How The Confident Mother experienced 2016
Just a few weeks ago, I made what felt like one of the biggest decisions of my life. At the time I cried buckets. It felt I was grieving. This might seem overly dramatic when I tell you what that decision was, but at the time, there were so many mixed emotions.
Last week I started to tell you how to make 2017 your best year ever. The starting point is to reflect on and celebrate 2016: what’s gone well, what hasn’t, and what you have learned from it. Clarity is always the first step to confidence and if you don’t take to identify what you need to do more of, what you need to do less of, and what you need to stop doing altogether, you’ll never get that clarity.
Today I’m going to share highlights from my answers to the questions that I asked you last week. And I’ll also share which of those questions started my floods of tears.
1 – What did I do, create or experience that I’m really proud of?
There’s so much that I’ve done, created and experienced this year that I’m really proud of – here are a few of my highlights.
- I have rocked it on TV this year! I have appeared 3 times on Sky News and once on BBC (for Sport Relief), as well as my regular invites to talk to BBC Radio Kent as part of their parenting panel.
- I was invited to the launch of CMI Women and met some amazing people … and don’t mind admitting to a touch of imposter syndrome that evening!
- Deborah Tannen has agreed to be interviewed later in 2017.
- I launched my podcast Confident Conversations and so far have persuaded some amazing people to be part of it.
- My writing consistency: my blog, my newsletter, and guest posts for Birds on the Blog (and love the feedback from the women who read my writings).
- Delighted to be selected as a Mentor for The Coaching Academy and looking forward to the training in January.
2 – What are your learnings from the year?
- After 2 or 3 short-term contracts in the City, I was reminded again how much I LOVE being in the City. I love the architecture, the atmosphere, the energy, the women that I meet; everything about it. I wouldn’t want to go back to daily commuting however dedicating some of my time to ongoing part-time or ‘quick fix’ projects in technology and professional services in the City creates the best of both career worlds for me.
- That I am a mastermind archetype. I have always had the ability to absorb large amounts of complex information and data, then present it in a way and a format that suits the audience. This has been highlighted to me 2 or 3 times this year and my business accountability partner told me it’s the hallmark of the mastermind archetype.
- Focus on just one thing at a time. Business experts and gurus tell us all the time. I’m getting better at it.
- I took a wrong turning this year. I observed that the work I do with women goes much deeper and is more intense than simply getting your back to work confidence. Boxes of tissues were required at just about every workshop or VIP day. I value my insights and empathy that allow me to help women get to the crux of the matter. However what I learned is that this deep intense work is not enough of an intellectual challenge for me. Hence me turning back to my ambitious women in the City.
3 – Who or what are you grateful for?
I feel immense gratitude for the women who support and believe in me. Who have helped me on my journey this year.
- Lucy Whittington for her marketing brilliance.
- My Fab 5 mastermind (Elaine Halligan, Melissa Hood, Vicky Warr and Caroline Ferguson) for their generosity of support, Sarah Buchanan-Smith for helping me turn back, Sarah Arrow at Birds On The Blog, Sue Revell for helping me to release the unstoppable tiger within.
- My wonderful accountability partners in Julia Skinner from the Heads Office and Fi Feehan.
- The incredible women that I have worked with this year.
- And everybody who has so generously supported and promoted my events through the year, especially my annual online conference in January.
4 – What’s holding you back?
I am always very surprised when people tell me that they think I am extroverted. In reality, I’m more of an introvert but I get why people think I’m extrovert. I love being on TV, on the radio, and speaking on stage. I feel that I have a mission to fulfil; a calling. I used to think everybody felt like me. If you feel strongly about something, just get up and say it. Now I realise that this drive, this need, this calling to leadership is my thing. It’s what I have to do.
However even the most confident of women lacks confidence at times. Needs reassurance that she’s doing the right things.
What holds me back is the feeling that I need to work hard to be successful. When I’m loving my work and I’m finding it so easy, do I really deserve the success?
Logically, of course YES it’s ok to love your work, find it easy, and YES I deserve the success. I have to remind myself of that. (And it’s what I tell my clients all the time!)
I don’t want to appear ‘salesy’ or pushy or unprofessional. Yet the irony of working with women who could do with a little help, is that having the confidence to take that first step may well be what’s holding them back in the first place. It’s that delicate balance of giving you permission to say “Yes I could do with some help“.
Like many ambitious women, I find it hard to ask for help. Yet when I do ask for help, it makes such a powerful difference.
5 – When you say yes, what are you saying no to?
So finally this is the big one for me. Last year I was one of two candidates nominated as NCT President. At the time, I thought I would never leave NCT. I’ve been an active volunteer since 2002 (at branch, regional and national level) and a qualified practitioner since 2010. I take antenatal sessions 2 or 3 times a month. I do home visits as a breastfeeding counsellor (on a voluntary basis) about 4 times a month on average. NCT is a big part of my life.
In October, I looked into training as a tutor – as I don’t have a degree, this meant at least another 2 years of part-time study. At an NCT study day, the facilitator asked “when you say yes, what are you saying no to“. One thought popped into my head and I quickly brushed it aside.
Three weeks later at my mastermind group – the same question again. This time, immediately, tears filled my eyes.
There have been a few occasions in the last 12 months, when I had to leave events early to get back for my NCT class; or I haven’t attended the event in the first place. I realised that NCT is holding me back. Keeping me small. Every time I say yes to a home visit (and I find it very difficult to say no unless I’m ill), that’s a blog post I haven’t written. Or social media not booked in. Or a podcast interview not recorded. Or my daughter doesn’t get my help with her German homework.
In order to remain a qualified practitioner, I am expected to attend two study days a year; one national day every three years; attend 4 local meetings; represent NCT at the Early Pregnancy Evening once a year; participate in group supervision (effectively a whole day) 6 times a year.
Yes I could cut back on my NCT commitments – do the minimum to maintain my licence ….. however I’m a “go big or go home” kind of girl. And that’s why I have resigned from being an NCT regional volunteer; resigned as a branch volunteer, and the most painful of all, I am resigning as an NCT breastfeeding counsellor.
NCT has been such a key part of my life and my identity. I cried because it was such a momentous decision. I cried because I thought I was being a traitor. I cried because I thought I would be losing part of me. I cried because I could. Because I was in a safe space with people who cared for me and wanted the best for me. I cried for the woman who didn’t experience the joy of the early days after birth; so numb and raw from the traumatic delivery. I cried for the woman who spent the first two years as a mother crying every day. I cried for me.
Saying NO to NCT gives me permission and the freedom to say YES to everything I want in 2017.
My intentions for 2017
Now I am ready to take on the world, to identify my intentions for 2017. My intentions will be around two themes: LEADERSHIP and BALANCE.
What about you? I’d love you to leave a comment below. To follow my journey with The Confident Mother in 2017, click on Subscribe.