As years go, 2020 really was the ‘gift’ that kept on giving
Although, like many I was very much looking forward to ringing in the New Year and leaving it firmly in the past, I also for the first ever time in my life, found myself facing the first day of 2021 officially without a job.
I won’t lie, the weeks and months preceding this were tough and despite being a relentless optimist, I had to dig deeper than I think I’ve ever done to muster the resilience to keep going. That said, 2020 left me with a sense of immense gratitude that unlike so many others, my friends and family remained safe and well and it gave me the opportunity to spend precious time with those I love and re-connect with things that are important to me.
Having worked in senior leadership and executive roles for many years and being a parent of two, having enough time to fit everything in and feeling I did it all really well always seemed elusive. All those hefty commutes, the hours sitting in traffic, cancelled trains or delayed flights back from that London often took more energy than the joy gained from doing great work for fantastic charities could replenish. During the first lockdown it was spent juggling home ‘schooling’ with running a charity and supporting shielding in-laws but on the upside I no longer had to drive 100 miles to and from the office each day and all of a sudden had over 3 extra hours in the day for other things.
Now I have time, bags of it in fact. So much so that I have no intention of again reaching a stage where I feel I’m compromising on either work, family or me time. For me it’s about balance – keeping it all in kilter however will take effort and forming and sustaining different habits. (There is of course a caveat in there, as the resumption this week of home schooling has somewhat upset this balance but the fact that it’s both short-term and necessary is making it infinitely more tolerable – aside from the maths, obviously).
As a final reflection on the car crash that was 2020, some amazing things happened.
I got a puppy. She’s a black Lab called Pepper and is everything I longed for in a dog. Like me, she likes the water, is partial to a nap and is entirely motivated by food.
I started wild swimming. I never thought I’d be one of ‘those’ people but I am and I’m addicted to it. I started a local group for women called Wild Wimmin Swimmin and there are now over 100 of us – they are my tribe and I love them.
I trained as a Gestalt coach with the expert team at Kinharvie, alongside some brilliant fellow trainees. In spite of the work-related challenges I was facing at the time, the training was a welcome distraction that was packed full of learning but was also restorative and enabled me start to imagine a different future that aligned with my purpose. Maybe I could be a coach?
Looking ahead, I’m still the vice-chair of the Association for Real Change which is an incredible charity and I’m looking forward to supporting them develop and deliver their new, ambitious strategy, but in terms of my ‘day job’ this is the first time I’ve stepped outside of the third sector.
Being a charity leader has been such a huge part of my identity for so long that it feels very odd to say that’s not who I am anymore – which why I’m refusing to. Who we are is because of where we’ve been and my collective experiences thus far – good or bad, have led me to where I am today and I know that I have much to give to others as a coach and mentor.
On New Year’s Day 2021, I decided to tentatively launch my new venture, Corum Coaching (named after two Ochils hills which have been both my backdrop and solace during the pandemic), by posting on Twitter and quietly updating my profile on LinkedIn. In less than 24 hours, I had an enquiry from a high-profile charity asking to retain me to deliver coaching sessions to complement their counselling service. That enquiry has since turned into a real contract and I will be forever grateful to them for putting their trust in me.
Coaching and mentoring has helped change my life (thanks Paul, Ted and Eddie) and I am so excited about the prospect of supporting others to find or re-connect with their purpose and reach their potential.
So here I am, putting on my big girl pants and putting myself out there. I’m hoping some of you will join me on the journey and take the first steps towards achieving personal or professional growth, challenge yourselves and step out of your comfort zone, who knows where it may lead?
I think it’s going to be amazing, want in?