When you take over a managerial role, there is this magic rule: the first 100 are a crucial point for evaluating your performance so far and help make a prognosis for future success.
Well, in my case things are a bit different. A couple of months back, I realized that I had enough from that corporate world: The always-on, non-stop performing mentality. The seemingly impossible chance to take decisions within that machine that will not be overthrown by three or more hierarchical layers up. Although I loved the five years I worked for this company and learned so much that I am so grateful for, I realized that somehow this environment did not fit any longer.
It was time to take the first steps into a new chapter in my life. During Corona lock-down, I experimented with other forms of work, collaborating with people within my network. Together we created great products in leadership development and wrote a book. I felt energized and ready to start a new career.
Private blind spots
In my corporate managerial role, I learned to be rather quiet about personal topics especially when it comes to having a family. Over time, I got used to brush off questions into this direction with empty statements like “this is not for me”, “I have no plans in this direction”…
During lock-down, with some help of my coach, I slowly came to realize that I was not only lying to anyone who asked me this question, but I was also lying to myself. The truth was, that the future I envision for myself has kids in it. A family that lives together enjoying life to the fullest. There was this side in me that dreamed about having a family while the rest of me was still struggling to survive all expectations thrown at me in my corporate environment. My wish of being a mom, enjoying my life with kids, was buried under the fear of risking my career, the reputation I had built up, everything that I had worked for. I was afraid to lose my financial independence and derail from any future job perspectives.
It felt like a parallel-world: On one side, my newly career ambitions where I was ready to take the risk of not knowing how it would turn out in the end. On the other side, my vision of a family that comprised similar fears. For the professional track, I was ready and prepared to overcome those fears and take the risk of starting something new. On my private track, I lagged behind, still worrying about the same things.
Life is faster than I can handle
Although I did not feel prepared or ready, reaching clarity about my wish to start a family did the trick. Just like the weeks before, life was faster than I could grasp in fulfilling me every wish I have. (Read all about it here) The law of attraction seemed to work for me again.
It was shortly after I had told my closest colleague that I was about to leave the company that the next change hit me. I felt it, when I went for a run. I was out of breath but so much slower than ever before. I felt pain in my stomach and my back. It was only after four negative pregnancy test followed by an extensive wine tasting, that the test finally turned out to be positive. This one moment of staring at the sign “positive” comprised so many elements of emotions for me. Disbelieve. Being overwhelmed. Pure Joy. Gratitude. Hope.
Adjusting to the new situation
Since I found out about my pregnancy, I have been rather silent on here. Mainly because I was struggling to keep up with this small but huge change in my life and all physical side-effects of growing a baby inside you. I dealt with nausea, exhaustion. Every day was different. Most days were challenging to say the least.
Besides typical symptoms of a pregnancy, I carried some thoughts with me that I had formerly only known in my business life:-
- I don’t want to ask for help, I want don’t want to burden anyone. But how the hell do I get home when I am too exhausted to drive 240km and am too afraid to ask a colleague for a ride?
- I don’t want to be complicated. How can I be as flexible and good at my job as before when I need to run for the bathroom in-between a meeting?
- How can I avoid unnecessary attention? I don’t want to be the center of attention.
- How can I keep my performance level? How can I remain the same (so nobody notices a difference) when I am so f’***ng tired?
- Will I be good enough as a mom? Will I do a good job? What about all my flaws? About me failing at the easiest things like managing a calendar? Will that have a negative effect on my baby?
- Am I really ready for this? What if I am not? What about my career? What about my job? What’s going to happen to my body?
Differently to my previous life, there was no way out. I really really really wanted to have this baby. I deeply loved it from the fist moment. Hence, I had to learn. The difference was that this tiny baby of the size of a raspberry was such huge motivator and driver to break my behavioral patterns. I knew that I had to change some behaviors so that this baby could grow and be healthy.
I started to understand that this was a phase in my life where I would not be a top performer. Neither in my professional life nor in any physical activity. So far, everything I wanted to do, I had been able to do. It was just a matter of discipline. Stay longer at the office. Push through. Get out with the result I was aiming for. Now, my body said “No”. When my body shut down and everything I felt was exhaustion, when I was painfully tired, no coffee or energy drink would get me through. My body did not need to be pushed. It needed to rest in order to let the baby grow. I had to accept my limits. Therefore, I started to decline or postpone a meeting, when I was just too tired to focus or felt sick. I shortened my working time, focusing only on topics of highest priority. I handed over smaller projects accepting the fear that I would not be a key player in the department any longer.
I dared to ask my colleague to drive me to work (without mentioning the pregnancy) which meant extra effort for him. In that moment I was ashamed to ask him for help, I felt powerless and dependent. In hindsight, I think we enjoyed the drive together having a great discussion and getting to know each other better.
I struggled with accepting my physical limitations also when I did sports. For the most time in my first trimester, I was basically lying flat, not able to get out of bed for weeks.
Whenever there was a better day, when I felt able to do some sports, I was disappointed with myself. Nothing worked as before. Everything was twice as hard and took me double the time. After 20min or so, my body would give up. It was new for me not to push myself, but to stop when my body gave me the signal to do so and just give it a rest.
The physical changes were another thing that was hard for me. I had always taken care of my body, my physique and my appearance. Not being able to work out and in addition gaining weight and finally showing a small baby-bump, did make me feel like it was not my body any longer. My yoga teacher started giving me special instructions that were different from the rest of the class in order to be pregnancy safe. I struggled with the extra attention and being “the weak” one of the class.
To be honest: I still struggle with all of this. Therefore, I am happy that I have six more months to prepare and get ready. To catch up to reality and gain confidence in my new role.
My “performance” review
After 100 days of pregnancy, I am still learning. I am still struggling. Physically and mentally. At the same time I am a 100% determined to do everything within my power to give this baby the best life possible. From day one, this small human became priority °1. This makes it so much easier to continue learning and going through that change.
Part of this learning is to understand that this new chapter of my life is not about performance. It is not about pushing limits, going the extra mile, putting in more energy. It is about being, resting, and nursing your body and the baby. Listening to what your body needs. Giving up the need to be the best in order to be fully there. Finding power in not doing more but resting and regaining energy for that little human being growing inside you. It is about letting go former KPIs and success criteria. Shifting the paradigm from performance to being. It is about enjoying that beautiful miraculous thing that is happening in that very moment. Being present, experiencing and creating life.
This is worth any temporary struggle. Or, looking at it from a different perspective: isn’t this a wonderful opportunity to grow as a person? And isn’t going out of your comfort zone to reach a new level what change is all about?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