'Something fun. Something light-hearted. Something that I want to look forward to. Outside work and routine.'
It's the conversation I had with some of my community members, my Pick 'n Mix Board of Advisors.
THIS, my friends, is why you ask for advice and ideas.
Because you NEVER get what you think you're going to get.
Turns out that life, and work, feels HEAVY at the moment.
War in Ukraine and Israel/Gaza, the cost of living, tumbling house prices, soaring mortgage and food costs, back to the office mandates and expectations, summer holidays that are super-human exercises in juggling work, holidays, children and involve big spreadsheets on which you're trying to keep track of everything, whilst - meanwhile - the news continues to pour out stories of misery, disaster and misconduct.
In other words: the great big ongoing juggle of life. It all feels a bit much.
You see, from where I'm sitting you may find yourself in the middle of a perfect storm:
1. Unhappy at work
Don't get me wrong. It may not be that. You may be happy doing what you're doing. Or it may be 'good enough'. For now.
But you *may* be unhappy. Or, if you're honest, you don't know if you are or not. Would be good to have some time to figure that out. But that's exactly the problem. You don't. You're on the treadmill. On the hamster wheel. Time? Ha! Whatever that is.
So you go on, you show up, you do great work. You're exhausted.
2. Change that feels TRANSFORMATIONAL
You're in the middle of a transitional phase.
They used to call it midlife crisis - calling up images of middle-aged bald guys with ponytails embracing their inner Hell's Angel, buying a motorbike and riding off into the sunset.
Or, for the woman's alternative: cutting your hair short and dying it purple, after which you divorce your husband, go to live in a commune with a group of girlfriends, and wear sandals and flowy dresses for the rest of your life.
No, let's not call it a midlife crisis.
What I mean is that you're entering a new developmental phase. One where you're no longer bothered about what others think. Where you want to live in accordance with YOUR values. Do work that's important to you.
Transformational. Or, as we call it in my house, a great big mess.
3. Emotions and hormones
One moment you're OK. Just OK. The next? Unhappy, frustrated, irritated, envious, resentful.
Except you don't articulate it like that. You just have a giant rant at whoever is in your way.
For no discernible reason that you can think of. Other than that there is this massive, itching RAGE inside you. Plus the uncontrollable desire to stick your head under your pillow and cry. For approximately three days. Or perhaps four. Or, to round it off, for a full week. (Mandatory reading 'The woman who went to bed for a year', by Sue Townsend. You're welcome).
OK, so I may be exaggerating a bit. But this, right?
Yeah, emotions. Of course emotions. Hard to deal with in the moment. Even harder to decipher what (the heck) you're ACTUALLY feeling and why.
Oh, and impossible if you *may* be of a certain age. And it turns out that hormones are taking over your life. I am - of course - talking (peri)menopause. Sometimes when I work with women I just say it 'Could it be (peri)menopause?' Because you may not realise.
4. No time
There. Is. Literally. No. Time.
Parents are getting older, getting ill, needing support, dying. Children are in need of your support, if they're young, but also when they're older.
Work is ordering you back to the office. The routine you'd built over the last few years has to be reshuffled. You're traveling here, there and everywhere. Leaving you with even LESS time.
Leaving you - where exactly? CERTAINLY not doing what you want to do.
So yes, it all feels a bit HEAVY. A bit MUCH.
So here are my tips for how to keep things light (even when it all feels heavy).
Seriously. Open the messy drawer and tidy it up. Get rid of those books you're never going to read (yes, I know, it hurts me too). Go through your wardrobe and get rid of that stuff you haven't worn for a year (thanks, mum).
2. Get closer to you
Yes, with mindfulness. Or with a journal (or 'morning pages' as we call it in my The Artist's Way group). Meditate. But start listening to you, above all the noise.
3. Sleep and exercise
I'm a GREAT sleeper (sleep is one of my favourite things) and a rubbish exerciser. So no, no tips from me here. But you know it makes sense.
4. Meet new people
Doing more of what you love. Meeting interesting, like-minded women, doing interesting stuff. Be creative. Bounce around ideas. Cheer each other on. Make stuff happen. Do the things that MATTER to you.
It's at the CORE of what we do in my community, Pick 'n Mix, for creative, multi-passionate women. In it we'll, yes, tackle the difficult subjects.
But we're more so focusing on those things that are LIGHT.
Things that are FUN. That make us do MORE of the things we love to do. Even if we have no time, no energy, no ROOM for any of that.
Because THAT's what is going to keep you sane.
And it's not just me saying that. As it turns out.
You *may* not be part my community yet. But if ANY of the above describes you, then come and join us!
Tineke Tammes is an ICF credentialed Career Coach, who supports professional women in making successful career transitions into work they love! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler. Oh, and she knows a bit about change management too.