The choice is yours

Make Christmas a time to reconnect with family, rethink your future and think about who you really want to be.

If you don’t feel like celebrating this Christmas – don’t worry, you’re not alone. A lot of people feel sad, angry or upset during the festive season. We caught up with Julie Nagle from AusCoaching to find out how to deal with those feelings and what you can do to have a happy Christmas.

Julie Nagle is a Bundjalung woman who is a trained Coach and Counsellor. She began her career in Indigenous education and employment before deciding to become a Coach. She is passionate about life coaching because she believes it is one of the best ways to get results, no matter what your circumstances.

“I became a Life Coach because I saw that I needed to make some changes in my life, so I put my money where my heart is,” says Julie.

“I’m very passionate about coaching because it helped me survive, and I really want others to have access to that because it changes people’s lives and it’s simple. Coaching can help us to plan what we want our life to be, regardless of our circumstances. Circumstances aren’t who we are but sometimes we let them bind us up instead of just acknowledging them and keeping moving forward.”

Moving forward can be difficult, especially at a time like Christmas or New Year’s when we tend to look back and reflect on our life.

“Many things give people a sense of dread about Christmas, for some it is the pain of having Christmas without a loved one due to death, illness, distance, pride, incarceration … the list goes on,” says Julie.

However Julie says that while the festive season can be a lonely time, it can also be a time where we reconnect with people. In fact, she says, if you plan ahead, you might just have a better Christmas than you expected.

“I would really encourage people at this time to connect or reconnect to people they wish they were with. It’s about getting over your pride and putting aside jealousy and making contact, whether that’s in person on the phone or in an email. It’s important to plan for Christmas time – if you know you could be lonely, then think about what things you can put in place to respond to that. Plan who you want to be, who you want to be with and who you need to reconnect with and what these things mean to you. Then it is about taking action with the resources you have. For example, if you don’t have any money then you might try making a list of free ways you can celebrate with the resources you have.”

If you’re planning on making New Year’s resolutions this year – such as sorting out your money, working on relationships, or giving up smoking or drinking – then Julie says some simple coaching techniques may help.

“Again, it goes back to who you think you are – most people don’t realize that they smoke because on some level they don’t like themselves. So if I’m working with a smoker, for example, I will ask them ‘Who do you want to be?’ and ‘What’s the gap between where you are now and where you want to be?’ and we work on that. To help clients figure that out, I often ask them to tell me the top three things that make their heart sing. That way they can be who/what they want to be, rather than trying to be who/what they think other people expect of them.

“Some people have never seen anyone in their family go to work or be happy and will say ‘I only ever saw them drunk or whatever’ – with coaching, rather than blaming your family for your life circumstances, you can you create your life in a way that shows them there’s another way.”

Julie admits that change isn’t always easy but she says the rewards are definitely worth it.

“You need to be honest and brave – not just for yourself, but also for all the generations to come. Sometimes it’s easier for us to be brave for someone else. I often ask clients who they would encourage to get coaching and they’ll say, ‘oh so and so, and so’, but when I ask ‘How about you?’, they say ‘Oh, no’. I say to them ‘Why not? Don’t you think you’re good enough to access these great things?'”

The key to being able to recover from bad situations, according to Julie, is simple: you need to really want your life to change.

“You hear a lot of people say that someone’s hit rock bottom like it’s a bad thing, but sometimes people have to hit the bottom so that their feet can hit the ground and they can spring back,” says Julie. “The only thing that’s needed is a desire to change and sometimes you get that when you hit rock bottom. Sometimes people let the circumstances around them reflect who they are, for example, if you’re in jail you might think that’s who you are, but you don’t have to accept those labels. Instead, you need to ask ‘Who am I?’ or even ‘Who do I want to be?’ Think back to a time in your life when you had a glimmer of hope – remember what that felt like and go from there.

“There are many examples of people who’ve lived through horrific circumstances and gone on to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of those around them. People like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. It’s not your circumstances that make you who you are, it’s the choices you make about those circumstances.”


Try this simple exercise to help you decide who you are.

Think back to a time when you knew who you were.

What were the things you liked about you then?

Who was around you at that time supporting you?

If you can’t remember a time like this, ask yourself:

Who have you respected over the years? Who do you want to be like?

What did they demonstrate to you that you would like to demonstrate to others? Make a list.

Reflect upon the list and the feelings that come to mind when you read each. Now cross out the ones that are least important to you.

With the top three, ask yourself what can you do to develop these? For example, what books could you read? Who could you visit or who could visit you? What videos could you watch? (Check out your local library if money is an issue.)

Remember – the things that happen around you or to you are not who you are. You are who you choose to be.


Get a plan in place to enjoy Christmas by asking yourself these simple questions:

What joyful moments from this year will bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart as I remember them on Christmas Day?

Who do I need to reconnect or connect with, in a positive way, to share the gift of connection this Christmas? Who can I make a call to or send and email to? Whose hand can I shake or smile at?

Who is dear/important to me?

With what I have and where I am, how can I give the gift of joy to those dear to me?

Which five things that are within my reach would I like this Christmas Day?

What steps do I need to take to achieve them?

With these things in place who will I be?

What can I do that makes my heart sing?

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