'How long are you going to do this for?'
This was the second of two very interesting questions I was asked by my friend one evening back in July just after leaving my job, with the first one being 'Part I: So How’s Unemployment Treating You?'
Once again his words slapped me in the face. Not because I realised I'd made a mistake in not putting an 'end date' on when I should give up on my next step if it didn't seem to be working out and go back to full-time employment, but because it was a question that I'd never contemplated or asked myself before!
I was quite shocked at how one of his first questions about how things were working out for me (which, from his viewpoint, was important to think about and ask) was a question that just hadn't been in my vocabulary or in my mind at all over the last year. I'd never felt I needed to ask it, and subsequently try to find an answer for it.
For me this change in direction was permanent. Sure, it might not all go the way I hope, but I know I will make it happen in some shape or form, and wherever I end up on this journey is ultimately where I'm meant to be. I have a plan of where I want to go, but it's not a hugely rigid and overly structured one.
But his question did make me take a step back and think about what different position or mindset I might have had if I did have a date in mind. One where, if I hadn't reached my goals, I would most likely at some point in the near future say to myself 'well, I tried', shrug my shoulders and tell myself that what I was aiming for 'just wasn't meant to happen for me' before getting back on the full-time job hunt.
For him, perhaps an end date would be the best way to achieve his goals if he were in my position. Maybe he thrives on that way of working, where he doesn't allow anything or anyone to get in his way during that time. Or he's someone who needs a Plan B firmly in place for if his Plan A doesn't work out.
I fully respect this, but that just wouldn't work for me, mainly because I feel I'm then sending myself the message that my life changing decision is permanent, whilst at the same time subconsciously actually saying it's potentially only temporary.
I know without a doubt that with a very structured timetable and plan I could've produced a bit more work in the last four months than I have done because I'd have given myself a final deadline to work towards (and good old Mr. Panic Monster would have been chasing me daily to keep me going). But then these past few months would also have then been filled with stress and worry.
Stress that I need to achieve what I have set myself by my deadlines and my rigid plan.
Worry that I won't achieve what I'm meant to within the allotted time I had given myself whilst stepping outside the safety zone of my full-time salary.
Stress about failing at the goals I have set myself.
Worry that this was my only shot at working towards something I really wanted to do for myself, and that I blew it.
That's just too much unnecessary worry and stress to potentially put on yourself at a time that should be exciting; where you're exploring the possibilities, seeing what other opportunities come your way, meeting new people, and giving yourself the space to navigate this new path that you're creating for yourself!
So why am I telling you all of this?
First and foremost I would hope this post will help you to reflect on understanding how you work best and ways to get the best out of yourself. This may be a strict plan with lots of structure, or a much looser plan with wiggle room to see what else comes your way. It's all down to individual working styles and preferences and what suits you on a personal level. Ultimately, it's what works best for you, not for anyone else.
But more importantly remembering that others work differently to you. Therefore, if you come across someone who's a 'rigid planner' and you're more of a 'fly by the seat of your pants' kind of person who thrives off of spontaneity and a 'let's just see where it leads' mentality....
....then of course you're going to have differing views on how to work towards your goals. This will inform the language you use when you speak to yourself, ask questions of others, or when you reply to questions asked to you. So whether you're the 'questioner' or the 'questionee' its important to keep that in mind.
It's true you never know where life will take you and what other big events can end up being thrown your way that can take you away from your overall 'big picture' goals or put them on hold. However, in terms of looking at your situation as it is right here and now in front of you, that's all you can work with at this time. So acknowledge and understand the viewpoint of someone else and the words they use and why. It means you can then hear the types of questions they ask whilst simultaneously recognising that these won't plant seeds of doubt or derail your plan and direction. You can then respond based on your language rather than being influenced by theirs.
For me, my answer to his question of how long I will be doing it for was simple and straightforward:
'I'm going to do it until I do it'
And I will, so watch this space.
*If you would like information on the Business & Personal Coaching services that I offer and pricings, please do go to my Coaching Services page or email me via my Contact page.