+44 (0)785 5567 563 laura@lauragilchrist.co.uk

It’s time to slow down and take stock

It’s time to slow down and take stock of 2020. The days are drawing in, the weather is getting colder and most people I know are gearing up for a bit of time off, even if it’s not quite the Christmas they had imagined.


Let’s just take a moment to acknowledge ourselves for making it through this year.


One of the privileges of coaching is that I am allowed to see peoples’ internal journeys. I coach mainly leaders and business owners in different sectors, from companies to charities.


Each person I speak to is telling me how exhausted they are and how much they need a break.


This time last year most of us never could have imagined the upheaval and challenges that 2020 would bring. Not to mention the position we’re still in as we approach Christmas.


It’s a perfect time to slow down and take stock of what you’ve achieved this year and what you’ve learned. Why does this matter though?


Why it is important to slow down and take stock


Taking stock allows us to learn from the experiences we go through as leaders and to discover more about ourselves. It also enables us to notice our strengths and to look at the areas where we might need some support or to make a change.


Creating time to slow down and take stock gives us an opportunity to stop and see just how much we’ve achieved in the face of really challenging circumstances.


I’m a huge believer in using a positive approach called appreciative enquiry for this purpose. It reinforces what is good in our lives, which helps to build hope and realistic optimism.


Using Appreciative Enquiry to take stock of 2020


Appreciative enquiry is an approach for learning and supporting change and wellbeing that focuses on looking for the best in a person or situation. There are five key principles and I’m sharing first three here. I will bring them to life by sharing my own story.


1. Define your purpose

The first principle of appreciative enquiry is to define clearly what you want to learn or achieve. Some helpful questions here:


What is your purpose?


What do you want to learn?


How do you want to achieve this learning?


My purpose is to reflect on what I’ve learned about myself this year that can help me as I move into 2021. I want to look at my qualities and strengths and also areas I need to be aware of that I might need extra support in.


2. Discover what is good


This is where the ‘appreciate’ part of appreciative enquiry comes in. This is a very helpful process if you’re feeling discouraged or stuck. It encourages us to focus on the positive, what is good and These are the questions I’m asking myself:


What’s been my best experience this year?


What have I learned about my core values and what matters to me this year?


What have I learned about my strengths this year?


Who or what has created this learning for me?


If I could wish for something moving forward what would it be?


Best experience


My best experience was the time we spent together as a family during August. It was all the more special because it came off the back of lockdown where I felt continually conflicted between work and family demands. Another hugely positive experience for me has been some work collaborations.  I’ve been reminded that relationships, hospitality and community are my core values.


What has created the learning


The lockdown and restrictions have created this learning. For the past nine months I haven’t been able to offer hospitality and most of our local community activities had to stop too. I’ve often felt very sad about this. In terms of relationships, I’ve been so aware of how important my family and key friendships are, alongside key working relationships.


Values and strengths


I’ve learned that these values are also strengths that I bring them into my work as well. I know I’ve been so blessed to be able to do work I love. I’ve found a new passion for group coaching because it allows me to take the value of creating community into the online space. It’s been an adventure.


In terms of my strengths, I’ve realised that I’m generally quite good in a crisis and like finding creative ways to respond. I also love hard work and sometimes this can be a weakness because I find it hard to stop.


In terms of what I’m wishing for, it’s to be able to get out into the countryside again to feast on nature and go hiking. I’m also wishing to see friends, restart social events and be able to host people.


3. Dream about what is possible


This next phase of taking stock involves dreaming about what is possible.


Looking at what you’ve learned in part 2, what might you want to create moving forward. What’s your vision?


What have I learned about what’s important to me this year?


How can I create more of that in 2021?


What is life calling me into that might be new?


I’ve learned that relationships, community and doing meaningful work are all really important to me. Whatever I create and put my energy into in 2021, I want it to have these core values at the heart of it. I have some ideas about what I’m being called into, but I can’t see a lot of it yet and know I need a rest before launching into new plans. I do know that I want to be open, curious and willing to step out into the edge of my fear.


There are two more phases to the appreciative enquiry process that are more aligned with moving forward and creating goals, habits, resources, systems and processes. I will discuss these in my next blog post as they are more about looking forward and in this piece I’ve chosen to focus on giving ourselves permission to slow down, take stock and celebrate ourselves for making it through this tough year.


If you are a leader who would like some support to focus on the positives as you start 2021, take a look at The Growth Circle and our Staying Grounded Group Coaching Programme, which starts in mid-January 2021.