Back to School: The Other New Year

Back to School_ The Other New Year

Fall can be a refreshing new beginning for my Washington, DC area life coaching clients. Some call it “the other New Year” because it’s a time to re-set and re-focus. I love hearing from my grandchildren around this time. Their sense of excitement, anticipation and even nervousness about the new school year is contagious. Who will be in their class this year? What will their teacher be like? Do they have all their school supplies ready? What will they wear on the first day?

I also vividly remember shipping my kids off to college, and starting at a university campus myself as a young person. That sense of freedom, new people to meet, new things to learn, new books to read and endless possibility was like electricity in the air.

Regardless of our age, we can and should tap into this type of wide-eyed enthusiasm during this time of year. What can you learn this year as the country’s young people return to school? How can you cultivate your interests and give your life more meaning?

Focus on Your Curiosities

If you no longer partake in the activities or hobbies you’ve enjoyed since childhood, why have you stopped? When was the last time you read a really great book, took a class you loved or engaged with a fascinating teacher?

As a Life Coach, I’ve found that the following are the typical reasons adults do something:

  1. Obligation
  2. Because it’s trendy
  3. Because our friends are doing it
  4. Because we have a degree or training in it.

Ignore all that noise. Instead listen for a voice nudging you in a certain direction. Forget what you “should” be doing. It’s okay to do things that are outside the box. They may not even make rational sense, and this might produce some anxiety. It’s okay to try something different simply because it piques your interest. (Read about the time I took up kickboxing – yes kickboxing! – here.) Remember: living an authentic life doesn’t come from people-pleasing, it comes from just being you.

Do the Work Gently: Show Up for Yourself

One of my clients wanted to get back into public speaking, something that really lit her up but she hadn’t had the opportunity to do for several years. Together we worked on showing up at networking events where she could practice her pitch, setting aside time to rehearse, and booking a few low-key speaking engagements to get her started. Setting realistic, measurable goals and holding clients accountable for their progress is my specialty as a Life Coach. When the work also aligns with their values, it happens more effortlessly.

Many of us are not used to seeing self-discipline in a caring way – as a way of showing up for ourselves, our interests and our desires. This makes doing the work possible, without self-flagellation, guilt, doubt or drudgery.

It’s one thing to work from a place of excitement, purpose and joy. It’s a completely different experience to work in an attempt to prove yourself and gain accolades from others. So take care to do the work gently. Do not use discipline as a workhorse to get to where you think you “should” be.

Working a day job while discovering and pursuing a side interest demands a lot of time and focus, but you can honor both needs: one for economic stability and the other for authenticity. Even if we don’t work a day job, are going through a job transition, are retired or otherwise, it is easy to get sucked into the routine of life, never really doing anything that truly lights us up. But balancing career, things we “must” do like chores, and family or social life with our personal interests is critical to leading a full, enriched life with meaning.

Beware of attaching a desired “outcome” to every new thing you try. The best part of trying something new or tapping back into a forgotten interest might not be immediately apparent. Sometimes the “new thing” can be slowing down, taking a walk in the woods behind your house, or playing a game with your family. Just focus on what makes you feel more like you.

The Life Coach Recommends: Recess

Remember having an hour of recess to just run, play, and jump? Carve out a little time each day or each week to give yourself a break, whether that’s doing a paint-by-number, or dancing to your favorite song. It may seem silly at first to “schedule” this time, but it will help you have the discipline to show up for yourself. Don’t have any agenda for this time, but you might be surprised at what bubbles up. Human beings’ greatest creativity and solutions to ongoing problems sometimes are found when we simply disengage and give ourselves time to just be.

How to Light Up Your Life Like a Kid Starting School

First: Drop the Frustration

Feeling burned-out and overwhelm about all of your loaded “goals?” Think about “curiosities” or “interests” instead. You can’t have too many! Consider and play with the many things that interest you, without agenda. You may want to try things people have thanked you for, something you’ve always been good at, something you value or that lights you up. At first this might make you feel nervous, and that’s okay. Be childlike, and don’t feel the pressure to commit to just one thing. This is your life. Enjoy the process.

Next: Set Some “Homework”

Here are some ideas:

  • Miss your favorite sport from high school? Check out your local basketball, volleyball or soccer league. Starting Master’s Swimming at my local YMCA was nothing short of life-changing for me.
  • Love to create art but can’t find the time? Hit your local craft store for inspiration. A friend of mine recently rediscovered watercolor painting after a long time away when she discovered “portable” watercolor brushes at Michael’s. Over the summer she was able to combine three of her passions when she packed her new watercolor set in her beach bag. She was able to spend some quality, relaxed time painting while her kids played.
  • Are you extra sad when your houseplants die? Sign up for a gardening or horticulture class. You might be surprised at how much better your mood is when surrounded by vibrant green plants at home.

at-desk-brightIf you get stuck, enlist an ally to help you in this work. I’m here to help you. Call Catharine Ecton Life Coaching or schedule your free Life Coaching consultation today.

Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation and we can work on lighting up your life, giving it more purpose and meaning. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person. I look forward to hearing from you.