Last weekend I read Emma Gannon’s new book, The Myth of Success, which I resonated a lot with (hardly surprising, given the focus of my coaching work!). At the end of the book, Emma describes the concept of your “phase two”, which is a phrase myself and my husband use to describe our life/career pivots over the past few years.
This inspired me to write today’s piece, which gives an insight into my own phase 2 transition.
The backstory (aka phase 1)
A few years ago I was working full-time in the NHS as a doctor, having just completed the specialist training and exams I needed to qualify as a GP. In theory, I had achieved everything that I’d set out to achieve in my career and in my personal life.
But something didn’t feel right. I was constantly stressed, was suffering with migraines, recurrent backache and acid reflux.
I found my work stressful and was often anxious for no reason. It should have got easier over time, but it never did. I’d arrived at the point that I’d been working towards for the last 15 years and felt like a failure.
Yes, working in the NHS is stressful and hardwork at the best of times. But it shouldn’t have felt so hard; I’m resilient and thrive on a challenge. This felt different.
I came to realise that I’d been climbing a ladder to a place where I couldn’t thrive. Where I couldn’t be fully myself. Where as much as I tried, I couldn’t support people in the way that I wanted to because of the way the system is set up.
Something needed to change…It didn’t happen overnight, but change did happen.
The next phase
I’ve always called this the beginning of my “phase 2”
If phase one was about ticking off the expected milestones, aiming for the next level, phase 2 is when I got off the expected trajectory of doing things the “right way” with all the markers of external success.
Phase 2 is about pivoting towards a way of living and working that feels more aligned with my personal aspirations and values.
In her book, Emma explains phase two as “unlearning phase one and finding your inner contentment that does not solely come from the pursuit of more.”
My phase 2 is more following my inner compass, not the path that is set out ahead. It’s about finding contentment and joy in the smaller things. It’s about working in a way that allows me to embrace my strengths and true passions. It’s about having time for a walk in the middle of the afternoon if I want.
Phase 2 is all about choosing to create joy in each day rather than waiting until I’ve earnt it. It’s about being able to take account of my personal capacity and wellbeing, instead of ignoring it. Choosing when to push on and when to ease back. It’s about getting the best out of myself, instead of trying to get the most out of myself.
Why and when do we move into phase 2?
And a good proportion of the coaching clients I work with have either recently gone through, or are currently going through the transition into their phase 2. It might be triggered by ongoing stress or unhappiness in their work, or after life transitions such as loss, becoming a parent, or maybe children leaving home. They’re asking themselves “what now?” Peri/menopause is another common catalyst for moving into phase 2 – where our bodies are biologically moving into their phase 2.
These clients are exploring how they can build a life and career that feels more aligned and meaningful to them, that gives them space to take care of their needs and pursue what’s important to them, without guilt.
I don’t think we make an explicit choice to move into our phase 2, it’s more of an evolution that happens to us over time, an awakening, that we can no longer ignore. I’m also not sure it’s a place I’ve “arrived” at, more one that I’m exploring and (un)learning my way through.
What are your thoughts? How does the concept of phase 2 resonate with you?
I don’t have any specific reflection points for this topic, given that it’s such a personal one, but I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences – leave a comment or feel free to reply to me privately.
If you would like more information on working with me on a 1:1 basis – maybe you yourself are navigating your phase 2 and would like some support, then fill in my enquiry form HERE and we can discuss the best way to work together.