This time of year usually makes many of us reflect on what’s been, but also to look forward to what might be? But with ‘The Great Resignation’ upon us, could more of us than ever be looking for significant change?
For those of you, like me that can get overwhelmed by choices, which can so often lead to even more confusion, I’d like to start by saying it’s ok. It’s so common to feel anxious about change, but believe me when I say change can also be great, you just need to work through the sticky part in order to get to it.
I’m hoping by sharing some of my own story, and things I’ve noticed and learnt along the way that you too can take the steps to make the changes you deserve.
A friend of mine recently asked me how I found the time to do all the things I do, like working full time, coaching, art, running. Some might say it’s because I don’t don’t have children to take up a lot of time, but that’s not the whole story. After all I know some extremely busy, successful people who have families, yet they find the time for activities outside of family life. Many of the tools I’ve learnt to create space and achieve goals have come through my coaching experience. When I look back at certain conversations I’ve had with friends or partners, it scares me a little to think of the place I was once in. Not that long ago I had so much time on my hands as most of my friends were busy with their families. This left me feeling very lonely and I believe loneliness is such a hard thing to express, or even understand unless you’re experiencing it. One thing it did teach me, was that I realised I was lonely inside, not just because I didn’t have company. It’s a feeling I don’t want to repeat, but when/if I do, I now have better tools to work through it.
The reason I’m mentioning this, is that my desire to feel fulfilled came from a place of loneliness, and a lack of purpose. On the outside I had lots of friends, a decent job, a supportive family, I lived in a lovely area, but something was missing. I knew I was very fortunate in many ways, but I realised that I didn’t feel like I had a real purpose.
I realise I started off this post with the hope for something uplifting, but I think it’s so important to raise awareness of the many different ‘faces’ that people put on, which don’t always reflect what’s going on inside. The one thing I know to be true for me, is that when I’ve hit a low point, I know I don’t like being there and thankfully I’ve had the mental strength, resilience and momentum to get myself out and onto brighter times. At that particular time in my life I found the strength and coaching helped me kick start the next chapter. The moment I knew I had to do something to change, and reached out for help, the doors started opening.
I love the quote by Julia Cameron, author of the brilliant ‘The Artists Way’
‘Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it’
Sometimes when people refer to change, it can makes you automatically think of significant shifts, like changing your job, starting a family, or may be moving home, but on the other hand some changes we’d like to make are more internal to the way we think or behave. Those are, in some ways so much harder, as many are so engrained in our make up. These can so often come from learnt behaviour as a child, through trauma, or life experience.
So how do you start? And what have I learnt along the way?
Exercise, good for the mind as well as the body
Well, to start with I believe action, breads action and this starts with your mindset, but also your body. If you think of the most positive people in your life that don’t seem to get suck in cycles of eat, sleep, repeat, I’d like to bet that they’re fairly active people. I believe very passionately that exercise is not only good for your physical health, but it also gives you energy for your mind.
If you think of successful people, I pretty much guarantee they didn’t get there, by lounging away most of their time on the sofa.
I’ve talked a lot about podcasts I’ve benefited from listening to over the past few years and regularly re-post quotes from my favourites. Two that come to mind are ‘High Performance‘ and ‘Feel Better, Live Well’. If you’re feeling unmotivated, and looking for inspiration I’d definitely recommend giving them a listen.
Journaling, great for decluttering and organising your thoughts
Some of you may say, but I do exercise, but I have so many ideas running around my head I just don’t know where to start. And that’s exactly how I felt a few years ago, so I can probably understand how you may be feeling. There are so many tools I’ve learnt through coaching, but the one which I’ve seen so many benefit from is journaling. From my own personal experience it’s helped to declutter so many of my thoughts, work through blocks and gain more purpose. When I started journaling in 2017, I used it as a tool to help me process some of the feelings surrounding grief and to say goodbye to a relationship. However, these days it’s helpful in so many ways, personally, professionally and creatively.
