We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Schickli and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
It’s changed a lot both in terms of how I define it and how I experience it.
Before starting my business, I worked in education and nonprofits for 8 years, got my Masters in English and Curriculum Design from the University of Chicago, and then worked for 4 years in the tech industry. When in education, I struggled the most with maintaining emotional boundaries and often found myself depleted at the end of the day. In academia, I was intellectually stretched in ways I hadn’t been before and often would work into the early morning hours. My work-life balance changed yet again when I entered the tech industry and encountered the imposter syndrome that eventually led me to overwork and stress-induced illness.
So it was in 2015 that I hit total burnout. I was working 14-hour days at a small tech startup in the SF Bay Area and feeling like no matter what self-care I tried or how hard I worked, I had never done enough. It was 2 years before I started Mind Body Dharma, and that rock-bottom burnout is a huge reason why I did.
In the gap between being at my lowest in physical and mental health and starting my coaching business, I set my focus on trying ALL the things to reach that elusive “work-life balance” that I kept hearing people talk about.
Along the way, I finally discovered that it’s a myth… and that’s what saved me.
Work-life balance implies that we have two lives––one work life and one “life” life––when in reality we are one person with one energy tank and one set of 24 hours in a day. It seems simple when you put it this way, but I realized that going full throttle at work left me with no energy for myself. And at the end of the day when I intended to practice all those self-care “shoulds” I kept hearing and reading about, I was too exhausted. Instead, I’d face-plant on the couch to binge-watch feel-good shows and down a bag of chips.
My breakthrough came when I began my own research, trial and error, worked with doctors, a therapist, a coach, energy workers, and more. And eventually, I merged all the little nuggets of information from that adventure––principles from habit psychology, spiritual practices, energetics, boundaries, and time management––to create my own system of what I call bite-sized self-care.
In my work-life balance adventure (as I like to call it), I realized that all of the skills and practices I had been cultivating to create my own balance needed to be shared. And since I formed my LLC back in 2018, I’ve continued to grow my skillset and approach to crafting a holistic life, especially since I continued to juggle a growing business with my full-time job until just a month ago.
Now I practice and teach integrating “life” into work or practicing self-care moments throughout the workday…rather than holding ourselves hostage until the end of the day when we’re too exhausted to do anything about it. This approach has changed my life and the lives of my coaching clients.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
In a world in which burnout is rampant and many professionals are taught they should prioritize logic over intuition and productivity over rest, my coaching business Mind Body Dharma offers an antidote: a holistic, East-meets-West playful process that empowers individuals to treat life as a giant science experiment and as an opportunity to choose-their-own adventure.
As the CEO of Mind Body Dharma, I love guiding busy, burnt-out professionals and blocked visionaries through this process to reconnect with their intuition, finally make self-care doable, and craft a more aligned life in a variety of ways. I offer arts-meets-wellness workshops for communities, non-profits, and workplaces––some past workshops I’ve hosted have been for Google, Microsoft, Course Hero, and the Quench Collective––as well as private coaching and group mentorship.
I’m also creating a print journal-meets-planner that will be released on Amazon in late May and a personal development twist on an Oracle card deck for publication some time next year.
Essentially, Mind Body Dharma swirls together a variety of practices and research from the West––including time and task management techniques; neuroscience; and habit, narrative, and depth psychology––and the East––including meditation, breathwork, card reading, art and creativity, intuition, energetics, Reiki, and somatic practices to support clients in cultivating more joy and purpose in their lives.
In my coaching practice, I teach my signature process of turning stress into curiosity. For example, I support my clients in gathering quantitative and qualitative data about how they spend their time and where their energy goes. Then, I guide them to reconnect with their intuition, reintroduce a sense of play and adventure, and treat life like a science experiment by making tiny, 1% shifts to remove the biggest energy drainers and introduce new energy-boosting moments throughout the day.
As a result, my clients have doubled their energy and 1.5x-ed their time, resulting in things like promotions, greater productivity and work efficiency, deeper relationships, career pivots, an increased sense of purpose and wellbeing, and so much more––self-care really has a powerful ripple effect!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am a huge foodie and nature fan, so any visit out to the SF Bay Area would involve both in abundance. I love spending time on a nice day exploring the foothills, working up a sweat, and breathing in the fresh forest air. I also enjoy the diverse food scene here, in particular sushi, tacos, and brunch.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have had the gift and pleasure of working with a variety of mentors in both the business and spiritual spaces as well as inspiring fellow entrepreneurs. Some of my mentors include: Cristina Bold, Danielle Leslie, Nicola Amadora, Katherine Pomerantz, Selena Soo, Lynya Floyd, Jamie Davis, Grace Lever, Reiki Master Joanne Brohmer, yoga teacher and studio owner Emily Galvin Moore, yoga teacher Edna Barr, and more. Some of my inspiring fellow entrepreneurs include: Haley Hoover, Stephanie Zhong, Carrie Montgomery, Sherry Lukey, Caline Raab, Penny Casselman, Twist, Jaleh Zandieh, Hannah Strenger, and so many more.