To raise money for my chosen charities -to find out more you can click here
To breakdown barriers in my own head of the limitations I have of my own abilities
To raise awareness of those that feel cold and isolated in our community because they don’t fit into the norm and don’t know who to talk to.
And for many of you that is enough information. But for those that are more interested in how I make these decisions and how I manage my critic and get out of my own way, I have attempted to consolidate some of my thoughts in this article.
The truth is more complex then 3 reasons or 3 steps and when I really take time to listen to my own thoughts I realise their were many layers of foundations that had been laid to empower me to make the decision quite quickly and carry it out with minimal fuss.
It was on the surface an instant decision to sign up. I didn’t really think much about whether I should or should not. I just knew it was the right thing to do, so I did it.
How did I know?
This article is a combination of my thinking pre event, during the event, post event and now with a little more time to reflect.
I am constantly fascinated by our decision making process as humans which is probably why I love working with my client to help them make decisions they have confidence in.
I love running the Do, delegate or ditch programme and my next book will be sharing stories and examples of how you can connect and collaborate better when you know how to make good decisions. The more fun decision making becomes for me and my clients the easier life becomes. Your decision making process is impacting what you say yes to, what you eat, whether you exercise or not, whether you ask for the business, whether you sleep ..the list goes on. So getting good at decision making is in my opinion one of the most fascinating and rewarding personal development tasks you could undertake.
Past conversations and desires
I had heard of the News Year Day Dip so it was familiar. I knew what to expect in terms of location and environment. I have lived here for 49 years and I have thought about doing it before but never taken action. So why this year? The truth is that before I had no reason too, but this year I have set myself the fund raising challenge and so this gave me the reason why. Another reason is that I have always wanted and needed to do ‘things’ like this with people and I knew that this year I had to learn to be able to push myself and do things on my own more.
I have a love of water and swimming so that played a part too. I use to swim for a club as a child and I even trained in this very sea mid October when in my teens. I had also dreamed of swimming the channel to France when I was younger. I never had dreams or aspirations to be a fireman or a nurse I always saw myself in a field doing something in Africa for charity. So this event whilst not quite on the scale of my initial dreams did tick all those boxes. Again it was familiar.
After I made the decision and publicly committed to it, then I started to think about the relationship with my charity challenge.
Social media gives us more and more space to show our good sides and etiquette suggests we don’t complain or rant on line. My fund raising is for those in our community that often lose their voice due to domestic violence or because their children don’t behave how society deems to be the norm and so they find themselves isolated and stuck at home with their children.
And for my clients social media can sometimes leave them feeling like everyone else has a perfect life. When in reality life is tough. We have bereavement, divorce, job losses and every day changes that impact us all. And each of us, has our unique way of responding. Having one person in your life that can listen without judgement can be all the support you need to move from overwhelm to clarity.
I also started to realise that many people would find the thought of winter swimming or any swimming to be difficult and they might benefit if I were to share what this decision was like for me. I have to admit at this point my critic did have something to say. I worried if the challenge was not going to push me then why would people pay me to do it. So I found myself thinking about how cold it would be and how I might suffer. The reality is that I found it quite easy. I do have support and I had drive and I had confidence in my ability to manage myself. I also had no expectation to stay in the water longer than felt safe or comfortable.
I wrote this paragraph a few days before actually doing the dip…
For the few seconds that I dip into the water I will be alone. It will be down to my own mind set and thoughts that will determine if I can get over the fear and do it. But it will be the energy of those cheering me on that gives me courage and your donations will help me remember the short term pain is worth the long term gain. Please donate if you think I am mad but also donate if you think I can make a difference. You have your part to play and so do I. When you donate it encourages me and the charities get the money instantly. Now what I forgot to do was collect money in advance. So on the day at the time of taking the dip I had received a message from one person saying they would donate and one other person who pledged £10 so I hadn’t actually raised much so I had to find a different focus.
The thoughts kept creeping into my head that I was an idiot for swimming in the sea in winter and that I wouldn’t raise much because I hadn’t promoted it enough or because it wasn’t that much of a stretch.
Here is a video I took the morning of the event.
As I entered the water, I was surprised that it was not as cold as I had feared. My body adjusted quite quickly. The world went really quiet as I checked in with my body and checked I was okay. Then that silence was broken as others entered the water screaming, laughing and cheering.
I noticed people holding hands, looking at their friends and it was at this moment that I felt completely alone amidst all the other fund raisers. I was not part of a team. Many of the cheerleaders I had depended on did not make it, those that I knew were doing the dip I had not found before the event started. (note to self I did not arrange a meet up point) I did however have my mother in law Joyce and my husband Mark.
