My Year of Listening Differently

Every year for the past 6 years I have selected a theme word for the year. Usually something that I want more of in my life, or something to keep me grounded. It has proven to be a powerful and often surprising ritual for me.

For 2017 I chose the theme of Listening. As a coach, this is a skill that I practice daily and I like to think I am pretty good at it when it comes to listening to others. (Now my husband might have a different view ). But I knew that a different level of listening was possible for me that I hadn’t fully accessed yet. The quality of listening I was searching for was more about listening within, rather than listening to others. My intuition told me that this would be the year for me to practice listening to my own voice, and that the voice would come from my head, my heart and my body.

Listening with my head at the mental level, is my natural go to place. I think my way through decisions, plan my days and weeks based on what makes sense in my schedule, and I love learning from external sources of books, podcasts and articles on the internet. Filling my brain with knowledge and my quest to “know more” so that I can make good choices is my comfort zone.

The first few months of 2017 I stayed in my head and “thought” my way through things by creating a course and taking an advanced coaching course. My brain was full and I was having fun and loving the learning challenge. It was my usual pattern of stretching and growing at a mental level.

Then April rolled around and suddenly there was a lot of struggle around me. Friends and family were having a difficult time navigating some serious challenges and after a wonderful conversation with a coach, I recognized that I needed to listen differently and pay attention to what was happening around me. I activated my heart listening and said out loud “from now on, my heart gets to decide everything in life and business”. This was not my normal way of being, and it surprised me how easy things became when I asked myself “What do I WANT to do in this situation?” instead of my usual “What SHOULD I do?”. I remember blowing off a networking commitment because I just wanted to be at home with my family. I also decided to postpone my masters degree because I would rather take 6 weeks off in the summer and spend it with my daughter visiting family and friends across 4 provinces. I declined a few clients because I didn’t feel the fit, and I was happy to refer them on to other people who could serve them better.

By late summer it was time to shift my listening to the physical level and pay attention to the signs from my body that I wasn’t treating it very well. I booked naturopath and doctor appointments, cleaned up my eating, and got back to the gym to move my body more. Focusing on less sitting, more moving and resting when my body says rest.

My learning this year has been fascinating, but it required this intention of listening on three different levels – mental, emotional and physical – to find the balance that had been missing for me. And the outcome of this year from a business perspective has been incredible. Everything I wanted to achieve from a mental level, still happened when I listened at an emotional and physical level. In fact I would say more happened, in an easier way with more flow and fulfillment.

How can you adapt the way you are listening? What intention can you create for yourself in 2018?