I speak and write a lot about leading from your core, and alignment plays a big part in this.
When I hit Burnout in 2013, I was not aligned with my values. I'd been working in a toxic environment that was causing me to be much less of the real me, and it was shaping me into something and someone that I didn't recognise. Determined to fix the issues in the workplace and to do what I knew I was capable of doing, I kept on pushing, kept on trying to fit, and I kept on fighting.
I had seven months going in and out of hospital, working from my hospital bed, refusing to be defeated, refusing to give in and refusing to rest. I had work to do and change to create and I was damn well going to make it work.
Fast forward to today, and I'm aligned to my core, to my values, and to my work in ways I would only have been able to imagine back in 2013. And yet it hasn't been easy to get here.
Burnout caused me to question everything. Who I was, what I wanted, what I was good at, where I was heading. I began to doubt everything I had done, everything I knew and everything I was doing. The intuition I had always trusted was now being ignored, because, my intuition would never have allowed me to burn out in the way I had done, so now it must be wrong, I couldn't trust it, I had to learn to go with my head much more.
But it wasn't my intuition that had gotten me to the point of burning out, it was my head. My intuition had been shouting at me and prodding me to get out of the toxic environment I was in, to stand up, to show up and to do what I knew I needed to do. My head had ignored all of the signs until my body quite literally gave up. And it took me years to learn to trust my gut again.
In 2015, 18 months after starting my first consultancy, I had a feeling that I needed to set up a community for Professional Women. The pull was so big that eventually, I gave in. I contacted some incredible women from my network to be the experts on various different topics, set up a really simple website, tweeted a couple of tweets and then gave up. My head was saying this was a ridiculous thing to be doing when I was so early on in starting my growing and successful consultancy that I shouldn't jeopardise what I was doing to jump into something else. And so I let it go. My few tweets hadn't brought the rush of Professional Women, so I must be a failure, best to stick to what I knew.
And I carried on until last June when this pull once again to work directly with Professional Women became so overwhelming that I knew I could no longer ignore it. And so the Kelly Swingler brand was launched and I began to work directly as a Coach for Professional Women.
The reports and statistics surrounding the growing concern of mental health in Professional Women over the last 18 months have been frightening. My coaching practice was growing as more and women got in touch to ask for help, and the enquiries became so much that I knew I needed a different way to support - and so, six years after the quashing of the Career Women's Collective, the Be Your Own VIP online community is born.
And I feel aligned. I am aligned. And I'm excited, and I'm nervous at the same time.
Being aligned isn't always the easy route, but as we know, we grow on the other side of our comfort zone, and this is where I need to be and this is what I need to be doing. And it's scary, and it's fun.
I know that whatever I do, I will be successful. And I also know that there are many different definitions of success. I had thought in my corporate career that I was a success - my salary and career progression confirmed this, and yet I was aligned to my values and therefore not happy.
Starting something new can feel overwhelming, and yet the overwhelm I feel today is totally worth it, because I know I'm doing the right thing. It really does feel like I'm starting from scratch, and yet I know I'm not. Everything up until now has brought me to this point.
We don't always feel ready to take the next step, but what might the consequences be if we don't take that step?
Are you fearful of being aligned?
Is your definition of success pushing you in the wrong direction?
Could today be the day that you take the step towards a more aligned and brighter future?
Kelly is an Executive Coach for core-led Professional Women who are ready to be their own VIPs. She leads and coaches with an open heart and an open mind and challenges the status quo.