Mind the gap is the title of my next book and is now available on pre-order.
This book is the most difficult one I’ve written to date. This will be my 5th book and is released on the 13th July.
With the other 4 books, they have been commissioned by publishers in the first instance. So the publishers have asked me to write a book, they’ve given me the word count, the layout and a rough idea of what’s to be in the book. They’ve also edited it and published it for me.
But with this book, I had some challenges initially. The title had been going around in my head for months, but I had no idea what I was going to write about, I just wrote down ‘Mind the Gap’ in my notebook.
I started to write it and contacted a publisher and I was so excited because I not only had this book in mind, I also had 4 more. I knew the order they were going to be in and why, everything was in place and I was over the moon when the publisher agreed to a 5 book deal. This 5 book deal is quite unheard of for someone like me.
But unfortunately it started to fall apart when it came to the finer details like the design and marketing. I knew what I wanted the books to look and feel like, the talks I wanted to do and I was hoping the publisher would be on board. I work with an amazing designer and wanted her to do the design of the front cover, and what I was really shocked about was that the publisher didn’t want me to use my own branding, they didn’t want me to use my designer and they got a bit funny about the marketing. They basically said this is how we do the marketing and if you are not going to play ball, then we are not going to work.
I needed this book to reflect me and I wanted to present it to the world in a way that felt authentic and right for me. To be told that both of those 2 things would be completely out of my hands and that they would have the final say over the final copy, didn’t sit well with me.
So this incredibly exciting deal that was given to me was not going to work and I had to withdraw from it. I had this gut feeling that it wasn’t right for me. I thought maybe I could find another publisher, someone better suited to me, but I had this internal gut feeling that I actually needed to self publish instead and do it my way.
In self-publishing the book, I’ve had a lot more freedom in what’s written and its design, but in doing it this way, I’ve also not really had a deadline. Without a hard and fast deadline, I’m a bit rubbish. Having that level of freedom felt great and also didn’t give me the level of urgency and stress that normally comes with a set deadline.
So I gave myself a deadline. I started writing this book before the lockdown in 2020. Then as we went into lockdown, I thought, great I’ll have all this time to write it. I probably wrote 2 chapters. Then I planned to release it in June 2021 and during 2021 I only wrote a few chapters. Then this year I decided enough was enough and gave myself the deadline of Power Up- my annual event on the 29th June. I wanted to be able to give the women attending the event a copy of my book on the day.
I didn’t have that same level of motivation doing it for myself, than I would have had with a publisher in my corner. Also, I had to give myself permission to just write what I wanted to write. I’ve questioned myself a lot. So all of these things combined, it has been the longest book ever from creation of the title to getting it sent to the editor and it’s been so hard to get the words on the page. It’s the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever written.
I have these 5 books in my mind and the sequence all mapped out. I did think sometimes, well why don’t I just start writing one of the others. But I knew Mind the Gap had to be completed first. This one is the reason, explanation and foundation for the ones that will follow. It’s about my experience with suffering and recovering from 2 burnouts. My experience with some of my clients and from burnout to beyond and everything in between.
I’ve second guessed myself, worried about it, put it off and I knew that once I had finished Mind the Gap, I had to then get on with writing the others. So I suppose I was using my delay as an excuse and a way to procrastinate on writing the remaining books.
My biggest learning has been; giving myself permission to not please other people. Giving myself permission to do things for me. If I’d had a publisher breathing down my neck and they said to me we want the book today, I would have kicked myself up the arse and got it done.
Part of me (which I’m still working on) has got that good student mentality. I think more so because I’m running my own business and the only people I’m accountable to are my own clients, myself and my partner.
I haven’t got the boss or colleagues that I wanted to be the perfect student for, I didn’t have the publisher breathing down my neck. I don’t have anyone to give me a gold star for being efficient and getting things done early.
What I’ve realised throughout the last 8 years of being a business owner is;
I need to be the reason to get out of bed in the morning and be proud of myself for doing all the stuff I’m doing.
