Image by Jen Theodore on Unsplash
We are far enough into January now to no longer be seeing quite so many stories of New Year’s Resolutions. What a relief. I can better tolerate stories of New Year’s Intentions – which seem to be more flexible, more humane. Intentions seem to offer more malleability, more wiggle room, than resolutions do.
I have had times in the past when I have set resolutions (exercise more, eat less, drink more water, drink less alcohol, go to bed earlier – the usual), but it has been a long time since I took anything like that too seriously. Intentions, though, I feel more positively towards. And there is no reason why intentions cannot start, and start again, many times during the course of a year (or month, week, or even day).
And so it was back in about September last year when I started to articulate some tentative intentions for my paid/professional work life. So long on the back burner, (at least since 2015 when Edward got ill), and so topsy-turvy for over six years, I felt ready for my work to become more central again. I felt ready to articulate the kinds of work I no longer want to do, and the kinds of work I want to start doing, or do more of. And I definitely felt ready to earn a decent income again.
In truth, there is not a lot in the work that I do that I do not enjoy. But I did want to create more space for new work. And since various forms of volunteering and pro-bono work already take up a big portion of my week (and are very important to me); and since I participate in many personal and professional development programmes; and since I love to take time off in the week for sport and leisure…. I knew I needed to release some stuff.
And so I started to say, “Thank you, and no thank you” to some invitations for work. Such as, Coaching for people trying to cope in truly dysfunctional organisations. Coaching for people working for nightmare bosses. Coaching for people desperate to hang on to their jobs when maybe their skills were no longer sufficient.
This work might well be important, but I no longer want to do it myself. Increasingly, every part of my professional nous, and more importantly, my soul, screams out – “Focus on the places where there will be greater impact, and where you can make a bigger difference”. Focus on the organisations and leaders that genuinely seek to improve the state of the world. Focus on people leading from a place of love, trust and hope, rather than from a place of fear. And focus on people determined that their “grandchildren’s grandchildren will be proud of the choices they make today” (*). (*) Peter Hawkins regularly urges coaches to ask versions of this question to our clients.
And so, Emma – trust that the work you love and hope for will come. Do the work that the world needs. Do work that will help organisations become not only healthier, but more sustainable places. Coach leaders to change the dysfunctional systems they are in, rather than the resilience skills for surviving broken systems a little bit longer. And most of all, do work that you will still be happy to do in twenty-plus years – work that will still be important, because, given the disruption of these past years, the chances of you working into your mid 70s are high. Which is truly okay if I have something useful to give.
It’s early days, but I see new work coming in. Messages from new and old contacts landing in my inbox and LinkedIn account. Increased connectivity between my professional interests and the skills I have had to learn to navigate my personal circumstances. An integration, a meshing, of interests, not only for my own Brave New World, but also for the Brave and Healthy World that we all so desperately desire.