It has been over half a year since I have written a blog. I only really noticed by mistake the other day and started to think about why I was no longer writing. For those of you who haven’t read any of my blogs before, I will offer a very short overview. If you want the details, you will have to read the others!
About a year and a half ago, I left an 18 year career in education for a change of direction. A scary and exciting move that was driven more through necessity than desire. I had become tired, stressed and resentful of my job and the responsibility that came with it and was no longer enjoying the fulfilment that my wonderful job had to offer. It was taking a huge toll on my mental health, family life and marriage. I took the bold decision to change my career and lifestyle and started a business making bespoke furniture. I simplified life in every way, particularly my finances; there isn’t as much money in furniture making as there is in running an education centre!
So, back to the question; why haven’t I been writing for a while? Writing a blog served as a way on reflecting on what was an emotional process. I wasn’t writing to gather followers. I knew there were a lot of people out there who were not happy with their lot and I wanted to inspire them to feel able to take the leap for something better. Even that though wasn’t the driving force behind me writing. It was my way of making sense of my head and finding a way through an exciting and unchartered journey. The truth was, I was shitting myself and used it to justify my actions to myself. When people responded positively, it confirmed to me that I had made the right choice and was talking some sense.
The frequency of the blogs became less and less (much to annoyance of some of my most loyal supporters). Since May 19, which was the last time I wrote, I guess I have just been getting on with it. Not really thinking about it, not talking about it, just living it. That makes it sound more glamorous that it has been but it is true. I have felt content, have lived in the moment and have just been enjoying the journey of life. It no longer feels exciting and adventurous (I liked that bit), its no longer the first thing that I talk about when I meet new people and it is no longer scary in any way (I didn’t enjoy that bit). I am now well and truly in the next stage of my life/career. And it this that I really wanted to talk about in this blog……. Change and balance!
So my recent story was one of significant change. It has been really positive and I am so glad that I did it but because of the size of the change it was a reasonably risky one and could of had some fairly negative outcomes. All of which, I would have dealt with, learned from and got through. But, what if I had seen it coming earlier, made some tweaks to things? Would I have needed to make this life changing decision? Could I still be in the greatest job I ever had? (Please comment if you have the answer to this one because I still haven’t). I am developing a theory though. My latest thinking is that everything in life is about balance. The more I think about it and link it to different aspects of mine and others lives, it makes more and more sense.
I remember one of my university lecturers going on about the importance of reflection. We studied theories on it and explored why it is such an important part of learning and development. I too tried to set up an ethos in my staff team where reflective practice was integral to our work. But! You know when you know something? You understand something and believe in it but then one day you REALLY KNOW it? Well I’m there with reflection. Here’s the difference between knowing it and REALLY KNOWING it. When you know it, you make time for reflection in everything you do. You might have a staff meeting to reflect on the day or a specific incident, you might even make some action points for improvement. I used to lie in bed before going to sleep and review the day and look at what I had done well and how I could have dealt with things better and how I would improve next time. This type of reflection was really helpful and I’m sure it allowed me to be good at what I did. I was constantly learning and developing. The trouble was that it made me a little obsessive about being my best. When you REALLY KNOW it, you just do it without trying. I consistently just check in on myself. I have more time now so it is easier but I am just aware of myself. These are trivial but make good examples… Drinking alcohol, eating junk, not eating at the table for meals, cleaning the house, checking the oil in the car, exercise etc. These are all things that effect us all. We have to make decisions on how we will address them. Lets take eating as a simple example. In the evening, I might fancy a packet of crisps so I go and get a bag. Is this ok? Yes! I fancy another bag. Is that ok? Yes! It is ok because I am balanced. I eat well on the whole and know that too many crisps are bad for me and if I have two bags every night for a month this is unbalanced and becomes unhealthy. If tomorrow I find myself wanting two packets of crisps again, I may need to tweak something and stop it developing into a habit. I think it is equally unhealthy to never eat crisps just because they are bad for you. I see a lot of people living in these extremes and think that they are the most unhealthy places in which to live. This is why diets can do so much damage. As soon as you put a box around something (like I mustn’t eat crisps) I believe it has become unhealthy whether you eat the crisps or not. If you fancy a bag of crisps, have a bag of crisps! If you fancy a bag tomorrow, maybe don’t! As I said, this is a very simple example but can be applied to all aspects of our lives. I believe that we need to strive to be more reflective all of the time rather than scheduling specific time for reflection. We need to constantly tweak things rather than leaving them to become issues that are harder to address.
I used to be very driven to be the best person I could be. This included all aspects of my life (being a good husband, son, brother, uncle, father, eat well, do well in my job, the list goes on). I am now a lot more relaxed about it all although I still want to be the best I can be. By reflecting consistently and organically I am a lot happier. I have found balance. The crazy thing is, I think that I am a better husband, son, brother, uncle, father, healthier eater and better at my job because of it.
I listen to the radio a lot these days and am more aware of the news and current affairs. Recently, the two subjects I hear about more than anything else are the general election and mental health. I think that given a more balanced approach, both of these areas could be improved on significantly. Firstly, to the election. It seemed to me that our main choices were a far left and a far right party. The truth is that all of the parties have aspects that offer some benefit our country. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could find a middle ground/balance? Secondly, to mental health. There are more and more people struggling with poor mental health and again I feel as though part of the solution is people finding balance. We all have mental health. Just like we have physical health. It needs looking after just like out physical health. We need to exercise and eat well to keep ourselves physically healthy. In order to look after our mental health we need to find a healthier balance to our lifestyles. Often people who expect too much of themselves and are very highly motivated, attentive and routined can suffer from high levels of anxiety. In contrast, low expectations and motivation, lack of structure and effort can lead to depression. There is a balanced and healthy middle ground that I think we should all be striving for. It would improve the mental health of out country greatly.
So, if you have the answer to the above question or have any thoughts I would love to hear them. Otherwise….
Eat crisps but not too many!