With 2017 being only a few days away, I feel the need to contemplate and think back of the year we are just about to end. 2016 has been an amazing year. An amazing year of challenge, opportunity and growth – both on a personal as well as on a business level.
What stood most out for me, was how everyone reacted to this enormous downturn in economy we have all experienced. I feel with the recession came a lot of opportunity to grow and rise up beyond what you beforehand might not have thought possible. It also brought a lot of change and let people’s true nature shine through more clearly. The optimist, the pessimist, the fighter, the one who has given up before he or she has even started, the one who felt paralysed and the one who now had the perfect excuse to no longer invest in herself. There were quite a few times during the last year where I found myself standing there in utmost surprise at both the good and the bad the economic ditch had brought out in others.
And I? I would lie if I said those last 12 months had been easy – in fact quite the opposite was true, they were very challenging and there were definitely moments where I felt I had reached my utmost limits both physically and mentally. There were also moments of doubt: Was I doing the right thing by holding on to this business of mine? Am I doing what is best for my family? Is all the fighting and hard work really worth it? But at the same time those months were incredibly empowering, they made room for so much more opportunity, they were very real, very honest, not fancy at all and I feel I have come out of them a stronger, better and happier person I was before.
After having been made redundant my husband started with a new company in the beginning of last year. A change which we all thought would bring more stability and prosperity. I also thought it would give me some back-up to build up my business further while also caring for our 2 beautiful daughters. My health coaching business was still little at that time and I was also studying to become a yoga teacher, which involved much more time, energy and engagement than I had anticipated. We very soon realized that our new reality would look very different to what we had thought it to be. My husband found himself left with lots of promises that were not kept, a very lousy pay, no bonuses and incredibly long hours of stressful work. And I really do not want to sound ungrateful here…because at least, and unlike many others, he still had a job.
Needless to say, that the atmosphere at home was anything but joyful. But ditch the mood, good or bad, with those developments came much more pressing matters, we somehow needed to find a way to pay our bills. There were not so many other adults in our household who could rise up to this challenge. My personal training business was at that time luckily not too badly affected by the economic developments and I tried to cramp even more clients into my busy schedule at incredibly low rates which were ridiculous really. No genius is needed here to work out that this would lead nowhere except for total exhaustion, combined with high levels of stress and all its very ugly side effects such as more and more anxiousness and self-doubt, a more and more blown-up mid-section, an aching, tense body and joints that were screaming with inflammation not to mention those hormones that started going crazy and an incredibly unrestful sleep….Not a good cycle to find yourself in and on top of it I felt like a hypocrite trying to help my clients uncover the best version of themselves when clearly I was moving further and further away from exactly that.
My lessons 2016 has taught me, sometimes lovingly sometimes not so lovingly:
- Stay true to yourself
My wake-up call was when I got diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis – not the best look for a personal trainer, but very real and in my face. I knew what I was doing was not right and was not what I had sworn to myself after my head operation when I had been given this second chance at life. My promise had been to look after my body, mind and soul the best I possibly could. And this is exactly what I was going to do again. It was what I had always believed in, it was what I was passionate about, what gave me strength and I felt I was here for. I badly needed to change. Change does not come easy, who knows this better than I, trying day in day out to support and empower my clients exactly doing this. But I also know that it is a good starting point knowing what is going wrong to then set out and re-invent yourself. And I had done it before, so I also knew I could do it again.
The most positive that came out of this little chapter of 2016: It really put me back into my client’s shoes. On all ends and levels. Which I believe is a very good thing and has greatly helped me to become an even better coach.
- Be your own white knight and venture beyond your comfort zone
I knew – and I had known this for a long time, but preferred to hide within my comfort zone – that one of the things I needed to do was to step out of this seemingly so safe place and give my business some decent exposure. How could I grow my business without venturing with my business outside of my 4-walls and letting people know what I was about and how I could help. So, I took action: little steps at the beginning, but constant ones. I joined groups, circles and associations that I thought were aligned with my believes and mission in life, I started going to and setting up more business meetings, I started collaborating with like-minded and very amazing other small business owners, and I committed to really doing all the so important self-marketing and advertising bits that do not come natural or easy to me: here I was blogging regularly – which takes double the time and brain cells when doing it in a different language than your mother tongue! – posting on Instagram, learning all aboutWordswag, the power of newsletters and doing little weekly videos on Facebook.
