I’ve finished today, Friday, in much better shape than the seven(?) previous Friday’s. Not so broken. Not so drained. Actually looking forward to the weekend.
The difference? I’ve stopped caring about case numbers and our leaders desperately spinning. I’ve removed myself from these four walls and am working in my office again (safely of course). and there’s been a bit of reconnection with people.
Separating home from work has been a life-saver. I really was not in good shape. 50 days of isolation is not good. My colleagues have noticed a sea change in me. (Related: I am blessed to be working with quality counsellors and psychologists who care about me and check in).
This week I’ve been involved in interviewing for some roles on our business – there are amazing talented and beautiful humans out there and I have loved the conversations. Hearing the passion. Understanding the dreams. We are going to gain much from the people we select.
I have come to realise that the key to getting through this pandemic is purpose and hope. Humans need purpose. Humans need hope. Remove these and watch the withering.
There’s also been a bit of a spark ignited in me. I’ve deliberately put my creative side on hold for a few years. Needs must sometimes I guess. But in the last few days I’ve gotten a bit twitchy. It’s time. It’s time to create. So I’m starting to plot and imagine what this could look like.
It’s quite fun isn’t it? All this imagining and dreaming stuff. We should do more of it.
My mind is conditioned to think in Quarters after years in business. And this weekend, happily, coincides with the conclusion of one Quarter and the beginning of a new one.
Reflecting. The first Quarter was about recovery. My work is challenging at the best of times, and at the beginning of last Quarter, I was broken. Utterly broken. Probably was a bit a shit with my closest and loved. I had nothing to give and really needed people around to fill my emotional tank. That filling came from unexpected places for the most part, and I’m grateful.
I’m always grateful. I’m very conscious of those who add.
Where I am today is a lifetime of progress from where I was 3 months ago. I’m more content.
Happier? Hard to say really. I’m happy within myself, but I suspect it’s time I opened my borders…
Reflecting. Work is still challenging, but the environment is completely different. I have the same ridiculously difficult conversations. Supporting people facing horrific situations. But now I have support to do so. So I’m much more effective. (Pro tip – find you people that understand and love you). I’m very grateful that my colleagues are now able to bring their full authentic selves to the game.
So, mental is sorted. What about physical? I’m managing to maintain my stepcount. But I suspect it’s time I faced my nemesis – a gym membership – again… the key? I suspect I need a challenge and people I love doing it with me.
Spiritual? An important part of human existence (arguably). An apropos given it’s Easter. I’m very spiritually aware, given my lifetime and background, but I despise hypocrisy and control. And I see too much of this in human constructs.
I value conversations. I’ve been significantly influenced by those following Hindu dharma in recent years. I’m always open to explore other faiths, understandings, philosophies. I’m not sure that I can embrace atheism, given my experiences, and agnosticism doesn’t really resonate.
Please suggest reading material for me to consider. I will read.
So finding my Ikigai… I’m actually very close. I love my work. I love my colleagues. I’m challenged every day.
I have been worried that my heart has been closed. Shut down. perhaps it’s time to open up again. Risk hurt and disappointment, but be alive. Connect with a one.
So… this next Quarter. What does success look like? What does progress look like?
Some of you may be aware that I work in a business that provides support to people dealing with various life challenges. My role is fairly frontline – I help and guide managers and business owners dealing with some fairly tough situations within their staff.
(Side note: business managers and owners care deeply for their staff. They’re not dicks)
I’ve never finished a work year so utterly broken and empty. 2020 was a bitch. And we all need to be aware that 2021 will be challenging as there are lingering effects. Don’t be complacent. Don’t stop caring for each other.
This year started. I was prepared to resign. You know, brokenness, emptiness… not a good way to start a year. Actually, it took me ten days in the break before I was able to actually have a normal human interaction with another person. God, I have been so impacted.
However, as the company I work for was acquired in December, things are changed. My conversations with new GM, new CEO, give me optimism.
I’ve noted today that I’m feeling happy.
It’s not a feeling I’ve had for many many months.
As I write this, I’m optimistic. Honestly I’ve become a bit of a recluse… avoiding people where those catch-ups would probably have been helpful. I’m now forcing myself to go ‘out’ because I’ve realised that in the last two months I’ve only been out of my apartment past 7pm only a few times. Not ideal.
So, I guess to all you readers, feel free to challenge me. Get me out.
Looking back, I have to say that I have learned much about myself this year. I’ve had to dig deep – deeper than ever before. I understand my strength, my resilience. My vulnerabilities.
It has been a year where the sources of support I’d usually expect to be able to draw from were reduced or absent. It’s been a year where I finished utterly broken.
I’d love to venture into more detail about my work but that really isn’t a great idea. I can however say that in 8 days of recovery I’ve gotten from 0% to about 50% of where I need to be.