If you’ve identified that you’re missing creativity in your life, I’d highly recommend The Artists Way. It builds on the idea of journaling. Julia refers to it as morning pages. I love the way that Julia describes the process of writing morning pages, ‘It is as though by setting our inner movie onto the page, we are freed up to act in our lives’. It really does give you head space to think, to be less cluttered, I love it.
Where you have space in your head, you can make decisions without distractions clouding your thoughts.
Prioritising; if something matters, make it your priority and create boundaries
I believe one of the biggest hurdles for any type of change, is making it a priority. So going back to when my friend asked me, how I find the time for everything I do, I would say one of the most important elements is that I prioritise my health, and fulfilment and in order to do that, I create boundaries.
Boundaries often have a negative connotation, which create an idea that you’re potentially pushing people away, but actually they’re so vital. If we all had healthy boundaries we’d lead much healthier lives. An example of some of my own personal boundaries are; ensuring I give enough space between myself and unhealthy relationships, recognising when I’ve spent too much time on social media or watching T.V, (as it affects my ability to do the things I love), ensuring I eat a balanced diet and don’t get drawn to lazy food (as I know how it affects my mental health), knowing when to say no, identifying unhealthy patterns of not being present, creating patterns for rest and sleep and ensuring that my creative time isn’t blurred by other day to day mundane activities.
One area I would say I’ve had the biggest mountain to climb, is spending time by myself. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, this used to be something I would almost dread if longer than a few hours, but now I recognise that I need this time alone, and I have to create boundaries in order to set it aside. The reason that’s changed so dramatically for me, is due to the changes I’ve made in my life. Prioritising purpose and fulfilment means that I feel more content and so spending time by myself for the most part doesn’t bring up the same feelings anymore.
Here are my top 10 tips if you’re feeling stuck!
- Buy yourself a note pad and list the areas of your life you’d like to change, and why
- Now prioritise them, number 1 being the most important
- If you can’t work out what needs changing, perhaps start by asking yourself what makes you happy?
- If you can’t think of many things, that’s ok, some times in life we can get a bit lost. Perhaps ask yourself, what did you used to enjoy that you don’t do anymore?
- If you’re still struggling, divide a page into two columns. In the first column make a list of all the things you think you could never do, then write the reason why opposite. Revisit this list regularly, and consider how much actual truth are in these statements – what evidence is there to back this up, or are they perhaps just excuses?
- In the same book start writing – 3 pages every day, it doesn’t matter what you write, just get it all out* and do it regularly, make it part of your routine.
- Make some time for yourself – even if it’s only 10 minutes a day, and secure that time just for you. If you have a very hectic life, the morning can often be the best to secure this time, before the day’s activities start
- Build exercise into your day, even if it’s just a brisk walk. It will help you recharge, re-energise and get those ideas going! To ensure this becomes part of your routine, like eating, sleeping, brushing your teeth etc, you need to create a habit.
- Ensure you have a healthy bed time routine, and are prioritising it. After all, no one can think straight with a consistent lack of rest.
- Contact me, who knows coaching could be the best thing you’ve ever done!
I do wonder just how many people start the new year by making new year’s resolutions that so quickly fall to wayside. Instead, why not invest in your future by making small, sustainable steps to a brighter, more fulfilled you.
If you’re interested to understand how coaching might help you, why not hear what some of my previous clients have to say
Take care, keep safe
*Journaling is just for you, I would not recommend sharing your journaling thoughts with others. Your mental health should always be your priority.
Sound mental health is extremely important, and something I feel passionately about. Stigma and not knowing where to turn can be debilitating. When we do reach out, the average wait time for effective treatment is way too long and often leads to prescribing medication alone, rather than being supported by other combined options. When we are in distress we lack the motivation to make positive changes as it’s always easier to bury our problems, fall back on unhealthy coping mechanisms or carry on suffering. I have seen this first hand, and seen those I love suffer.
If you recognise these continuous patterns and believe you are suffering with mental health illness please reach out to your GP, a qualified counsellor, or anyone of the free resources that are available like Mind, Samaritans or other charities. There is help out there, but if only do one thing today please speak to someone you love.