After the Crisis, Opportunity

‘I feel like I’m standing at the crossroads of change.’

This was how one client summed up her feelings to me last week during a Power Hour session.

And her words have been echoing around my head ever since because she voiced a sentiment that many of us seem to be feeling right now as we cautiously emerge into the much heralded ‘new normal’.

If there IS a positive takeaway from the pandemic, it’s that it’s given us a space for reflection…. time to consider reconsider, re-evaluate and reconfigure aspects of our lives that no longer serve us.

Before going any further, I want to stress that I am VERY conscious of the significant privilege of being able to choose to make a life shift right now, at a time when so many people are facing changes they most certainly didn’t ask for.

But  among those lucky enough to make them voluntarily, it seems many are starting to question if they even CAN return to their old selves… or perhaps more importantly, if they even want to.

Perhaps you’re feeling it too?

Perhaps you’re at a ‘crossroads’ of your very own right now, trying to decide whether you want to stay on the same road that you were on before the pandemic or if you want to choose a new road that involves changes to who you are and the life you are leading.

‘Crossroads of change’ somehow captures so many of the feelings involved in making this decision – feelings of anticipation, hope, opportunity, fear and resistance… to name but a few!

For me, the pandemic has prompted all these and more, plus a lot of introspection and re-evaluation. And why wouldn’t it? Things FEEL different. I FEEL different. I AM different!

A chance to do things differently

Almost all the coaching conversations I’ve had recently have been focused on exploring potential new opportunities for ‘when this is all over’.

Now that restrictions here in the UK have started lifting, it would seem that many of us really don’t want to snap back into our old routines after the intensity of the last year.

Opportunities can present themselves in the most unexpected of situations and lockdown is one such extreme example offering us opportunities for a fresh start.

New ways of being and doing.

But these opportunities and new ways of being and doing seldom appear fully formed and ready to go straight out of the blocks! After all, we’re talking about CHANGE here!

Your feelings are information

New opportunities usually present themselves as feelings first off and if you’re experiencing strong emotions that you don’t quite know what to with, your first task is to try and articulate exactly what it is that you’re actually feeling! Your feelings are information – get curious and start listening to what they’re telling you.

As we move out of lockdown, I’ve been encouraging my clients to reflect on their pandemic experience…. who they were before, during and who they are now, before moving on to how they are different and how they want to evolve.

What’s your method for figuring out your feelings?

The top two for me are writing and talking. Journaling is a great way in which I literally write my way through to clarity, perspective and understanding. But it’s probably talking – with a trusted friend or a professional – which gets me to this place the fastest.

So I invite you to take some time to reflect on your own journey over the past few months – both personal and professional – as a way to process and understand the challenging feelings that may have surfaced. The aim is to get them out of your head so you can ‘see’ what these feelings are telling you.

So take your journal and make a start by writing your pandemic story…

  • What did this time teach you about you?
  • What parts of you are different now?
  • What are you prepared to let go of?
  • What do you already know about how you want your future to be different?
  • What are the risks in staying with what you’re doing compared to trying something new?
  • What might your feelings be telling you?

Opportunities for renewal and transformation

If you’d like to explore the potential opportunities that might be emerging for you, I invite you to book a Power Hour conversation and together we can tease out your feelings and identify the opportunities within them.  Voicing your feelings can be such a powerful catalyst – once you identify and name them, you can then start to understand and DO something with them.

A final word…

The past year was one that no one could have predicted or wanted. And yet, despite the many challenges that affected us personally and collectively, I write this with optimism and hope because I really do believe that inherent in all challenges are opportunities for renewal and transformation.

I’d love to hear how this lands with you and whether it resonates with your own experiences, so do please let me know in the comments below. Thank you!

Unlocking the Power of Purpose

When I typed ‘How do I find my purpose in life?’ into Google, it came up with 1,750,000,000 suggestions! Which tells me that there an awful lot of people looking for the answer!

I guess it’s not surprising, given that NOT having a sense of purpose can leave us feeling aimless, unfulfilled and disconnected. In other words – lost. At least, that’s how it felt for me!

Is this it? I’m here to make a difference… but doing what? Why can’t I just find the thing I’m meant to be doing, once and for all? Am I really doing what I was born to do? Isn’t there some way that I can leave a lasting, positive impact on other people?

