I always think it is good to pause and have a good reflection or re-examination every now and again. I don't often plan it. Today as I walked out of the door with my little terrier George for his morning walk, the sky was blue, the sun was shining, the scene set my mood for a bit of reflection time.
The very thing that seems to be coming up for many of my clients at the moment also appeared there right in front of my eyes as I paused with my head to the sun....
"Do I want to return to life as it was before the pandemic?"
Whoosh, there it is. It feels like one of those wake-up calls. As it challenges my clients, it also challenges me. I sense it is like an elastic band, desperately trying to go back to its original shape, but it's been stretched too far, perhaps there is no going back.
At this juncture in time, we may have some choices to make. Over the last few months, I've been walking alongside some amazing solopreneurs, helpers, educators and business owners that not surprisingly have been asking and working through this very question. The pandemic has thrown into the air how we work, where we work, what we need in life to be well and live well and how we are spending the minutes of our lives.
So many of us have had some huge changes happen in the last few years. Loss, change of career, spending more time at home than ever before to name a few. Some of these things, we never asked for and never wanted, yet they may have opened our eyes to something new.
I remember those years back when a death in the family suddenly woke me up, changed me, I wasn't the same man afterward. Whilst there was some grieve, there was also rebirth, a renewal, a new spring emerging.
It feels a little similar right now as I reflect on this journey, a crossroads.
Of course, it throws up some challenges but I get excited that perhaps there is a culture change on the horizon, but it will be a subtle change that will take time.
In doing this work, I hope that the ripples flow outwards in some way, that those that are in a position to make the change they want to see in the world are courageous enough to take a stand, to ask those challenging questions, to re-examine their lives and make choices that align with their human needs, values and strengths.
As I reflect back on my own journey, I have done the long hours, I've worked into the evenings, there have been times that I have put my health second to my career. I've tried to fix and solve, I've run hard but felt like I was getting nowhere. As I write this in 2022, I'm working fewer hours than I ever have done, I am also earning less than I ever have done. Busyness has lost its glory. There was a time that I would class this as a failure, but now it feels so right, so wholeheartedly right, It could be that I've hit my forties but I also think it is the last few years that have opened something else up, reframed things, put things into perspective.
For the first time ever in my career, I'm planning a month's sabbatical in March. Sabbaticals have been built into my business plan, in fact, the business is designed around time off which is a radically different way of running a business. I know if I take this quality time off, I am there for my clients in a much deeper way than ever before, I can show up in this work and be that change I want to see in the world. It's taken a lot of work to get here to be able to do this but it's a moment I want to celebrate.
I am on a mission to reframe rest, to show that it is possible, that rest doesn't need to mean death, we don't need to be showing up 24/7. Why do we wait until it is too late when our health is suffering to take the time that we need? I hear it though, it is a challenge, businesses, organisations, education, it all moves onwards at a speed that none of us deep down, can really keep up with no matter how hard we try. There is a call for this change in culture but change is not easy, there will be a tide moving in two directions. I have no answers here, perhaps there is none, only those that feel right for you. With the risk of sounding like a broken record, there is no one-size-fits-all.
Can we start small?
How can we reframe sabbatical?
Could we dedicate just one day a week to be on sabbatical for a day?
How can we reframe our relationship with technology, is it possible to leave the phone in the other room for a while?
Can we prioritise our sleep, to value it by creating a healthy sleeping regime?
Can we simply switch off from time to time?
Can we be with those that we love, I mean truly be there?
What boundaries do we need to put into place in order to protect rest?
How can we get clear on how we want to spend our minutes, hours, days, and years?
How can we realign with our values and innate strengths?
I ask myself these questions as much as I put them out there to you also, collectively change is possible, small steps put together create the big changes.
So back to that question that appeared in my eyes as I headed out for that walk....
"Do I want to go back to life as it was before the pandemic?"
My own answer is no. There are things that I want back but at a much deeper level, to have those deep connections with my tribe, to create a business and life geared around deep rest, to walk alongside others to uncover what it is that makes them tick, to put humans first. It is not the end of this story but perhaps the beginning.
Your answer will be different, we all have different lives but I hope by sharing this little reflection, a seed may be planted. Let's see what grows.