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Re-inventing Mondays… 2 months in

It’s been a month since I last updated on my progress with the new chapter in my working life, free-lance working life, and my mission to re-invent my week, starting with Mondays.

Unfortunately, as I type this, I am still recovering from a cold, and so podcasting is on hold for this week and instead I get to write this blog post. Blogging is, still, where it’s at.

Beach/work balance

One of the goals in my strategy for my business for this year is to achieve a better work/life balance. I am not sure how common a goal that is for a business plan, but my thinking is that work/life balance is one of the key goals of my career change. Being a CEO made work/life balance hard, partly because everything that goes really wrong eventually lands on your desk and partly because running an organisation always involves a crisis or three. Over time, you find strategies to set boundaries, but ultimately it’s a responsibility that is part of job and it’s hard to leave that behind even when you are not working.

Although I loved it, one of the reasons why I chose not to pursue another CEO role is that I want to give myself the chance to explore a life with less responsibility for a while and to see if I can find a work/life pattern that is better for me in every sense. When it came to it, sitting down and trying to define what that would look like in practice, I didn’t really know what the answer would look like.

Over the past couple of months I have come up with a practical metaphor: beach/work balance. To me that means that I am prioritising getting to the beach during the week every other week, and my partner and the dogs and I can enjoy a couple of hours where we love being the most.

It’s a good measure for how much my life goes to plan, and how much scope I have to plan in an afternoon or a morning away from my desk and for it to actually happen, too.

The picture at the top of the post is from last Friday, when we managed to get to the beach an hour before sunset, watching the wintery sunset as the week wound down. For me, that’s a huge win.

So, at least for now, beach time is one of the indicators that help me assess whether I am finding the right balance.

Doing enough of what gives me joy

I don’t want to give the impression that all my days are spent doing yoga with my dog or going to beach. Far from it. Since the start of October I have been working hard and I have been doing a lot of hours.

In these first two months I have been dividing my time between working as a consultant and a coach, doing both paid and pro bono work.

It’s been great to continue the work with ALT and AmplifyFE, a partnership project around a growing network of 2,700 professionals in FE and Vocational Education for which I am the Strategic Lead. Alongside the day to day work on the project this past month has been a busy one of travel and talks for AmplifyFE, including launching new research.

I’ve also continued my work with Reclaim Hosting, where my official title is now Asana Overlord. I love working with Jim Groom and his team on strategy, business development and team coaching. Alongside the work we do which is focused internally, I get involved in some of our community activities, which are hopping into festive mode this month. Karaoke for Christmas? Yes, please!

The work I do with Reclaim is closely related to my interest in hybrid working, and this past month I have done a lot on that front as well, running a session for Oxford University, delivering my second free and open hybrid working course and marking a year since the publication of my Open Access book on the topic.

Coaching groups or teams has become a much greater part of my practice than I had anticipated, and I have some new projects in that space planned for early 2024 which I am excited about. In the meantime my coaching for individuals is also continuing to develop.

Coaching is a fantastic tool that I hope more people, particularly those of us who are juggling a lot whilst also achieving a lot, will make use of. I know just how hard it can be to find time and funds for professional development. That’s why I offer 10% of my coaching sessions pro bono and over the past month I have been able to offer pro bono sessions to four new clients.

Auditioning days

In the midst of working on a lot of different projects and with a whole host of people and finding time for the all important beach visits, I have noticed that I have started to reflect a bit more on what I enjoy doing the most. Subconsciously, I am ‘auditioning’ days, checking in with what I want to do more of and what I will say no to and refer to colleagues instead.

When my former mentor Margaret and I discussed my free-lance venture, Margaret said something that really stayed with me. She said that it’s easy to re-invent your job without noticing and that it’s even easier to forget to say no when opportunities are on the horizon. Feeling the precarity of giving up a permanent role and worrying about where money to pay the mortgage was going to come from, I didn’t really get it at the time. Don’t get me wrong, the precarity is obviously still very much on my mind, but I find that being a CEO and being responsible for the annual turnover and salaries of an organisation was good preparation for managing income generation for myself as a free-lancer. There are always risks.

However, what I am learning at the moment is that I need to manage my capacity carefully and to not commit to too many things just in order to hold my financial worries at bay. Instead, I am looking for things to do that are the best fit, and stretch me in ways I find rewarding.

It’s a privileged position to be, and it’s an opportunity I don’t intend to squander. This is my time to evolve in my working life, and the sense of reinvention that comes with that is very precious to me. Over the past twenty years I have gained a lot of experience and skills and I am very good at many things. Right now, I am becoming better at figuring out where I can make the biggest difference and what I find most rewarding. Every day is an opportunity to figure it out.

One of the things I am planning to do is a day out later this month, to give myself space to think and plan for 2024. A retreat for one, if you like. If you are interested in having one of those for yourself, look out for the next blog post 🙂

Thanks for reading and thanks to all who’ve helped me along the way .


All the podcasts about my fresh start in order:

Listen to Leading Virtual Teams on: Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts and Spotify

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One Comment

  1. Asana overlord #4life. The professional acumen and sheer organizational gravitas has changed Reclaim already. We are full blown into a Phoenix like re-birth when it comes to plans and possibilities, that you have really helped us stablize and flourishing in what would be a very challenging time.

    I would recommend you to the stars for other organziations and groups out there, but selfishly Reclaim needs as much as we can get.

    Thanks for all you do, and cheers to the beach!

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