This has been a year of some significant milestones and achievements, and whilst I do take time to pause and reflect on these, my residual energy levels aren’t yet high enough to properly enjoy these moments. These accomplishments.
This year, my Christmas celebrations were muted. A few hours with my teenagers was great, but unusually for me – no decorations. No excitement. No anticipation. Nothing really to look forward to. Plans fell through. And so I’m doing everything I can to rest up and recharge. I’m doing everything I can to clear my head and my more importantly, my dreams. I have been replaying and revisiting work conversations which isn’t helpful. I can report that with the acquisition of a new pillow, my rest last night was full. No work dreaming.
I will be ok (I’m very self-aware) but it’s taking a lot longer to recover than the few days I thought it would take. Which highlights how much care I need to take.
So, what am I doing?
Focusing on gratitude is key for me.
I’m grateful for my few close friends who kept a watchful eye on me who this year. I’m grateful for my colleagues who checked in on me – and I checked on them. The mutual support has been so so important and so very good.
I’m grateful for the new people that I’ve met this year. I’ve noticed that people in my circle have slowly exited – through isolation, busy-ness and distraction mostly – so I’ve had to breathe and start again. It really is quite tiring getting to know people enough to trust them with ‘Simon-world’… but to those I’ve let in, thank you. Thank you. My guards are coming down slowly and you have helped me immeasurably.
I’m grateful that this year I’ve developed some better habits: regular walks, smaller portions. I cancelled my gym membership (after 18 months of only using their bathrooms). Perhaps 2021 will see a re-motivation… but knowing me it’s unlikely. Gyms really aren’t my natural environment.
I’m grateful that I’ve ticked quite a few things off my various life to-do lists.
I’m grateful that my teenagers have thrived and are succeeding. It’s good to see them happy.
Continuing the family theme, watching my adoptive parents having to deal with enforced change due to age in the last few months has been draining and impactful, but seeing their grace and dignity through these challenges is also inspiring. I do need to acknowledge the effort my sister has put in to help them through. She has definitely gone above and beyond. Being able to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary a week or so ago was great.
Seeing this makes me appreciate the time I have.
So here’s to the New Year. The trick is to recognise that it’s pretty much going to be more of the same. So I’m planning accordingly. I will continue to tick things off my lists. I will re-open myself. I will continue to explore. Explore nature, explore food, explore New Zealand. I will continue to Dad.
Goodness. I’ve just finished my 7th work day back in the office.
It’s been strange. Whilst it has been good reconnecting with my people (note: our work lives are incredibly important for our purpose and mental health), I’ve found myself still needing to create space.
So I go home for lunch. I’m lucky in that I live a 1 minute walk from the office. I’m sure it would be fine eating in the office but I just need the space.
I’ve enjoyed starting to reconnect with customers. Having meetings offsite. Driving around again. The fact is, we are really busy right now and the mental health of our ‘team of five million is frayed’. Supporting my customers to look after their teams amidst making some challenging calls is draining.
I’m very conscious of the need to protect my own health.
How have you all found things? Happy to chat if you need. Be kind to yourself and each other. Be tolerant.
Today is February 6th, Waitangi Day here in New Zealand. It’s kind of like Australia Day or Independence Day in the US – but not.
I sit here, not working. The weather is nice though, so that’s a plus.
The last couple of weeks have been irritating. I had a decent break over Christmas and New Year. Recharged the batteries a bit. Was able to have a bit of a hard reset. Turned it off and on again.
Then, oh wow, did I have to hit the ground running. My field of work requires a lot of resilience and an ability to empathise fully whilst deflecting. It can be challenging. Some of the things people share with me are quite confronting.
But then we have today off. Waitangi Day. In the middle of the week. We had a weekend. Then two days. Then a day off. Then we have two more days of work. Then another weekend.
And last week we had the Monday off for a regional day.
I have found these micro-breaks incredibly disruptive.
Sure they’re nice to have, but really. Are they necessary?
Remind me in the months between Queens’ Birthday and Labour Weekend how great micro-breaks are. That’s when they’d be appreciated.
Oh ok, maybe it’s more “getting your brain, time and life back”.
From July 1st, I have been in recovery.
This year has been bloody hard slog. I’d been giving one of my clients, on average, over 180 hrs per month. (Getting paid for 168). And then fitting in the workload for my other clients on top of that.
My brain was fried. But I didn’t realize it, although the suspicions were there.
I’d had a few conversations with medical professionals (nothing to be concerned about, I have many more people to annoy in my future) and quite frankly the idea that we work to exhaustion and then use the spare time for sleep is just crazy.
Yes. Needs must. But it takes a toll.
From July 1st, I reduced my hours with that client. Focussing on a few accounts and being more selective with my hours.
I have new clients to inspire and delight me.
I have felt a weight lift and a sharpening in my mind. I didn’t realize quite how bad shape I was in.
Sorry if you’ve been on the receiving end of ‘I have no energy to give you any sort of attention’.