The most positive that came out of this little chapter of 2016: It equipped me with an incredible strength and ability of doing things I had no idea I was able to do. It is the most liberating and exhilarating feeling not to keep yourself little by all your restraining self-doubts and self-believes! This too is something I am now able to more incorporate in my coaching skills and empower my clients so they too can grow beyond their self-limitations.
- Work on your imperfection
Often there was no time to do it all and I literally did these things with 2 impatient girls and a cat at my back and the next client at my doorstep. Instagram posts had to be done when walking to school and back and as for the Facebook videos: I simply had to wing it. The result was that all the many things I did were anything but perfect – not easy for a perfectionist who is still learning not to be one – but this did not matter, at least to nobody else than the ego in me. What mattered was that I was consistently doing something to get more exposure and to put myself out there – no matter how very imperfect the step might have been.
The most positive that came out of this chapter of 2016: It has always been one of my core values to be real and authentic and with not having any time to try and be perfect, I definitely and very naturally achieved being in line with those moral believes of mine. It also allowed me to make the hustle and bustle possible, which I believe is the only way, you will make things really happen.
- Nurture yourself
I am totally aware of the fact that nothing of all this hustle and bustle would have been possible if I had not gone back to incorporating, in almost a very disciplined way, self-nurturing rituals. Not only do those moments where I am able to recharge and breathe, keep me sain in all my crazy life and re-energise my body, spirit and soul, they also allow me to treat myself with the necessary self-love and self-respect that is vital for my success as a coach, personal trainer and yoga teacher. My recipe for my successfulness has always been and always will be that I truly and utterly from the very bottom of my heart love every single one of my clients up. But I also realized that I can only do this if I start with loving myself first. Loving myself includes also saying no to situations, clients and things that do not feel right. Saying no to working without fair payment – just because I love what I do, does not mean it is ok that I do it for free or an unfair price. Saying no to what everyone else thinks I should be doing. And this makes room for a very loud and very joyful yes to a better, more rested, healthier, more effective and more fulfilled me which then translates to a happier family, happier clients and more success at what I do.
The most positive that came out of this chapter of 2016: With this big lesson on self-nurture learnt, I am more passionate than ever of incorporating this part of healthy living into my coaching style. I have always been very passionate about a healthy diet and exercise but have to confess, did not always as diligently and lovingly nurture myself in other areas as much as I should have.
- Think out of the box – come up with solutions
All of this was great and gave me my momentum and strength back. I was on my mission again to improve my own and everybody else’s health and wellbeing. I started to feel better with every day, less anxious and worried and more convinced that by sticking to my business and believes I was doing the right thing by everyone. I did my daily action steps. I made sure I had people to hold me accountable for them. So, all of this was going well, however, it did not change the fact that I still had no extra cash available to get help on board with the things I knew I had to do to get my business onto this very next level, but also knew I needed professional support with. There was only one solution to this problem I had to ask whether I could swap services. This was again very much out of my comfort zone, but the urgency of the matter called loudly. And let’s look at it realistically: really the worst thing that could happen to me was that the businesses and individuals I had in mind would say no. Surprisingly they did not and a few very successful and for both sides fruitful business relationships have been born through this.
The most positive that came out of this chapter of 2016: There is always a way. Admittedly, the way is not always easy and might not always be obvious at first glance, but if you think hard enough and stay on it, you will work something out you can do. This really gives us limitless opportunities. So, there are no excuses really to hold us back from self-growth and breathtaking successes. Let’s think outside the normal box and get it done.
So, I can proudly say that I am finishing 2016 on a high note. I feel incredibly grateful for all the things that came my way last year. And I am filled with deep gratitude towards all those wonderful people in my life who made 2016 as special as it was – despite all the hardship and difficulties – and who helped me grow. I am so lucky to be able to do what I love and what I believe in – which is making our beautiful home called earth a happier, better place one person at a time. And you can take my word for it, that I am more determined than ever to use this gift I have of empowering and guiding others to better versions of themselves. 2016 was such a powerful year of self-growth, humbleness and returning to my core believes. I cannot wait to see what 2017 holds in place for me.