I need to be the one to set my goals and deadlines and give myself a kick up the arse.
I need to be the one to celebrate my achievements.
For whatever reason, it’s taken me 41.5 years of my life to get to that point.
Ultimately, me doing all this will be really great for me and my community and I hope that a lot of what I say and do resonates with lots of people, or that people feel the permission to get the help they need or to share their own stories.
This book has been written for me. To show that I can do it, that I can make a difference and that I am worthy of celebrating myself and don’t need permission to tell myself ‘a job well done’.
Did you know on the London Underground, there was a man who used to say the ‘mind the gap’ announcements. When the man died, his wife used to go to the nearest station so she could hear his voice. One day she went to the station and found out that her husband's voice had been replaced with someone else’s as an automated recording. But one station eventually decided to change the announcement back to the man’s voice- just 1 station in the whole of London. How amazing is that?
Anyway, I digress. The title of my book was inspired by the London Underground. If you’ve ever travelled on the underground, at every station you’ll be met with a recorded announcement saying ‘mind the gap’ and as you step down from train to the platform, you will see the words painted on the floor ‘mind the gap’. Sometimes, that gap is almost invisible and tiny and maybe some of you haven’t paid attention to how big the gap is. Sometimes you have to step out a little bit further.
I’m sure the announcement hasn’t always been in place, it’s likely to come from previous injuries and accidents. My curiosity has got me wondering sometimes if the gap really would do any damage to anyone?
Then I realised the gap means different things to each of us. Maybe because of our size, our age, our concentration levels or the number of the people on the platform. So on a day when the train is quiet, I’m in my flat comfy shoes and I only have 1 bag to carry, the gap itself won’t be as much of a hazard compared to those busy days when there’s so many people around.
On the days where our thoughts are elsewhere, the gap will be more invisible, but more hazardous.
Sometimes the gap between burnout and healthy and ill is sometimes really visible and sometimes it’s not. One day your life is going along as normal and the next you’re thinking about jumping in a river or jumping off a railway bridge. I share my story of the river and the railway bridge in the book.
Since burnout has become more prevalent, I’ve seen many people, including me, talk about how we can overcome it and prevent it. We are all giving our own experiences and what’s worked for us. I know that my methods work for my clients and others will say the same. But one thing we can all agree on is, the gap will look and feel different for each of us. The signs, the warning messages and announcements telling us to mind the gap, will be around us. But if we live with the thinking that it will never happen to us, then we might just fall down that gap.
The gap for you between balance and burnout may be as fine as a hair, or it might be as wide as a valley. The reality is, we can’t just keep going, pushing, jumping through hoops and achieving until the day that we fall down the gap. I ignored the warning signs, because I thought that if I kept going it would lead to happiness and success, which it didn’t! It almost killed me twice!
I now know the warning signs for me and how to spot them in other people and if someone is teetering on the edge and about to fall in.
There’s no one-size fits all and I believe that the only way to stop ourselves reaching the edge or getting out of the hole, is to understand who we are at the core, discover what is out of alignment for us before we fall.
Understanding who we are at the core is the only bridge to stop us falling in and the only way to close the gap.
That’s what I talk about in the book, my experience of 2 periods of burnout. Both of which could have ended much more severely than they did. My experience of breaking through and beyond burnout.
The book is the announcement at the tube station. Some of us can ignore the message, some of us may roll our eyes, some of us may be completely oblivious, but we must know that there is a gap that will do us harm if we fall into it.
You can pre-order your copy here.
In 2013 Kelly had a successful leadership career, yet she was burned out, exhausted, and missing out on life with family.
Determined to enjoy the success that she had earned, she's learned to create a life of balance and boundaries that is also highly successful. Today at kellyswingler.com, Kelly helps women leaders all over the world to prevent and recover from burnout without giving up their career or jeopardising their wellbeing.