Guest blogger, coach and author Charlotta Hughes, shares her first blog of 2017! Charlotta will be speaking on 22 February at our monthly networking event.
It feels really great to be back!
As some of you know, I’ve taken some time out to have my second child – a little boy called Henry who has kept me busy over the past 14 months.
For my return blog it felt apt to discuss the concepts that got me into coaching in the first place.
Namely, those of happiness, confidence and peace of mind.
So many of us are striving to have and feel those. Sometimes they feel completely within our grasp, at other times they can feel as illusive as ever.
Never forget that we have to work on experiencing these feelings and maintain them continuously. Because once we start to take them for granted they have a tendency to slip away. They are not constant and they’re made up of our acts and thoughts along the way, which together either strengthen our happiness and confidence or weaken them. And for most of us, if we don’t make a conscious effort, we easily lose sight of our more confident and harmonious selves.
I had a reminder of this for myself a few years years back. It was when I was taking some time out around the birth of my daughter Emilie. As much as I loved my new adventure with her and motherhood, I started to slip into old habits that were reducing my peace of mind. I’d focus on the things that were out of my control or that I didn’t enjoy rather than those that I could influence or were lucky to have. An example of this were the early morning wakings – a fact of life for many new parents but it became a constant worry for me. The fact is that she also went to bed like a dream at 7.30pm so I had at least 2 hours to myself before I went to bed early enough to get up without too much of a problem in the morning. I just didn’t focus on the fortunate side of my daughter’s body clock and by overlooking this, I didn’t enjoy the benefits of having reliable me time (or me and my husband time) every evening. A treat that can’t be taken for grated with a baby in the house!
When I later reflected on what had happened, I came to realise how coaching other people and helping them find a peace of mind and confidence, also has a hugely positive impact on me, as this work continuously remind me of ways to maintain my own happiness and confidence.
This fortuitous and very beneficial side effect of what I do, it turned out, had resulted in me taking my peace of mind for granted somewhat. So without these regular reminders through my work I regressed back to a less confident and contented self of a few years ago.
Well, I wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice, so this time around when I was expecting Henry, I figured I’d better find ways to keep up the positive habits and perspective on things that I’ve grown used to enjoying.
One thing that I did differently was to fit in mindfulness practices whenever I got a chance. This only needs to take a few minutes but can be surprisingly hard in a fully packed day (and, at times, night!). So I got creative. Henry’s morning sleep would whenever possible allow me some time for short meditations. To take time out and simply be still and focused in this way doesn’t come naturally to me, so often I used the app, Smiling Mind. It helped me stay on track and in the moment. Another solution was to use techniques when drifting off to sleep to allow a few minutes of mindfulness at the end of each day.
I also made sure I got out for regular runs from when he was a few months old. This was surprisingly hard considering how much I love running. I just couldn’t find the motivation to get out, amidst tiredness and the constant demands now placed on my time. I think I struggled to prioritise myself in this way. Luckily, my own coach helped me realise that if I wait for the mood and circumstances to be perfect, it’s unlikely I’ll ever get out. It has to happen the other way around – it’s only by doing it, I’ll see that I can and that the benefits still work for me. And that the family is still a happy and functioning one on my return!!
If you’ve worked with me in the past you may recognise similar words being said by me. So now that I wasn’t reminding myself regularly through my work, I, again, made sure someone else was there to remind me instead!
The running also allowed me to find a different way to practice my mindfulness through deliberate focuses during parts of my runs. I’d never heard of this option before and it turned out to be a liberating experience which I’ll share more about in a different newsletter soon.
Last but not least, a big part of staying on top of practising what I preach was to write my first book on my passion topic confidence, entitled What’s Your Excuse for not Being More Confident. So during much of Henry’s napping, I was found by the laptop typing away, and the writing process resulted in some great reminders and in effect some self coaching.
The bottom line is that none of us can take our confidence, happiness and peace of mind for granted and if you feel yours is wavering, or even on the floor, it’s time to think about proactive ways to strengthen those positive feelings. It’s both natural and normal to have off days, but if they turn into weeks, months or even years, there’s so much you can do to improve how you’re feeling.
A few years ago, a client of mine used to say there are periods when she feels bullet proof and other times when she’s lost all confidence and self belief.
So it’s about finding ways to increase the number of bullet proof days that serve the happy you and then keep on doing these things. Also, most importantly, when everything feels easy remember that complacency is the most common pitfall. As I soon found out myself back in 2010. But didn’t repeat this time round!
I’m signing off now, so bye bye for now and I’ll see you very soon again. It really is great being back!
Charlotta will be the guest speaker at I Am’s monthly networking on 22 February. Click here to find out more.