A yearning for that all-important ‘something’

I don’t know about you, but I reckon I’ve had each and every one of these thoughts in my time! And the thing that all these sentiments have in common is a yearning for purpose.

And THAT is a very powerful a feeling!

Purpose is unique to each and every one of us. For some it’s to do with legacy, fulfilment, motivation and for others it’s a blend of ALL that and more.

And by the time we reach our 50s and 60s, this yearning for purpose takes centre stage as we start to re-examine whether the way we’ve been living our lives still works for us now.

And when the answer is ‘no’ the realisation that we’re not ‘on purpose’ can become a powerful catalyst to actually DO something about it. The feeling that there must be ‘something more’ leads us to become a ‘seeker’ and sets us off on a journey of self-discovery and growth.

The 4 ‘P’s’

Plan P Jigsaw

Passion, purpose, potential and prosperity: 4 words that form the heart of my business manifesto and indeed my entire business. But out of these four, ‘purpose’ is perhaps the element my clients find the most elusive and intangible.

I think part of the problem lies with the whole concept of a ‘life purpose’ – it somehow sounds loaded with lofty expectations! No wonder we find it intimidating and overwhelming to contemplate!

But when we break it down, isn’t the question we’re really asking ourselves, “What can I do with my time that’s of value?”

The magic ingredient

You KNOW when someone is ‘on purpose’. You can see it. You can feel it. It’s a very attractive energy to be around! When I thought of all the people I know who have this energy, I realised that their purpose is about giving, not getting. The magic ingredient sprinkled into everything they do is ‘contribution’.

The ripple effect

To me THIS is the most exciting thing about purpose. Not only can our purpose create a radical transformation for ourselves and our own life but also for the people who are part of our purpose.

That’s the ripple effect.

Expressing your purpose through business

For most of my clients, creating a ‘business’ is the way they choose to express their purpose. Their business is not their purpose – it’s a vehicle for their purpose. They build a business in order to deliver their purpose.

My purpose is helping women over 50 create their unique Plan P at the intersection of their passion, purpose potential and prosperity.

And my business is a vehicle for my purpose. In helping my clients use their skills, talents and experience to make a difference, make an impact and make a solid income, they create businesses which enable them to deliver THEIR purpose. The ripple effect in action.

Which brings us to the question we started with…

How do you find your purpose?

Well, you could type the question into Google in the hope that somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of answers that come up you’ll find the one that works for you! But it’s not a process I’d recommend because you might be looking for a very long time!

Purpose lives HERE

The thing is, your purpose isn’t ‘out there’ somewhere – it’s actually much, much closer to home than that. It’s a deeply personal thing and because it’s a deeply personal thing, it comes from within.

The good news is, it’s already there inside you – to find your purpose, you just need to dig deep and dig in the right place and start exploring how the threads of your unique experiences and perspectives weave together.

Here are a few ways you can get started:

  • Pay attention to the activities you gravitate toward in your free time. What do you most love doing that feels aligned, absorbing and enjoyable – the things you become so immersed in that you lose track of time? What part of you do they speak to?
  • What do people ask you for help with?  What do people compliment you on?
  • Make a list of people you most admire and then list their qualities. Chances are, you either already have those qualities, or you would like those qualities.. What can you do to cultivate them?
  • When you’re feeling most satisfied with your life, who are you with? What are you doing? What sort of environment are you in? What do those answers say about what’s important to you? And what can you do to bring about those conditions more often?
  • What have you struggled with in your life?  What challenges have you overcome? How can you make life better for others facing the same challenges now?
  • What do you stand for? What principles are most important to you?What would get you up on your soapbox? What do you stand against? What outrages you? What do you most want to change?

Everyone has a purpose within them

‘What is the purpose of my life?’ is as much an invitation as it a question – an invitation to reconnect. To reconnect with who you are and what gives you joy. To reconnect to the dreams and aspirations that are deeply important to you.

And as with anything that’s worthwhile, it does take effort. But the effort is an investment in what is arguably the most important reward available to us – the assurance that our lives matter.

Need a little help?

I fervently believe that if we ALL lived our purpose the world would be a better place.

