Recovery from ME/CFS, burnout and goal setting
I felt inspired to write this new article due to some recent experiences in my life.
Following on from my recovery from ME/CFS and some massive changes in my life over the last year I decided to pick back up on a qualification I had started but hadn’t been able to complete due to my health. Along with the studying, I also decided to look for part time work, do some other studying and to try and launch my coaching business. This kind of effort would probably be hard work for a normal healthy person, let alone someone with a long history of chronic fatigue and someone going through major life changes. However, over the past couple of months I have been pushing myself and pushing myself, trying to schedule my day around my daughter being at school, so I can cram in as much work, study and job hunting as possible. Two weeks ago I started to crash. My immune system weakened, I came down with bronchitis and I felt fatigued again. Walking the short distance to my daughter’s school became difficult again, with slowing legs, pain and constant fatigue. So, I decided to re-evaluate where I was. I decided to take my mind off of where I thought I wanted or needed to be and focus on where I was right now. The first insight for me was to reflect back over the Harmonizing philosophies that have helped me so much in my recovery, in my emotional and physical well-being and I realised that I was doing exactly what had kept me sick in the first place.
The result has been for me to drop back into the harmonizing mindset, to slowly still my mind and my body and to reset. I have looked at the priorities in my life right now and realised I don’t need another coaching qualification – I already have one! I don’t need to keep retraining in this and that to help others, by sharing my own experiences so far, I have already inspired people. So, at the weekend came the time for me to let go of what was not serving me at this point in my life and to say goodbye to the studying and to the pressure I was placing upon myself and to focus on what really matters. Instead of jumping straight onto my laptop this morning I took some time to spend a little bit of time in the garden, I sat on the sofa with a cup of tea and I pottered. I realised that my health is far more important than getting anything else done. Some things just have to be put on hold, or put in the rubbish bin. If need be, we can pick them back up when we need to.
Many life coaches work with the SMART model of coaching. This model has been helpful in many areas of personal performance, goal setting for success and for leadership and business. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. I realised I didn’t want to set smart goals, I realised that setting SMART goals when you are depleted, suffering from ME/CFS or are emotionally drained is only going to add more pressure to your already over loaded system. I didn’t want to set myself SMART goals and I don’t want to help others set SMART goals from where I am in my life right now.
So, I say if you are suffering from burnout, fatigue and ME, SMART goals aren’t what is needed. What is important is taking the time to stop what you are doing, UNPLUG and take some time out. It is impossible to juggle so many different tasks, or to be productive, efficient, creative, or to be a good mum, or good employee, when we are so depleted and limited by our fatigue.
Sometimes instead of setting ourselves goals and giving ourselves more things to do we need to find our inner stillness, our inner place of peace and our healing state. We need to make changes in our lives to increase our wellbeing and sometimes we simply need to change EVERYTHING. Sometimes we need to give up things we want, or thought we wanted, in order to give ourselves a better chance of recovery and to receive more energy. We need to stop pushing ourselves into a place of exhaustion and start creating more ease in our lives.
If we continue to push, we need to ask ourselves how long we are prepared to suffer with ill health, with stress, or with chronic illness? When is the last straw? How will our health continue to suffer if we don’t make changes? How can we look at the bigger picture of our lives?
So, this week I have turned my SMART goals into:
Ask for help and support
Top up my inner well
I have decided to stop focusing so much on the future and on my bigger goals and dreams and to take each day at a time. The harmonizing process teaches us to tune into our bodies and to listen carefully to what our bodies are telling us. By dropping into and tuning into our own inner cycles and rhythms, we start to create more ease and more balance, and by committing to this way of being, we start to increase our vitality, our sense of well-being and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
So if I am not working or showing up all of the time, it is because I am spending that time topping up my own well, because in order to inspire others, I have to help myself first. I hope my organic unfolding helps inspire you to get some rest too, so you can carve some space and some time out for yourself too.