It’s that time of the year isn’t it?
Amidst the hustle and bustle and joy of Christmas and the promise, for many of us, of a quieter more leisurely time over the holiday season, questions arrive.
They politely sit in the back of your mind and wait for your attention. They may be patient, but they’re persistent little suckers and won’t leave you alone until you give them the time they want and need.
They’ll be quite personal and unique for each of us, but in essence we’re wondering.
- How was this year?
- Am I satisfied?
- Did it go well?
- What could I have done better?
- What will the new year be like?
- Am I on track, on purpose? Is it time to change? Or shall I continue?
I’m in exactly the same boat right now. Considering, questioning, evaluating, comparing, wondering, thinking…Let’s be honest, 2016 appears to have been a tumultuous year for many of us – I have heard so may stories of challenge, pain and heartache and have certainly experienced this myself.
Friends who know far more about numerology than I do told me 2016 has been a 9 year and apparently, upheaval, discomfort and change was inevitable!
I found this summary on http://numerology.astrologyclub.org/
The year 2016 it is a very delicate and complex year of your life in which you might realise that what was important for you in the past is no longer important. You will notice that your values, your principles and your priorities have changed and that there have been experiences for you in this cycle that have changed you.
There can be moments of confusion, of loss in which you will have to accept the fact that perhaps some of your expectations have disappointed you, but all of them open the road to new beginnings.
It is a year in which you will feel the need to do something for others, to devote yourself to a social activity and to give part of you to others; when this happens you will feel more satisfied and you will find it gives new meaning back to what you do.
It is possible that some situations could terminate in the Personal Year 9, projects on which you worked in the past, relationships that no longer offer you anything and friendships that do not reflect your present values.
If this happens you will be called to give inner space to you and to let go of what is not useful anymore and that, on the contrary, hinders your evolution. With this catharsis you will be able to move next year into a new cycle of life lighter, but also more conscious of what you have become.
Loved this – it’s helped to make little sense of 2016 and confirms the other feeling I have – that 2017 is another Next Chapter for me – perhaps it is for you too?
Let’s keep the the tone of consideration and reflection. Here are some steps I’d recommend you take.
Start with the Reverse Gap
I believe you do need to look at what was before you can then move onto what will be.
So, sit down and take a good look, but please make sure you’ve liberally applied self-compassion before you embark on this consideration phase!
- What did this year deliver?
- Was it different to what you imagined and desired?
- How are you feeling about it?
- Were there curve balls aimed at you?
- How did you handle them?
- What lessons have you learned?
- What are you going to celebrate?
- What are you sad about or disappointed in?
- What are you going to let go?
How it has been for me
I began 2016 with a marvelous sense of positivity and anticipation. I was seriously in love with my new brand, the trade mark tussle was behind me, I had a beautiful group of new clients booked in and my second live event coming up. I felt clear on my purpose, grounded and excited – I was so very confident that it was going to be a brilliant business year.
But the Universe had other plans.
It was only the first week in February when a personal crisis hit my son and he became deeply, deeply clinically depressed. We sought and received fabulous help right from the start. Unfortunately, however, suicide became a significant risk and we had to accept a deeper level of help and he was admitted to an adolescent mental health in-patient program in mid-March. Leaving him for the first night in that ward was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do and the memory has tears springing very quickly to my eyes even now, many months later.
Needless to say, my focus and attention changed completely with my business life taking the back seat. Fortunately, I have beautiful, beautiful very aligned clients who completely understood my need for understanding and flexibility throughout the year.
My son’s journey continued throughout the year with weekly appointments with specialists and another lengthy hospitalisation in an additional support program. Seeing my gorgeous boy disappear under the weight of his sorrow was almost unbearable, but the need to believe, utterly, in his ability to get through this and communicate that surety was vital. Staying available, open and honest for my anxious teenage daughter throughout this period was equally vital.
My son was in his final year of High School this year and in Australia, that brings the pressure of HSC – Higher School Certificate. He has been at an academically selective school since Year seven and had high expectations of his final results. We had to let that go and instead, focus completely on his mental health. Fortunately we were able to also access wonderful support there too and reassure him of a bright future regardless of what this year delivered and so one less mental pressure could be removed.
It’s amazing how quickly your understanding of what is important in life crystallises at times like this.
Don’t forget to take care of you
It’s also so important to acknowledge the pressure you are under and to ask for the help you need. Please, please please, if you are ever in a situation that overloads your heart, regardless of the cause, please make sure you don’t try to just “soldier on” and cope. I know you can, I know you have infinite reserves of strength, but I also know you will cope so much better when you admit that its hard and ask for support.
I did, and will be forever grateful to my friends, my sister, my naturopath, my husband, my recovery fellowship, my Mindset Coach and my beautiful Mastermind buddies for allowing me to fall back into their arms and love and care. Without them, I would have crumbled, often.
I also stayed committed to my well-established practices of journaling and meditation and deepened my connection with, and trust, in a Higher Power.
These all sustained me, without question.
And the good news?
Whilst there is still a way to go, Cameron is now doing well and has been offered an early place at the University of his choice in 2017.
Gratitude only just scratches the surface…
And my business?
More good news!
Even though I did not show up anywhere near as deeply or widely in the market as I had originally intended, things turned out beautifully nevertheless.
- I did not run Aligned, my signature group-mentoring program that was slated to run twice this year, at all.
