| Work­ing in a way that feeds my soul

When the body runs on adrenalin long term, it fi­nally gives in and col­lapses in a heap. Adrenal fa­tigue, burnout, chronic fa­tigue and a myr­iad of other stress-re­lated con­di­tions may re­sult. We are see­ing a rise in th­ese con­di­tions as women.

Living Now - - Editorial - by Mandy Gal­braith

Hav­ing had enough of feel­ing stressed at work, I sur­ren­dered and dis­cov­ered another way of work­ing. Ev­ery day I learn more about how to work in a way that feeds my soul.

Hav­ing re­cently left the cor­po­rate land­scape for greener pas­tures and prior to that hav­ing worked in not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions, my own business, and in the health sec­tor, I have a wide-rang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of what it is to work in a life-drain­ing way.

Like many women, I thought I should be able to do it all. The de­sire to be suc­cess­ful at work, as a par­ent, as a part­ner and main­tain a cheerful en­er­getic dis­po­si­tion was a chal­lenge I was cer­tainly in­clined to take on. I didn’t re­alise that, along the way, I had aban­doned unique at­tributes like in­tu­ition, deep cre­ativ­ity, and a ba­sic de­sire for con­nec­tion with oth­ers that give us as women an im­por­tant per­spec­tive in the work­place.

Although part of the prob­lem was the job, the business and the health ser­vice, see­ing that we live in a crazy worka­holic cul­ture that glo­ri­fies un­ten­able work­ing hours, and unattain­able goals, there were many ways I was work­ing that were ex­haust­ing and un­pro­duc­tive, though it took a while to see them.

THE ‘GET THINGS DONE’ WOMAN

My per­fec­tion­ism, which re­vealed it­self in be­hav­iours such as not fin­ish­ing things, not start­ing things, and hy­per­crit­i­cism, re­ally took its toll. I felt that I had to do ev­ery­thing at 110% and that mis­takes were sim­ply not to be tol­er­ated. On the out­side I ap­peared to be very suc­cess­ful in many of my un­der­tak­ings, yet this was sap­ping my life force in­ter­nally.

Try­ing hard was another way of work­ing that nearly killed me. I thought that if I just tried harder I would make hap­pen what I wanted to hap­pen. I held on tightly to the be­lief that I could and should be able to con­trol the out­comes of my en­deav­ours. When goals or tar­gets were set, I truly thought they must be reached no mat­ter what and, if I couldn’t reach them, it was my fault en­tirely. Never mind that I had no con­trol over cir­cum­stances, changes in the mar­ket, or nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, to name but a few things.

I had no con­cept of be­ing in the flow, al­low­ing the process to un­fold. I just pushed for­ward think­ing that my drive was an as­set, I was a ca­pa­ble ‘get things done’ woman.

Self-re­liance took its toll as I pow­ered through on adrenalin and pure will at­tempt­ing to achieve and get ahead of the game. I didn’t like to ask for help, and thought that I should be able to do ev­ery­thing my­self or my fear of ap­pear­ing weak or in­ca­pable would rear its ugly head.

When the body runs on adrenalin long term, it fi­nally gives in and col­lapses in a heap. Adrenal fa­tigue, burnout, chronic fa­tigue and a myr­iad of other stress-re­lated con­di­tions may re­sult. We are see­ing a rise in th­ese con­di­tions as women.

TIME TO SUR­REN­DER

Fi­nally hav­ing had enough of feel­ing stressed and fear­ful about what was ex­pected of me, I sur­ren­dered. I gave up. I knew that I couldn’t work the way I was any more and was pre­pared to lose my job if that’s what it came to.

I stopped work­ing so many hours, learn­ing over time that many things were not ur­gent as I thought they were. In fact, of­ten prob­lems re­solved them­selves if they were left alone for a lit­tle while in­stead of ev­ery­thing be­ing cri­sis man­aged. Along with work­ing fewer hours I took breaks and rests and gen­er­ally stopped to smell the roses more.

I started tak­ing more time with clients and hav­ing real re­la­tion­ships with them. I was in­ter­ested and re­laxed. They no­ticed this and re­ally en­joyed the change. I was no longer rush­ing around

and it felt like time ex­panded the more I did this. Start­ing my day with the ques­tion “How can I be of ser­vice?” took the fo­cus off what I needed to get done and put the em­pha­sis onto how I could be of help to oth­ers.

WORK BE­CAME EN­JOY­ABLE

Look­ing at the goals and out­comes that were ex­pected be­came a thing of the past, and I put my en­ergy into do­ing the job to the best of my abil­ity. This meant that I be­came more col­lab­o­ra­tive and less com­pet­i­tive, more co­op­er­a­tive and less driven. I stopped spend­ing so much time try­ing to work out ways to make things hap­pen and I re­laxed and trusted in the process. My work life be­came ac­tu­ally en­joy­able.

Even though I didn’t talk about this in my cor­po­rate job, I re­lied on my in­tu­ition to guide me, which was fun and also very pro­duc­tive. My cre­ativ­ity in­creased with my en­ergy lev­els. Op­tions and so­lu­tions seemed to be more read­ily avail­able to me. That con­nect­ed­ness that I felt as a woman was de­vel­op­ing into a real strength. I was in­creas­ingly work­ing in the flow, one with the uni­verse, the All that is, and it felt so much eas­ier.

In her book Daily Re­minders for Liv­ing a New Par­a­digm, Sept 7, Anne Wil­son Schaef writes, “Do we have the courage to par­tic­i­pate fully when we don’t know where we are go­ing or what it looks like?”

This is the chal­lenge of our time: to let go of our self-seek­ing, rigid goals

and be in life, con­tribut­ing and learn­ing and be­ing.

The irony was that, far from los­ing my job, I ac­tu­ally had greater suc­cess in terms of pro­duc­tiv­ity and achieve­ment than ever be­fore. I was thrilled with this un­ex­pected re­sult. I felt as though I was liv­ing in a dif­fer­ent di­men­sion, one where work could be easy and fun, chal­leng­ing and mean­ing­ful. Learn­ing to work in this way is chang­ing my life and I con­tinue to dis­cover more ev­ery day about how to work in a way that feeds my soul. ■

This is the chal­lenge of our time: to let go of our self-seek­ing, rigid goals and be in life, con­tribut­ing and learn­ing and be­ing.

Con­nect with other read­ers & com­ment on this ar­ti­cle at www.liv­ing­now.com.au

Mandy Gal­braith, founder of The Flow Di­men­sion, draws from a back­ground in nurs­ing, man­age­ment, business, coach­ing and over 20 years of per­sonal and spir­i­tual growth, to sup­port women to work more soul­fully.

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