We can have this image in our heads – a clear plan for how things should be. But that doesn’t mean they will work out that way.
It doesn’t matter how much effort you put into it.
It doesn’t matter how good it should be.
It doesn’t matter how good it looks.
None of this matters, if it’s not working.
Sometimes you need to accept defeat, in order to win.
I left my job in August 2017, determined to build ToGetHer Further into a business. I didn’t know what it would look like, but I had an idea of how it would feel. Then, with the help of a business coach, I started to build a plan, one that I’ve worked on over the last year – to build ToGetHer Further into a coaching business, one that is supported by our events & workshops and community. This would be how I would help women to be happier at work, this is how we would get further together.
And we have!
It’s been an amazing year since I wrote my book and took on my first coaching clients. What a surreal sensation to have those initial sessions and realise that I had stumbled onto my calling in life – that I was finally using my gifts of perception and intuition to help other women to find their own way.
I’ve since built coaching programmes to help my clients get even further – co-creating tools and exercises with them to help them make sense of their lives at work, and beyond. And now we’re launching a new membership programme for women connect with each other – to make meaningful change in their own lives, as well as the lives of others, through The Changemakers’ Club.
I’ve seen women come together and connect in person, through our powerful events and workshops. I’ve seen magic happen. And felt the rush of exhilaration of know I made the space for it to happen. I’ve felt honoured to even witness it, let alone be part of it.
So, if this all sounds so great, what isn’t working?
Well, for one, I haven’t been earning enough to pay my bills. I’ve been building up personal debt over the last few months as I struggle to keep my head above water. I’ve been relying on my husband to help me pay the mortgage. And that has been tough for both of us.
I tried to introduce a new phased coaching programme last month – thinking I could help 6 women at once, so they could also help each other, as well as help me to pay my mortgage. But unfortunately, for whatever reason, it didn’t matter how hard I worked on it, no one was interested in signing up. I was still getting new clients, just not for that programme. So, in the end, I decided to let it go, and make space for a new way of working – a more flexible way, that felt more aligned me and my clients.
Then, this month, I decided I would arrange casual social event for ToGetHer Further – a relaxed get together, to help me to reconnect with the women in the community without the pressure of running one of our powerful but time & energy consuming events. I also thought it would be beautifully timed as a send-off for our intern Kirsten, as she heads home to the US. But again, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out – with only a handful of RSVPs, I decided to cancel the event.
Although both of these situations were disappointing for me – realising I’d misjudged the desire for women to share their one to one coaching experiences with other women at the same time, or mistiming a social event in a way that very few people could attend – I felt relieved as soon as I let them go.
I know it sounds a little trite but as soon as I accepted defeat, I felt like I’d won somehow.
As if by learning, I was winning. Just by paying attention, and having the awareness and the intention to try again, I was already ahead of the game.
I went away for a few days rest recently, feeling completely exhausted after months of trying and struggling to make enough money to keep myself above water. I picked up the book Burnout – The Secret To Solving The Stress Cycle, more out of curiosity than anything, intrigued if there may be something useful in there for me with the recent stress I’d been experiencing.
Within a few sentences I realised two things:
- In all my years of struggling in the corporate world, I had never fully reached “burnout” stage, as they defined it.
- I was now experiencing it. Hard.
Thankfully the book not only explains what Burnout is, but also includes practical and easy ways to help yourself to recover from it (or avoid it happening to you.) Without going into too much detail, one of the key learnings I took from the book is that I was stuck in a sort of stress loop, focusing on one thing I cared about so much – too much – to the detriment of what I was actually trying to do. I needed space. I need variety. (And rest, and play, and sleep and all sorts of other wonderful suggestions!).
So, there I am, struggling to build the coaching business side of ToGetHer Further to fully cover my costs, and yet, I’ve been facilitating workshops for Enterprise Nation over the previous six weeks, with a wonderful response from the attendees, and really special feedback afterwards too.
I have many years of experience of facilitating workshops and meetings and events, but just one year of coaching. I’ve been putting so much pressure on the thing I love to be all I want and need it to be, but maybe it’s not ready yet. Maybe I’m not quite ready yet. Maybe I could focus on using my existing strengths and experience to pay my bills, and create space for my natural, creative gifts to flourish, at their own pace.
Even as I write this I can feel the poignant irony of my words – one of the key areas of my coaching is helping women to create a way to pay their bills using their existing strengths, so they don’t put pressure on their passion projects too soon. And with every single one of my clients I have allowed them the space to go at their own pace – not to rush the coaching process, but to listen to what they need, and to trust themselves.
Ah, the beautiful sensation of accepting defeat. Of letting go. Of letting things be what they need to be.
If something’s not working for you, step back, and see things from a fresh perspective.
Stop resisting – accept defeat – and let yourself be.
By doing this, you’ve already won.