Happy New Year! I was inspired to help us all kick off the year with some more self-kindness. This week we’re breaking down what it means to experience “breakdowns.”

Raise your hand if you have ever thought to yourself, or said out loud to someone else: “I just need to get through this next few weeks, and then things will calm down and I’ll get on top of it all.” Or maybe your version is something more along the lines of “this phase of my career (pre-tenure; young children; new leadership role) is intense, but once I get through the transition, it will be smooth sailing.”

And keep your hand up if you never feel like you get through whatever difficult moment or transition you’re in and you find yourself feeling like there is always a pending tsunami of something heading right for you.

You likely don’t need me to break it to you, but the constant interruptions, intensifications, course corrections, and obstacles are simply life happening. When we plan to buckle down and work ourselves to exhaustion now, in order to buy peace and tranquillity later, we are simply setting ourselves up for constant disappointment.

As part of my current journey towards MCC certification (Master Certified Coach) with the International Coaching Federation, I’m working through a series of books on ontological coaching and one of the key concepts this model works with is that of the “breakdown.” This isn’t the sobbing in the corner breakdown, although it could include that, as well, but rather the daily breakdowns in the flow of what we think of as the natural, expected course of things. Whether good or bad, the disruptions, disappointments, zigs and zags in life that require us to pivot.

Our job as humans on the path to becoming the best versions of ourselves is not to plan such as to avoid these breakdowns, but to handle them as they occur without being completely thrown off of our path.

In sessions with my clients, this looks like having a solid self-concept, anchored in their values and their vision of the impact they want to have in their world. It looks like developing and tuning into their emotional self-awareness and agility, so that they can work with their responses, instead of being hijacked by emotional tumult. It looks like not making deals with themselves about what life or work will be like later, but creating a sense of being anchored in the present.

So, if you keep waiting for things to calm down, or to get over the hump, ask yourself what internal narrative you’re working with and how shifting the story about how you live and work can help you be present and anchored today, rather than waiting for a perfect future.

Until next time,
Jennifer