After my vacation in early July, I came home to a work schedule that was a rare relaxing pace. While my one-on-one client sessions were in full swing, my corporate workshops were on summer hiatus and I was already booking up a busy fall. I found myself with big open blocks on my calendar for the first time in months.
The extra time was simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. During my highs, I spent time writing, took long walks in the park, or watched videos of my newborn puppy (scheduled to arrive in August) on a loop. When I wasn’t focused on being productive every minute, I was grateful to spend a whole day in workout gear or hanging around the neighborhood with my daughters post-camp in the afternoon.
Then, there were the lows. Those moments where I wondered if I was doing everything I could be doing for my business. Shouldn’t I be deep in something important right now? Am I doing it right? What do I know about running a business?
And then just like that, without consciousness or reason, I was sitting in a coffee shop searching Executive Coach roles on Indeed, reading job descriptions, and thinking about updating my resume. Thankfully, something outer-worldly pulled me from my idle panic. I slammed my laptop shut and decided I needed to do something that would get me out of that coffee shop and bring me to a small win, no matter what it was. I walked to the bank to make some updates to my account. It’s one of those things that’s been on my list forever, but I kept pushing it off.
I sat down with a woman banker who seemed genuinely happy to see me. As she looked at my account, she read the description of my business out loud. "Coaching and training to help women become leaders in their work and in their lives, navigate career transitions and master the work-life juggle." She looked me square in the eyes and said, "Wow! That’s incredible work. It’s so important right now." We proceeded to dive into a 45-minute passionate discourse about gender bias, ways women can support women, and some potential coaching for her husband. I was fired up and reminded of why I’m doing this. It’s not always easy or predictable, but it’s truly the dream job. I love this work.
Walking home from the bank that afternoon, I acknowledged I wasn’t treating my downtime with respect or intention. I was doing all the things I know drain my energy in those moments. Facebook, Instagram, incessant email checking—not very coachy of me, but hey—I continue to learn. Upon arriving home, I spent some time communing with my whiteboard and I came up with a revised approach to my downtime.
1. Energy-boosting activities
I was already doing fairly well on this one, but apparently—it wasn’t enough on it’s own. In my chunks of time, focus on things that bring me energy like writing, walking in the park, and podcasts. Also, connecting with people is a tremendous energy boost for me, so on the days where I’m doing more solo tasks, I need to work in a phone call with a friend or some way to get my extroverted fix.
Once I came home after my mini-meltdown to re-work my plan, I felt at ease again. During this downtime, I can put the plans for the rest of the year in place so when things inevitably pick up, I will know what I’m shooting for and how to get there.
In an effort to be continually learning, I am experimenting with new ideas, potential services, and areas of my industry to explore. This summer I’ve taken on a longer form writing/editing project, I’m training women who are running for office in leadership skills, and I’m looking into creating some additional group programs for the fall. At times the discomfort that comes along with expanding can make me feel untethered, but it’s also the push I need to keep making this business as exciting as it has been since the beginning.
While my downtime didn’t last long and I’m back to a full plate for the next couple of weeks, August will bring more quiet, more peace, more unscheduled hours—and this time I have my plan in place. In addition to diving into my experiments, I have added the practice of sitting in quiet—breaking free from my need for busyness. This summer has shown me that there’s more work to do on that front. For it’s in these quiet times that I leave room for new ideas and enjoyment of the present moment—as well as for a puppy who does not yet have a name, but is already beloved.