Friday, January 3rd, 2020
Happy New Decade!
I got up this morning and started seeing a host of personal anecdotes on Facebook by friends sharing accounts of the last ten years. Some were positive stories of their successes, whereas others poured out frustrations that the decade had been difficult and turbulent.
As I read the more difficult ones, I noticed I felt guilty.
I realised it’s because I feel really good about my life. The last decade has been one of the most rewarding. Why do I feel guilty?
As I challenged my guilt, I remembered that the last decade was also one of the hardest. I lost a sibling to cancer, struggled with isolation and confidence trying to set up and run my coaching business and spent many of those years single and struggling to find love.
As I reflected more, I realised that despite the problems I had encountered – it was one of the best, because it taught me to know my values in life. Coaching played a huge part in that. When I trained as a coach ten years ago, I learnt how to navigate my life and make changes so that I feel more confident and build a life around that. I’ve overcome those difficulties and managed to build up a business, create a strong social network and find love. But it started with learning what ‘a good life’ means to me.
Part of me wanted to reach out to people and say ‘get a coach, life doesn’t need to be this hard.’ But I thought I’d write an honest blog instead, with a coaching tool for anyone who may want some help at the start of this new decade.
I’d love to encourage you, however you feel about the last decade, to give yourself permission to gently step into this new decade, by answering the questions below. They may well help you to learn more about what you really want for the next decade.
Reflecting can help us to get clearer on what’s important for the year or decade ahead.
I’ve put some of my own reflections below these if you’re curious about how I’ve grown and changed.
Grab a cuppa and answer these questions:
What has the last decade taught you?..
Looking at the main areas of your life.
Where were you ten years ago and where are you now?
What were the most rewarding moments for you? (These can be simple times)
What have been your main achievements?
What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
Where have you grown as a person?
What values are important to you now? (Not sure of what values are – see below)
What are values?
Values are guiding principles that help us to know how to be our most authentic and contented selves. When we honour our values, we can make good decisions, feel more fulfilled, have confidence and respond well to setbacks.
Here are some of mine: Freedom, learning, fun, being bold, honesty, kindness, connection, creativity and making a difference.
I’m sharing three areas of my life where I feel that I grew the most.
Ten years ago, I was making more money than I ever imagined I would as a corporate trainer and yet I felt deeply dissatisfied. It was a career I chose as I wanted to inspire others, but it was a practical strategy. The jobs I said ‘yes’ to paid for the hefty mortgage rates in London, and as a creative person, I felt stifled and unexpressed in my career.
So, in 2009 I decided to train to be a coach and learnt about the importance of living a life based on your values. Boom – my life began to change significantly – but it took time to navigate a new world.
I realised that my soul craved creativity and to be involved in a creative community. I set up my own practice as a ‘coach for creatives’ and have since coached some of the most inspirational and vibrant people. I’ve seen countless creative projects materialise as a result of our sessions and helped people learn to believe in themselves, take risks to find more meaning in their work and life. I love being invited to gigs, book launches, plays from clients who have successfully realised important projects.
I also had to learn how to be a self-marketer. Setting up a coaching practice was a mixed blessing. To do work I loved meant being in the public eye in order to attract clients. There were days when I attempted to create video blogs – I would sit alone at home trying to come up with inspiring content, but secretly I felt like an imposter. I struggled to stay motivated at times, afraid of being judged. Working alone at home was one of the hardest aspects of following my truth. Over time, it became easier. Working with Bev Glick for a few years made blogging more enjoyable and I learnt how to tell stories around my work, which was a revelation.
I also trained as a ‘public speaking’ coach in 2010 – with a dear friend Sarah Lloyd Hughes. I learned so much from this inspiring woman and working for her has led me to train people to do TED style talks all over the world. I’ve worked in Australia, Kuwait, Dublin, Prague and Germany.
What I learned
Doing work you love often requires self-promotion. Treat this as personal development and grow through the process of sharing your work.
Know your values in life. This can help you navigate your career and lifestyle in a way that leads to deep satisfaction and motivation. My values honoured at work are freedom, love, making a difference, creativity and authenticity.
Ten years ago, I was in an accappella band called ‘The Few’. We performed regularly in London and it was a great experience to be with friends and singing to a high standard. My heart ached for doing my own projects though. I felt that I was fitting my passion into life, instead of making it a meaningful part of my life.
I left the band in 2014 and started my own project called ‘Mixtape Manifesto’. I commissioned a dear friend and musician, Camillo Menjura to arrange the music and I brought in singers that I loved and trusted. We sang songs that I loved, performed at many events and even though this was a more challenging project, there was a sense of satisfaction that I’d created something.
Last year I decided to up my game and went on a jazz summer school and explored solo singing. Again – this was another leap into developing as a musician. I loved the experience and ended up collaborating with a talented piano player – which led to my first solo jazz gigs in 2019. I’ve joined a new trio and sang with a big band for NYE.
What I learned – keep prioritising your passions in life. These projects don’t always lead to financial rewards, but they keep our hearts intact. It doesn’t matter if you fail or succeed – it is about honouring your creative heart.
The Few – 2009
Ten years ago I was in a long distance relationship with someone I cared very much about, but wasn’t in love with. We were too different. For the majority of this decade, I was either long time single or in short term relationships. I was frustrated! I’ve always been deeply romantic and even though I probably gave the impression of being bold and independent, I secretly craved a partner who I would one day marry. This dream seemed impossible.
My approach to resolving this dilemma in this decade was to treat it like a job. So I decided to do some research. It’s less painful than getting out there on the dance floor so I went on a quest to find a man by reading every book I could find: ‘How To Find Your Soul Mate’, ‘How To Make Any Man Fall in Love With You’, ‘Mr Good Enough’. These books taught me a variety of things about dating including.
I signed up for dating websites and tried dating various men – but the books felt safer. For many years, I felt like I was emotionally throwing myself into the lion pit every time I put out a message on a dating site or met up on a blind date. I would either feel painfully rejected or irritated. Either way, my confidence would be pumelled a little more. ‘Was I too fussy? Was I just hopeless with men?’
With each phase of dating disastrously, I would try a different strategy, hoping for a better result. As time went on, I compromised my deepest values by resorting to trying out an open relationship with a man. This was so far away from my core values that it led to an unsurprisingly disastrous end.
Recovering from this painful experience, I finally concluded that it was best not to compromise and actually, being single was really great. I had tons of wonderful friends and a great social life.
Then in July 2019 I met a man who was clearly my soul mate. Within a few hours of meeting, I felt a deep sense of peace in my tummy. This was a man of deep integrity. He was handsome, kind, intelligent and he had a deep capacity to express his feelings honestly. I felt this deep connection with this person. We had an epic and romantic few months together and my new-found love popped the question in December. Yes – my secret longing came true.
What I learned: Never compromise on what is important to you. Having shared values is essential for a partnership to work well. Focus on developing as a person and never give up.