Never underestimate the benefit and power of your support networks.
Whatever your current state of health, both physical and mental, the importance of reliable human contact cannot be underestimated. The same is true of business.
It’s virtually a year to the day when I took the bold move of quitting my job on health grounds and, with no clear direction, took the unenviable decision to go self-employed. What a difference a year makes. Starting a business is not something to be sniffed at. Business plans, marketing plans, projected figures, and everything else that goes with setting up are the bits often forgotten or left until you realise that they keep the company’s development on track. There are numerous things to get hung up on. Sometimes we just need to dip our toe in the water and hope for the best though.
The same can be said for anything in life, of course. Ever made a bucket list and watch it fill up? Yes, I’ve done that, and whilst the first year of business has not had a steady income, this doesn’t mean that I’ve sat doing nothing. You can still complete some of those things that you’ve always wanted to. Some might be free, if you know where to look, there could be cheaper alternatives (local colleges are great for one-off workshops at knock-down prices), or sometimes you simply need to call in favours.
Part of the issue, whatever you are doing in life, is that it is too fast-paced. We hear it all the time, but it’s so true. We can be constantly chasing our tails, racing around in circles, the stress getting too much, and we think that life is worse than it is.
Stop. Take a minute.
I want you to think back. Where were you exactly a year ago? You don’t have to reply to this blog, or write or type anything. Just be you, focus on you, and take some time to think. What did your working life look like a year ago compared to today? Have you been promoted? Do you have more income? What difference has occurred? Has it been for the better? If so, why? If not, why not?
Now, shift focus. Personal life. Take your time to think this through. Where were you a year ago, a month in to 2017? Perhaps you’d already failed your new year’s resolution. Did it really matter? Was it the end of the world? From there, how has your personal life developed? You may have got married, divorced, had children, lost a relative. Have you moved house? If you have, what is different now compared to a year ago?
Finally, and this one can be difficult but worth it. Tap into your emotional state and senses. What have your eyes been opened to? What bits of information have you been prithee to that have influenced your life? Have you experienced new tastes, smells, and feelings or sensations?
It can be all too easy to focus on the negative, but just consider how many positives there have been because there will have been some. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some lovely young people and their families, I’ve made great business networks who have made me reassess what I do, and family links have grown stronger too.
I think overall though networking and communicating with others has been the key. All too often we draw ourselves into a solitary cocoon, happily plodding along until we’re no longer plodding but miserably dragging ourselves through the mire.
Recently being able to reconnect with the services that first supported me when I was ill at work but now as a professional, was so refreshing. Just today, I completed a course at Oxfordshire’s Recovery College, a specialist provider that offers free courses and shared learning environments for those with mental health, their carers, family, and professionals.
Over a period of three weeks, I have met some of the most inspiring people ever, have not been judged, have thrashed out ideas without being laughed at (laughed with but not at), and, whilst this has helped improve my knowledge and connections for future work, it has also continued to aid my own recovery, and I class the people from the course as friends now and not just ‘others’ who I’ll never see again. We’re already looking at collaborating on future projects.
So you see, even when the days are dark and life feels that it is at its worst, it can be a very worthwhile and wholesome exercise to take a few moments to reflect. You don’t need to burn a candle, throw smelling salts around, or play meditation music. I mean you can if you want – don’t let me stop you. Spending the time to realise just what you have got can bring you back to reality when the real world seems so far away and out of reach.
The overall theme here though is connecting and reconnecting. You can easily reconnect with the world by yourself but being able to tap into support networks, either professionally or socially will have a huge influence on your wellbeing and progress. Is there somebody you’ve not seen for a long time? Why not call, text, or write? It’s a start to getting life back on track when it’s slightly off kilter.
I like this quote (left). I think it is quite apt. If you are going to listen, whether that is to yourself or somebody else, do so wholeheartedly. Put your phone down, turn off the TV, simply listen. Understand what information is being presented. Only then can you begin to make real progress.
For more information on the Oxfordshire Recovery College, please visit:- http://oxfordshirerecoverycollege.org.uk/