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Updated: Dec 3, 2020

This time of year is always one of reflection for me. I have milestones that occur about now that lead me naturally to think about how life is panning out and what I’d like to change or keep the same. It’s my birthday soon, the anniversary of joining the RAF, of leaving the RAF, of incorporating my first business and my second business and of moving continents.

With each year that passes, I am even more happy with my decision to leave the RAF. I left at a pension point which gives me a very nice amount of financial freedom to pursue other work avenues that don’t pay as well or as regularly, but that bring me joy. I never thought I would regret leaving and I never have. This year has raised some really interesting points for me about a lack of shared values with some (not all) people that I used to work with. The open disrespect shown towards people fighting for racial equality by privileged white, middle-class men who choose to be uneducated about the issues at hand has made me very glad that I don’t work with people like that anymore. There were plenty of people I have enjoyed working with and this last year I have even recruited some as new associates to the UK arm of my business. But leaving the organisation has definitely put me in a position where I can pick and choose who I work with, which I thoroughly enjoy!

I’m still very happy with my decision to start a creative business and, last year, shut that business down. Vanilla Monkey Creations was my first foray into running a business and I learnt a lot from having a product-based business that I now apply to my service-based business (bright rebel coaching). I’ve recently joined a Facebook Group that is Coaches Helping Coaches and it is evident that many people who want to coach don’t necessarily realise that they also need to run a business at the same time. Regardless of whether you are a sole trader or an incorporated company, if you want to turn something you do into something that pays, you have to run it along business lines. It doesn’t necessarily need to be very complicated, but yesterday someone in the group said that there were ‘zero’ expenses to being a coach. Which is just simply not true. Even if you don’t have any online presence (which in this day and age is highly unlikely for a successful coach), at the very least, there is an expense in how you talk to your clients. Phone, video conferencing, face-to-face are all expenses. They may be minor but subsuming those as personal expenses versus correctly allocating them as business expenses inflates your profit which inflates your tax bill AND it stops you knowing more about your own business. I wonder if it is more prevalent in the helping services to find people that are reluctant to learn more about the business end because it feels a bit grubby when you’re there to help people. But even if you want to run a not-for-profit organisation, you do actually need to keep on top of things like expenses, tax returns, insurance. Sometimes I feel like this knowledge and experience of running businesses could be put to good use, but then I also see quite a lot of people trying to sell business expertise in a way that makes my skin crawl and I wonder if there is a way I could do that without feeling (technical term coming up here) icky.

The next anniversary is starting my coaching business, which is a source of great joy to me. Even so, I still go through the peaks and troughs that is the natural lifecycle of most business owners! I always love coaching though, regardless of how I feel about running the business. But running the business – in particular searching for new clients after moving continents! – is not always plain sailing. You might think that getting new clients in the COVID-19 world would be easy, but in reality, many people are not in the situation where they can look for additional help. I know when I was home schooling, although I was able to continue with some aspects of my business, there is no way I would have been able to add anything else to my plate. Even something that was going to help. I just didn’t have the mental energy for it. My challenge now as (hopefully) we move beyond this is to find people that need help and are in a position to do something about it.

We’ve been in Australia for just over a year now and what a strange year it has been. We were supposed to be in the UK for a visit quite recently and obviously that couldn’t happen. We have no indication of when it might. When you move around the world, you think you can always get back home, but current world events mean that isn’t the case. The impact of that is significant in my mindset. It makes the move feel more permanent which has both advantages and disadvantages. I’m reflecting on how some people stay in my life no matter where I go, and others disappear. I’m also thinking about how to get the best out of our remaining 2 years here even if we can’t do the travelling we wanted due to state border closures. It also, inevitably, leads me to question what I want my business to look like for the next 18 months. The final 6 months here will be about wrapping up the bright rebel coaching Australia business and looking at how bright rebel coaching UK is re-invigorated with a new, permanent address in the North West of England. I don’t have the answers yet about what brc Aus is going to look like, but I feel happy that I’m getting closer to that. I’m also doing some thinking about longer term objectives and where the business will be in 5 years. Interestingly, I’ve just been looking at my Accredited Certified Coach status with the International Coaching Federation. I need to reapply for it in December 2022, which seems ages away, right? However, I need at least 10 hours of mentor coaching prior to that, which means an hour per 3 months (give or take). The cost for the total 10 hours is something close to $4000AUD so that is something that needs planning for and spreading the cost. I’m glad I’ve just looked that up because suddenly finding that out in the middle of 2022 as we are moving with all of that associated expense would have been somewhat of a shock!

And the final point is that I am turning another year older soon! I like to use my birthday as a point for reflection for my life in a holistic way. Am I happy with my health? With my relationships? What could change in my life to bring more balance or more purpose or more joy? What do I love about my life that needs no change? I’m thankful that the answer to that last one is ‘a lot!’ I’m content in many ways and feel there are few changes to make right now. But the reason I have confidence in that is because I spend the time reflecting, being honest with myself and gathering information where I need it. Without that reflection, it is really difficult to know what is working well in my life and what I can change. And by change, sometimes the only change is a change in mindset about accepting external things that I can neither control nor influence.

Self-reflection is a skill. There’s a fine line between pointless rumination over things you can’t change and helpful reflection on things that you can. It’s not necessarily a skill that we are taught well. Many times in our life when we are encouraged to reflect, it is in an overly-critical way, looking for very specific and narrow changes, rather than looking at broad trends that work for us and those that don’t.

If you’d like some help with reflecting, I am running a self-reflection challenge from 27 July 2020. You can join in on social media, or get more detailed help from the newsletter. (Sign up I hope you come and join in and maybe share some insights that you gain along the way.

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