Not long ago, I would have described myself as someone who was unhappy.
I was suffering from ongoing aches and pains. Physical ailments that I didn't realise had an unconscious cause. That was until I saw one of those TED talks that really seem to resonate. It was a talk by a lady named Caroline Myss.
Caroline talked about choice. About how what is unconsciously going on in our lives affects our happiness and our health. She tells us that we have a choice. A choice to change what is going on in our lives, to make it work for us (and not just for what society expects).
After listening to her speak, I realised that for as long as I could remember, I had lived with the belief that I was making choices about how I want to live. But I had not seen that the choices I was making were not always in alignment with who I really am.
Instead, they were choices I made because of some sense of duty or obligation or idea. I felt that if I didn't make these choices, then terrible consequences would happen. I felt that if I didn’t work long hours, I would not be a success in my job and that I had to work so hard because I needed to provide for my family.
In my case, my aches and pains were making me miserable but I had been ignoring them. It was up to me to change that.
I loved my work. I had a lot to be grateful for. I loved working with the people I led and in those thrilling projects that I was blessed to be involved with. I got personal value; improved self-esteem and meaning from these things. The problem was that I was very bad at balancing my work and life, I was constantly stressed and overwhelmed. My busy-ness was making me unhappy.
My mindset was “just keep on working harder and it will all come right”. I became a workaholic. I felt as if I was on a treadmill. I sacrificed time with my family, my life partner and looking after myself.
Once I began to look for answers, I realised that I was creating my experience by the way I was showing up. I realised I needed to change, I needed to make different choices.
This meant shifting my focus from external causes to my own mindset.
I realised that I was spending a lot of time talking to my partner, friends and anybody who would listen about all the things that were making me unhappy. I was using words like “fault, 'deserve' and 'entitled'. Although I told myself I was trying to work out what was happening to me, I realised that I was just complaining to relieve my stress.
So began by reminding myself what was it that I really loved about my work instead of focusing on what was making me unhappy. This helped me to move past my negative thinking and enabled me to really enjoy what I was doing. This helped me to see clearly that those workaholic tendencies of mine were the cause of my unhappiness.
Once I was able to do this, I was also able to spend time thinking about what I wanted to do next. About the new choices I could make to turn my life around. This was a pivotal moment for me.
I began this particular journey by asking myself what is it that I MOST love about what I’m doing now? What is it that I would LOVE to be doing in, say, 5 years - even if I don’t yet know things like “how am I going to do that?”
I thought about where I was living and how that was impacting on me. I realised that I had moved to Auckland purely to earn a living. I thought about the 20 years that had passed and, even though it is an amazing city, it wasn’t where I wanted to live. I dreamed of living in a place that gave me a feeling of freedom and space rather than suburbia in the daily grind of a 2 hour commute to and from home. I wanted to move away from work that demanded travel and many hours away from home. I wanted to spend more time with my family and live a pared-back life… not quite minimalist more like essentialism.
So I worked closely with my life partner to create a new vision for living. We decided to leave this city behind, find a larger property where we could focus on what mattered most to us and large enough to share with our extended family. I trained as an executive coach and Master NLP Practitioner and began building my coaching practice as a side-gig (later on I was able to transfer and expand my coaching, interacting with clients globally, by utilising the resources provided by the internet).
Nowadays, I have left behind those things that were negatively impacting my life and am living a life of integrity.
I love working with my clients. I love living in with the family (children and grandchildren) on a larger yet quieter property; I have taken up watercolour painting and connected with new groups of people; I have created a way of giving back helping young people with disabilities find work they love too. And all my aches and pains have disappeared. The stress has gone and my health has improved. All because I realised the power of choice.
This is what I now work with my clients on. I help them discover everybody's hidden superpower, the ability to choose to make life different. To choose to make it better.
If you'd like to find out how this can relate to you in your life, get in touch.