I Am Strong Coaching - Sarah Davies (Founder)

‘You tell me that you’re ready but you just don’t know…’ (Kodaline, Ready)

One of my favourite music tracks over the last few months has been Kodaline's Ready. It's insistent energy and powerfully affirmative lyrics found me exactly when I needed them most. And before I even knew about the simple effectiveness of having your own confidence-building mantra on repeat in your head, there I was singing just the chorus over and over again : 'I'm ready. I'm ready for it. I'm ready. I'm ready for it' (repeat ad nauseum in the shower, in the car, at my desk, over lunch, in the gym... ).

Leaving the Army in 2008, I thought I was ready, but I underestimated just how overwhelming it can be to leave behind an institution that has reached into every part of your life and changed it more than just a little bit, over time. I was tired after continuous tours and a whole year deployed on back-to-back operations in 2006 and although I loved the Army, that fatigue prompted my decision to leave. Cushioned by a twelve month notice period and all the resettlement opportunities, I was excited about moving on to my new posting in ‘civvy street’. Except that was exactly the problem. I was treating ‘civvy street’ as a posting. I should have realised that it was so much more than that; it wasn’t a posting, it was the rest of my life. And although I thought I was, I wasn't ready.

When people ask me for advice ahead of leaving the Forces, they are always surprised when I just say ‘time’. Give yourself time. Time to think, to adjust, to explore, to work out who you are and who you want to be when you take that rank and uniform off for the last time. Time to just stand still and ask yourself if you're ready. I didn't give myself time and it caught up with me six years later at which point I'd been stuck in 'fight or flight' overdrive for nearly a decade. I had been 'just getting on with it' for years and overruling every instinct telling me that I wasn't happy in the jobs I was doing. I became fearful, anxious and chronically fatigued until finally my mind and body shut me down and forced the issue. Therapy, rest and taking six months to think, rebuild and readjust changed my life irreversibly for the better. I could have done with Kodaline telling me 'never let the pressure overpower the fun....' a long time ago. Had I just stopped and taken a little time, I might have known sooner how I wanted to use the rest of my life to express myself, to be me, not someone I used to be or someone I thought I ought to be. Time. And of course, fun. Give yourself both and you will be brilliant.

Without taking time to evaluate what is really important to you moving forwards, you may well make decisions that you then find yourself reversing several years down the line. When you leave the Forces, you have decisions to make in every area of your life, from what you're going to do, to where you're going to live, to how you and your family are going to settle in a new community, to who you are going to be, to what is going to keep you smiling. This can be daunting when you don't yet know which questions to be asking yourself and there is a real temptation just to take the first thing that comes along and go from there. Fine but when there are so many parts of your life all changing at once, the domino effect can be incredibly destabilising, not to mention the fact that as military or ex-military we will inevitably give ourselves a hard time for not getting it right in the first place!

This is where a coach comes in. Whether you are resettling into ‘civvy street’, rebuilding your future after PTSD or life-changing injuries, or whether you have been out for several years and are now looking to rethink parts of your life, then coaching can support you. Coaching is not therapy and does not look to the past, but rather it builds on it; it may be where you come to once you are ready to grab life in both hands again. Coaching is all about you, your future and designing your life moving forwards. It is about imagining the possibilities, identifying the opportunities, planning, goal setting, confidence-building, visualising what success looks like for you and making positive, enduring change. It is about feeling in control and being excited about the future again. So if you are resettling, rebuilding or rethinking and would like some support in being ready for the next stage in your life, then please email sarah@strongcoaching.co.uk. I would love to hear your story and support your next great chapter.

Sarah

Founder of I Am Strong Coaching

www.iamstrongcoaching.co.uk

If you would like to know more about Sarah's personal experiences on leaving the Army then they can be found in her blog : givingmyselfabreak.blogspot.co.uk
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Sarah Davies - Founder of I Am Strong Coaching