If you need a helping hand with this, do check out my free Guide to Uncovering Your Purpose .

Using the acclaimed Ikigai framework, it gently guides you through a process to help you find that all-important inner clarity about who you are and what you uniquely have to offer.

UPDATE: I was recently invited to discuss the idea of ‘purpose’ and how it links to our well-being. You can catch the conversation here – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Over to you…

How about you? How do you define your purpose? Has your purpose evolved and changed? Or are you still searching? Leave me a comment below – as always, I’d love to hear from you.

The 3 R’s Process – Reflect, Review and Realign

I don’t think any of us could’ve imagined what lay ahead of us when the clock struck midnight on 31st December last year! 

It’s been a bumpy road for sure but thankfully we’ve made it through this far AND there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

I’m guessing that changes of some sort will be on your agenda for next year in part because it’s become clear that you need to do things differently. 

I know there are 101 things to do at this time of year but a little time spent thinking about your business NOW is time you won’t regret… which is more than can be said for all those mince pies!

When I say ‘thinking’ about your business, I don’t mean planning – I mean getting yourself ready to plan. There’s a distinct difference between the two!

I’m bang in the middle of what’s best described as my regular, ‘end of year reflections’ which requires a LOT of thinking about my business, along with a fair bit of dreaming, evaluating and THEN (and this is the good bit!) capturing all the useful bits in a simple, useable Year in Review* format. (*There’s a download link at the end of this blog if you’d like a copy!)

The whole process is a matter of gentle questioning:

How satisfied am I with the way things are going? What could I have done better? Do I feel on track and on purpose? What lessons can be learned? How do I best respond to what’s now calling me?

All of which combine to form one all-encompassing question:

What needs to change?

Because something always needs to change! I’ve never reached this place and thought, ‘well everything’s trucking along tickety-boo, so let’s just keep everything the same....’ Have you? No, I thought not – and there’s a very good reason for this.

WE are constantly evolving and changing

…..and because our business is a direct reflection of who we are, when WE change, it makes perfect sense for our business to do the same…. after all, as solo business owners, we ARE our brand!

Being in alignment is key

So I like to think of this reflective time of year as a natural opportunity to move both my self and my business back into alignment. But of course, to be able to do that, I’ve got to first identify exactly which bits are OUT OF of alignment – which bits no longer ‘fit’ and which bits have become pinch-points and which bits I need to let go of to make space for something new that DOES fit!

To actually get this information, I work through a process I refer to as the 3 R’s: Reflect, Review and Realign. (Catchy eh?)  Having worked through this process for a few years now, I can honestly say that it works for me every time.

The ABC principle

Awareness before change

The 3 R’s process is based on the ABC principle – Awareness Before Change. I’m not one to dwell on the past but if we don’t look back, how do we move forward? There’s an ENORMOUS amount to be learned from looking back over the last year, to help me get a real feel for what’s IN and OUT of alignment, so that I can make meaningful adjustments rather than blindly carrying on in situations that just aren’t working for me.

There are two parts to this awareness – heart awareness and head awareness.

Heart first

I’m with Michael Gerber all the way when he says,

“Traditional, head-centred, static business plans don’t work. A plan that starts in the head, with logic and reason and thoughts, lacks passion and excitement and purpose.”

I’m with you all the way on this one Michael!

The best way to reconnect with our all-important ‘passion, excitement and purpose’ is by doing some internal groundwork first…  by going ‘within’ and tapping into what’s calling and THEN get ready to respond to what excites and inspires.

I’m talking here about feelings. The feelings that tell you things have somehow moved out of sync. The feelings encouraging you to make a change in direction…. the feelings urging you to step up and create something completely new.

Never underestimate the power of your feelings!

Your feelings are precious indicators that can help inform your decisions about the way forward for you and your business.

It makes absolute sense to start with your feelings, with the emotional connections you have to your business because these are the things that connect you to your natural energy and to the brilliant vision you are trying to build.

It’s about taking some time to acknowledge the things you are grateful for and to focus on the abundance that is already present but often overlooked in your life and business – the things you enjoyed, the times when you where totally in flow and effortlessly in your element.

  • What went well?
  • What lit you up?
  • What felt easy and light?
  • Which activities felt most aligned with WHO you are?

