This is my 10th year of doing the #OneWord commitment where you choose a word to set an intention and to frame your year ahead. I really recommend it as a goal-setting exercise as my previous choices have helped me to manifest some opportunities and to make some big decisions.
My previous #OneWord commitments since 2015 have been Courage, Connection, Change, Thrive, Joy, Purpose, Freedom and Legacy.
Since leaving headship in 2019 and setting up my business in 2020 (following a short stint working in Higher Education) my lifestyle and my mindset have changed a lot. Some of my reasons for leaving the system were to have more autonomy, be more independent and to have more freedom. But there were also the factors of my wellbeing, my stress-levels and my increasing frustration. I basically wanted and needed more being and less doing. In a nutshell more life and less work!
I pledged that when I left the craziness of school leadership, because it is just that – the expectations, the pressures and the demands are unrealistic and unsustainable – that I would make some changes. When you are in it you know it is full on, but it is normalised as everyone is feeling the same and doing the same to survive. It has taken me a good 3 years to decompress and to unlearn/ relearn some of the survival techniques I have developed that have ultimately become bad habits that I needed to break.
I have worked on sleeping more, relaxing more, being less stressed, maintaining stronger boundaries and eating lunch every day! I am less institutionalised but I am still working on abandoning some of the systemic and structural ways of working that have been drilled into me over the last 20 years. They served me then, but are they serving me now?
I am definitely healthier and happier than I was, but with what I have gained there are some things that I have lost. One of the big ones is going from being on my feet and being active all day everyday to now being much more sedentary and sitting down far too much!
So my focus for this year is not wellbeing, nor self-care but health.
I have always taken my health for granted. I was brought up with my Mum running a large nursery school so I was exposed to everything quite early and I became very resilient to illness. I was the kid who was always at school and never got ill.
In my teens I had a ski accident and a car accident which impacted my back so spine health has been something I have managed throughout my adulthood, but osteophathy, massage and acupuncture help me manage any pain.
As a teacher I was also always in school, I was not susceptible to the cold, the flu or any other bugs that flew around the classrooms and the corridors. I had a few back issues and a few things triggered my mental health but on the whole I was healthy.
In my adulthood the only sickness I have experienced has been travel-induced – food poisoning, salmonella and other bugs (usually water-born) that I have picked up in far-flung destinations.
Then I turned 40, left teaching and the pandemic struck. And things changed…
I have had Covid three times and it took me a long time to get over it, with lingering symptoms like a chesty cough and a breathlessness… I have had joint pain in my knees which is aggravated by being in static/ enclosed spaces… every time I leave the country, despite being careful I pick something up and have a reaction to something I eat or drink… I fell over in the Ugandan jungle and damaged my left knee… and then I picked up a horrific bug when I was in Canada which took me weeks to get over.
A few of my friends have called me out on my mantra ‘I am never ill’ and held up the mirror that in the last few years I have actually been ill quite a lot. I have brushed it off a few times but being honest I need to face the reality my health records are not as flawless as I recollect them.
So my question to myself as a self-coach is what I am going to do about it? I coach everyone else to be empowered and to make changes but do I listen to my own advice?
Someone who coached me a while back made an observation once that I project manage everything else in my life but who is project managing me? I am going to start there and leverage some of the skills that have made my career/ business successful and apply them to myself.
Thus my #Oneword for 2023 is going to be health. I am going to prioritise getting healthier and getting stronger. I am going to make some changes and commit to a different, a healthier lifestyle as all of my excuses are thinning out.
“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear”.Buddha
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live”.Jim Rohn
“Health is not valued, til sickness comes”.Thomas Fuller