Episode #57: Recalibration
Many of us have been conditioned to believe that we must perform at all costs. That life and work is supposed to look like a steady, linear, upward trajectory of effort, responsibility and success. We get busier and busier and busier. But rarely check in to see how we are doing. Or whether we are actually living our lives in alignment with our purpose and well-being.
I am learning to embrace a more cyclical rhythm, and a pace that is sensitive to, and recalibrated often, in the face of different seasons, stressors and circumstances. I am learning to weave and fold well-being into the fabric of my life with intention and practice. And to check-in with myself often.
In a season of our lives where the only certainty seems to be uncertainty, I encourage you to embrace a regular practice of recalibration. More in this episode.
Welcome to the Freedom from Empty Podcast: Building Strong, Effective, Resilient Leaders and Humans. My name is Booth Andrews, and I am your host. Thank you so much for joining me for this episode.
If you are ready to:
- Be grounded in your purpose.
- Understand the signs, symptoms, risks and costs of burnout
- Know how to recognize the warning signs of burnout in your own life
- Understand how to recover from stress and expand your capacity to reach your goals
- Be ready to avoid common traps that can keep you stuck
- Have your own Personal Recovery Toolkit you can use as needed; and
- Be prepared to overcome obstacles on the path to thriving (not just surviving) in your own life
then the 6 Steps for Stress Recovery and Burnout Prevention are for you. Go to boothandrews.com/6steps for more information. That’s boothandrews.com forward slash number six steps. I am including the link in the transcript for this episode as well.
This episode is being recorded at the beginning of 2021. This is the time of year when it is common for people to make resolutions for the new year ahead. A “fresh start” seems like a good time to reflect on what is working (or not working) and to set goals and objectives based on the results you would like to see in the future.
Given that we have just moved through 2020, I have also seen a number of posts reflecting how 2020 didn’t turn out the way anyone expected when the year was brand new and fresh and full of hope and optimism (at least for some).
Many have gone on to reflect on silver linings or the gratitude for the gifts they did receive in their lives in 2020 despite the unknowable challenges.
Some people don’t do resolutions. Or perhaps they use different language for identifying and articulating their intentions for the future.
Even those who may have been accustomed to making resolutions in the past may feel understandably reluctant to make grand pronouncements for 2021 as we are still in the throes of a global pandemic and many are still recovering from or still deep in the thick of grieving losses that occurred in 2020.
Some are still in survival mode. If that’s you, keep going. Left foot. Right foot. Breathe. Repeat. You are not alone.
Some people, instead of making resolutions, choose a word that they want to focus and reflect on for the coming year.
I have just come off an incredibly busy season that started with my intention (and pronouncement) that I was going to create my first online offering, followed shortly by my oldest daughter’s injury and surgery, an October full of speaking engagements, and an intense push to create and launch my course, redesign my website, and close out a number of legal projects for clients before year-end.
I knew going into Fall that I was about to push at a level wasn’t sustainable long-term. And that was before my daughter’s injury, surgery, and the hours I spent playing taxi driver through October and November.
My goal was to wrap-up everything a few days before Christmas and then to take a break through January 4th. And for the most part, I was successful. Despite my careful attention to my sleep and staying in the gym consistently through it all, I started to approach terminal velocity two weeks before Christmas. I had to throw in some serious naps toward the end in order to close out strong.
I entered into a season at a pace I knew wasn’t sustainable with the intention of moving back out of that season by the end of the year. And it turns out that season was harder than I anticipated.
I am certain you have had seasons like that. You knew they were going to be hard. And they were even harder.
But here is the focus for today’s message and the lesson learned I hope you will take with you.
Notice that even as I entered into an intense season, I had every intention of shifting back out of it. I have already downshifted and I am currently in the process of releasing into the opportunity that winter provides to slow down, reflect, read more books, and schedule fewer things.
And this is the piece that was missing from my life for so many years.
I knew how to push and accelerate and persist and endure.
But I didn’t know how to downshift. Whenever I completed a big project or a tough season, I just picked up the next thing. Often never even giving myself an afternoon to celebrate what I had accomplished (or survived), rest, reflect and restore, before going again.
Now I am being intentional about giving myself space and time to rest, restore and recalibrate.
While the beginning of a new year can be a great time to recalibrate, and while my story aligns with this timing, it isn’t the only time. In fact, I encourage you to schedule time to reflect and recalibrate at least quarterly.