And yes, you know already know what comes next…. it is just as important (if not even MORE important) to examine the outcomes that did NOT meet your expectations, so you can learn from them and help you make decisions on what needs to change

  • What caused you to feel most disappointed? Why?
  • What felt like an uphill struggle? Why?
  • What was it, specifically, that made it difficult?
  • Where did you feel you were just not ‘in sync’?
  • What no longer feels authentic?

The mindset piece….

I guess this is the bit that straddles BOTH heart awareness and head awareness and as we all know, often to our cost, the stuff that goes on INSIDE our head has an enormous effect on…. well, just about EVERYTHING!

Your thoughts and beliefs are incredibly powerful. They can take you to a place of positivity and empowerment or a place of devastating negativity and powerlessness. So no review could ever be complete without taking an objective look at what’s been going on inside your head and what effect that’s had on your actions (….or more likely, LACK of actions!)

  • Where have you become tangled in the ‘mindset weeds’?
  • How have fear, procrastination, self-doubt and perfectionism impacted on you?
  • What behaviours have tripped you up in the past year? How?
  • What techniques have helped you to quiet the voice of your inner critic?

Facts are feedback

The phrase ‘there is no failure, only feedback’ is one of those much quoted gems worth remembering here because the facts – good or not so good – will put you in a position of power. These facts, when combined with your intuition, will help you create strong, aligned decisions and solutions.

It’s time next to turn your attention to the tangible, evidence-based bits of your business and the measurements which are significant to your business growth – the audiences built, clients served, programmes run and the revenue generated from each of your services and products.

Amplify. Eliminate. Create.

One of the simplest, quickest and most useful exercises I know for getting a clear sense of what’s in and out of alignment is by reviewing the key areas of your business in turn, and running them through the ‘amplify, eliminate, create test’.

Take some time to work through the key areas of your business

  • Audience building/Client attraction
  • Adding value/Being of service
  • Marketing, visibility and promotions
  • Sales conversations
  • Programmes and services
  • Personal development

…..and for each area ask yourself:

  • What was satisfying and enjoyable in this area? What felt easy?
    AMPLIFY: Do more of them or improve them
  • What’s draining me in this area? What’s sapping my time and energy? What feels hard and is causing resentment and doubt?
    ELIMINATE: Let it go, outsource or do less of them
  • What’s missing here? Is there something I’m excited by, keen to make, do or try? What feels as if it has real potential?
    CREATE: Start doing these.

So, for example:

  • Maybe that opt-in you’ve been using is no longer resonating with your audience and it’s time to introduce a more aligned, more enticing resource.
  • Maybe your heart is no longer in running your Facebook Group and it’s sapping your time and energy so you decide to let it go.
  • Maybe you’ve been ‘hiding’ behind your laptop too much and it’s time to get visible by creating monthly videos for your community.
  • Maybe you realise how much you absolutely love group work and perhaps decide to introduce a Mastermind element to your services.

Personal reflections…

Having concluded my personal 3 R’s process, the biggest take-aways for me are these:

  • If it feels hard, feels misaligned, feels like a should rather than a want to, it’s probably not right for you
  • Business planning and strategy is really important but it’s not the place to start
  • Start with your feelings, your desires, your vision
  • Listen to the guide within first and foremost and follow your heart
  • Respond to what’s calling you
  • If what you’re doing doesn’t actually align with who you are, your results are likely to be short lived
  • Letting go of ways of being and doing that no longer serve you, opens up a space for something new

I feel a whole lot more in balance now that I’ve completed my 3 R’s and having reflected, reviewed and realigned, I know exactly where I most need to focus next year. Now I know the most important actions I want to take…. so planning is going to be a doddle!

Fancy trying this approach for yourself?

If you do, I guarantee it will be time well spent. A good place to start is by using the questions in this blog as journaling prompts – journaling is one of the BEST ways of having a deep and meaningful internal dialogue with yourself!

Then, when you’re ready, download 2020 A Year in Review’ and use the sheets to capture the essence of your thoughts in a format that’s easy to ‘see’ and access – I find using bullet points works really well. Et voila, you will then have a simple, useful big-picture overview of your past year – a vantage point from which you’ll be well-placed to make informed decisions for the year ahead.

And as always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!