A year ago today, we were living in a temporary accommodation. A small apartment close to a pebble beach, waiting to be able to move into our new home. Our belongings were still in Switzerland and the house was undergoing renovation works. As the move-in date of May 2nd was approaching, the house looked more and more like a place to live in each day. We were full of anticipation and excitement – hoping that the works would be finished in time for our household goods to arrive from Switzerland.
Looking back at the first wobbly steps into a new line of work
In parallel, I had begun to work as a part of a group of facilitators on a leadership development program that ran throughout most of 2020 – my first ever assignment in my new self-employed life. I found it exciting to be able to learn from experienced colleagues while being trusted that I have it in me to do something I had never done before on that same scale. It was not easy for me to work with only one small laptop screen in that holiday rental with slow internet speed, but it worked out fine. The depth of some of the conversations we facilitated surprised me. I was grateful that the client had not, like many others at that time, cancelled the project that was originally intended to run as a series of face-to-face engagements. I know that many facilitators and people working in team development and training were struggling big time so what I had seemed doubly precious.
Is it possible to keep up a “discovery-mindset”?
Today, my world looks and feels different. The house feels like it is part of us, although sometimes I still chuckle when I think “gosh, we really live here”. This life is so different from what I used to know. A series of “firsts” will now end with the anniversary of our move – first summer, first autumn, first Christmas, first spring in the new home. I wonder if it’s possible to preserve the sense of discovery with which we have been discovering and co-evolving this new life in the past 12 months. Can I maintain a mental state of curiosity in my day-to-day life? Recently, in a podcast conversation, I was asked “when was the last time you did something for the first time?”. That reminded me that I can have as many firsts as I want. There is so much to discover.
A couple of firsts I had recently:
- First time I saw an osteopath. I thought I had a good posture thanks to my regular yoga practice but I was still stuck in places where I did not even know I have places
- First time I am growing all seven herbs for “Frankfurter Grüne Soße”- one of my favourite dishes
- So many breads I baked for the first time (and some of them also for the last time, ahem,..) as I am experimenting and learning
- First time I recorded a TikTok video
- First time I am facilitating a conflict resolution process outdoors
- First time Klaus and I used our new swing barbecue to grill steaks the way they are done at my home region
- First time I gave an online bread-baking workshop for colleagues to share my love of sourdough
- First time I properly planned flower beds and vegetable pads: We started with two raised beds last year and now I want more 😊 I even engaged my favourite helper to support us with some semi-heavy machinery.
The rituals we cherish – they give us a sense of saftey
And the list of firsts will go on. But also rituals do have a charm. We created new rituals here, like the blackboard onto which we write what’s for dinner, the way we share the household chores, or giving rice pudding to our house elf Pok. You never know…
And I have made friends here. I feel supported and held by this place and the people around us just like I had hoped for.
A certain degree of predictability and rituals you can rely on are essential to feeling safe, especially in uncertain times like these. Actually, I wonder if there will ever be more certain times again. 😉
All the more helpful for me is a reliable morning routine (no social media or emails before I have done my yoga and prepared my tea). There is a reason why rituals work so well and there is science to prove it. In agile ways of working, these rituals provide a framework within which creativity can unfold. I enjoy the regular stand-up meetings at hppyppl where everybody shares what they are up to and what they need from the team today.
A form within which you can create seems to be more helpful than having no limitations, suspended in mid-air. I first came about this “freedom within the form” concept in yoga and it resonates well with me so I transfer it into my work.
How do you notice if you’ve found your calling?
I have grown into my work and the work I do has evolved over time. There is no one “right way of doing” this type of work and that’s what I love about it. I can bring in my intuition, my personality, my knowledge, my curiosity, and experience. I can experiment and play– all in service of the people I work with. I don’t have to prove anything or guarantee anything – it’s all about them. I create and hold generative spaces in which things can happen. So, is this my Ikigai – the sweet spot where talent and passion overlaps with purpose and profession? Yes, it might be. Or it might be a steppingstone towards something else. And: does that matter?
Listening to the signals I receive
The only thing I can truly see and experience is the here and now. The information that my body, my mind and my spirit give me about what I am doing and if that feels right, or in-tune.
I can feel that my work gives me as much energy as it takes, if not more. I can sense that on Sunday evenings, for example. I usually look forward to the week ahead. Mondays tend to be less busy; I try to keep them low-pace and starting not before 10am. My work does not only have impact on others, it also changes me. With every workshop and every coaching session, I learn and I evolve. There is a spring in my step every time I finish a workshop. It feels awesome to not have to invest energy into navigating corporate politics or holding up an outer image that is not in sync with who I truly am. All this energy can now flow into what really matters to me – inspiring and enabling others.
As I am writing these words, I feel joy and gratitude bubbling up inside me like gas in a glass of soda. I feel it in my stomach and around my solar plexus. If I would have to describe this feeling as a taste I would say lime, ginger and freshly cut coriander. Yes, this feels right for me. 😊
Our greatest gifts can also be our biggest burdens.
I am still learning how to manage my energy wisely and what the right amount of work is. Last week for example, I clearly had taken on too much- Three workshops in a week resulting then in all other tasks piling up in the workshop-free days so much so that I could not to keep up. I am an optimistic person which is a wonderful trait to have in many situations. It can help to face adversity with confidence, it can even help lift others up. Sometimes though, this optimistic outlook leads me to overestimating what is possible. And last week I had to live with the consequences of just that. Maybe there is also still a component of me not wanting to decline offers for fear of disappointing others, although I am proud to say that I have become better at politely saying “no” than I was a couple of months ago.
As you read this, dear one, I encourage you to consider for yourself:
- Which signals do you receive about how you are spending your time and your energy?
Is your body rejoicing or revolting?
- When was the last time you did something for the first time?
- Which rituals do you cherish?
I am sending you warm regards from a very sunny northern Germany.