Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
May 6th, 2010

A new business has opened up shop on Columbia Avenue in the last month with a noble mission. Quite simply, RaNae Nicholls of Moving Forward has a mission of helping the people of Rossland achieve happier, healthier lives. Having worked in a number of counseling and social support roles over the course of her career, she is now taking the leap and opening her own practice here in Rossland. Sharing a space with Essential Body Massage Therapy, RaNae has been open for business for just over a month.

You’re opening up shop in Rossland as a life coach and counselor. What exactly will your new business entail?

It’s a counselling and Life Coaching business. The difference, as I think of it, is that counseling is helping people get past problems or depression or something like that, whereas life coaching is more about helping someone achieve their dreams or their goals or just figure out what those are–figure out a purpose in their life that would be more meaningful for them.

The life coaching is for just everyday regular people that are wanting some support. You know how sometimes you have something you want to do but you just never get around to it? You know, when you think ‘oh, that would be so cool if I could do that’ or ‘I’m good at that; I’d really like to do that in my life someday’? Those are the kinds of things I can help people with.

How did you get into this field?

I think it’s just part of who I am. I think I was always a natural helper to people: very empathetic. Lots of my peers would come to me for support. I grew up in a really small town, and I never knew of counsellors, so I didn’t think in those terms in the 60s when I graduated high school. I started working on the Gonzaga College Campus helping students volunteer with service agencies and helping students understand different issues of social justice. After I did that for three years, I wanted to start working directly with people who were hurting or struggling with their own lives rather than move into the political side of social justice.

I found my own life purpose was to help others find their own life purpose.

What brought you to this area?

Well, I grew up in Kimmer, Wyoming. I went to Spokane to attend Gonzaga after high school. I lived in Spokane for a long time before moving to Wenatchee, Washington. Seven years ago, I came up here to live with my husband after we got married and he’s native to this area. We dated at university in 1969 ) and reconnected 30 years later. He looked me up in an alumni directory. I had felt drawn to the Kootenay for a long time though. Sometimes I tease Phil that I married him so I could have a reason to move back here.

I live in Trail but sometimes it’s better to work where you don’t live for this type of business when you’re in a small town. I’ve also linked up with some friends that run Essential Body Massage Therapy. It worked out that they had space in their suites so that’s really how I decided to open in Rossland.


What is it you love about life coaching?

It’s seeing people succeed and being happy. There was a great experience a few years ago for me that put it in perspective. I was getting my groceries, and the young man who was packing my bags asked me “Are you Mrs. Nichols?” I said yes, and it turned out I had worked with him when he was eight years old and here he was a successful young man graduating from school with a job and happy in his life. Those experiences really are heartening.

There must be some big challenges in your line of work as well.

Yes, it’s hard to see people that are hurting. I mean, I’m used to it and can handle that, but if you see what you’re doing with people is not working–that can be very hard. Working with people with brain injuries is also difficult because you’re not going to heal them but rather help them deal with it.


Do you see a growing need for life coaching and counselling?

I do. I think there are more and more expectations out there these days to be perfect and to always be happy. I feel really bad seeing commercials with all of the pressures they put on young women and people of all ages, really. I think because of these expectations built by the media, peer groups and society in general, it’s making people feel like you have to be a certain way and that it’s not okay not to be happy and successful at all times or that we’re failing if we’re not always perfect. That causes people to go inward and feel alone. Human beings are not meant to be alone, so that causes its own issues.

How do you help coach people to overcome whatever it is that is holding them back from what they want out of life?

Well, and this is only part of it, but all of us were children once and when we were children we were small and didn’t understand a lot of things that were going on but we made meaning from them with our child’s understanding. Many times, the things that are getting in the way of us succeeding how we want to is based on little child thinking that we may not be conscious of.

Someone, for example, was having a hard time making money with their business but they kept hanging in there. Instead of doing the things they needed to do to make it flourish though they were just not doing it. What we found was going on was that as a child they were taught that material things were useless and that money would lead to unhappiness by their father in a rather cruel way. They didn’t realize it until then but it was that childhood thinking that was blocking them today from succeeding without even being conscious of it. Many times just realizing what it is that is holding you back is all it takes to break through.

It’s often a lot of questions like, ‘if you could do anything and didn’t have to think realistically what would it be?’ We talk about that a lot and then start thinking, ‘well, how could you actually achieve that?’ Sometimes we stop ourselves without knowingly trying and that is where the life coaching comes in. It’s always very tailor-made and unique each time for each person. There is no one magic formula.


If you had just one quick tip for people to help them achieve their goals what would you tell them?

Well, you can’t get anywhere if you don’t know where it is you want to go. Think about your strengths and really recognize those and ask yourself what’s holding you back from being where it is you want to be. Even if you can’t stop your day job today and make the leap start inching in the right direction towards where it is you want to be and do it today.

What is it you’d like to achieve with your new business “Moving Forward”?

I really just love helping people. Sometimes people just need a sounding board or someone to listen; other times they need some coaching to find out what it is they want to do with their lives, and I try and help people figure that out and help get them there. I guess it comes down to the fact that I really want to help people live happier and healthier lives.

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