If you’re finding the recent Covid-19 lockdown has thrown up some uncomfortable feelings about your life, you are not alone, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, professional progress coach Jenny Malcolm says.
“It’s been a time where people have been forced into a situation they otherwise would not have been and they’ve made some realisations, that actually they do hate their job. Or, actually, they really love working from home,” Mrs Malcolm said.
“These times of discomfort are an opportunity. Maybe they’re just the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to make a move in a direction that you’ve been putting off. Or maybe this is the time to strike out and chase your dream. So maybe this is a great thing to have come out of lockdown.”
Mrs Malcolm found herself in a similar place of discomfort 10 years ago, when she began questioning what she wanted from her own life.
“People had described me as capable, smart, qualified, and Bill [her husband] and I had together gone through this journey for the last 20 years, of building our dream of owning our own freehold farm, and building a new house to raise our family in,” she said.
“I was so driven and so focused from a very, very young age, that that’s what I wanted. I found someone who wanted the same thing and we went through this journey together.
“I woke up in my new house in 2010 and I felt this feeling that was very uncomfortable and very strange. I was completely lost and hopeless, and wondered what on Earth life was all about. Because after achieving all my goals, I expected happiness was going to be in that place, and it wasn’t.”
After a few years grappling with her discontent, Mrs Malcolm finally started voicing her struggles.
“I was too embarrassed to tell anyone, because I was supposed to be this successful role model and it felt like it was all crumbling down around my ears. I was embarrassed to own up that I didn’t want to be farming anymore – for 45 years that was my whole focus.
“But when I did tell someone, it was OK. And I talked about it with Bill, and it was OK. It wasn’t until I talked to people that I realised all this pressure on me, was pressure I was applying to myself.”
She took part in an intensive self-coaching programme through self-help guru Tony Robbins, and discovered what her “internal drivers” were – “my core values.”
That was a turning point.
She realised a sense of purpose was important to her, and came to the realisation that she would make a good coach herself.
“I’ve always been curious and ask lots of questions, and when I was a farm consultant, I liked to empower people rather than give advice, knowing they know themselves better than anyone else.”
People who came to see Mrs Malcolm were either feeling stuck, or were drifting, lacking direction and wanting more from life.
“So my role as a coach is to ask the questions that either they haven’t thought to ask themselves, or those questions that have been too hard to ask themselves, and then I support them on the journey to where it is that they actually want to go. And more importantly, help them discover their own core values, which then gives them that authentic compass. Because our core values sit inside us, invisible to us.”
If lockdown had raised issues for people, Mrs Malcolm said it was the heart driving those realisations.
“You feel uncomfortable and you can’t put your finger on what you’re feeling uncomfortable about, but there’ll be a core value that sits underneath that, that will explain it. And when you know why you’re feeling uncomfortable, then everything is clear.
“Happiness is not a destination. Life is supposed to be full of ups and downs. If you haven’t got ups and downs going on, then life is pretty boring. You’re not growing. You’re probably not achieving anything. You’re not going through any challenges to test yourself and grow.
“And you know, everybody has ups and downs. It’s your mindset on how you deal with those ups and downs that makes the difference between whether you stay stuck or whether you move forward.
“No matter what situation you have found yourself in during lockdown, and the feeling of uncomfortableness, or comfort, that you may have found yourself in. There is always another side to the story if you’re prepared to look for it. So if you feel like you’re in a very uncomfortable place, sometimes you just need to step back and take the time to look for what is going well. Because there will be something. And there is always an opportunity to be taken from a bad situation. But unless you stop and look for it you won’t see it.”
Mrs Malcolm was kept busy during the Level 3 and 4 restrictions and managed to conduct her consultations via Zoom.
“I could reach people across the country, which was really cool, and provide exactly the same service, but further afield, which was great.”