Let’s talk about finding balance. WHY do you want it? I often ask myself this as a partner, mother, daughter, colleague…
Over the past few years, I have experienced several major setbacks, both professionally and privately. During these moments, my autopilot typically took over: adapt and move on, be strong, don’t bother anyone, and to only rely on myself because a moment of weakness can be ‘misused.’
I’m resilient. I have a winning mindset and I usually see obstacles as opportunities. I thrive on change and adapt to it and never stop until I have reached my goals. Yes, ‘impossible is nothing!’ But then the world paused with the diagnosis: BURNOUT. I didn’t know what had happened. I was afraid, felt like a zombie, and sat for weeks on my sofa doing absolutely nothing. Totally unexpected. How come? I now know that another question is more appropriate, namely WHY?
I realized that I needed to reflect on what I wanted to achieve, and I soon came to the conclusion that each and every one of those things came with a ‘but…’
- Maintain balance! “But I am ambitious and want that job.”
- I want to live more in the here and now! “But I want to be in control of what’s happening.”
- Work on the better version of yourself! “But can I be satisfied with the person I am?”
- Have realistic goals! “But I like challenges and pushing boundaries. Living on the edge is me!”
- Take your time! “But I have so many other things to do!”
- Manage your time and say ‘NO’ more often! “But I get energy from new projects, assignments, and helping others.”
Finding balance by addressing the ‘why’
To break the cycle, I needed to fully understand the ‘whys’ behind the ‘buts.’ I had to ask for help and needed to trust others to support me and recover. I knew perfectly well what I wanted to change, but I didn’t understand what was blocking me, so I ended up at the V-circle Academy.
V-circle coaching works with psychologists and coaches to help others gain a better understanding of human behavior. For example, 95% of your behaviors are driven unconsciously. Just knowing this creates awareness and enables you to break through patterns and mindsets, on both personal and professional levels. With the support of adidas, I was able to start working on myself and become a coach as well, which I hope will help others to avoid the challenges I’ve faced in the future.
With their help and perseverance, I recovered and became the energetic, sporty, sociable, sweet, and hard-working colleague, partner, and mother I wanted to be. It’s also good to know that other adidas teams have also followed the program. This has resulted in greater self-awareness and getting to know each other better, which has created more understanding for better teamwork.
Finding balance takes time
The speed and eagerness to learn and develop is not necessarily a good combination. Healthy ambitions are great, but are they also realistic? The reality is that finding balance takes time. Would you expect a mega breakthrough after a few coaching conversations? Now I know this is not the case.
I asked my coach what I needed to do to recover ASAP. Do I need medication? What can I do about my perfectionism (control, preparation)? My autopilot had worked for years, and you simply cannot shake it off after a good conversation. She pulled me back into reality. There are no pills.
The coaching methods I received are based on inner motivations, which have provided me with insights on my own autopilot. Once I understood how it works, I have learned to change course. But adjusting your beliefs takes time.
I now know I need to be aware of my pitfalls (my autopilot). I experienced that during the COVID pandemic, a lot of adaptability has been required for me to successfully fulfill my sales job. At the same time, I’m also aware that I want to be well prepared and in control, but given the situation, I know this isn’t always possible. I accept the need to be flexible, but also bear in mind that I have no influence on the corona situation. What I can do is influence how I deal with it, so I always have a choice in how I approach something.
So, before I was obsessed with perfectionism, but after all the training, life, and sales experiences, I’ve realized I don’t need to prepare everything to the last detail. I can be confident that I have the knowledge and experience! This saves time that I can invest into making even better connections; becoming a better listener and being more creative. So, much more FUN.
For example, during a digital meeting with one of my customers I had NO sell-out analysis in Excel and NO PowerPoint about the impact of corona. Of course, we went through my fact-based analyses, but not in a standard presentation, which saved me a lot of time. I just started the conversation with some bullets on my notepad. How did it turn out? Instead, I had a relaxed coffee chat which gave me a lot more info than I expected.
Choosing what suits your specific needs best is all part and parcel of managing your time more effectively. In this case, it’s good to know your unconscious motivations and from that, you’re furthering your journey towards finding balance.
I have a very hectic life, but I like it. I am competitive and always need a challenge. This gives me energy. But is it necessary to play two hockey games on one day, with the result not able to do anything the day after? Or is it also good to balance my energy by doing exercise three times a week and not having an ‘energy hangover?’ To be honest, playing hockey gives me much more excitement than going to the gym, but I now know that the gym is a better balance for my body and energy.
Getting back out of that comfort zone
By embracing what I’ve learned about myself ensures that I can still step out of my comfort zone without fear of hitting another significant setback. I find it incredibly enriching, and it gives me a lot of new energy. Writing this blog is an example. I tried to find excuses… Am I not too busy for this? Next to my full-time job, I’m also a certified V-circle coach, I’m registered as a mentor at work and I’ve also started our internal Management Development Experience (MDE). I’m also a mother of two teenage girls and last but not least, I’m not a good writer (certainly not in English). Or is the truth that I’m scared to show my vulnerability? Am I scared that this will affect my ambition? Will others see me as weak?
Through my coaching sessions and the MDE, I now know that sharing my experiences makes it easier for other people to recognize and acknowledge their own challenges. And hopefully better understand and dare to share. That’s why I’ve registered myself as a mentor, to share that it is also powerful to be vulnerable – it’s ok, not to be ok. My goal is to elevate myself to inspire others, enjoy my experiences and be vocal about them. This gives me real energy! Being ambitious can also help improve the lives of others.
It’s still crazy to talk about myself, it’s scary to share personal things and it’s even scarier to ask for help. I need to take the time to get used to it and to trust others and myself. I hope being transparent about my journey will help someone out there who is struggling.