Learning from Snail
How to slow down, stop driving yourself forward and allow your next steps to be revealed
What does New Year mean to you?
Is it a kind of Groundhog Day?
Or maybe a new beginning?
Perhaps it’s a time when you set goals, write a plan, or make some resolutions? (which the evidence shows will probably be broken by the end of March, if not by the end of the month!)
I’ve been wondering about the annual tradition of reviewing the year and setting new intentions or targets and whether it’s actually useful for me or my clients.
I’ve written previously about being more authentic in my working life, more in tune with nature’s rhythms and cycles. I’ve also written about my resistance to military-derived terminology, like ‘target’ and ‘strategy’, that is so endemic in our working lives. Even self-employed people can be susceptible to dozens of emails exhorting us to improve our business planning or, at the more ‘conscious’ end of business advice, to clarify our purpose and gifts. Here’s a flavour of the kinds of messages I’ve been bombarded with (another military term) these last couple of weeks:
Free business plan template!
The secret to creating new habits!
Your best year yet!
7 steps to success!
How to be more… effective! abundant! healthy!
Kickstart your New Year with this unbeatable programme!
Bigger, brighter, better!
Please. Just. STOP!
It’s compelling and invidious, this cultural norm that says we SHOULD have clarity of purpose and direction, with carefully articulated intentions, goals and targets. And that we should review these annually to ensure we stay on track and achieve our plans.
What if we are set up to fail by our unquestioned assumption that we should do something, because it’s normal, because the MBA programmes, the experts, the business advisers, the successful coaches’ coaches, the trainers’ trainers, the marketing gurus all say we SHOULD?
What if we fail because we try to make ourselves do things we don’t really want to do?
What if should, must and ought are doomed to fail, unless we keep on pushing and forcing ourselves?
What if behind our efforts to set goals and make plans is a sense of shame if we don’t do what society cajoles, coerces and manipulates us into doing?
I believe there are much kinder, gentler ways of proceeding that don’t cause so much resistance and disappointment.
In a typical coaching session, the starting point is setting a specific goal or intention. In my experience, this serves a limited purpose in focusing the conversation on a particular topic, but that’s about as far as it goes.
The approach I’ve been developing, in partnership with my wonderful coaching clients, is to focus more on what we need to let go of, what we need to stop doing, allow to die and return to Earth for composting.
Then, when the ground has been cleared, we’re in a better position to listen out for what wants to come, what’s emerging, what is being revealed to us. Tuning in with our senses and listening to the responses in our bodies, we can learn to discern a truer way forward, where there’s a palpable ‘YES’ in our energy system.
Moving in a direction that feels good and comes from a deeper place than our goal-setting mind increases the chances of our staying with it and reaping the benefits.
I’m a slow coach.
I enjoy coaching in a regenerative way that allows deeper layers of being to be revealed.
This year, I’m noticing that this is how my business has been growing too: slowly, steadily and (hopefully) sustainably, at Nature’s pace.
I’d love to hear how this lands for you and I really welcome your reflections or questions.