Freedom

Isn’t it funny the smallest things we are all missing right now – quarantined in our homes due to the coronavirus. Now that most of our freedom has been whisked away from us.

I’m sure a lot of people are thinking of what amazing trip they are going to take when things are back to normal (or as close to normal is it’s going to get). 

But so many people are simply dreaming of having a great coffee in a cosy cafe. A beer in the sun. A trip to the hairdresser. Meandering in the supermarket buying whatever they want, browsing in a bookshop, a walk with loved ones. 

It’s helping us to focus on the small delights we all usually have in our day to day lives, that sometimes we appreciate, and sometimes we don’t, and take for granted. 

I’ve never before realised just how much freedom I have in my normal life.

Small delights

There’s nothing like having to stay inside my flat for going on 3 weeks (with only trips to the supermarket allowed), to marvel at the fact that in normal life I live 5 minutes from the most incredible park, and that I can go there WHENEVER I WANT TO. To walk, to run, to picnic, to people-watch, to play, to think, to slow down.

I’m free to get up and go anywhere I want – to the park, to a cafe, to the shops, to another city, to another country. 

My body is healthy and able – I can literally do any movement I want. Any sport, any dance, any walk, whenever, wherever.

I have so many friends nearby who would be delighted to meet me for a coffee, a chat, a walk, to do nothing, to try something new. Friends who know and love me, and who I love spending time with.

I have so many friends back in the UK and around the world, who care for me, who think of me, who cheer me up, who I know so so well. Before, I had the freedom to go and visit them whenever I wanted. 

My family may live in another country, but in normal life I can go and visit them ANY TIME. Just book a flight and go. I’ll always be welcomed, there will also be a bed for me and one of my Dad’s meals. Hugs and laughter and love.

Normal life

In my normal life I’m free to go to the beach. To get in a car and whizz off to visit a new town or do a hike. Free to see a beautiful exhibition. To go to the cinema. Free to eat out anywhere in town. Browse in a bookshop and treat myself to something new. Free to invite friends over for dinner.

As the ability to do such humdrum things as going to the supermarket or going for a long walk have become limited or prohibited, now in retrospect they seem so carefree, such a treat.

My life is made up of so many small and big delights. Reading back over this, I have an immense appreciation for my normal life. I have such freedom. 

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

The perfect excuse to slow down

So this is what happens when external events give you the perfect excuse to slow down.

At the moment we are dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak, with many public events cancelled and there’s even a question mark as to whether socialising with friends is a good idea.

I’m veering on the side of caution.

This means I’ve been working from home all week, and my weekend plans of a coffee date, dinner with friends and meeting to play squash, have been quashed. I’ve now got some extra time.

Silver Lining

And you know what?  

What’s going on is quite scary, and there’s lots of uncertainty. It’s not exactly a fun time. But, I feel that you can look at it as a silver lining. 

All I ever want is more time to read, watch films or TV series and cook delicious recipes. Here we’ve all got an excuse to, as a good friend said, ‘slow down, go back to basics and enjoy the simple pleasures’. 

We’re all so busy, even those of us like me who actively try to not commit to too much. Who hasn’t felt the rush of relief when there’s been a cancellation just when we’re feeling a bit overstretched and overwhelmed.

The Perfect Excuse

So this is the perfect excuse to use the extra time to catch up on sleep, take things slow, and enjoy not rushing. I’ve got a million books to read; enticing looking films, documentaries and series lined up, and recipes selected. I’m looking forward to getting on some podcasts and cooking. A few strolls in the park or time on the bike, and I’ll be happy.

And if you’re looking to change career and in a funk about that – it’s a good opportunity. Take time to read some inspiring books or listen to interviews, or do some writing activities to really find out what you want from your next career (lots of free resources can be found online). 

Or – do nothing.

Here’s to having a good rest.

If you’d like to sign up for life coaching sessions with me, sign up here on LinkedIn. Or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Taylor Simpson on Unsplash

The importance of going with your gut instinct

I remember years ago saying to a friend, “I don’t really know what I want to do but I think I’d like to be working in a sort of studio space with cool interesting people, maybe in another country, maybe France.’’ It was all very vague, but that’s what my gut instinct was saying to me.

We were ambling alongside the Thames, talking about life and the future. She was someone I could confide in, and tell my hopes and dreams. But secretly, at that time I felt a bit silly not knowing what I really wanted to do, by then probably in my late twenties or early thirties.

Fair enough knowing what kind of environment I wanted to work in and with what kind of people. But how come I didn’t know what job I wanted to do? Surely it shouldn’t be that hard?

Fast forward 10, 15 years, and here I am working from a coworking space in Spain, with different spaces for people to work in, like the studio image I had in mind. It’s full of interesting entrepreneurs, small businesses, freelancers and remote workers from around the world.

Back then, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for work, or how to get there. But I had a vague image in my mind, and a feeling of what I wanted. I knew that my current work wasn’t for me, it wasn’t making me happy, and that somehow I had to find a way out. I had to rely on my gut, my intuition.

It took me a long time to get there. It’s funny looking back. I did know in my heart what I wanted – to live abroad, to have more freedom in my work, to do work that I felt was of value. I just wasn’t clear on the details.

