Taking a break in difficult times - Michelle Gibbings

In yet another year of uncertainty, in this article in, I encourage you to find your ‘circuit breaker’ to prevent a toxic build-up of stress and concern.

In this year’s World Economic Forum Global Risks Report, most respondents were either worried or concerned when asked the question ‘How do you feel about the outlook for the world?‘.

Many factors drive those concerns, including COVID, climate change, and other economic, geopolitical, health, and social issues. The report makes for illuminating, and at times, depressing reading, although it’s far better to be aware than unaware.

For many people, the year hasn’t started as expected with disrupted holidays, events and plans. With all this swirling around, it’s easy to be caught in the maelstrom. To feel tossed and thrown about, so you end up somewhere you didn’t want to be. You feel like your year is not starting the way you intended.

If so, it’s time to reset.

There’s never one solution to this, but there are places to start. Firstly, it’s helpful to find your circuit breaker.

If you talk to a sparky (or electrician to be more formal), they’ll tell you those circuit breakers are essential. Without them, simple wiring problems and household appliance malfunctions could lead to fires and your house burning down. Electricity operates on a circuit, and sometimes you need to cut that circuit for safety reasons.

Much of our thinking and actions operate on a circuit too. Rather than calling them circuits, we call them habits. Habits are ingrained patterns of behaviour, which I’ve written about before (Struggling to make progress? Find your routine).

My circuit breaker was going on a meditation retreat (sure, not everyone’s idea of fun). It was what I needed to give myself the space and time to shake off the unwanted energy from 2021 and to focus on what I wanted 2022 to be.

In deciding on your circuit breaker, consider the factors you need in place to make a good decision. For me, the ideal conditions are well rested, not stressed, hungry or feeling rushed. What are those factors for you and what are your circuit breaker options?

For you, it may not be a meditation retreat. It could be a day at the beach. An afternoon walk. A mountain bike ride. A hike. You want to be in a space where you are open to listening to yourself and ready to reflect, ponder and wonder.

Next, you want to do some work by setting your intentions for the year.

For example, how do you want to show up and lead this year? How do you want to integrate your career and family aspirations better? How will you work, lead and live more purposefully? Find the question that centres your thinking.

When you frame your year and set your intentions, you are honing your mind to focus on what matters and getting deliberate about how you will approach the year. You are prioritising how you will spend your time.

Intentionality is specific and involves energy, determination and persistence. It’s also a powerful tool to help you make aligned progress.

As you do this, it helps to be realistic. There’s no doubt that it will be another unusual year, so be careful about expectations that only lead to disappointment. You want to be practical and aspirational, and your intentions achievable.

As the saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, so intentions won’t serve you unless you back them up with action.

We all have routines and set patterns of behaviours. So, in the context of your identified intentions, assess your habits by asking yourself three questions:

  • What will you leave behind in 2021 because it isn’t helping you or those around you?
  • What will you take forward into 2022?
  • And what new habits will you acquire?

Next, commit your intentions and focus areas to paper. It is no longer a thought bubble and more challenging to ignore when written down.

If you are looking for some inspiration, this New York Times article is a timely reminder that you are never too old to do something new or embrace a new challenge.

As you look ahead to the year, remember the wise words of the Dalai Lama – “Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions”.


Publication: | |