Making space for thought

by | Jun 21, 2018 | Change | 0 comments

It was an interesting day for me yesterday. No coaching clients, but two interviews instead. In one I was the interviewer talking to a young, fearless entrepreneur about her business, her mindset and values for a podcast series I will be starting soon. In the second I was the interviewee. The benefit of having space to think, a holding time, appeared as a theme.

The Entrepreneur

When I met this wonderfully positive and energetic lady three years ago, she took a job as a cleaner at a company I worked in. She was very open about how shocked she was at how hard the work was physically, and how upset her mother was that she was cleaning, when she had a masters degree. However, she didn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed at taking a cleaning job. It was honest work, was not illegal, put food on the table and kept a roof over her head while she decided what she was going to do. Staying in Dubai had been an impulse, a gut feeling that she could do something worthwhile here. but at the time she didn’t know what 

The physical nature of the work, plus the fact that it didn’t require too much mental pressure gave her time to plan what she was going to do next. It gave her thinking space. It is something a lot of people lack in their busy lives, and others think is a waste of time when they have so many other things to do. She doesn’t regret this time as wasted, it gave her insight and respect for how hard some people have to physically work every day, while giving her time to enjoy the architecture and buzz of the city life. 

The Interview 

In the second interview the interviewer was a fellow student at the University of East London. He is creating a series of podcasts called ‘The Resilience Project’ and he asked me about what resilience meant to me: how I had emerged from a particularly stressful and traumatic time last year to become not the same as before, but something more; having grown and gained a greater appreciation of what I have; determined to make the most of every day. We talked about the importance of setting goals, both large and small, to give ourselves direction and something to aim at. We discussed the benefits of celebrating each small achievement that takes us towards our larger goals. And we looked at the role gratitude plays, appreciating the small things in life, not taking our relationships for granted. 

What we didn’t touch on, but which was a side effect of being immobile, forced to rest and focus on myself for once, was the benefit of having time to think and reflect on what I was doing with my life. This time out could benefit anyone who is not satisfied with their lives, or feels in a rut. This is certainly not a new idea, people have been going on retreats, or taking sabbaticals for years, but can we do it in a smaller way with just as good results? I suspect we can. 

“But isn’t focusing on ourselves just a little bit selfish?” 

I can hear the argument before it is even spoken. My answer is no. We have one life and we should make the most of it. After all, we plan the purchase of a new car, we research places to travel, getting the best deal on our holidays, our homes and other temporary things, so shouldn’t we spend just a little bit of time on thinking about the getting the best out of life? For my young entrepreneur, this thinking time led to her launching an e-commerce site. Leaping into an unknown field and learning on the way. She likened it to throwing herself out of a plane and assembling a glider on the way down. She is brave, has big plans, and no idea how to achieve them all just yet. I have no doubt that she will; combining commerce with a vision of sustainability and humanity; spreading the benefits of her businesses to the communities beyond; giving herself a sense of purpose and achievement. 

To kick start this process your yourself, go away for a weekend. Away from the every day chores and worries of life. Relax. Project yourself into the future and imagine reading your obituary. Morbid, you might think, but what would you like it to say? What would you like to be remembered for? More to the point, how far is that from the obituary what would be written for you tomorrow? What haven’t you done yet? What is important to you? We are not all going to be the next Einstein; the next Oprah; or win a Nobel Peace Prize. We can, however, be our best selves and when you know what that is, you can start to plan your way there. It really is never too late to change direction and to be true to your values.

So, what’s stopping you? 

My colleague’s podcasts can be found on the link below

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