Green Gorilla UK - coaching

my own feet

My Slow 2022

If you have been following me for a while, you might remember that I posted a couple of times in the last year or so about feelings of burnout.

Of course, being locked in at home with two kids to homeschool, not seeing family and all the trimmings that COVID has kindly cooked for us, surely didn’t help.

But I also realized that I have spent an enormous amount of time in the social media rabbit hole, desperately trying to pacify and feed my dissatisfied self. I also know that I overloaded my plate with lots of wonderful ideas and an impossible ideal of what a true entrepreneur should be: someone who is dedicated 100% to work while juggling family life and a shadow of social life.

At times of stress and lack of routine, what I needed was quite the opposite. I needed to prioritise. To stop and take an inventory of what was worth keeping and what wasn’t. To say “no” more often. You know the drill. I can just hear all my coachees shouting in unison: “Are you kidding me? You are not doing what you preach?!”

Sadly true. Often, in the last couple of years, I haven’t prioritized my own wellbeing, and I think my work has at times suffered as a consequence.

Why? Because I have taken the easy route.

I recently read 4000 Weeks by Oliver Burkeman, however, and I was prompted to reflect upon where in my life I was pursuing comfort when what’s called for was a little discomfort.

Growing, expanding, doing things differently (that includes striving for a more sustainable life) is painful. It takes courage and cannot be done on autopilot.

Scrolling on social media is easy. Posting pretty pictures on Instagram is easy and a good substitute for not looking in-depth at your life and pretending everything is shiny. Watching YouTube videos on how to do the splits is easier than doing the splits, or writing the book I have in mind.

Now that I also have a day job lecturing, I need to make some tough choices.

My number one choice this year is to take it slow.

Yesterday I read an article by Cal Newport talking about slow productivity, and it resonated immensely.

We are constantly distracted, trying to work longer hours, and most crucially, cramming more tasks on our plate every day as if we have an infinite amount of time available. We don’t.

No wonder most knowledge workers (and I’ll put myself in that category) feel burnout most of the time – recent McKinsey research found.

Coincidentally, I’ve been reading Deep Work, also by Cal Newport, and it seems pretty obvious that the best work in terms of quality but also quantity is produced not when we multitask and interrupt our flow with endless pings and social media/email interferences, but when we dive deep into a single task for a decent, uninterrupted period of time.

In the last few months, I also came across a wonderful initiative, Flown, which confirmed for me this theory: imagine sitting in your university library to finish an assignment. Other people around you are doing the same. Nobody dares talk unless it’s for an emergency. Flown is a virtual Zoom room with lots of people doing their own work uninterrupted together to get the same, deep work results; a simple and powerful way to concentrate for good chunks of time and do your best work.

My deeper motivation to change came also from a vague feeling of discontent with my work, a feeling that I was never at the top of my game or my tasks.

Then I read 4000 Weeks, and the deep motivation I needed to make a change popped all of a sudden in front of my eyes (spoiler alert: we only have an average of 4000 weeks to live. Shocking right?! I’m well beyond halfway through… do I still want to watch people breaking watermelons with their heads on Facebook?!).

So, this is what I’ve done in my personal life:

  • I started doing yoga every single morning. Sounds cliche, right?! I’m not a yogi, but gentle breathing and exercise combined put me in a frame of mind of calmness and presence that I haven’t experienced quite so deeply before – in fact, I think I’m a better person to have around since starting this habit in mid-November;
  • I am writing three ‘morning pages’ every morning: getting out on paper all the crap my mind likes to entertain and making space for the important stuff is the best – and cheapest – form of therapy ever. In fact, this is part of “the Artist Way” course by Julia Cameron. Not just for artists – highly recommended.
  • I’m making space for fun “just because” activities: drawing, taking photos that I don’t post anywhere, cooking, baking, dancing to cheesy 1990 disco music.
  • I am unsubscribing from ALL newsletters – apologies if I have unsubscribed from yours too. In time, I will resubscribe to the ones that I have time to read and that give me real value.
  • I’m taking a step back from social media. I’ll just keep an active – albeit scaled back - LinkedIn and YouTube presence. Quality over quantity.
  • I’m embarking on a year of buying nothing new (inspired by Jen Gale).

Now to the work changes:

In 2022 I’m focusing mainly on my university work – I want to give it a really good shot and expand my sustainability impact that way.

I’m not abandoning Green Gorilla at all. But I’m focusing my work on a few, selected activities:

  • I decided to revamp our newsletter and send one high-value, free newsletter on a specific sustainability / soft skill / behavioural change theme every month to my mailing list, with some quality content – sometimes written, sometimes audio, sometimes video. I want to have fun with it and research it and deliver it properly, not providing a half-baked thing. Interested? Here is the link to sign up: bit.ly/gorillanews ;
  • Coaching only a few people a month (up to 6 – no more, as it is fairly intense work which I love, and want to do well and be fully present for). If you are interested, I still have some capacity for the next six months. You can book a free chat to discuss whether this is something for you here;
  • I will host only one “boot camp” for sustainability professionals possibly in June or July, possibly on how to sell and communicate sustainability – details to follow - this might inform the book I want to write on this specific subject;
  • I will host only one “boot camp” for graduates possibly in October on how to start a career in sustainability and increase your chances to get a job in this field – details to follow;
  • I will still accept keynote speaking, and bespoke training and coaching corporate engagements, if I have the capacity for them. I can deliver a few “lunch and learns” for companies: here is the link to more info;
  • I will deliver a couple of Empower Sustainability Team programmes – if interested, get in touch;
  • You can still buy all the wonderful Green Gorilla eLearning courses, which you can take in your own time on demand, on our learn.thegreengorilla.co.uk platform, or a copy of SustainABLE if you wish.

