I started 2020 full of hope, aspiration and energy. It was going to be my year; it was going to be my decade. Following years of not knowing who I wanted to be, where I was supposed to be going and how I was going to get there, I had finally reached a place where I was ready to focus on me. After recent years spent soul searching and exploring my purpose, I knew what I had to leave behind and I knew it was time to step well and truly out of my comfort zone.
So I left the career that had given me stability, growth and financial security for 12 years. I stepped away from the HR career ladder and my future job prospects to become a coach, work for myself and find balance in my work and life. Making that move gave me a sense of freedom I had never experienced before. I would say I have never looked back, but this is 2020 and we all know that this year means it hasn’t been an overnight success story. This post is about my unpredictable Q1, how I got from that new year feeling to launching my own website in the midst of an unimaginable global pandemic…
I knew what I wanted from this year when January came. Having spent two weeks away from work with my family, I ended 2019 with a clear understanding of my priorities. Working my way though the ranks and red tape in the past decade had allowed me to step back and think about my ethics and the decisions I contributed to. I knew my values and I was ready to align with them.
In the first week of January, I confirmed arrangements with my employer to leave by the end of the month. I spent the next fortnight tying up lose ends, handing over work and saying my goodbyes. In the final week of the month, it was the time for new beginnings. I was ready. I started my official coaching certification with Full Circle, meeting the most incredible group of coaches in the process. At the time we are all completely unaware of the life-changing journey we were all embarking on together. I embraced my own vulnerability, opening up to a room full of strangers as the client in a coaching demo. My journey from embarrassed to enlightened is one I will hold on to forever.
February was one of the best months of my life. I felt free, happy and alive. I did what I wanted, when I wanted and how I wanted to. For one month, I allowed myself this and I’m certain I’ll be forever grateful that I did.
I love to travel and I’ve never travelled alone (aside from for work purposes, but I always found that restrictive). Whilst it’s not the time in my life for a gap year, I was fortunate to be able to go away by myself for a few days. So I went to Morocco! 3.5 hours flight time, hot sunshine, vibrancy and colour. It was everything I needed. It was also not what I expected. My lone adventure in Marrakesh opened my eyes to inequalities and injustices I’d previously overlooked. It made me question what I take for granted and the privilege my culture affords me. This all fuelled the strong desire I already had to make a difference, to encourage others to fulfill their potential and to contribute to positive change in the world.
I spent Valentine’s weekend in Amsterdam with my partner and the last weekend in Wales with my immediate family for a friend’s 40th birthday. These special moments exploring new places with people that matter are important to me. They motivate me to work hard, to create balance in my life and to re-focus my goals as I continue to move forward.
It wasn’t all travel. Not having work commitments in February meant that I had half-term free. My daughter has just started primary school and we are in the only year that she will will be in the school with my two step-sons. It is a precious time and despite the predictable British weather, I felt so much love and peace during that week. In my twenties, my career was my focus, but since becoming a parent my priorities and motivations have changed dramatically. Yet, I still have a great desire to work and I still want to contribute to something bigger than myself.
Much of February was spent planning my next steps. I love to plan. I’m a to-do list, spreadsheet, research fan. I mixed planning with doing, continuing with training, coaching and growing my network. It felt productive, but I knew that as I moved toward March I needed to take bigger steps to ensure that I took ownership of my success. I made the decision to take on a HR interim contract, build my network and gradually grow my coaching practice.
March was supposed to be the month I started earning again. I was ready to put my toes in the water, explore new territories and stimulate my mind. At the start of the month, I had two promising HR contracts lined up that would ensure my income over the coming months whilst I focused on building my coaching practice. I was networking, offering free coaching and building my coaching skills through training, mentoring and being coached myself. By the end of the month, I was home-schooling (or encouraging learning at home, since we have been advised not to use that term), not earning (or even being furloughed), social-distancing, self-isolating and back to square one.
COVID-19 hit hard and it hit everywhere. I don’t know a single person who has not been adversely impacted, who is not suffering in one way or another. We don’t know how much more it is going to spread, how many more lives are going to be impacted or for how long it will dictate what we can and cannot do. These are not the thoughts I am focusing on. I am focusing on the time I have with my family, the hope I have for the world to get through this, and the opportunity there is for positive change: from supporting those in crisis and building relationships with neighbours to learning new skills and spreading gratitude.
So I end 2020 Q1 still with hope, aspiration and energy. Right now, I only know how to use this in the short-term, so I have built my website and I intend to keep going. I am available to coach virtually and have every intention of supporting people through this period of uncertainty. Now more than ever we need to believe in ourselves, look forward and challenge that inner voice. I will also continue to spread positivity on Instagram, volunteer for the NHS and offer free HR guidance.
Welcome to my website and thank you for reading my very first post. To you, to everyone, I wish you good health, love and happiness.Together, we will get through this.