It took a lot of reading, ruminating, talking to people, speaking to coaches.

And, ultimately, doing stuff which moved me forwards. I left my then job, travelled a bit, freelanced a bit. Took a course in teaching English abroad, applied for a new job and got it, moved to Spain. Started coaching other people in the same situation I’d previously been in.

Listening to your gut, and then doing something about it, is hard, but worth it.

Get in touch here if you’d like to speak to me about coaching, I can help you make your career change: joaopoku@gmail.com

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Breathe

It’s mindfulness week at the coworking space I use. Every day a coach is holding short sessions on meditation, nutrition and time management amongst other things. Yesterday I went to the first session, where the coach asked us to do a simple thing: breathe.

A small group of us sat there in a circle, a little awkward, expectant.

After explaining to us what our brains are up to when we feel stressed, the coach put on some calming music and asked us to close our eyes.

She told us to breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 2, breathe out for a count of 6.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath in and a deep breath out.

I realised how tense my back and neck felt. How my mind had been buzzing. It felt as though I’d been holding my breathe. I felt anything but calm and relaxed.

I also realised that I was on the verge of tears.

Gradually I relaxed into it, and it felt so calming to listen the music, quietly sit and concentrate on something as simple as breathing.

Looking back over the morning, I saw that I’d been running on auto-pilot.

I’d been in a state of high-alert, rushing to write an email before the session, and stressed by all things Monday. I’d been off to the gym first thing, rushing back to shower and change, then rushing to work. All the emails and work for the week crashing down on top of me.

I’d even had a brief chat about the busyness of Monday mornings to a friend in the kitchen about an hour beforehand – but hadn’t thought to step back and actually take a break, sit for a few minutes and breath and close my eyes.

As the coach said, we feel as though we need to be go go go to be productive, but it’s not the case. The more breaks we take the more productive we can be.

I know this. I know that I need breaks. But I’m aware that my breaks usually consist of ‘doing’. Switching to read an interesting article, or something in Spanish, or to check messages. Once in a while listening to a podcast or walking round the block.

But sometimes what I really need is to find a quiet space, close my eyes, breath in and out. Really switch off.

It’s fine and even great to have periods of hyper-productivity, firing on all cylinders, getting stuff done. But when you’ve had a whole day of buzzing – that sounds a little like living off stress to me. When you can’t slow done, you jump from one thing to another, the adrenalin’s pumping. Frantic.

It’s not sustainable and at some point you’re probably going to crash. And that’s really not productive.

So if you’re reading this, do yourself a favour. Close your eyes. Breathe in slowly for a count of 4, hold for a count of 2, breath out for a count of 6. Repeat. Notice how your body feels. Notice how your mind feels. Better?

To book a coaching session with me, focusing on mindset and making positive changes in your life or career, email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Lee Jeffs on Unsplash

Why you shouldn’t use a life coach

If you are thinking about working with a life coach but aren’t sure if it’s what you need, or if this is the right time, this is for you.

I spoke to someone recently about coaching. She was considering whether or not coaching would be a good idea.

She had left a really good job working for a big corporation around 6 or 7 years ago, pregnant with her first child, and ready to stay at home to look after her baby.

Since then, having had two children in total, the youngest has now started school, and she’s seriously considering what to do next. She wants to do something, she’s just not sure what. She’s totally overwhelmed, totally blocked, and feeling stuck. She’s lost her confidence, and she feels lost.

We decided that working together wasn’t the right thing for her, for now. Why?

Because coaching isn’t what she needs right now. 

She has issues with self-esteem, of self-worth. She’s not yet ready to move forward. She knows that there are things from her past that have affected her, that are holding her back. Things that have been lying dormant for years. Things she has to deal with.

What she needs is counselling or therapy. Uncovering things from her past to find a way to move forward in the future. 

Coaching is about looking forwards.

And coaching is not about looking back, working out why something happened and why it affected you. It’s not about events that took place during your childhood or adolescence.

It’s also not about someone giving you all the answers, telling you what to do, giving you a fool-proof step-by-step guide to sorting out your life.

Coaching is about looking forwards, planning and taking action. And the ideas all come from YOU. A coach helps you to unearth ideas, passions, opportunities and the next step that’s right for you.

You’re ready.

You’re ready to work with a life coach when you’re determined and excited to make changes. Maybe you feel nervous, apprehensive, scared. You might be stressed, burnt out, worried. You might not be sure exactly in which direction you want to head.

But you know that you have to do something to help yourself move forwards. Maybe there’s a little glimpse of excitement when you dare to imagine yourself in a different situation.

And you are ready to do the work. 

You are ready to ask for help, to share what’s going on, and to be open to new ideas. You’re ready to really examine what you want from life, and how you can go about getting there. You need support and someone to push you along.

You’re willing to move out of your comfort zone, knowing that in doing so you’ll make big leaps towards something new

You’ve got to be all in, ready to put lots into it and take action.

Are you ready? Sounds like you? Contact me at joaopoku@gmail.com and we’ll have a chat about coaching and what you hope to achieve.