Launching a new venture on the first day of January during a global pandemic isn’t at all the path I had planned for myself. Certainly not yet anyway – coaching and mentoring was meant to be part of the ‘retirement plan’ and I often imagined easing myself into a different working groove in a light-filled garden office, with mountain views earnestly sharing my years of garnered wisdom with the next generation – all the while gently winding down whilst doing something I love. Perfect.
Life, however, with its curious twists and turns, the highs and lows (or some might say the Bidens and Trumps), is a funny old thing isn’t it?
When the threat of redundancy loomed large, my initial instinct was to switch immediately into job-hunting mode. I trawled all the jobsites, frantically emailed all the exec recruiters in my network and updated my LinkedIn status to ‘actively seeking employment’.
I found myself feeling frazzled and with Christmas just around the corner I decided to pause and give my head a break from the relentless questions that were circling in my mind around ‘the future’.
It worked. I realised that I was focussed so much on where I thought I should be, that I hadn’t taken a moment to reflect on where I really needed or wanted to be. That in itself was liberating, and I spent some time (mainly when attempting to hammer my way into frozen lochs for an icy dip) reflecting on my strengths and also on the things that bring me joy and satisfaction.
Times are tough, not least because of Covid, which lurks menacingly around every corner and seems inescapable at the moment. The lack of social interaction, the monotony, the weather, the monotony, the isolation, the monotony… all coincidentally during actual Groundhog week, has taken its toll.
This week I’m unsurprised that there’s been a recurring theme that friends, peers and clients have all shared.
I have a theory that when you become more aware about what gives you energy and what drains it from you like a Tolkien Ringwraith (think about it – you know the stuff and the people that have that effect on you) – it can set you on a path towards freedom.
In my experience, coaching can support you to first imagine and then plan those critical first steps towards a different future.
I’ve been thinking about the things we each do to recharge our batteries and the things that get in the way of us metaphorically ‘plugging in’ until we’re utterly depleted and feel unable to do much at all. There’s a well-worn phrase about not being able to ‘pour from an empty cup’ that’s been trotted out on social media over this last year and whilst it’s not one of my favourites, it’s absolutely bang on. My primary observation is that when you spend more time doing things that top up the tank, you’re much more likely to have more than enough left for the other less energising but necessary (read: dull or difficult) stuff.
Prioritising things that energise me means I feel that I am doing the best I can in every sense – as a partner, parent, friend and coach. In my case I’ll keep throwing myself into icy lochs, going for long walks with my dog – rain, hail or shine, or bingeing on Netflix dramas (all recommendations welcome).
You may well be feeling knackered, shattered, over it or indeed even scunnered.
Take a pause and do something that works for you, self-charging if you will – so go for that bike ride, have the early night, phone a friend, listen to the podcast, dance like no one’s watching, read the book, have the bath…
You are important, please don’t let your battery run out*. Get in touch if you want to explore how coaching could support you be the best you can be.
*Ironically, this morning my car refused to start for this exact reason and I’ve reluctantly accepted that even my car is teaching me life lessons (Googles self-charging hybrids)