It’s January. We’re all full of intentions and goal setting as we watch the world around us work on the things that are important to them, finally making those changes they want to see. Putting in the effort and reaping the rewards. But what if working harder won’t necessarily get you results? What if hard goals and step by step action isn’t working for you? Could a different, softer approach get you better results more easily?
I think so.
This time last year I knew something needed to change. I wasn’t getting what I wanted from my working life. I was restless, I was stale and I wasn’t getting the results I wanted compared to the effort I was putting in.
Something wasn’t aligned, but I didn’t know what. I was thinking that I may be open to getting a job, after being self-employed for 3 years, but I wasn’t 100% certain and I didn’t know what job I would want to do. I actually still loved the work that I did, but the business model wasn’t working for me.
I couldn’t figure it out.
I reached a blank and I didn’t have the energy left to try and work out what to do.
So instead of trying to search for the answers, I decided to go with the flow and see if the answers came to me, instead of seeking them out.
Time to practise what I preach and put my teachings to the test…
In January the only thing I focused on was my wellbeing. I did a walking challenge and did a nutrition programme. I felt good. I threw out a few easy apply job applications but I wasn’t too bothered if I got them.
In February I carried on building my business. I made connections, I booked corporate gigs, I worked away at pulling together a week of speaker events during International Women’s Week in March – one of the most important weeks of my year.
In March I got ill. Couldn’t get out of bed ill and I had to cancel most of my IWD work. I was gutted. Then my husband suddenly left his job.
In April, just as I was getting my head around everything and thinking that maybe I should focus on getting a job after all, my mum got admitted to hospital and I spent two weeks up in Liverpool, helping my dad look after her. When I came back I applied for an ideal job that came up, interviewed and got the offer.
When I look back, I wonder how I did it.
But actually I know.
I did it with relative ease because I went with the flow. I did the work, rode the storms and focused in when it mattered.
All too often we try and work stuff out. We have been conditioned to work through problems, take the steps and apply logic. And in many cases, this works really well.
But what about those times when no matter how hard you plug away to find the answers, they just don’t come. Or you try and apply the principles and you don’t get the result you wanted? What about when you just don’t have full capacity to go all in to the exclusion of everything else going on around you? These are the times when continuing to push harder, and putting in more effort won’t necessarily improve the situation.
Over the years, I have found that when you have reached the point of clarity, when you know the key factors that you want to include in your next job move, career or workplace situation, when you are clear about what you don’t want as much as what you don’t want, often the way to achieve a desired result, is to actually take a step back.
Let me give you my own example.
When I started to focus in more closely on what I did actually want in April last year, I was crystal clear on a few key areas. If I did go back to work, it had to be worth the significant change, so for me any job that I went into had to have these elements:
- No further than 30 minutes commute
- 3 days a week maximum
- Flexibility to take longer periods of time off during school holidays
- In person working – I no longer wanted to work remotely
- A salary baseline minimum that I would consider
- Aligned to my mission and values – ie supporting women with their career aspirations
- I also didn’t want to be in the corporate space
And that was it. I didn’t really have much more than that to go on, as it didn’t matter too much what the actual job title was, it just had to have all of the elements on my list covered.
After that, I put it out there. I let it go, and decided to trust that whatever was right for me would show up sooner or later.
But that didn’t mean that I no longer took any action.
I still looked at job adverts, set up alerts and kept an active eye out for suitable opportunities.
I didn’t, however, apply to any roles that didn’t have all of these factors present. I was picky, I quickly discounted roles that just weren’t signing to me and I just knew that it would be a waste of time all round if I gave my energy to something that I already knew wouldn’t be right for me.
Because energy lies at the heart of this approach. Sending out the right signals, not exhausting yourself on things that you know aren’t right for you, and trusting in a bigger energy than you to help you spot the right thing when it shows up. When we say one thing and act out another, such as setting a salary minimum and then applying for roles for less than that minimum, for example, we often end up sending out mixed messages. We confuse ourselves and the universal energy around us and often bring negative energy in should we reach interview stage.
Focusing on the energetic flow is a non traditional approach that I have been using for a long time personally and more latterly, in my own coaching practice.
Tools such as visualisations, affirmations, meditations, journaling and specialist energy management tools for women, all help towards working with your energy to get into a state of flow which allows things more aligned with your positive energy to come through. Seeing feeling and accepting your own truth around what you really want can all play a bigger part in enabling you to get what is truly right for you.
When we trust in the process rather than fight it or try to manipulate it, it’s also easier to ride those tough times. My year ultimately was one of my most challenging yet, (my mum ended up passing away a week before I started the new job) with new beginnings abounding as a result of inevitable endings, which at the time brought sadness, disappointment and unwelcome change. But by going with the flow and managing my energy, I was able to come away from those painful experiences less emotionally damaged and scared than I am sure would have been the case had I tried to fight against them, push forward and find happy ever after solutions.
Choosing to go with the flow or not can be a bit like being swallowed up by a strong wave. It will suck you in, thrown you upside down and you don’t know when you’re going to bob back up again. If you fight it and try to get out, you’ll likely feel traumatised, water logged and distraught at the experience. If however, you just surrender, know you’ll come out the other side quicker than it feels and relax while the wave washes over you, the more chance you will emerge laughing to yourself and in awe of the power of the sea.
So which approach would you prefer? Letting go and going with the flow can feel like you’re not doing enough, but that’s just our own assumptions based on how our society functions – hard work and graft = results.
But no amount of hard work and graft will yield results if you don’t know what it is you’re working for and why you’re doing it. The two aren’t mutually beneficial. Much more important is to get clear on what it is you want and then decide what is going to work best for you to get there. Hard work, sweat and stress or focused, calm, selective attention?
If you have reached the end of the road on your job search, career change or your unworkable work situation then I would urge you to give this method a go. Set some clear intentions, non-negotiables and stick to them. Put them out into the world and see what comes back. You might be surprised at how quickly you find what you’re looking for.
And if you are having trouble getting clear on what it is you actually want, then get in touch and let me help you break it down using one of my one to one coaching programmes using a combination of coaching and the tools and techniques I have spoken about in this blog.
I really do wish you the best for the year ahead, dealing in the best way with the rough and smooth that life brings to all of us.
Career Empowerment Coach
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