I recently finished a series of 5 coaching calls over 4 months with a client, and the difference in her was so marked, so fantastic to hear, I thought I’d capture a little of her journey in a case study. Obviously confidentiality is key in my relationship with all my clients, so I have changed and blurred some details and this is not her real name.
On the outside, Hannah was in an exciting phase in life; just 5 years into her HR career she’d been headhunted by a good company with what looked to be a great job in a location where she’d be close to her fiancée.
But now, 2 years later the job hadn’t turned out how she thought it would. She was feeling isolated and lonely and even the good line manager she’d had at the beginning had moved on. She had the impression that it was just her, that everyone else was doing fine, and having fun, and she was losing confidence quickly.
With no clear sense of purpose she was feeling anxious and nervous about coming into work. Outside work things were ok – she’d now been married a year and her and her husband were in the process of buying a new home, but she didn’t want her anxiety and worries to start spilling over and impacting on the relationship she had with her husband.
Hannah came to coaching looking for a renewed sense of focus, purpose and confidence, and for help thinking about what would be a good next career move – she was feeling time was slipping away and the promising start of her earlier career was fading into mediocrity.
More life events piled on to exacerbate how she was feeling soon after we started with the coaching – the house purchase ran into problems, they had to have their beloved dog put down and they had become deeply involved with trying to help a close family friend who was having a difficult time.
As we explored what it would look and feel like for her if she got what she wanted from the programme, it became very clear how hard Hannah was on herself.
A hugely empathetic and compassionate person with everyone else in her life, when it came to herself she was merciless in her self-criticism and unrelenting expectations. She was also holding a sense of shame that she was not as ‘successful’ as she thought she should/ought to be by now.
Over the course of the 5 calls we explored how she held onto fantasies of how things and she ‘should’ be. We looked at the misunderstanding that it’s our rational mind that makes things change. We looked at what happens when she gets sucked into a vortex of negative self talk. We explored what can happen when she stays focussed on this present moment rather than have her eyes fixed on the future or glancing back at the past. And we asked what happens if she allows herself to put her own needs first. And of course we looked closely at how to focus on what she could control and how to let go of what she cannot.
Hannah was a great client – she worked hard at experimenting with something new, being open and vulnerable and taking full responsibility for herself.
Somewhere around our third call, Hannah began to make a real shift in her perspective and began to see what she could do now to enjoy herself more at work. She stopped worrying so much and just focussed on being the best she could be right now… and then quickly she was offered a new role within the company – a fabulous opportunity, working in a team of supportive, inspiring people.
By the time of our last call she was full of life, joy and enthusiasm. Yes, there were still things that hadn’t worked out, but they were all things she had no control over.
So I asked Hannah what she had learned; what was different for her now that wasn’t there on our first call.
She quickly gave me the following list:
“I am nicer to myself”
“I am aware, not only when I am in the vortex, but when other people are too, which allows me to choose my response”
“I ensure I have some quiet ‘me’ time to reflect and to plan, and protect it at all costs; and when I get to my desk, I don’t leap straight into email and tasks, I take time to think what I need to do and what will have the biggest impact”
“I focus on the here and now – I was so lost thinking of where I wanted to be in the future, I forgot to enjoy where I am right now”
Fabulous insights – so simple, so true, so impactful.
Hannah changed her thinking, and so she changed her life.