• The Covid pandemic offered a crash-course in accepting the uncertainties of life that we may have previously tried to ignore

  • Coach Neil Lawrence reflects on his own experience and what success might look like post-pandemic

  • We have coaches available to support you – find yours here

As restrictions for lockdown begin to ease, I’m finding myself asking what success might look like in 2021. I am wondering what would happen if I widened the frame to encompass current conditions more fully. I’m becoming aware that my emotional landscape is an important part of my current journey. What would life look like if I were to make my inner state as high a priority as my outer? What could happen then?

I could gain new perspective.

I might ordinarily measure success by stories published, number of clients gained, turnover.

But this year might need a different focus. This year success also includes checking in regularly with a terminally sick member of my family, supporting close friends who are experiencing trauma, trying to stay grounded and filled with gratitude when the world around me is in such pain.   

So, success first and foremost might be about managing to be ‘here’, be well, be present, have a robust immune system. Living amongst it all, despite the uncertainty. It might also be a recognition and acceptance that even before the pandemic, life was uncertain, and I currently hold assumptions that are no longer serving my purpose. That may well be the ultimate success for 2021…. well maybe for any year actually.

Then there is my ability to relate to others. I find the combination of lockdown and the economic downturn has triggered my PTSD and exacerbated my inner critic. And as someone living with fibromyalgia, I am used to being housebound (well I was until I attended a course called the Lightning Process that made a significant difference). The condition has held me in my own kind of ‘lockdown.’

Given the pervasiveness of both physical and psychological pain, I think success this year for me is through focussing on the areas that hurt but doing this with kindness and by remembering who I truly am and what I can achieve. So far this has meant practicing PTSD exercises from CBT, keeping my body as strong and supple as I can with a personal trainer. It has also meant practicing and developing my lovingkindness meditations. In addition, I am working on the techniques learned through the Lightning Process which means I can live 80% fibromyalgia free.

So, 2021 needs to be about maximising ability and being kind in the face of trauma – for both myself and others.

If I am successful in maintaining this level of positive wellbeing I can then look to other areas. I would like to match the number of clients I gained last year and have a decent turn over – or build on last year’s achievement even! Given the challenges presented in the current climate, it is about staying grounded and believing that I will have those opportunities if I stick to my sense of moral purpose and continue service to others.

But more than that, I want to stand by my core values of respect and equitability. I want kindness to others at the centre of my business plan, even as pressure builds to be more direct and aggressive within the marketplace. I want to bow in the face of other people’s wisdom and listen deeply to them.  

These would be my key ingredients of success in 2021.

And what would be my ultimate evidence of success? Setting less goals and concentrating more fully on the tasks I choose to do.

So how can coaching help you build success in the face of uncertainty?

I’m a coach but I also have a coach. I love the structure it brings. What’s the process then, and how does it help? The five stages here explain:

1. Asking ‘What do I want overall’? 

In this case it would be ‘success during uncertain times. You could visualise what a successful life in uncertain times might be and then take some key possibilities to your chosen coach. 

2. Focus on what matters and connect it to your overall purpose

Once you commit to wanting success you can decide what issues are most relevant to help you achieve it. And you can do this in each coaching session you attend. You will be able to co-create the help and tools you need to move forward. So, for example, you might recognise the wear and tear you experience as a result of living with uncertainty. It might be causing you anxiety. So, as a result you might want to strengthen your confidence, to develop flexible thinking and reach out to others etc. The list is endless and is different for each of us.

3. Collect tools from each session, experiment with them as ‘take home’ and see what sticks

So, for example, you might catch yourself thinking things like ‘the world has far more important things to about than the fact I feel isolated.’ The right tool will help you explore this. It could a three-step journaling tool.  

Step one could be to capture these moments of self-doubt, step two could be reality test those feelings. Step three might be learning to reframe your experience, so you feel resourceful and able to move beyond the critical self.

4. See what is working, what needs changing, and where new success lies

Working with a coach gives you an opportunity to sharpen your awareness of performance and feelings. It enables you to utilise what you do well and tackle living with uncertainty through your signature strengths. With this awareness you then have an opportunity to try out new techniques and develop your emotional intelligence. This in turn strengthens your resilience. 


5. Review where you started from, check you have achieved, what you still need to develop and then look at what next steps might be

By reviewing how much progress you have made within your coaching and measuring your achievement in the midst of uncertainty, you can then identify what works, what doesn’t, and identify your next steps for success. For example, you might want to consider how to lead others to help them strengthen their resilience in the face of uncertainty and share your tools and reflections.

If you have any comments or thoughts or questions about this article, feel free to contact me or any member of the welldoing.org team to continue this conversation.

Thank you for reading.

Neil Lawrence is a welldoing.org coach in South East London and online

Further reading

Finding courage in the face of uncertainty

Why do we fear uncertainty and losing control?

Where success really comes from

9 questions to help you live a life in line with your values

What coaching can offer you