Why courage and clarity lead to a more joyful and connected life

I used to spend the lead-up to Christmas Day focused on prepping and cleaning, doing what I could to ensure my family had a wonderful experience.

On Christmas Day, I was the one who was a hot, sweaty mess in the kitchen preparing the Christmas feast while everyone else played with their gifts and lounged about, chatting and enjoying the day.

If I’m brutally honest, other than brief moments of joy, I had been secretly miserable at Christmas for years.

That was, until last year when I had the courage to tell my family how I felt.

They had no idea because they had become used to me assuming responsibility and not telling them what I needed so I could enjoy the day, too.

Last year, we tried people taking on different roles, and afterwards, we agreed it was one of the best Christmas Days for years.

I did less, they did more, we did more together, we were more connected and we had more fun.

I’m sharing this story with you because the proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” reminds us that we become both bored and boring if we’re always stuck doing what we feel is expected rather than what we enjoy.

Lack of enjoyment and relaxation leads to a lack of inspiration and creativity, making us feel uninteresting – or “dull.”

The transition from one year to the next is the perfect time to create space to reconnect with yourself.

If you’ve fallen into the trap of putting yourself last like I had with Christmas, now is the perfect time to pause and think about your life in 2024 and how you want to feel about it.

Navigating your life and career can sometimes feel like treading water in a turbulent sea. You’re desperately trying to stay afloat, battling exhaustion and wondering when the storm will break.

However, change starts with you knowing what you want.

As Robin Sharma says, ‘Clarity precedes success’.

Who are you when you’re at your best and most energised?

Here are some reflection questions to get you started:

  1. When did you truly feel you were yourself in 2023?
  2. When did you feel fully engaged and brimming with energy?
  3. Who was there, and what were you doing?
  4. How did the people around you respond?
  5. What similar opportunities can you create in 2024?

Remember, the people close to you are not mind readers. You may need to take a courageous leap to share how you feel and hold your ground to get things moving,

If you don’t take that first step for you, no one else will.

If you know what changes you want to make, James Clear’s book Atomic Habits is a good summer read or listen.

It provides a valuable framework for understanding and implementing habit change, especially during new beginnings like New Year. You can make meaningful and lasting changes by focusing on small, consistent improvements, prioritising systems over goals, building identity-based habits, and shaping your environment to support your desired habits.

That small change I made when I spoke up before last Christmas has reaped far greater and more positive changes in my home life over the last year.

Not only did I get more help at Christmas, family members have taken over other household jobs – goodbye to endless clothes folding!

If you know you would value help gaining clarity, you may be interested in what Kate Williams said about my Clarity Program – see below!

“Susanne thank you so much for your support, coaching, and mentoring during a very challenging time in my career. Finding myself having to make some difficult and uncomfortable decisions, my coaching sessions with you were invaluable.

Through them I was able to commit to carving out time and cognitive energy to considering what I really want from my career, where I am willing to compromise, and where I am not. Having you as a sounding board, with extensive leadership and industry experience including in times of organisational upheaval, was a critical factor in me not losing my sense of self or wellbeing.

I began our coaching sessions quite distressed and ready to run and hide from uncertainty, but ended our sessions with a sense of my own direction, and a more positive perspective on the unplanned season of change I find myself in. I feel I now have the tools to optimistically explore all sorts of opportunities that are coming my way, without limiting myself. What a gift.”

Kate Williams

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