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Should you decouple yourself from work?

This is a question I've supported quite a number of people with over the years, and I've identified an interesting pattern.

If you know a little bit my story you might be tempted to predict that my answer to this big question would be a resounding:


But it's not.

It's actually:

"That depends if you're in right relationship with your work."

Let me share with you the part of my story that has relevance here

Five years ago I was living in a world of despair. I was working long hours, frequently travelling away for large projects, and felt very disconnected from myself. I looked forward to my next holiday as soon as the current one ended, and every day felt like a marathon.

In a way, it felt like I was stuck between worlds. One being the daily reality I faced, one of financial abundance and spiritual poverty, and the other being the possibility which was slowly being revealed through the inner work I was doing with wise counsel beside me. What was clear to me at the time was that I was definitely not in right relationship with my work.

My story includes me extracting myself from that context in a rather extreme way with no real plan and a whole lot of risk. Some said I was brave. But my heart said I had no choice. It didn't feel brave, it felt necessary.

I'm grateful to say my risk paid off.

So what about those patterns?

What I find showing up in my coaching practice these days are three distinct, almost archetypal stories when it comes to how we attach ourselves to our work.

1) A story rather like mine, but with its own unique twists and turns, about someone whose freedom resides in realising that perhaps their ladder is against a wall they'd actually rather not scale. And then finding a way to reorient.

2) A story about someone whose freedom resides in finding a way to give themselves permission to pursue their mission more deeply and release any fears around success or failure. Someone who is on the edge of all in.

3) A story about someone who became trapped in a web of dogma, feeling pressure to pursue mission when what was most important for them was to be more of who they are. The rest would take care of itself. Freedom is in realising that.

Those are the bigger story arcs. But don't be fooled, as simple as it may sound, it can be a little challenging to get clear on sometimes. That's because it's actually the layers underneath which hold the key. It's also worth noting that different stories can play out in different times of our lives--we don't have just one.

To illustrate, let me share some stories from past clients. Each one with a personal curriculum to uncover.

Cultivating energy for a re-emergence...

Two clients just twelve months apart, it was almost as if their stories were interwoven. Both excruciatingly resisted but needed to take an extended absence from their work. It was only then they could power-up, pivot, and pursue a brand new mission with heart and alignment.

Becoming the mission or a steward of it...

One client I worked with recently found that going through a process of creating more distance between them and their business was paramount to personal well-being. And after rebalancing some effects from working too hard for too long outside of the scope of right relationship, they felt more dedicated to the mission than ever. They re-committed in a way that allowed them to have an identity outside of the mission. They weren't the mission, but a steward of it.

Another client found that upon stepping back and looking at things from a greater height, that they could see the opportunity to approach things in a brand new way and decided that it was actually time to go much deeper into the mission and embrace it with a very personal, passionate approach. They became the mission.

Realising everything is perfect

And then there's some stories I can tell about those who realised that their professional pursuits were not their main curriculum here on Planet Earth. Their "mission" if you must call it something, was in how they showed up to life each day. It didn't matter so much what they were paid for, that was more a minor administrative aspect of being human in this day and age. Once that understanding was revealed, it allowed for work to be something that could be enjoyed with much more lightness. And life outside of that pursued shamelessly and wholeheartedly!

What do all of these stories have in common, and what can you take from them?


Distance was needed to be able to see things clearly. Some big distances. Some not so big distances. Regardless, I'd assert that to come into right relationship, first you have to see clearly.


Whatever you want to call your stream of inner intelligence, all of these people resolved their big mission questions by connecting into that very personal internal voice.


If you've ever had a difficult relationship, be it with a partner, a friend, a family member or a colleague, you'll know how draining that can be. The same is true if your relationship with your occupation is out of whack. It will inevitably require you to overhaul your energy management habits and get really great at boundaries.


The mind is amazing. It's not some thing you need to overcome or put back in its place. You get to work with it. There was some pretty exciting research that Dr Andrew Huberman shared on his Instagram this week, and I quote from his caption here:

"Many people have heard of the so-called growth mindset, which is the idea that we can improve our intelligence and our abilities through effort. However, despite many people acknowledging the existence of growth mindset it’s often hard for people to adopt, especially when they are not getting the results they want.

Recent work published in Nature, shows that combining a growth mindset with the idea that “stress is enhancing of performance” mindset, is one of the most effective ways to improve performance- in essentially any and everything."

If you can apply a "stress is enhancing of performance" mindset to your work, AND know how to manage your energy, you're going to be unstoppable.

Tapping into the power of perspective and intuition on top of that, and people might start asking you what you're on and where they can get it...

So what do you think, should you decouple yourself from your work? Even for just a bit?


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