Many of my clients are achievers. They enjoy being good at stuff and being in control of their lives. They may be known at work as the person who will deliver on complex projects. They might be the person who drafts the last minute board paper or the one the CEO calls when there’s a crisis. It’s entirely possible they organise the Christmas party when no one else has the time or inclination. Or maybe they run their own business, create great art or design pioneering software.
So what happens when the world shifts around them and threatens their identity as an achiever? A shift might be the threat of redundancy, the loss of a big client or a move into a super challenging senior role. Sometimes change is a change in health or family circumstances.
This shift feels particularly stark for my clients who become parents when they already have an established careers and they are achieving professionally. One of the biggest shocks to the system is something all parents can tell you – parenting is not a matter of achieving or not achieving, because for every moment you are #winning there is a #notwinning to balance it out. (Both my partner and I were exhausted and had a lie down on Sunday whilst the kids played nicely together in the 4 year old’s bedroom. Later that day we found a large biro mural on the 4 year old’s bedroom wall.)
In control you are most certainly not.
And in fact the more desperately you grasp at being in control once you’re a parent, the louder the laugh in your face by the child wielding the biro.
So back to self-identity. You can keep trying to create perfection or dam near it, in the face of a mountain you can never truly summit, making yourself ill in the process and probably dropping a few of those plates you are juggling along the way. Or you can choose the scenic route, which doesn’t get you directly to the summit, but affords you some fabulous views and a chance to discover strengths and skills you never knew you had.
It’s quite easy for you to nod your head and say ‘yes yes, in 2019 I’m going to be kind to myself. I’ll slow down – I’ll have more baths and book a spa break’. But, and I say this as a huge fan of spa breaks, by engaging only your head and applying self care as a one time action, you’ll be doing damage limitation, not truly shifting into a more sustainable, calmer, pleasanter and ultimately more effective place to be.
In order to shift your mindset in a sustainable way, you need to engage your heart as well as your head. What will it feel like to be free from the need to respond to every email? What can you do to get there? How will it feel to say ‘great idea, but I don’t have time to work on it until next month’ or ‘great idea, I’ll back you 100% as you start that yourself’. Who do you need to be in order to feel authentic and confident even saying those things?
What will it feel like, to quote Michelle Obama to ‘not have it All, all at the same time?’ What will you see on your own personal scenic route?
Letting go of some aspects of your identity which no longer serve you well, like worrying about stuff you can never fix, makes space for other things to flourish: creativity, possibility, maybe even, shock horror, fun. What could you achieve with that space?
And what’s the fuel you need to put into your tank to help you get there?
There’s no set road map to shifting to a more effective, healthier way of being – your life, your career, your brand of leadership is your journey and no one else’s.
A coach will support you to explore and understand what success looks like for you, then work with you to go right out and get it. They will walk with you as you take small steps towards big change, supporting you to try new ways of doing, and more importantly, of being.
So hire a coach and let them support you to #hashtagalert#liveyourbestlife #bekindtoyourself and #totallywinat2019
(If totally winning were a thing of course)
Contact me to discuss what success looks like for you in 2019
You can read more about my coaching here, and you may like some earlier blogs to help you #totallywinat2019 including My dance space, your dance space and how to give effective feedback with confidence