Look ahead and start again

I received some feedback recently at work which has been really difficult to acknowledge. The feedback was harsh. Inside I was crushed.

I’ve taken a few days to try & understand the situation and see how I could do things differently. And as always, I turned to my blog. I was reading some older posts when I started to recognize some of the comments that people had fed back about me reflected in some of the posts I had written about myself and my running.

When it comes to my running, I am unforgiving when I fail; I am highly critical about myself; I am hard on myself; I only see faults, never anything good…

Oh my word. Yup! I am that person.

I’ve often said that the corporate world is not for sissies. It’s especially tough when there are so many goals to achieve, so many deadlines and expectations to fulfill. Being an A-type personality doesn’t help. Through all the chaos, my only sense of security was to increase control of the work, micro manage, be over-critical and not open to failure. It’s all there, I can see it now.

The same way that I need to sometimes go back to simply enjoying my running, needs to be the same way I approach this situation. I need to step back and understand where it’s going wrong. It needs a fresh new start and perhaps focus on the positives and the successes.

The same day I received the feedback at work was the same day I made the decision to start on a clean slate with my running. New beginnings. New running goals. New start.

Everything in life can be fixed. It’s not the end of the world, right? It’s quite a relief to be given the chance to start again.

Thank goodness for waterproof mascara.

I’ve hit the wall

As a runner, I’ve only hit the wall once. It was during my very first half marathon road race.

Clearly unprepared, I was approximately 5kms from the finish line when it hit. My legs stopped and would go no further. As much as I tried to push myself to move on, I couldn’t. It felt like my brain would not connect with my body. I was screaming inside to take just one step, but my legs were paralyzed. They felt like concrete and soon my head was full of negative thoughts of quitting.

“In endurance sports, particularly cycling and running, hitting the wall or bonking describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by precipitous fatigue and loss of energy. Such fatigue can become seriously debilitating. Symptoms of depletion include general weakness, fatigue, and manifestations of hypoglycaemia, such as dizziness and even hallucinations.” ~ Wikipedia

The past couple of weeks at work have felt pretty much the same. I’ve hit the wall. I know what needs to be done and can picture it in my head but no matter how I try to convince others to go on that journey with me, they won’t budge. There’s a disconnect. It feels like I’m talking but no one is listening. I’m going at 120 miles an hour and they’re stopped at the traffic light.

By the end of last week, I realized I had hit the wall. The frustration had set in and I did not know where to turn. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this. We’re often not all on the same path when it comes to work.

With running, the only way to recover is to re-fuel. Water, energy drinks, a banana, whatever it is you can get hold of. But you never stop. I had forgotten this. I know I need to refocus and set my eyes back on the goal – the finish line. Ironically, this is what two people told me to do. The words one of them used were, ‘Baby steps Bron, baby steps. Just keep at it’.

I’ve gone on to run so many half marathons since that first race and yet looking back now, Johnson Crane will always be one of my favorite races. Even though I hit the wall, I still went on to finish the race. Of course it was difficult. But was it worth it? Hell yes!

Mid-year life appraisals

Mid-year appraisals are under way at work. Amid all the stress and deadlines and noise, it affords you the opportunity to stop, to breathe and re-assess where you’re at with your goals and projects.

It’s a case of looking at what you committed to do, your progress, feedback from stakeholders and sometimes a re-negotiation of the goals and deadlines.

It’s a good idea to do a similar review of your personal life too which is what I’ve started to do. Here’s a brief assessment of two things which have stood out for me:

Home: Work life balance is nowadays easier for me to get right than KK. He has started working Saturdays and will bring work home to do almost every evening. I get it, I do. So what we’ve done is committed to having ‘date nights’ and spending quality Sundays together. Even if this means chilling at home and taking long naps after a braai on the couch. It’s ‘us’ time and a compromise. As long as we find the time to connect, that’s what matters.


Sunday braai’ing with KK and the girls

Running: Everyone knows that I hibernate during Winter and don’t run. But this year has been different. I’ve surprised myself with my discipline in getting to track during the week and forcing myself to wake up on Saturday and Sunday mornings to train. It’s been hard and I’ve hated some days! But so far, so good! You know that cheesy saying that Summer bikini bodies are formed in the Winter. This better ring true for running bodies!

Winter running

Random pics snapped by Graham Block at the Sunday Harriers long runs – Thanks Sharon and Tamryn for the company!

It’s almost Spring and one of my good Twitter friends, Lucy, has posted a photograph of jasmine flowering in her garden in Knysna! I love jasmine. It signals a turn in the seasons for me. This gives me goosies! Things are always different when Summer arrives. They are! And so far, I’m on track with all my goals to deliver some great results!Lucy

9 to 5 emails

When I returned to work at the beginning of January, I made the decision not to receive work emails on my phone anymore. The switch off during December had been wonderful and I decided it’s exactly what I need going into 2015.

MailboxI’ll admit it was hard in the beginning. I would randomly click on the envelope, more out of habit, and remember that my mailbox was not connected. But I stuck it out.

The first realization has been how much time I was ‘stealing’ from home-life by reading my mails. I sit on average 45 – 60 minutes when I get into the office in the morning, catching up on reading emails (that I could’ve read at home). Yes, so it may have saved me time at work, but it ultimately stole time from family and other things around the house.

The second thing I realized is that I needed to start re-prioritizing the important emails. I don’t know about you, but as that email pops into my mailbox, I tend to respond immediately and action it. Almost 90% are not even urgent. So then which are?

Having the support of my boss and team has helped and also encouraged a culture of true work-life balance. They know that if they need to get hold of me (and no, I’m not a Doctor on call so not even necessary) they can Whatsapp me. I also don’t expect of them to be online once they’ve left the office and prefer that they rather spend time doing non-work related activities.

But again, it is their choice, not mine. I know it’s not for everyone. Some people like to be connected and have the flexibility. But it was something I needed to do.

Does not reading my emails after hours make me forget about work? Surprisingly no. I never switch off. I’m constantly thinking about projects, ideas, goals, my team. Do I feel like I’m missing out on some major announcement or important information? Yes, all the time. But I am enjoying switching off more.

It’s been a good decision and time will tell if I’m able to stick to it. Ironically, I’m not alone. It’s becoming legislation in some countries, such as Germany as early as next year. What are your thoughts? What works for you?