 And that’s it.

The only new year resolution for me is to follow Oliver Burkeman’s and Cal Newport’s suggestions to “serialise” my tasks, i.e., concentrate on one thing at the time, and move to the next when I’m finished with that, making sure I deliver it to the highest standard by focusing on it 100%.

In the process, I’ll decide in advance what I’ll fail at while focusing on the important things – say, keeping up with the Kardashians?!

So, are you joining me for a slower, more intentional 2022?

The power of resilience in uncertain times

I will echo many other people saying that we are living unprecedented times.

Life as we know it has come to a weird standstill. Bars, restaurants and shops are starting to reopen after the pandemic, schools and offices have moved to our homes, and strikingly at odds with glorious, sunny summer days, an unseen enemy that doesn’t discriminate is plaguing the world: there are no poor or rich, no black or white anymore, because everyone is in the same boat right now, and at risk of the new coronavirus.

Those of us that work in sustainability have noticed the silver lining: Venice’s clear canal waters; clean air in previously heavily polluted areas; lots of bumblebees doing their job from flower to flower.

But lots of us have also started worrying not only about our own and our families’ health but also about job security. It’s pretty obvious that many people will come out of the global crisis without a job. Many companies live paycheck to paycheck, and we are already witnessing many causalities in the business world.

So, should we all bury ourselves at home and cry until it all goes away?

Although that could be a justified first reaction, I’d say you’d better use this downtime to build a glorious future career by taking action.

 

We always complain that we haven’t got enough time to stop and think; to spend with our families; to reflect and plan the future. Well, without the prospect of overseas vacations, we have that time now.

How can we use it wisely though, particularly if you work in sustainability?

The majority of us have now some time to think and reflect on our career until this point.

I invite you to ask yourself:

Was it incidental or deliberate?

Did I get to this point because I wanted to, or have I fallen from a job to the next?

Do I want to keep going to pay the bills, or do I want to feel satisfied and proud of my job and myself?


The next thing would be to understand what you really want to do next. What would make a real difference to your life and to the world?

Have you found your ikigai yet (i.e. that sweet spot between what you love doing, what you are good at, what the world needs and what it’s ready to pay)?


And finally, how can you get there?


The majority of us would look for that extra qualification or course we had in mind. Of course, this is a good time to add badges on your sleeve.

But think about the one skill we all really need at this point in time: resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back, which will make you stronger in the long run and teach you how to deal with those setbacks the next time.

Uncertainty seems to be the buzzword right now, and it will be for a while more. What do you need to do to become resilient at times like this?

In my book, SustainABLE: How to Find Success as a Sustainability Professional in a Rapidly Changing World  I dedicate a whole chapter to resilience and grit. But to get you started, here there are some reflection points:

  1. Don’t take it personally. Sometimes setbacks are not due to a lack of experience or knowledge from your part. Now, for instance, a global crisis is pushing things to go pear-shaped. Many people are being made redundant. It’s not your fault.
  2. Find alternative ways to channel your anger and frustration towards the current situation. Can you find one thing that helps you express your negative feelings safely? Exercise, singing, dancing, meditation, screaming in a pillow…? Then think about how you can transform that anger into propelling energy to plan your next move.
  3. Channel it until you’ve built a strong enough approach to influencing others and driving them towards your goals. This is the hard bit. Understand what you need to do to move on with your life. It will take eating some humble pie at times, it will take asking, or it will take negotiating – all things you might be uncomfortable doing.
  4. Think about how you can shine your light at times of darkness like the one we are all going through. Every situation has in itself opportunities for you to change, learn and help. See which ones are there waiting for you to grab them.

As a business owner, I’m not alien to negative feelings or fear. But I have some good tools to make me move swiftly from fear and paralysed inaction to getting organised and move on.

So on the 8th of September, I’m launching a new cohort of the SustainABLE Mastermind to support YOU, my fellow sustainability professionals, in your journey towards success.

It’s an online group made of likeminded individuals with the aim of growing their soft skills collectively and support each other in the process, in a safe and confidential space.

Based on the key skills of a successful sustainability professional, as identified in my book, every month the group deep-dives into different aspects of the sustainability field that commonly cause issues: eco-anxiety, procrastination, why your clients aren’t interested, work overload, selling when you are not a salesperson, and many more.

Each month we address those challenges as a group and support each other to shift our mindsets to find solutions.

If you are a sustainability professional and want to:

  • progress your career
  • push the sustainability message further
  • work on your skills to become more impactful, efficient and assertive
  • expand your network

Your Invitation to Join the SustainABLE Mastermind

I have created this mastermind group for you, to support you in your sustainability career journey at a time of unparalleled global changes, during which soft skills are even more critically important.

A mixture of webinars, monthly challenges, eLearning, hot seat calls and one-to-one coaching will guide you to build the essential skills needed to make a difference in the sustainability sector.
I will coordinate the group and provide tips, exercises and learning content to stimulate thinking and change, but the value and success of the mastermind is in its community of like-minded people, supporting and holding each other accountable in this shared journey.

In between sessions, participants will be able to interact and support each other via our exclusive Slack group. This will provide a unique networking opportunity.

And I'll give you a copy of my book too.

For more info and bookings, visit: https://www.thegreengorilla.co.uk/sustainable-mastermind

Registrations of interests are now open.

Places are limited because we want to have a deep connection and confidentiality as key strengths of the group.

And because I want to make a contribution to the world at this difficult time, I’ll give free entry to the group to one person who has recently been made redundant.

Please drop me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the reasons why you think the group can help you and why you should be the beneficiary of this free place.

Together, we can do it.