When I ran a large organization, and as I have consulted with others to create strategic visions, goals and plans, I adopted the practice of a quarterly refresh. Time to check in with questions like this:
- Where are we on track with our goals?
- Where are we ahead of where we thought we would be?
- Where are we behind?
- What challenges or obstacles have come up that we weren’t expecting?
- What has gone better than expected and do we know why?
- What have we learned that we didn’t know before?
- Do any goals need to be adjusted based on where we are today?
- What will we stop doing?
- What will we start doing?
- What are we going to focus on for the next quarter?
These same questions are applicable across organizations and also our personal well-being, goals, and relationships. You can do these explorations alone, with a friend or partner or with a team.
I like quarterly reflections because a year is a long time. As 2020 proved to us, yet again, the only constant is change and it seems that at least for now the only certainty is uncertainty.
But even before 2020, a year was a long time. 5-year strategic plans seem almost absurd in the world we live in today. And while I think it is absolutely reasonable, and can be important to set long term goals for ourselves, we also need to be able to flex and adjust how we pursue those goals in response to the shifting sands of life and work.
In addition, over the last few years, I have read three different books which make the case for aligning the way we live and work more closely with the rhythms that are already embedded in nature.
While our industrialized society makes it easy for us to forget how much a part of nature we are, many events of recent years--everything from wildfires to viruses--have also reminded us that we are inextricably intertwined with nature. And it turns out that nature’s rhythms are encoded within us, whether we choose to try to override them (at great personal cost) or not.
I am linking these books in the show notes:
The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
Do Less by Kate Northrup; and
The 4 Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig
I am still a long way from fully aligning the way I live with the natural rhythms at play--though I am definitely feeling the pull.
Even so, I wholeheartedly embrace the idea of building regular reflection and the recalibration into our lives.
Within the 6 Steps to Stress Recovery and Burnout Prevention, I teach participants how to calibrate their balance of energy recovery and exertion across the four centers of energy--physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual--as identified in The Power of Full Engagement. The Personal Recovery Toolkit which is the final deliverable from the course is a resource that can be used quarterly (or more) to assess where you are in relation to your well-being needs and goals across the four energy centers.
For myself, as I have taken time to slow down and reflect over the last quarter (or season), I came to an important realization: while I did a great job in 2020 of holding on to my non-negotiables for survival (sleep, movement, coffee, and connecting with my little ones and my friends either virtually or safely in real life), I spent most of my year in some measure of survival mode--from the onset of the pandemic and working from home with my 3 kids, to the racial and cultural reckoning and overwhelming grief of beginning to come to terms with our past and present as a country, to weaning off of my antidepressant, and then straight into the intense fall I have already described.
I imagine that I am not alone when I say that “surviving” was the primary theme of 2020.
Even as I was able to find moments of presence, deep gratitude and even joy along the way, still, I would say that I have a long way to go in terms of going deeper and wider so that I can not only survive well, but be rooted so completely and holistically in well-being, energetic capacity building and the innate rhythms in my own body and in the world around me that I am fully embodied and thriving more often than not.
This is what I wish for you too.
And by the way, I am not frustrated with myself for not being further along. I have done some incredible work this year, both on my insides and in the body of work I have created for you. I have also, like so many of us, been through some hard, hard things. I honor all that we have endured, all the steps we have taken to honor our well-being and to heal so that we might help others heal and thrive too.
I have selected a couple of actions I am going to take in this winter season to go deeper with my own healing and well-being, and I will be tracking my progress along the way.
As we ramp back up for a new year, I encourage you to to carve out some time for reflection and recalibration. Not just for the new year, but for the quarters (and seasons) to come. Prioritize this work and block your calendar, just as you would any other critical commitment, but make sure to block it off now.
Speaking of reflection, if you haven’t checked in with where you sit on the burnout scale right now, that would be a great place to start! You can find a link to my Running on Empty Quiz linked in this transcript or in my Instagram bio @theboothandrews.
The 6 Steps to Stress Recovery and Burnout Prevention--a step by step process for staying connected and calibrated--is available now. There are self-guided options and also options that include 1:1 coaching with me. Recover from stress, prevent burnout, build resilience, expand your capacity for impact, and find more perspective, peace, and presence in your life. You can find out more at boothandrews.com/6steps or at the link in my bio @theboothandrews on Instagram.
Thank you for listening today. And, if you haven’t already, please hit subscribe and remember to rate this podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. When you subscribe and rate, you make it easier for other people to find this content.
I look forward to being back with you next time!