Thoughts

“There’s just so much to worry about”: How coaching can help during the Covid pandemic

What’s going on?

We are all experiencing the global Covid-19 pandemic in different ways. 

Some have experienced the pain of personal illness, loss and grief.  Some face threat or reality of losing a job and along with this the financial anxiety, the worry over what else you might do and perhaps your sense of identity that comes with your position.   

If you are still working, you may well be doing so from home, perhaps juggling your children’s maths / ‘artwork’ / games / tantrums while your cat sits in front of your face on Zoom calls, and the Amazon delivery of your new pyjamas*  arrives just as you are about to present to your team what you have worked on for two weeks (*you don’t need clothes for the outside world– you’re not going anywhere, after all).

Things are mixed up at the moment. They are not in their place – not the way it was ‘supposed’ to go. 

On the other hand, you might have been guiltily enjoying some aspects of lockdown – time finally to watch the final season of Orange is the New Black, for instance (no spoilers – I still haven’t finished it). 

Getting off the proverbial hamster wheel may have given you time to think about whether you are doing work you really enjoy / are interested in or if you fell into it and have stayed – 3, 5, 10 years. But what else could you do? Do you want something else? Maybe it’s promotion, maybe it’s a career change or a better work/life balance?   

How could coaching help?

I’ve certainly noticed an increase in enquiries asking me about coaching throughout the pandemic. 

You might not be sure what coaching is or may have the impression it’s just for senior executives. Here’s a thought: coaching is for anybody who wants to work on making some changes, wants a supportive thinking space, wants to be listened to (when were you last really listened to?!). An objective listening ear can illuminate different perspectives and get you to the place you need to be quicker than you would do yourself.   

You might be dealing with change, wanting to make some changes in your life, to be more confident, to be better at prioritising, manage your time, feel less overwhelmed, need to make a decision…. the list goes on. 

A coach works with you on your agenda, providing a safe, confidential space. They also act as a gentle accountability buddy. If you say you are going to do something to someone else, you tend to do it. So many of us are really good at ignoring ourselves – in fact we excel at it!  Think: gym memberships, healthy eating, that small DIY task etc….      

What’s within your control?

I’ve noticed that in coaching sessions recently I have been drawing a lot on the concept of the circles of control, of influence, and of concern.  There is something timely about this framework, which is adapted from Stephen Covey’s bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

If we spend too much time thinking about things in the outer circle, we can become paralysed as we have no control or influence over these things. Examples of things in the circle of concern are the pandemic or becoming unemployed as a result of the economic downturn. 

Instead, spending time and energy within the spheres of control and influence means we are agents in our lives (you’re not ignoring those areas of concern – you’re acknowledging them and choosing to re-focus). Coaching can help you to define what is within your capacity to influence, what you may wish to, and how to go about it. It can also support you with techniques to ‘park’ those elements out of your control so that you can re-focus and support yourself better.  

Coaches do not have the answers for you (sorry!) – you do. What a coach does is help you elicit what you feel is right for you to do and get started on it. 

So, if you have a challenge at the moment, think about what is within your circles of control and influence. How might you use this framework to support you through one of the most challenging times in a generation?   

This piece was first published on Thrive Global.

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