We talk to Nanette Irvine who keeps reinventing herself, going from pharmaceutical sales to retraining as a psychologist in her 40s and then starting a coaching practice at 60. 


1.What made you decide to do what you do?

It wasn’t always a smooth path that I took or an overnight decision. When I was 39 I was diagnosed with cancer and during the year it took to recover from the treatment, I started to think about me… the essential me, and what I had achieved in my life. I was pretty sure I hadn’t even started to scratch the surface of my potential. A degree in psychology followed, and then my honours degree. I did all of this via distance education and found I was good at it. My degree was awarded with distinction – something I’m very proud of.

I remember my husband being a little surprised that I continued on to complete honours. He didn’t realise what a mission I was on. When I was 50 I opened a psychology practice in our local town. My practice grew quickly and I was very busy for the next six years. Many of my clients were women who were struggling with feelings of anxiety and depression grounded in their own poor self-esteem and low personal confidence rather than an organic illness. I always felt if they were able to develop more self-esteem and confidence earlier, then they wouldn’t experience these problems.

This stayed in my mind even as I closed my practice at 57 and retired so my husband and I could travel. We had a few years travelling and then I realised I had more to give. I didn’t want to go back to psychology but also knew that the knowledge I had could be used to coach women in self-development and leadership skills. There are so many opportunities out there for women. I’m 63 now and I’m really excited to start this business and see lots of women challenge themselves and reach their potential.

2.Why did you wait until you did to do it?

I’ve always been interested in helping women to become aware and confident and it was a natural progression for me to develop my coaching and training business after closing my psychology practice. It’s really been a development of awareness of what I could do with what I know.

I actually started my coaching practice three years ago and had to close it down due to some family matters that required my time and attention. It was a good lesson to not let time pass by without taking action. I fumbled around for a little while – unsure of how to get this up and running. Now I’m clear on my direction and have established EQ Women.

3.What are you hoping to accomplish?

I’m passionate about women in the world learning to love and value themselves first. I want to inspire women around the world to take that risk, be brave and step forward and meet their potential whatever that may be. My online course will soon be completed and I know that as women develop more self awareness and confidence – ie develop their emotional intelligence, they will achieve whatever their dreams are. I have a book under way and when it is published I hope many women will realise they can make different choices for their lives.

4.How did you make the change? What or who helped you? How did your family and friends react?

Having cancer started a tsunami of change. Change in my life direction and also a wakeup call to look more closely at myself. I didn’t always enjoy the journey but oh how I have gained from being more open and honest with myself and being willing to take responsibility for what I want in life.

My husband has always been supportive and encouraging. My daughter is also a great supporter and I’ve always felt as though my efforts were something they wanted for me too. The years of study were challenging and I’m not sure my husband ever realised I would go on to practice as a psychologist. My friends said I just disappeared from the social scene as I put my head down and worked. Today, as I meet the challenges of learning all about an online business, I tend to be fairly quiet about what I’m doing. My friends are either very supportive or really have absolutely no understanding of what I’m up to.

5.How has your life changed having gone down this path?

I have a great sense of purpose and my days are full of learning, curiosity, scary actions and a real sense of achievement. I love learning all the different things I have to do to make this business a success. It has also brought me into contact with some amazing people from all over the world.
It’s exciting and challenging. I love it.

6.What advice do you have for women considering a similar life change?

Don’t wait. Don’t wait for anything. There is not enough time to wait until you feel ready or more confident. In fact that probably won’t ever happen without you actually taking steps to achieve your dreams. Yes it’s scary and challenging but if you do nothing it will leave you feeling not so good about yourself. What I know is that every time I take another scary step, my confidence grows and I feel great. You don’t have to know it all or be full of confidence. I’m not. In fact I struggled with low self-esteem when I was younger. Every action you take will help you to grow and believe in yourself.

7.What are you proud of and what keeps you inspired?

As I look back at my life I can see I have always challenged myself and I’ve had some great achievements. I’m really proud now that I have such a wealth of knowledge that I’m passing on to younger women so they will hopefully take action sooner rather than later.

Related: Building Confidence Through Changing Limiting Behaviours

8.What do you love most about being the age you are?

I’m very comfortable in my skin. I know what I want and I’m not afraid to say so. I’m not really interested in what other people think of me. I’m willing to go where I want to go and do the things I enjoy by myself if that’s what it takes.

9.What do you hate most about being the age you are?

I keep forgetting I’m 63. My mind keeps saying “Really??” I challenge myself to stay fit and active. I cycle 150km a week, I go to the gym and have just taken up SUP boarding. I guess I only really dislike that sometimes my body tells me to remember my age and slow down a bit. Hmm I’d like to do some surfing before I get too old.

10.What do you know now that you wish you’d known in your twenties?

I wish I’d known that I already had it all. I just had to believe it.

11.What are the most important business and/or personal lessons you’ve learnt along the way?

Being authentic and having integrity is vital in business and as an individual. I’ve learnt to trust myself and believe in what I want to achieve. My guiding mantra has become “What do you really want?”.

12.Which woman do you most admire and why?

Dame Quentin Bryce. She was the 25th Governor General of Australia and has a long history of being a supporter of human rights and equality. She has also been a mentor for many women and supported the fight for equality. Her own career has been outstanding as one of Australia’s first barristers, a feminist activist and an advocate for women and children. She is the mother of five children. She has been a great leader and I’ve always admired her. One comment I always remember her saying was, “ You can have it all, just not all at the same time”.

13.How can Mutton Club readers find out more about what you do?

My business is called EQ Women. You can find out about me here and on my Facebook page.

You may also like Finding Purpose Through Adversity – Louise EnnisDiscovering Sport In Midlife – SUP Adventures and How Melissa Talago Discovered The Joys Of Walking In Midlife.

Last Updated on February 1, 2023 by Editorial Staff

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