Blue Ocean Life Nation Interview Series: Iris van Ooyen

What is your professional background? 

I have an MBA and a background in corporate marketing. I’m an expert on creative thinking techniques, transformative mentor and author of Poisoned Arrow (YA Fantasy) and my newest book Radiant: How to Have All the Energy You Need to Live a Life You Love

How did you end up with this career?

I kept following what interested me most and I listened to my intuition. When I started my own business as a facilitator for brainstorm sessions, I discovered I had a knack for supporting people. I intuitively knew what they needed in order to make a certain shift or change. Organically my work grew to incorporate teambuilding. I decided to hone my intuitive skills and started working with people 1:1. 

Thanks to my own experience as a highly sensitive person as well as a burnout in my twenties, I’ve been able to support private clients and groups to have more energy, listen to their intuition, uplevel their self-care and do what they came here to do so they can live happier, healthier and fuller lives. It’s very satisfying to see the results and the difference it makes for people.

How did you begin your remote work journey? 

When I started my own business Bright Eyes almost twenty years ago, I created my home office. It was the most logical and practical choice. Being a sensitive soul, I need time on my own and it helps me focus and concentrate when I can work undisturbed. So I’ve never felt a desire to rent an office space in a building with other entrepreneurs. I fully enjoy working from home. 

Where do you see yourself in the next year? 

In a year I hope to have reached and inspired many people across the globe with my new book Radiant: How to Have All the Energy You Need to Live a Life You Love. Because I believe this world would be a better place if we all knew how to take good care of ourselves.

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What tips do you have for others who are working remotely?

I’ve been working from my home office for many years so I’ve had plenty of time to practice and try out different things. These are my top three tips to make working from home a little easier on the senses: 

  1. Make as much of a distinction between work and time off as you can. Preferably work from a different room or at least a different corner of the living room. If that’s not feasible then try to put your work away at night so it’s not visible. Throw a scarf over your laptop if you have to—anything to stop seeing your work. If you must work from your bedroom, make sure to air it after you are done working. 
  2. Try to have specific “work” and “private” times. Ideally, work during the day and relax at night. That rhythm will also do wonders for your sleep. You should not be in front of a screen for at least the last hour before you go to bed. The blue light lowers the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall asleep. 
  3. Wearing different clothes helps, too. Keep your business suit or smart clothes for work, and change into something more comfortable once you are done. Much like you might have done when you went into the office. 

All these steps signal to your brain that you are switching from work mode to time off. In the past, your trip home served as a ritual to shift focus from work to your private life. When you take away the travel time, you need something else to serve as that signal. 

What is your self-care routine and how do you find time to integrate it into your daily life?

It took me some time to figure out the best morning routine for myself. I start with two glasses of warm water (an Ayurvedic practice). As I’m waiting for the water to boil, I ground myself. 

Afterwards I do my yoga and some other exercises, followed by either meditation or tuning-in. Sometimes journaling. One of my favorite parts is setting intentions for the day, followed by breakfast. As a rule, I don’t see clients before 11:00 a.m. I usually go for a walk in the afternoon or evening. 

I’ve learned to make my self-care a priority because I can sense the difference when I skip it. When you’re busy it can be so tempting, and even seem logical, to “win” time by skimping on your self-care, but I’ve learned the hard way that it makes you les effective and productive. I know it seems counterintuitive to take time to relax and recharge when your to-do list is huge but I can assure you it’s the best and fastest way to achieve what you want. And you won’t run yourself ragged getting there. 

Putting yourself first is important to your overall wellness. Given this, what are your best holistic wellness tips?

How long do you have? ;) 

My first tip would be to make sure you are grounded. Most people are not fully in touch with their body and that makes it hard to know when you need a break or when you’re pushing too hard. Plus when you are grounded it’s much easier to focus and concentrate, and to hear your intuition. 

Secondly, I would recommend you learn how to keep out other people’s emotions out of your system. I know a lot of highly sensitive people are walking around with stuff that isn’t even theirs to begin with. You’ll release a weight from your shoulders when you don’t take on other people’s energies.

Thirdly, I believe life is meant to be enjoyed. Find something that brings you joy and lights you up. One of the fastest ways to lift your mood and energy is to smile and be happy. There has to be a healthy balance between time on and time off, between things you feel you “should” do and things that you do solely for pleasure. 

