Look behind you, look before you
Whilst in the past I have sought a jovial tone at this seasonal juncture, this December it felt inappropriate. In a year that has challenged the world in unprecedented ways, it seemed more apt to review and reflect on the key issues raised in coaching in 2020 before looking ahead to 2021.
Look behind you
It has been a busy time for coaching. In addition to other coaching issues, clients have raised patterns of issues brought about by the pandemic. Here are three of them.
1. The way that we work has changed
At first, it was a challenge and people asked me: "How do I organise my home into an office? How do I plan my day? How do I motivate myself? How do I keep a boundary between work and home when there is no border between them?"
The latter is crucial. Be clear about your work and non-work hours, so that colleagues and managers don’t assume you’re available 24/7.
For the most, as people have got used to this new working culture, they began to appreciate not having to travel to work, the rush hour, the lost time and the expense. Companies have found that virtual meetings and conferences save greatly on time and money and, as a result, the corporate carbon footprint is lighter.
However, there are some who find the virtual way of working for meetings, presentations and conferences, more challenging, and I have found an increased demand for support in speaking, presenting and effectiveness at meetings….and even for interviews. I say ‘even’ because we hear so much on the news about job losses, especially in the retail sector. However, there are jobs advertised online and preparing for a job change or promotion (your CV, interview practice, presentation) and other professional skills is a very worthwhile use of your time
2. Social isolation is a continuing problem
I’ve worked with clients on how to bring routine contact into both their working and non-working hours. Regular coffee breaks online with colleagues, as if in the office, or similarly a lunch together, as well as the work meetings online are helpful. Dinner with friends and family on Zoom can feel as if they’re sitting opposite you at the table. It’s a way to bring people who are not in your household or bubble into your home...virtually at least.
There is a wealth of virtual entertainment to be had: you can watch plays, visit galleries, go to lectures, from your home. While so many planes lie idle, you can still take a guided tour abroad courtesy of online organisations such as Virtualtrips.
While these are not long term solutions to our needs as social beings, they can provide a panacea for the time we are in.
It will be interesting to see how the pandemic shapes working and daily lives in the years to come.
3. Relationship difficulties
Relationship difficulties have come to the surface as people are thrown more closely into each other’s company, sometimes in small living spaces, sometimes with the threat of financial loss and insecurity.
Consider what you want and find out what they want. What common ground can you find? Are you both acknowledging the other’s needs and feelings? If trying to discuss it in a respectful and assertive fashion and seeking compromise fails, see outside support such as with the organisation Relate or Counselling Directory. They are experienced in working with couples and you can also seek help for yourself if your partner is unwilling to avail him or herself of the service.
Look before you
I come to a way of being that I regard of high importance, the value of human kindness. We have seen acts of great kindness during this pandemic, of hospital and care staff going beyond the call of duty, of generous acts by local communities and individuals. Now is a time to be kind to yourself as well as to others.
Here are three celebrity quotes about kindness:
1. "I’ve been looking at ways to heal myself and I’ve found that kindness is the best way." (Lady Gaga). What can you do today and tomorrow going forward to be kind to yourself?
2. "Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud." (Maya Angelou). What can you do as an act of kindness to brighten another person’s day?
3. "How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time." (Morgan Freeman). What could you do to be kind to the environment in the months ahead that you’re not doing already?
Let’s hope that the coming of the vaccine offers a prospect for the future that we can start to smile about. In the meantime, seize the value of time and live each day as fully as you can. Set goals for the future and develop the plans and skills you need to achieve them.
In the words of John Dryden: "Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You will determine how that coin will be spent."