I was working with a thoughtful and inspiring coaching client today, who has recently had a big birthday. She's started writing a journal to help her keep in touch with what is important to her right now. She reflected that what’s important to her currently is different to what it was when she set out on her career, and that this new phase is about enjoying the small things, the experiences and being present for them. And it got me thinking about my own journey.
If I think about my 20s, they were about achievement, striving to be good at something, progressing my career, being a manager, running high profile events. And if I could sum this up, really it was about excitement. My 30s were about self-discovery in all areas of my life, my work and my relationships – a redundancy led me to re-evaluate and I moved away from fundraising events into Learning & Development and I trained as a coach. This forced me to slow down, be at ease with contemplation so I could better understand myself and others. Then I became a parent, which is a big one for changing all the relationships you have in your life, including the one you have with yourself!
Now I’m 40, I find I’m naturally taking a leaf out of my wise coaching client’s book: what is important to me now more than ever is the day to day little things. I’ve learnt that the bits you remember aren’t necessarily the big achievements, or even the big nights out (though some do stick in the mind, if a little blurrily) it’s the small moments, the moments where you stopped to smell the roses, and really appreciated people; snapshots in time with your friends around you and the sun on your face; your child feeding the ducks or indeed the ridiculousness of your 11 month old choosing the moment the health visitor arrived to go to the toilet in a spectacular fashion, on the kitchen floor. (Yes - this happened, just yesterday.)
Whilst as a coach I advocate working on one’s purpose and goals, what’s often missed if we're focusing on a long term reflection and planning piece is appreciation of the small day to day joys.
Understanding your values can help to raise your awareness of what brings you joy.
Here's an exercise you can do to ground you in today, and what is important to you right now. Take a blank piece of paper, and a pen. Now think of someone you really admire, a friend, colleague or family member. Write down all the things about this person that you really appreciate. When you’ve finished think some more and write down some more. Then put your pen down and think about someone else and repeat the exercise. Now you have a piece of paper with a long list of qualities and skills which you really rate. You could call them values. Ring three of them – the three that really spring out at you today. Then narrow this down to one. Ask yourself the question ‘what would it look like if today I was really living this value?’
Let me know how you get on!
P.S The pic is taken in the woods with my family this weekend, 2 year olds are brilliant at appreciating the little things, so uncluttered are their minds!
I'm a leadership and team coach who helps people, teams and organisations with Big Change (like redundancy, a new team or return to work after mat leave). Change can be terrifying, but it needn't be. It can truly be the catalyst for better, even more brilliant things! Do get in touch to discuss how we can work together.
Check out my website www.mccannacoaching.co.uk and follow me www.facebook.com/mccannacoaching and @jenthecoach on Twitter for useful articles and exercises you can do at home, plus news of workshops I'm running.