Coaching World Issue 12: November 2014 - Page 22

not anticipated was that it would also present a profound new set of work/life balance issues that would send me on a soulsearching expedition. Even if you have a strong business plan and an extensive professional network, building a Leadership Coaching and consulting practice takes time. Suddenly, I was not as busy as I used to be: I did not have to spend an hour or two processing email every evening, nor did I have frequent 6 a.m. or 10 p.m. calls. I could schedule a doctor’s appointment without juggling to fit it in my schedule and I could finally plan lunch dates with friends or business connections during the week. Although I genuinely enjoyed this new flexibility, I quickly started to judge myself as being far less efficient than I used to be according to my own standards. I did not like my new “laziness.” Even more unsettling was the feeling that the productivity skills I had developed and honed through the years were turning against me, polluting nice moments with feelings of guilt and unease, and making me question my own worthiness. These feelings would wash over me when I overslept in the morning, spent an hour of my day chatting on the phone with my sister or watched an episode of a favorite TV show after dinner. In each of those instances, an unfriendly inner voice would remind me that I ought to be spending my time more wisely, perhaps by knocking a couple of items off my long to-do list. It took me time to realize that the issue was not my new schedule but that the very same standards that I valued so much before were now obsolete. My career change— 22 Coaching World and consequent life change— mandated that I review my fundamental relationship to time, my time-management habits and beliefs, and my personal definition of productivity. Essentially, I needed to redefine what work/life balance meant for me. I already understood that our needs and wants evolve with time: I had previously revised my personal work/life statement when I changed jobs, when I gave birth to my second son and when I moved to the United States with my family eight years ago. This personal journey also taught me a very important lesson that I am finding useful in my leadership practice. It is OK to let go of beliefs, practices and values that we used to live by—even those that used to define us—when we realize they no longer serve us. And as importantly, only we can decide it is time to let go, even if we become aware of the need to do so with the support of a coach. It is part of that continuous growth journey we are on as human beings. But the change I went through when I moved from being a corporate leader to a solo entrepreneur was on a much different magnitude and scale than I had anticipated. As a result of this selfdiscovery journey, I learned that it is OK to hop on my elliptical trainer at 10 a.m. or 3 p.m., and that there is no need to send a proposal at 10 p.m. if I’d prefer to watch a movie with my husband. I also discovered that weekends are not “sacred lands” anymore: They do provide time for productive work. I have learned to let go of the boundaries that I had built and strived to abide by in order to achieve my earlier definition of work/life balance. They were no longer useful and were actually standing in my way. Work and play now integrate in my life as a coach in a much more flexible way. As a result, my new personal work/life statement is far less prescriptive and far more fulfilling as it closely aligns with the life I have chosen t o embrace. “I have learned to let go of the boundaries that I had built and strived to abide by in order to achieve my earlier definition of work/life balance. They were no longer useful and were actually standing in my way.”