Joyce at this point was guarding my bags and my towel and out of sight. Mark was on the beach filming. I found myself searching the beach to gain eye contact. I gave him a wave and then wondered what I am supposed to do now. It was not as bad as I thought, I was quite comfortable and I had no one to talk to about how it felt which is how I make most of my decisions. I was alone. So I waited for a bit, waved my hands around in the water, watched some of the others, then when I didn’t know what else to do – I followed a stream of people who were getting out. Next year I will actually go for a swim. I am a strong swimmer and there is no reason I couldn’t have gone for a 5 minute swim. Here is the video Mark took of me and I am so grateful that he was on the shore filming as I now have a permanent record of this achievement. I am in green T- Shirt bottom right hand corner and I wave at Mark when I find him at 1 mins 47 seconds. (Mark doesn’t realise for a minute or so that I have got out)
What I learned
As an entrepreneur I am blessed to have a family that encourage me not to give up and believe that I have worked too hard to stop now. (Yes I have been known to say “Should I just get a job?)
I so need that encouragement and that has to be in synergy with other entrepreneurs who fully understand the pain and emotional roller coaster being self-employed sends you on. And I need the support of those more experienced than me to give me insights and understanding of different ways of approaching the same thing. But at the end of the day the person that has to take action is me. When I was in the water I got out because that was what others were doing. Had I really listened to myself before the event I would have thought about what would be a good stretch for me? What would I be happy with? Then with that clarity I could have made a decision to get out when it met with my own criteria not just because that was what everyone else was doing.
When I do this swim again instead of searching for someone to smile at or talk to. I am going to swim and truly embrace the liberation of being at one with nature for those few minutes. Instead of searching for approval and connection outside I am going to focus on connection with myself and because I have the video I know that I was in the water for 60 seconds and next year I can look to improve on that. I am really proud of the fact I just got straight in and didn’t mess around and now I have to develop staying in for longer.
In business and life it can be so easy to follow the crowd – our brains are hard wired to fit into the pack and keep us safe. And we all have the potential to lead the pack. For too many years I have followed the norm and this dip gave me a physical experience and reminder when I don’t know what I want then I follow the crowd. Fortunately this crowd were heading towards the showers kindly provided by the fire brigade and I knew I wanted to be there.
In the afternoon of that day I was exhausted. My face was glowing and I started to realise just how much effort it had taken to do that event on my own. Swimming in the sea wasn’t the challenge for me. The challenge was isolation and doing it alone (yes I know 500 other people did it with me but they weren’t ‘with me’ in my head) They didn’t know me personally. They didn’t know who I was raising money for or why it mattered. The more I reflect the more I learn and the more fun I can have with future decisions. But I think this video below really sums up how it felt in the moment so I will keep my focus on the energy and pleasure I express. This is me being me. If this article has inspired you please do leave comment and better still share it and if you feel compelled to donate that would make my day.
Professional listeners are vital in a world that is becoming so fast and to some extent so exposed. It can seem at times that you have to be positive and happy all the time, but the reality is that stuff happens that makes us sad, mad or even angry and being able to safely express those emotions allows us to understand them and process them. This in turn gives us space for clarity, and confidence to grow.
I am here to listen to you if sometimes you find yourself wondering who is listening to you.
If you find yourself under resourced and you would like to know how to manage your critic then I am here to support you. The world needs more non-judgmental listeners and my mission is to ensure that every business owner that is committed to listening has the right support to keep them motivated and inspired to grow. I want you to attract more clients and if it is your aspiration I would like to support you to develop a team that inspires and supports you.
I want you to get your message out to the world and for your business to grow in such a way that also gives you time for your loved ones.
Thank you in advance for any donations- you can donate here
I am also donating £2 from every book sold in the next 12 months to these charities. You can purchase a copy of your book here
Sheryl – The Strength and Solution Detective
Supporting you to do more of what you love and ditch the critic that says you can’t
If you are struggling to be heard and understood and it is preventing you from doing your best work and living your best life then please do book a 30 minute call today with no obligation and I will happy set you up for success. I might be part of the solution you need and I might not but you will you know your next best step. Or you can Purchase a copy of my book here
About the Author – Sheryl Andrews – The Strength and Solution Detective
Sheryl Andrews, Founder of Step by Step Listening, is well known for her fast speaking and her passion to make things happen. But what many of you may not know is that in private behind closed doors she was also no stranger to lapses in self belief and an overwhelming sense of not being good enough.
That was until she learned the importance of being heard and asking for support. In her book she describes the step by step journey she took to learn how to manage her critic turning her overwhelm into clarity in 7 steps.
Sheryl now runs retreats that encourage you to really listen to what you need to work, learn and live at your best with others and the confidence to ask for those needs to be met.