A day in the life of a...mental health coach, Hanli Schmidt

Mar 12, 2024

“Having a healthy body and healthy mind

is always at the forefront of

how I think and what I do”


Hanli Schmidt is a top rated mental health coach focusing on women (as you can see by following the link at the bottom of this article to her own website). Born in South Africa, Hanli now lives and works in the UK. She lives in Cambridge with her fiancé and children. Hanli has been on a journey to find “my true authentic path”. This path has united her passion for “helping others” with related passions of exercise and nutrition, which contribute to one’s overall wellness. It’s important to Hanli to be “the best version of myself on a daily basis” in order to help others in turn to become their best selves. In this article Hanli gives an insight into a typical day for her, the successes and challenges of her work, and she offers valuable advice to others in terms of pursuing their career goals.


Read on to learn more about Hanli!


I was born in South Africa, in a city near Johannesburg, where I lived until I was 18. As a child I loved playing the piano, doing athletics and connecting with my friends. At age 18, I had a place at University, but I decided to come to London for a year to learn to speak English properly. My first language is Afrikaans. I always had a huge passion for English. During my year here I realised that life was much safer here, so I decided to stay. I did many waitressing and sales jobs and eventually got a really good job at the BBC in their finance section. This got me into finance. I then went onto studying accounting and this was my main job for many years. During this time I had my 3 amazing children. 


Becoming a mother changed me a lot. I sadly lost my first born child due to a stillbirth, and this was the most life changing experience I ever experienced. Even though this was such a traumatic event, it stirred something in me to help others. As a child I always wanted to become a psychologist, so in 2006 I started my journey of finding my true authentic path again of helping others. I currently live in Cambridge with my fiancé and children. I find that the outdoor lifestyle, and ever present energy of the students, makes it the best home I could have ever hoped for. My passions in life are people, nutrition and running.


Hanli participating in the Cambridge half marathon in 2020


I started working in the customer services team of BBC finance. From there I went onto working for the local educational authority in Hackney, London, as an Accounts Payable Manager, where I got sponsored to do my accounting studies. I then took a few years off to raise my children. During this time, I set up a mum’s group in London called The Oasis Mum’s Group. The group was created to help mothers connect to their community, as some mothers in the community were quite isolated. I also worked in Cambridge as a youth worker helping teenage parents get back into education. 


I went back to work part time in 2016 whilst I was studying Psychotherapy. I completed a life coaching qualification and I officially set up my mental health coaching business at the start of 2021. At first I did this only part time while I still worked full time in an accounting role at IUCN (a conservation organisation in Cambridge). I then left this role towards the end of 2022 to work for myself as a coach full-time. 


Hanli out walking in nature


In terms of my typical day, I would start my day by having a healthy breakfast of either eggs on rye bread or some fruit, oat crackers and tea. On an ideal day I would do a meditation followed by my affirmations. The times that I see clients can vary a lot, so the one thing that I have had to get used to is not having a set routine anymore. I would allow some time in my day for exercise. This could mean going for a long walk, going to the gym or going for a run. I find that the most important component of my life is healthy eating and exercising. In order to help others, I need to be the best version of myself on a daily basis. 


“I love helping people.

Career success to me means doing

the thing that I am most passionate about

– helping people to live their best lives”


Depending on the day, I would see about 3 or 4 clients per day. The sessions are mostly online and last 1 hour. I have to leave 30 minutes between sessions to type up my notes and to recompose myself. Some sessions can be heavier than others. If I have had a particularly heavy session I would do a short meditation before the next client. Some days I finish at 6pm and other days I would finish at 9pm. It is very important for me to have my evening dinner with my family, so I always prioritise doing so on most nights every week. 


Since I was a child, I have always wanted to be in this line of work. Mental health has always been a big interest of mine. Having studied psychotherapy for 2 years and completing a life coaching qualification, I decided to set up my coaching business at the start of 2021. This was during the time of Covid, so I set myself up online, using to create my website and to obtain clients. It was a very slow process at first, but as time went on I got more clients, more experience and things really started flowing. I now see most clients online on Zoom and this works really well, as this cuts down on any travelling time that the client may have incurred otherwise. The online platform also seems to work well for younger people, so most of the women that I work with are in their 20’s.


Hanli enjoying some stillness on the water


The successes that I have in this line of work, is seeing people’s mental health and lives improve. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the improvements in people’s lives and emotional health. Hearing a client feed back to me that they are in a better place or that they have now overcome a really big obstacle in their lives, gives me immense joy.


My challenge has been to deal with the sales side of the business. As most self-employed people find, it is easier to engage with the part of the role that you are passionate about. But having to call prospective clients and set up advertisement campaigns can be a tricky skill to learn.


My career advice to other people is to really follow their passion and do the thing they are really, really good at. Not to fall into the trap of trying to do things for money or for other people, or because of other people’s influence. They need to really follow their own direction and passion. For myself, going against the grain and setting up my own business has been the highlight of my career. Having the faith in myself to follow the thing that I know I am here to do. There was a lot of risk involved with this decision, but it was absolutely the right thing to do. 


To find out more about Hanli and to arrange a free consultation, click here to visit her website.


To read more “day in the life” articles and much more, click here to view the blog of The Careers Company. 


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