Finding our Way in Work – Lockdown Questions
My working life has been about helping others to find their way at work – through coaching, facilitation, leadership development. The truth is that I too am constantly trying to find my own way in my work.
I notice, in lockdown, I am locked down with work. Despite having worked from home for nearly 20 years, and regardless of my work not changing much, something has changed. Questions that I have avoided facing about my work are arising. They are noisy, nosey and won’t go away. They keep asking themselves. And lockdown is forcing me to face them. Prior to lockdown I guess I was avoiding them by going out, friends and family and fun! Now they sit with me. The questions about work and I are at home together.
Questions like ‘what really gives me energy at work?’, ‘what is draining me at work?’ arise. Questions I ask coaching clients to ponder and increasingly coaching clients ask me ‘How do I make my working life more enjoyable?
For some of us the questions have arisen through hard shocks of job loss. For others it come from spending more time with the kids and realising how lovely it is.
I have known for a while that my questions really needed an answer for me. Now with me and work here together it seems time for me to take them more seriously.
Let’s put this in context.
All work has a part which drains us. That is the nature of work, perhaps why it is called work. The Cambridge Diction describes work as
An activity, such as a job, that a person uses physical or mental effort to do, usually for money.
I guess there are clues here in ‘effort’ – some work will require effort, other work will feel not only effortless but also energising.
The opportunity for all is us is to get this balance right. Maybe this is what work/life balance is really about. Having more energising work than draining work. More of the ‘effortless’ work in our lives.
I notice that with me and work home together I have that opportunity to look at this. I see the answer to these questions becoming clear quite quickly. Now that I allow them to exist, the answers arise. I am not surprised by the answer, it’s just what to do with it in a practical sense. (For those of you wondering about the future of Bailey Balfour at this point of my existential quest – don’t worry. The essence of our work – teaching and coaching – feeds me. I love being with our team. And writing – I didn’t really know that about writing until very recently. I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks on what drains me. You can start with accounts!)
As the answer to these questions becomes clearer, I and we have an opportunity to find ways to reconfigure our working lives. I believe this time gives us an opportunity to explore this. Finding the answers might involve conversations with our family and loved ones. It might involve some changes in our lives. Now is an opportunity to sit with the questions arising and see what emerges. That is at least my plan starting today!
I wonder what questions are arising about your work at this time? I’d love to hear.
About the Author
Jean Balfour is Managing Director of Bailey Balfour and Programme Director of our ICF Accredited Coach Training Programmes (ACTP). Jean is passionate about helping people to have good conversations both at work and at home. She believes that coaching is a life skill and that you never regret learning to coach.