miserable. I needed a different approach to find a way forward and release the building pressure I felt.

Hiring an accredited coach with whom I knew I could work with, enabled me to take a good look at myself – at times, uncomfortably.

To be listened to without any interruption, or judgement was empowering and I started to recognise what made me, me – my personality, strengths, what energised me and made me happy. What if these things amounted to a job I would…love…?

I followed my curiosity and dabbled with ideas about potential jobs, tasks and environments that would suit me, with a new, growth mindset.

I started to shift perspective. When I finally realised the ‘what’, I felt an energy and sense of knowing that was powerful. And I laughed, because it had been right in front of me!

Coaching undoubtedly helped me get to know myself, to see my potential and what was possible. I wholeheartedly decided through those sessions, on what and how I wanted things to be.

It had taken me two years of feeling stuck and miserable and a number of hours to be liberated.

This is what I now do with my clients. I help them rediscover themselves so that they can play to their strengths and thrive.