Julie Gray is a professional certified life coach who helps people reduce stress, overcome anxiety, and stop procrastinating through proven professional coaching methods that lead to greater productivity, resilience, and well-being. She is a popular blogger, speaker, and author of the digital eGuides True For You Time Management Workbook, and The Backwards Way to Move Forward Today. Julie is also the General Manager at Field & Main Restaurant, where she supports day-to-day operations via staff management and development, system design and implementation, tracking sales and inventory, and execution of long-term growth strategy

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up on a farm outside of a small beautiful town in rural Western New York. My Dad has run the farm for the last 40 years and my mother was a teacher for over 30 years. They raised 3 kids successfully – instilling a strong work ethic, a capacity for kindness, and open-mindedness.

My brother is mentally handicapped and has taught me the most about being myself regardless of how the world views you.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

That I have the internal resources to create a life that actually works for me and doesn’t have to be dictated by the conditioning of our society.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

There is a whole world of time and stress management coaches that offer wonderfully useful strategies, tips, and tricks. However, this often results in giving you more to do – more to manage and inadvertently creates a dependency on the coach for solutions.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

From mid-way through high school to mid-way through college I struggled with depression and anxiety – neither of which I could have labeled at the time. I was lost in my own thinking and feelings and didn’t know there could be an easier way to navigate my experience.

In my junior year of college, I stopped waiting for life to come to me and instead of starting moving toward it. I got more serious about school, my relationships, and my own self-care. I started eating better and exercising more. Over time I realized I could trust myself and had the power to shift my experience in very practical and useful ways.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

Listening beyond my thoughts and feelings to what is real and true for me.

What is your morning routine?

I wake up around 7:30 am and read emails or the news over breakfast. I’m completely surrounded by trees and nature so If the weather allows I will hang out on the back porch for a spell with my cat and enjoy the fresh air and views. If I have the time I putter around the house while thinking through my day and what needs to be done. Maybe I’ll make a list if I don’t have one already started. From here I dive into work until my first appointment or until I need to get ready and leave.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Listening to the quieter guidance of life within me rather than my busy brain or the louder external world. Seeing the practicality of this gentle voice.

Setting boundaries around the energy I give to others. I have had a tendency to go “all-In” on people or projects in a way that is unsustainable. I’ve had to learn over the years how to better balance that expenditure and refuel myself so that I can commit to what is important to me over the long haul.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I love to work. I have my whole life. The productivity strategy that has never failed me is to get regular, quality sleep and to take legitimate breaks from work. When I don’t do this, I am not nearly as productive and can waste hours with the kind of busyness that stems from a lack of focus and mental clarity.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle; Perfect Health, Deepak Chopra; In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan, The Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil; The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.

All of these books and so many more shifted my perspective in a particular area of life. They taught me how to distinguish my experience in a way I didn’t know was possible. As a result, I got more out of life – without working hard to get more out of life. The greater awareness adjusted the lens through which I viewed life from.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

I recently read an article (which I can no longer find) about the Chinese concept of “go to the place”. This phrase has popped up in so many useful ways since then. Essentially when you put your own eyes on a situation you get far more information than you would have a second hand. It has helped me understand even more fully how much everyone is seeing through their own lens and how useful it is to weigh that with what you see through yours.