A new year. A new beginning. New Year’s resolutions are a hot topic right now. Wikipedia describes them as an act of self-improvement. A ritual originating from the ancient Babylonians and the Romans. All making promises to their gods at the start of each year. There are online generators to help you draw up your personal resolutions list. Statistics to make sure you are provided with realistic expectations. And a growing supply of supporting apps on actually keeping all those thought-out resolutions.
I didn’t write this blog post to tell you whether or not you should make them. Or which resolutions to choose. And which to abandon. But I do believe we need to reflect upon self-improvement from time to time.
You can call them New Year’s Resolutions. I call them catching your Big Fish. And what can be an easy catch for one person, can be like the most uncatchable species for another.
Do you know what your Big Fish looks like?
Is he catchable in your opinion?
What’s the urgency of catching it for you?
And is it really YOUR Fish or rather someone else’s?
The main question is, are you ready to learn from the past and accept that you are a work in progress? Willing to identify and stop doing those things that have been holding you back? If yes, get out of your comfort zone and go catch your Big Fish!
It’s all about transformation
(1) Learn from the past and accept that you are a work in progress
I’m a huge fan of starting the first Coaching session with drawing ones personal lifeline. It’s a history of the path that has brought you up to where you are today. Not just one line, but different lines representing different areas in your life.
By doing this, patterns become visible, both positive and negative. We are looking back to be able to look forward with new eyes. Similarities both personal and professional pop up. You start to understand why you do and feel things the way you do.
(2) Identify and stop the behaviour that has been holding you back
Identifying those things that have been holding you back is not the easiest exercise. Often it is gaining insight in your very own survival strategy and understanding why you are holding on to that behaviour.
Based on the patterns visible in your lifeline you start to understand why you are always competing against the world, or explaining yourself to others, seeking approval, avoiding conflict, maybe trying to be perfect, pretending to be fearless, or even smiling too much.
Let me give you an example:
Let’s say all you want is to be “good enough”. So you try hard to be at your best at any time. But people are not thinking “Oh, he needs to be perfect so we wouldn’t reject him”. No. They are thinking “He’s selfish and thinks he is better than the rest of us”. So they do the one thing you are so desperately trying to avoid. They reject you. And then you say “you see!! I need to be more perfect”. It’s a vicious circle.
Visualising and breaking this pattern might be the most confronting part of my Coaching sessions. Being honest with yourself. Looking in that mirror. Letting go of all shields you’ve been hiding behind for protection, consciously or unconsciously. Allowing the real YOU to stand up. Balanced. At peace. Productive.
Results of a 360° feedback questionnaire will be much more intelligible after doing this. You now will understand why you are getting this feedback in spite of your good intentions.
Identify what’s holding you back and you will be able to step out of it.
(3) Get out of your comfort zone and catch your Big Fish
How about leaving your survival strategy behind and taking some risks? No transformation without getting out of your comfort zone. I am convinced you will be surprised. Use your strengths and not your fears. Focus on the things you can control, start making moves and enjoy your individuality. Take full accountability for yourself and work towards your own goals every day.
This third part of the transformation process is where Coaching can be at its most effective. Increase your productivity. Reach those goals you have been aiming at. Be a better leader. Have more impact. Find balance. Just be happy.
Unfortunately it’s not that easy. Although we know smoking or drinking is bad for us, it’s not easy to quit. It might even have become a part of who you are. A part you may cherish and protect. And even after quitting successfully, it’s easy to fall back in old habits when stress levels rise.
It’s the same when it comes down to behaviour. Especially that behaviour you have made your own to survive! And although now you are aware of the fact it is holding you back, it is not easy to implement change. Or you can, but then again lose the good intention when there is extra pressure, or upcoming deadlines. Not to mention the fact we all have our survival strategy. And those strategies might clash or reinforce each other from time to time…
Maybe it really is time for some New Year’s Resolutions?
Or catching some Big Fish?
Sofie Varrewaere is the founder of BigFish4.me. After studying a Master in Psychological and Pedagogical Sciences, she ogled into the magical world of Recruitment, Selection and HR Services. Working for the world leader in HR, she has always been in an advisory role in relation to the larger goals of several multinational organizations. In 2013 she started her own company in International executive Coaching. Doing what she is good at, challenging others as well as herself.
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