Back in the Saddle is an old Gene Autry song recorded back in 1939, but most of the time you will hear it used to describe doing something that you had stopped doing for a period of time. In some cases, it refers to picking yourself up after a hard/negative experience and continuing on. For those of you that ride horses, if you have ever been thrown from a horse, they tell you to get back in the saddle as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the more uncertain you are and more likely to change your mind.
I guess you could say I am getting back in the saddle with this post.
It’s been about 15 months since I last wrote and that was about the time I got bucked off my horse.
So, I thought I would catch everyone up on what I have been up to and in general re-engage. Over the next 5 weeks I will be writing about my experiences and what I have learned about the pursuit of fulfillment, contentment, well being, satisfying work and a life fully alive.
Not to bore you with the history but a bit of history is necessary. In September of 2014 I quit my corporate job with the intention of finding work that brought more joy and meaning. I had worked in several organizations over the last 27 years, but during that time I was fairly dis-satisfied with my work life and decided now was a good time as ever to pursue what I really loved.
I started a coaching business called Fishing for the Good Life in the summer of 2015. It was a combination of career and life coaching, with the intent of helping people find their version of the good life. This was going to be my second career, my passion and I was all in. Turns out I was nowhere near ready and life came back hard on me. (You can read more about Fishing for the Good Life here.)
While trying to make Fishing for the Good Life a success, I was doing some consulting to keep the cash flow coming. The consulting work turned into a major project and, ultimately, I found myself back in a corporate environment as an employee in November of 2016. Disappointed that Fishing for the Good Life did not go exactly as planned and feeling the need to create some security for myself and my family, I immersed myself back into what I deemed my old identity. I figured I could work on my coaching business on the side, but soon realized my new job was taking more time and energy than I had planned.
Wake Up Call
This is where things went sideways for me. As someone who has prided himself on being productive and getting the hard things done, let’s just say that too much of a good thing is not good.
In June of 2017 I was asked to step in and fix what was thought to be some temporary challenges in the business. Well, after 3 months, many nights working till 10pm and some all nighters, I cracked. I have worked in a high stress, fast paced environment in hi-tech for the last 25 years, so I am fairly used to long hours and pressure to “get things done”, but this time it was over the top. I spent the 4th of July weekend in a warehouse counting inventory. I cancelled my beloved canoe trip. I have never cancelled a vacation in my entire life.
I went to my management team and basically walked out one morning after waking up again to over 200 new emails with more problems and requests. I was done. We mutually agreed I would take as much time off as I needed.
Did I worry about my job? Yes.
Was I worried I would be viewed as someone weak and lacked grit? Yes.
Was I worried about my future and what would happen? Absolutely.
Well the 1st thing I did was go to the doctor. I had not had a physical in a few years, so I decided to get checked out. I have been healthy my entire life, rarely get sick and outside of some basketball related injuries, I was in what I considered okay physical shape.
Wake up call number two – sky high blood pressure, coupled with a recommendation to consider an anti-depressant, I walked out with two prescriptions and a directive to quote “take care of myself”.
Now, I have never a problem with my blood pressure, but it does run in the family. I have never had an anxiety problem of any kind and frankly was a little pissed off it was even suggested.
I fished, tried to get some exercise, resisted the urge to check email and after 3 weeks, deemed myself ready to go back to work. Probably not enough time after a burnout situation, but there were rumblings of changes in the organization and I felt the need to be present and accounted for.
Not much had changed, the business was struggling, all the same problems existed and while I tried to put up some new boundaries, it was pretty much hell on wheels again.
Three months later, having gained 20 pounds, visiting the doctor again and wondering what the hell was going on, I decided I should get some help.
What would drive me to sacrifice my health, my life and my relationships for something that at the time I barely could say I cared about?
What was going on, why was I making the decisions I was making, why was I working so hard?
Why was I unconsciously agreeing to do whatever was asked, all in the name of achievement and accomplishments that nobody will remember in a year?
What was driving me to do that and why couldn’t I make the changes I needed to make?
Getting Some Help
I have worked with a coach off and on for the last 4 years and I re-engaged in March of this year. Having someone with the tools and skills to help me see what I could not has been life changing and incredibly impactful. (That was lesson number one for me – you do not have to “figure this out” on your own, there are incredible people and resources to help you.)
Over the next five weeks I am going to share what drove me to work so hard and sacrifice so much.
What patterns had I developed that left me drained, unsatisfied and unfulfilled in my work life?
What decisions and choices did I keep making over and over that led to a burnout situation with significant health concerns?
What steps have been necessary to recognize and acknowledge these behaviors?
What have I implemented in my daily life to keep me on track and feeling energized?
Why I believe these truths and skills are key for anyone who wants to change their life in any area.
I have come to understand some hard truths about myself. Shocking and humbling truths.
I have to admit, most of what I discovered was surprising. What I have learned has changed my life permanently for the better. I have now developed the capacity and energy to pursue what makes me come alive without carrying around the uncertainty and baggage of my previous choices and decisions.
Here is the schedule for the next 5 weeks. I hope you will follow along.
October 1st – Inside Out
October 5th – Rescue Yourself
October 8th – Nothing Changes Until YOU Do.
October 12th – Emotional Fluency and Fitness
October 15th – Calm Mind, Calm Life
October 19th – Take REAL Responsibility
October 22nd – Trust Yourself
October 26th – Wrap Up – Free Will and Choice
October 29th – Webinar details available
Once this series is over – I will be hosting a webinar on Monday, November 12th – Time is TBD.
This will be an opportunity to ask me some questions and go a bit deeper into why I believe these truths can help you change any area of your life for the better.
What I am going to share are life skills we all need to develop. These skills will help you break old behavior patterns, bury the past for good, make new choices, develop new beliefs about yourself and ultimately help you to take the necessary steps to create the type of life you desire.
If you really want to take your life back, take back your personal power, make new choices and feel alive again, then this series is for you.
As always, I would love to hear what you are up to, so feel free to drop me a note.
PS – Yes, I did get out this July to Canada for my beloved canoe trip. It was one of the best times I have had in Quetico National Park.