They say you learn more about yourself when things don’t go so well and I would definitely say that was the case for 2019!
Not that it was a bad year, and nothing terrible happened. But I did find it pretty challenging.
I was guilty of taking on too much, spreading myself too thin and not spending enough time doing things I wanted to or with the people who matter.
But as I say, this has led to some pretty cool learning opportunities, so here’s a snapshot of ‘Stuff I learnt in 2019’
The power of working with a really good coach
I spent 3 months working with Mark Leruste this year who is a phenomenal coach and an absolutely top guy! It was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in terms of my career and my own development.
It might seem strange given that I coach people for a living that I needed a coach myself but this couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the key factors that allows me to coach people successfully is being objective but it’s very difficult to do this for yourself.
Mark allowed me to look at my life, my job, my passions and really focus on what’s important to me and what I want to do with my future.
The impact this has already had on my day to day life and the people I work with has been fantastic.
So yes, working with a top coach in Mark Leruste and being reminded of how valuable this can be was a huge positive in 2019!
Things that work for you only work if you keep doing them
Around May time I was feeling particularly overwhelmed and burnt out and was struggling to shake it off.
I always describe health and wellbeing as being based on four key pillars, and within those four pillars there are things that I need to do in order to feel my best.
I can’t remember what it was that reminded me but I basically realised that I’d stopped doing a lot of the things that work for me within those four pillars.
I’d been so caught up in work that I’d overlooked the fact that I’d stopped meditating, hadn’t been going for walks, and even simple things like drinking enough water had fallen by the wayside.
It’s great that all these things work so well for me, but they can only do this if I actually do them!
Just doing them for a while and then stopping doesn’t cut it.
Realising this was a big turning point and a timely reminder that I need to keep doing the things that keep me right!
Breath work is another fantastic tool to have in your ‘wellbeing toolbox’
I’ve used the Headspace app for a few years now, meditating most days, even just for a minute or two. But I’d been reading more and more about breath work and was really interested in giving it a go.
I googled Wimhoff who is the kind of modern guru of breath work and found a 5 minute video on Youtube of him taking Russel Brand through his Wimhoff Method. Here it is if you want to give it a try.
I gave it a go one morning before work and felt amazing afterwards! It was like the most powerful meditation I’d ever done and I felt this combination of clear, calm and in control afterwards.
The following day I was delivering a talk and decided to do the technique in the car before I went in. Again I felt calm and in control which meant the talk went really well.
I signed up to a 6 week Online Breath work course with a guy called Artur Paulins which was brilliant! He taught us a host of different techniques to use at different times which are so useful to have in your toolbox whether it’s to feel calm before bed or to get yourself fired up for a workout.
As with the coaching it’s something else that I can use with clients too.
Cold showers are a game changer
As part of the breath work course Artur introduced us to cold water exposure through cold showers, gradually building up our ability to handle these.
Cold showers are supposed to help with: fat loss, your immune system, circulation, reduce stress, increase testosterone, amongst other things.
By the end of the 6 weeks I was able to have a normal shower and get washed in completely cold water, whilst staying calm and keeping my breathing controlled. At the end of that week I was in the Lake District walking and put it to the test by jumping in a freezing cold stream. What was crazy was that it really didn’t feel that bad, I was able to sit there and stay calm no problem!
I love the fact that by following the plan I’d been able to build up my tolerance to something so uncomfortable. But what’s also pretty powerful is how that can carry over to other areas of life too.
Despite being out of my comfort zone I was able to control how my mind and body responded. Life will throw challenges our way that will push us out of our comfort zones, so knowing we are actually able to handle these is really useful.
Stoicism might have been founded in the early 3rd century BC but it’s just as relevant today
This year I started reading more and more about the ancient Philosophy, Stoicism.
A brief summary of the Stoic Philosophy from Ryan Holiday is “That we don’t control and cannot rely on external events, only ourselves and our responses.”
I’ve been reading a book every night called ‘The Daily Stoic’ by Holiday and it includes daily teachings that we can apply to how we live our lives.
It’s very much tied in with the cold showers, we can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond which is something we could all benefit from embracing.
Self-care rarely happens by accident
This was a big one for me this year!
I’d intended to look after myself but hadn’t set any specific plans for how I’d do it and as such it just hadn’t really happened. Again, realising this was a big turning point.
I discovered the amazing Taproot Massage Therapy who does the most incredible massages in the beautiful and idyllic surroundings of her country hut. I always leave feeling so calm and restful and plan to make my visits more regular rather than leaving it to chance.
Something else I discovered which I found worked really well for me was Hotpod Yoga which I only tried a month or so ago.
I’ve tried yoga in the past and always really enjoyed it but with hotpod yoga you sweat moe because of the heat in the pod and you come out feeling fantastic afterwards. This is already firmly established as part of my weekly routine!
Realising the need to schedule self-care to make sure that it happens was a big thing I’ll take from 2019.
My job is all about helping others but I can only do this if I look after myself too!
Hopefully you found this useful, I want to wish you all the best for a healthy, happy 2020!