What was the toughest challenge you faced during your career?

My hardest decision was to give up 50% of my income in order to free up time and energy to hone my intuitive skills. I felt like I was at a crossroads, choosing a new course for my life without having a clear idea of where I would end up. Even though I knew in my heart that it was the right thing to do, it was really scary. And as you can imagine many people advised against it. 

How did you get through that period? What advice for people dealing with similar difficulties?

I took it one day at a time. When I saw my income dwindle, I kept reminding myself that it was the right decision, even though there was no evidence yet. I trusted my intuition to guide me forward. 

I would advise people to follow their heart and trust their intuition. When you know something is true for you, don’t let yourself be talked out of it because of someone else’s fear. Even though they mean well, you’re the only one who can make this decision. Ask advice from people in a similar situation or profession. When you’re an entrepreneur, it won’t help to ask insights from someone with a steady job because they simply don’t have the same kind of experience. Seek out other entrepreneurs and get support from a coach or mentor. I’ve always invested in support and I think it’s crucial in order to succeed in a happy, healthy way.

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Mental health and feeling good are crucial to maximizing performance. How do you prioritize your mental health?

As I already mentioned, I suffered from burnout in my twenties so I learned the hard way what I needed to do differently. I make sure to take enough downtime. I always take the weekend off and I won’t look at my email. On Sunday’s I normally don’t go on social media either. Reading and being outside are great ways for me to recharge and relax. 

I know I need time on my own, away from stimuli, and I make that a priority. I’ve learned to create a healthy, joyful balance for my days and weeks. And when I’m on vacation I never look at my emails so my brain can get to that deeper level of relaxation.

And one of my favorite tools is to practice gratitude. As I write in my book Radiant, “Gratitude is a shortcut to happiness, feeling calmer, and reducing stress. You will experience more ease and joy in your life. It also helps raise your vibration and release lower-level energies such as fear and ‘not enough’.”

Taking some time each day to look at things you are grateful for is very powerful and uplifting. I usually end my day by focusing on at least five things I’m thankful for. Gratitude is one of the quickest ways to shift your focus and energy. You can only feel one emotion at a time, so when you feel grateful, you cannot be worried or angry or sad. It really works wonders and I highly recommend you give it a try! 

Before the pandemic hit, you may have worked in an office or corporate setting, but what do you foresee happening now? How do you see companies allowing employees to work post-pandemic?

I think many companies can benefit from having employees work from home for at least 2-3 days—of course depending on their profession. I think this is a great opportunity for corporations to look at what different people need. Some people thrive in solitude and working from home, others do better at the office. It’s time to stop thinking there is a “one size fits all” approach and instead take a custom view at what works best for whom.

If you could have lunch with one person in the world, who would it be and why?

Brené Brown. I admire her work greatly and she’s funny as you can see on her TED talks. She has a wholehearted approach to life and leading and I’d love to pick her brain. Especially since she is an author too.

If you could inspire a movement, what would it be and why? 

The Learn to Take Care of Yourself First Movement! Because I truly believe this world would be a better place if we all knew how to take care of ourselves. We are often busy trying to fix others, but if we focused that energy and attention on our- selves—making sure we are healthy and sane and full of self-love— then there would be so much less to fix. 

Many problems in the world stem from people who are unhappy or in pain, lashing out at the world and at other people in an attempt to feel better. A lot of problems arise from their crippled view of the world, of what it takes to give or feel love. Problems we would not have to fix if we focused more energy and attention on taking care of ourselves so we don’t get derailed. 

If we all learn how to take care of ourselves first, we free up a lot of time and energy to do positive things rather than cleaning up other people’s messes. 

We can start living as examples of joyful, focused spirit. By tapping into our personal SWEET POWER, we free up time and energy for growth, success, and love.

About Iris Van Ooyen

Iris Van Ooyen is the creator of the SWEET POWER approach to personal and career development, growth, and self-care. An MBA with a background in corporate marketing, Iris combines her extensive business experience with her renowned razor-sharp intuitive insights in order to support thousands of clients in living fuller, healthier lives. She’s the author of Radiant: How to Have All the Energy You Need to Live a Life You Love.

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