I am writing this on my wedding anniversary. Five years today since I married the lovely Tim, my rock and the person who always makes me feel better, no matter what is going on. It’s a beautiful, freezing cold, blue sky morning, exactly the same as it was on one of the best days of my life. So I’m feeling hopeful, and what’s not to love about hope.
I’ve been inspired by the women around me lately. Not just my clients, who teach me something in every session, but my friends, too. These women constantly amaze me by doing what they do, and they often underestimate their achievements. This is a habit I frequently see in my work as a maternity coach. One of my favourite parts of coaching is to be able to reflect back to women how well they are doing just being themselves.
There’s my friend, who is pregnant with her second baby and whose dream job came up in the last few weeks. A bit like the proverbial buses, with everything coming at the same time, and isn’t that often how things seem to be? This isn’t the kind of job that comes up every day, so she faced a dilemma. Was there any point in her applying when she was heavily pregnant? Would the interview panel be going through the motions but secretly know they were never going to hire her? How would she cope with the demands of a much longed-for new job, along with the needs of a much longed-for new little baby? It would have been the easiest thing in the world to pass on. No one would have judged her for not going for it. But you know what she did? She took a deep breath and went for it. She prepared. She hoped. She was nervous of course, but her desire to get the job was stronger than all her doubts about going for it. Her need to make a more satisfying career choice trumped the safe but unfulfilling comfort of her current job. And guess what? She got it! Cloud nine is not the word. She was jumping for joy so much, I had to remind her to go easy with that baby bump!
Then, there is my other friend who admits she is an all-or-nothing kind of person. She is highly educated, has lived in many countries, is bi-lingual, and was 100% focused on her career before she met the love of her life and had two gorgeous kids in quick succession. Her life took a new direction as she channelled all her energy into her family. She thrived in her new environment, and appreciated so much the chance to be a stay at home mum. She confided in me one day that she was struggling a little with some long-held beliefs; beliefs that came from her upbringing that were starting to sit uneasily with her. Her parents valued image, what the neighbours might say, and very much enjoyed telling people about their successful, ambitious daughter. They didn’t say much about her these days, and deep down their attitude was making her question her choices. Was she ‘wasting’ her PhD on the humdrum of mothering? Should she reignite her career? But every time she started thinking along those lines, she felt so sad at missing out with her children, and on the other hand she had been out of the game so long she questioned whether she was even employable. Her sector was niche, and there just weren’t that many jobs available at her level. Yet, something in her was ready for a change. Rather than continuing to go around in circles, she decided to give things some proper headspace. Removing the need to justify her choices to anyone but herself, for the first time she thought about what would actually work for her, at this point in her life. Young children, a desire to work, a need for flexibility. When she started to list her priorities, she quickly realised that she could let go of being all or nothing. She could let go of image. She let herself hope to find something in between. And she did. She shocked herself with the speed at which a part-time suitable role came to her, once she worked out what she actually wanted and committed to going after it. She’s now in the head-spin phase of finding her feet in her new routine, but she is loving every minute.
Coaching is, of course, 100% confidential. However, these ladies are friends, and even though we weren’t in a coaching session I naturally got their permission to write about them. They were both a bit surprised, and this is what I mean about women underestimating what they do. When I pointed out that their ability to hope for something different, and their bravery in letting go of old ways was something I felt many women could relate to, they shyly let me commit pen to paper. And I thank them for that.
It’s not easy to make changes when things are ‘ok’, ‘fine’, ‘not bad’. These women are examples of how it can be done. By allowing yourself to hope for something better, and to let go of long-held beliefs, you can make great changes that can benefit you and your family.
So, as with all coaching sessions, you have some homework:
What belief, long held or otherwise, are you holding on to that is stopping you from where you want to be? How might you start to let that go?