I am fascinated with how we associate different rituals with different times of the year depending on our personal/professional responsibilities. Many of the women I work with are juggling the demands of work/home life and navigating theirs and others schedules requires a high level of planning and preparation to meet key milestones and deliverables both personally and professionally. Working with women to help them navigate this maze can bring awareness to rituals which are not serving them well and may be holding them back , but also highlights established rituals that are central to their resilience and professional development as well as the identification of new self-care rituals which are central to helping them survive and thrive.
Throughout the years I have spent working with female leaders, I have noticed a pattern regularly emerge in discussions with clients of mine. The phrases “as soon as” and “after the” have emerged at numerous occasions during coaching sessions. Many clients who have worked hard around developing self-awareness and in turn self- management strategies find themselves “stuck” when it comes to committing to action plans or self-care plans which they have identified as crucial to challenges such as finding balance or accelerating their careers. Phrases are emerging in our conversations such as I will take action on that.. “as soon as the kids go back to school”, “after the school holidays”, “as soon as we get to the end of quarter deadlines at work” or “ after my team have all returned from leave”. I can also recall in discussions with clients late last year similar phrases such as “after midterm break”, “as soon as we have gotten through Christmas”.
The word ritual is described in the dictionary as “ a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone” This description seems to capture what is going on for many professional women I work with in response to what regularly emerges for them related to their work and home circumstances. For example; for the working parent the summer brings additional caring responsibilities which isn’t a feature during the school year. For many women this involves invoking certain rituals which may be essential to keep family life ticking over but the beliefs that come with this such as “the kids are off all summer so there will be little time for anything else” means that other identified helpful self- care rituals such as professional development or simply a regular dose of “me time” may be sacrificed.
In our coaching sessions to find a healthy balance around unhelpful and helpful rituals we look at:
- Challenging unhelpful beliefs or catastrophizing to see what is actually possible for the client
- Unravelling the patterns that underpins “as soon as” and “after the”; for example for some it may be procrastination related or for others it may be related to their tendency to please others and put their needs above their own.
- Establishing helpful rituals, which when fully committed to by clients can make such a profound change to their lives it can drive them to replace old and unhelpful rituals. For some these rituals may be as simple as calendaring daily journaling, mediation, sleep rituals or at work regular and protected undisturbed thinking space. For others it may be committing to a longer term plan where they can achieve personal/professional development which will inevitably lead to the identification of future helpful rituals to sustain them going forward.
Do you notice any recurring rituals? How are they serving you?
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