Can we begin by having you tell us just exactly what a “life coach” is?
My clients contact me when they need help and an outside view. We talk about goals and aims and I offer support, objectivity and encouragement. Some clients just need one session, others desire a longer coaching period. We are all individuals, so flexibility is key to successful coaching. My coaching business is all about the clients’ personal growth. I help them develop their own personal leadership and lead themselves to have the life they want.

Is there a difference between coaching and therapy?
Yes, a life coach is different from a therapist because we don't focus on “why” something happened or "why" you feel the way you do, instead on “what now, and what to do next?" We never analyze the past—instead we look to the future.


Who needs a coach?
Everyone. Since our lifestyle has changed over the past years, we make hurried job and career changes more than once in life. All my clients seek a positive change—for instance, “Should I start my own business” or "how to stop dating the same types of men.” My clients are looking for motivation and a guideline. I myself have a life coach, who I discuss certain things with.

At what point in your life did you say, “I’m going to become a life coach and help people find joy in their lives"?
Living a healthy life has always been essential to me. Through my many years as a personal trainer and a massage therapist, I have coached people on how to feel better. Eventually, I came to realize that the inside needs as much work as the outside.
But joy in life is not just about happiness. I also experienced the struggle of recovering from life changing moments: becoming a single mom as well as defeating breast cancer. I found balance and kept it all together, which made me realize that everything is possible. I would never regret my years overcoming cancer, because I learned to be real and listen to my gut feeling. Today, my body and mind are one. We people need to struggle in life, in order to change and grow. Human behavior psychology has always been a great interest of mine, and supporting others through my coaching is a way to make the most of my life.

What makes you happy?
My son, family, friends, dogs, weight training. Coaching people makes me extremely happy. It brings an indescribable feeling of joy, similar to the joy I felt many years ago, when I danced professionally.

Are Swedes happier than New Yorkers?
In general, I think more people in Sweden feel happiness. Life is easier in Sweden and the country takes care of you. For this reason, I moved back to Sweden when I got pregnant because I knew that I would get the support I needed. Having said that, I do think Swedes can be too passive; we never need to struggle so we miss out things in life. Besides I think New Yorkers are closer to laughter than Swedes, even in tough times.

Tell me about your first impression of New York?
I came to New York as a dancer during the 1970s, when Jane Fonda was everywhere. It was another New York back then, the city had more energy, but it was also dirty and had more criminality. I remember that my friend and I took a day trip with the bus to Harlem—a neighborhood which at the time was no place for two young Swedish girls. While we walked around the streets of Harlem, we noticed a group of guys following us. Surprisingly, we never felt scared until a police stopped and asked us what on earth we were doing there. He ordered us to take the next bus back home. He waited in his police car at the bus stop until we were safely on the bus. It’s ironic, today I live only a few blocks away from where we were at the time.

Do you have any role models?
Milton Hyland Erickson (the legendary famed hypnotherapist, renowned for his ability to assist people in making dramatic personal change).

Would you like to tell us more about your company Mind to Life?
I have been working as a life coach for more than eight years, and was educated in Sweden. When working with people I use different tools, and recently I started to work with hypnosis. Hypnosis is a process of amplification and a way of expanding the clients' choices. It's a way of gently bypassing the conscious mind to get to the inner part where deep change occurs.

Read Marie Forsman's simple tips on "How to be happy"

Text & photo: Hanna Aqvilin

Find out more about Marie Forsman at