"The inbox is filling up, the washing machine is broken, the boiler's on it's last legs and now my boss wants me to get those poxy mandatory competencies up-to-date before the end of the day."
Does this resonate with you? Do you sometimes (or all the time) feel so overwhelmed by normal, day-to-day, life that you're absolutely shattered by the time you get home, but wide-awake, and can't settle, when you go to bed? You are not alone!
But what do we do? Do we muddle on through, praying for that lottery win, so we can throw money at our problems, then just jet off somewhere hot and sip mojitos all day long? Do we continue with the daily grind until we retire into the worn down miserable old gits that we used to laugh at, or run away from, when we were kids? How many of us get stuck on that path, often without realising it until it's too late?
That was very nearly me. Life has a way of getting in the way! As we say in the military "no plan survives contact with the enemy". If I had asked 18-yr old me, what life would be like in my 40s, I'd say something along the lines of: "married, 2/3 kids, swimming lessons, football/rugby training, and dance/gymnastic classes etc midweek, games on the Sunday morning". As daft as it sounds, I actually looked forward to that. Now I'm in my 40s, reality is very different. I have an awesome daughter, who's 18, but I haven't lived with her since she was 2. Although, I have always maintained a fantastic relationship with her. I've never been married, been single most of my adult life, and spent most of my free time alone. A very lonely existence. I searched for a way out of the rut I was in for about 15-yrs. I like to believe I'm an intelligent fella, I've been successful in a very demanding career, so why was my personal life such a failure? Why did it take so long for me to figure it out?
Have you ever been the person someone will turn to for advice? Someone who can be relied upon to provide support to others? In my experience, we humans are very good at giving very practical advice to other people. We seem to be terrible at following it though - even our own! Prof Jordan Peterson goes into a lot of depth on the Psychology of that tendency in his 12-rules for life. I won't go into it here, as I'll do it no justice what so ever, but the rule itself says it all - "Treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping.".
I did one thing that proved to be the key moment in turning my life around, I looked at myself in the mirror and asked myself - out loud - what would I tell myself to do if someone in my situation asked for help? The answer, "remember what makes you smile and do that more often". Now, I'm not naive, I know it's not always as simple as that, but often it boils down to one thing, what would you advise someone else in your position to do? Then do that. It may be a very simple change, it might be a life altering drastic change. But the answer you give yourself is often the one that will make the difference. Suddenly your ever increasing workload, broken boiler, pointless tasks with nonsense deadlines, just don't seem as big an issue. Life doesn't overwhelm you. You manage to get to sleep when you want to. Suddenly the time and energy to do the things you enjoy is magically available to you, when it wasn't before.
Treat yourself like you're someone you're responsible for helping. Follow your own advice. It sounds very easy, doesn't it? What if you just can't find the answer in amongst the mass of worries constantly spinning around in your head though? That's where a coach can help. A coach isn't there to tell you want to do - because we're not you! A coach will ask you questions that will (hopefully) help you navigate a way through the swirling mass to find the answer yourself. I promise you, it's there. Sometimes it's just very well hidden.