- I closed my one on one work for several months, when I felt I just could not give any more for a while
- I did not run my virtual workshops – I started to promote them, realised that neither my heart nor heart were truly available, and let them go.
- I did not network or attend any major events.
- I did not blog consistently.
- I did not create and implement a serious launch for my Business Masterminds
So what did I do?
- I continued to share inspiring stories through deeply wholehearted conversations with amazing women on the Your Next Chapter Podcast. In fact, these conversations were a big part of my sustenance during the year. Hearing how other women have moved through their own challenges and flourished, overcome setbacks and triumphed, followed their hearts and bloomed, were deeply fulfilling and affirming to me and to my listeners (who emailed and told me so – thank you!) So much so that the Podcast will be expanded and deepened in 2017 – I really encourage you to subscribe if you haven’t yet!
- I showed up in my own Next Chapter Facebook Community as often as I could. And I love this group, so much. I have big, beautiful inclusive plans for it in the new year (did you hear that lovely Universe, I hope this aligns with your plans for me?!) so please come and join us if you are looking to be a part of a supportive and inspirational group of next chapter women.
- I spoke about Self-Belief and Worthiness as often as I could and LOVED it. You know that question “what would you do for the rest of your life and not care if you did not get paid for it? That’s what it is for me.
- I collaborated with a wholehearted group of women from around the world to create a wonderfully deep and rich resource on the topic of increasing confidence – and the e-book and audio books have been shared so many times
- I served my clients, every single woman who came to me, as deeply, honestly and authentically as I could. I listened and encouraged and advised and coached and believed in them and their potential to create their next chapters on their own terms.
- I deepened my spiritual practice and my own intuition and opened further to the idea that I’m divinely taken care of. I still cannot claim to understand how this all works, but I’m both curious and accepting and more than a little excited about where this avenue of enquiry may lead…
And I let go. I surrendered. I realised again, as I have so many times before in my life, that I really have no control and I that have to trust that things will turn out exactly as they were meant too.
I had to trust.
I had to trust my philosophy that if you are open and authentic and clear on who you are here to help and how, your Most Aligned Clients will find you and hear you and resonate with you and come to you.
I had to trust in my belief that “profit is the result of right action”.
I had to trust that vulnerability is strength.
I had to trust that my heart was in the right place and the work I had done in the past would be enough to sustain my business this year.
And guess what? It was!
Revenue wise, there was hardly a blip on the radar considering my family had at least 70% of my day-to-day focus. There was a mere 16% decrease overall. That amazed me.
And despite not following any of the “rules of launching”, my Next Chapter business masterminds, one of my very favourite ways of supporting my clients, filled up. So quickly. With such beautifully aligned women, my heart almost exploded! I’m even tempted to run a fourth if the need is there – you can see what the experience entails here if it calls you.
So, what have I learned?
So many lessons, but I’m also delighting in the tangible evidence of the truth of so many things that I already believed in.
That the Universe does indeed, have your back if you let go and trust.
That is it feels hard, feels misaligned, feels like a should rather than a want to, it’s probably not for you.
That although strategy is really, really important you cannot start there. You need to start with your feelings, your desires, your soul work. You have to respond to what calls you and be ready to reprioritise, to pivot.
I’ve been guilty of believing in the past that there is some magical blueprint, some step-by-step guidance that when I just follow it, will deliver success. I suspected that I just need to keep looking and I’ll eventually find it and then all will be well and “success” will follow. I’ve completely let go of that now. Because I “broke” almost every “rule” this year and it all worked out for me anyway!
I’ve realised that the entrepreneurial industry can be compared to the weight loss industry. You can follow the latest diet for awhile, and you may have some results. But if the solution you’re following is just not sustainable, if it doesn’t actually align with who you are with relative ease and flow, your results will be short lived.
You need to listen to the guide inside first and foremost. By all means, seek support and close gaps, but don’t try to outsource the core of your purpose and work in the world. Stay connected to and consistent with that, and the people you are meant to help will find you.
I’ve also learned that hustle does not equate with worthiness. Being busy all the time doesn’t make me a better person, a more admirable person a more valuable person. It just makes me a more tired person. And that person is not of service to anyone, least of all myself.
What am I letting go?
Any last vestiges of the belief that there is a right way of being and doing. I’m following my heart first and then supporting that with wholehearted strategy second.
My fear of being seen as arrogant for believing I have value to share. For wanting to step up and be seen and heard, to reach and help more women.
My concerns around judgment. Of being judged for what I have to offer and how it compares to what other people have to offer.
That’s not my job.
It’s only my job, and your job, as Martha Graham says so articulately, to keep the channel open:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urge that motivates you.
Keep the channel open”.
This is my quote for the coming year.
And what am I committing to and inviting in for in the new year?
I know I’m here to inspire and to be a catalyst of possibility for women and so I am unlocking myself and committing to Leadership.
Vibrant, expanded, confident leadership.
I want to lead.
I want to open doors for women to feel fulfilled and purposeful and curious and joyful and excited and connected and just so full of energy and untapped potential.
That’s what My Next Chapter in 2017 is going to look like. I don’t yet know the how. But I most certainly know the what and the why.
And I know that’s where we always need to start.
So, let’s talk about you.
What will you invite in?
What’s there, what’s waiting to blossom? What’s calling you? What do you need to let go of to allow it room to grow? What rules do you need to ignore so it can expand in its own way? What help and support do you need to ask for to flourish?
Will you share your intention? I firmly believe in the power of example to provide inspiration for others.