Be gentle with yourself this year

Happy New Year friends, collaborators and colleagues!
This year has got off to a good start with my son being offered his first job in journalism and so we decided to sit down together and for him to practice his shorthand and interview techniques and kick off our first newsletter with a Q & A as I reflect on last year and get ready for the year ahead. 

Here we go! 

How would you personally wrap up 2021? What have been your proudest moments?

I think one of the things I feel proudest about in 2021 was writing a book about the Positive Vision Day process and coaching in nature which is due out in May 2022. It is called A Beautiful Way to Coach. 
 I was determined to use that third lockdown productively and so I committed to getting up at 6 am each day to pull together and write everything about the last 13 years of delivering and training Positive Vision Days. I’m proud I got it all down on “paper”!

I also committed a lot of time to pro-bono initiatives in 2021 through peer mentoring women, mentoring  and supporting the charity Women for Women by sponsoring  a sister to offer them education. I feel proud of the achievements I see in others here. I intend to do more of that in 2022 as that sort of work felt really good. Finally, hearing that we were certified as B Corp, which is the culmination of two years in the making of hard work behind the scenes, was a real high point of the year.  

How are you intending to kick off the upcoming year?

Well, I’ve got a rather different start to the year, because, as most people know, I live in Bath, but a very close friend of mine who is a well-known artist that lives in London has asked me to cat-sit and house-sit for two months because she’s been asked to go and do an artist in residency, in St Ives. So, I’m going to be living in London for the first time in 13 years! Before moving to Bath, I lived in London for 20 years and most of my work is still based there. Needless to say, I’m rather excited because it gives me a chance to reset my relationship with London post-Covid after so much of my work went on to Zoom over the past two years. Other than a few face-to-face meetings and Positive Vision Days where clients have been coming to Bath, there has not been so many in-person coaching sessions in London, and face-to-face sessions are my favourite type of work. So I’m really excited about that and, obviously, the opportunity to see all the ways London has moved on and take advantage of the theatre and cinema and all those good cultural events that we can’t access here in Bath so easily. 

Would you encourage other people to take opportunities like this and embrace change?

I would, yes. People talk a lot about comfort zones, and the importance of being taken out of it. I think when you go through this sustained type of stress that Covid has given, one’s openness to new experiences can shut down a little bit. You don’t necessarily want to go out of your comfort zone. There’s a stress zone, a learning zone, and a comfort zone. I feel that what I’m doing is going out of the comfort zone, hopefully into the learning zone or growth zone where I get more stimulus and can grow. So yes – I would encourage people to take opportunities, even if it feels a little counterintuitive at the moment as what I am noticing is we’ve all been tempted to close down a little bit and spend more time than usual in the comfort zone. 

What are your other main focuses for 2022 post-London?

My main focus is on health in its widest sense; physical health, mental health, emotional health, relational health, spiritual health, financial health and environmental health. I’m very interested in developing health coaching, both for myself, and for my clients. There’s a lot more emphasis on health and wellbeing, obviously from a corporate perspective and a leadership perspective, as well as a personal perspective. 

What words of encouragement would you have to people in this upcoming year following on from a generally tougher period for everyone?

I would really encourage people to be quite gentle with themselves. I think that the last two years has taught us is that we have to live in this constant state of uncertainty and be able to find a way to live with that which works well, for us personally. So having a real emphasis on self-compassion and compassion to others is something I think is really important. Not putting too high of an expectation or judgement on yourself or others, because that can often lead to quite a lot of distress. I think that one of the benefits that people have learned through the last two years of Covid is a “less is more” philosophy and that “slowing down” is actually beneficial for well-being, relationships, the planet and life in general. So, I would encourage people to keep some of those mantras in their lives a little more. . 

How have you found it motivating yourself for the new year and getting back into the swing of things?

I’m a big fan of meaningful goal-setting. So setting goals, hopes, dreams, aspirations that align to your own value set and allowing yourself to think about the positive things you long and hope for is a motivator in itself. I enjoy my time with my favourite, fresh journal and fountain pen to capture those thoughts. 

I find that very motivating and that gets me going. I have let my exercise regime slip over Christmas so just getting myself back into that as quickly as possible makes a huge difference and not letting that slide any further. Wish me luck! 

 Profile image of Fiona Parashar From Spring Leadership

By Fiona Parashar

Fiona set up Leadership Coaching in 2000, driven to use her corporate experience and academic background to make a positive difference to leaders, executives and women in business. Here, she shares her coaching journey, her favourite type of client, and even a few of her guilty pleasures...

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