“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” Terry Pratchett
It’s crazy out there, but quiet in here. And that’s really discombobulating. Knowing that some people are pulling long hours, in stressful environments whilst I move restlessly from one project to another with no clear direction, no sense of what’s next.
Whichever side of the fence you sit, the grass is not greener, it’s just different.
As I wrestle with which of the non-urgent, non-essential, non-whatever things I could do I realise that it’s time to go back to basics and re-imagine a new way of working. One that isn’t driven by email flooding in and texts and calls spurring me into action. A way of working that had been based on being pushed into action, a place of reaction and response and adrenalin.
Now I have an infinite number of days ahead to plan, reflect and do all the pro-active work I always said I wanted to do but never got around to. Admittedly the novel is in the making, but really, is that what I want to be doing for the rest of my life?
I’m a coach and I know the first thing I would say in response to myself is
“so talk about the rest of your life”
And with that one comment I would start the process of reaching out to grab the slippery strands of what I could be doing, What do I want to be doing? Who with and how. Where? Through what media? And oh so many other questions.
But those strands are difficult to grasp. First, I need something more prosaic to keep my feet on the ground, to help make each day feel a little more like it was spent in a way that was adding to something more.
This is the journey I’m currently on, somewhere in that dip that is the change curve.
I move through some sort of ethereal mist which I know will clear, I just don’t know when.
And whilst I’m quite into having a little wallow now and again I’m very conscious it’s not a place I want to stay, it’s not good for me, and if you’re there too, it might not be good for you.
In William Bridges brilliant book Transitions he describes this as
A place without a name – an empty space in the world and the lifetime where a new sense of self could gestate”
So what can we do? How do we use this time well?
- Remind ourselves that this temporary
- Create a place to ponder, somewhere to “go away” to – within our homes – and be grateful for that (instead of wishing we were by the sea)
- Capture each day’s achievements – it might only be for ourselves, but at least when someone calls and asks what are we up to something will spring to mind
- Schedule tasks in the calendar rather than having just a list – it gives the day a backbone
- And finally, focus on communicating to others what we’ve achieved, or what outcomes have come about, rather than talking about the “place without a name”.
Creating some space, nurturing some new habits and birthing a new routine will help construct a new rhythm and a place where inspiration, and maybe even a bit of magic, might just come and find us – and the restlessness and discombobulation will fade.