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Becky Hall’s new book aims to help people find more sustainable ways of living and working.
The premise of coach Becky Hall’s new book is that we are out of balance in many different areas of our lives and that we need to learn how to be, do and have enough. It certainly seems to bring together a lot of current themes around climate change and sustainability as well as the overwork and burnout which many feel. One of the problems is our relationship with the term ‘enough’. It’s not about being happy to be mediocre, says Hall. It is about cultivating a healthy and sustainable attitude to life.
Like many coaches these days, she sees a lot of people who are on the point of falling off the hamster wheel of work and life and feeling they are not good enough, whatever they achieve.
The book explores where our feelings of inadequacy – that we are never quite enough – come from and how we can counter them. Hall starts with mindset and with a focus on how we can develop the ability to notice the patterns we fall into when thinking about ourselves, the so-called voices in our heads. By being able to identify them we can start to offer ourselves some alternative narratives, she says. Those voices influence and are influenced by our unconscious beliefs and assumptions about ourselves and the world. Unconscious beliefs are hard to overcome because they are very familiar and make us feel a sense of belonging, she writes. However, understanding where they come from gives us more of a choice as to whether we go with them or question them.
The book covers everything from how our expectations about ourselves and being enough are held in our bodies and how there is a circular pattern to feeling more positive and balanced to how practical tips on setting boundaries and gaining more control, for instance, through timetabling uninterrupted quality time with your children, reducing the number of meetings you have to attend and scheduling time to focus on actions when you have the most energy as well as understanding what energises you and what depletes your energy. For many of those in their middle years, often battling with work demands and multiple other responsibilities, it can be hard to take a step back, but Hall and other coaches are all too used to seeing people who are in danger of being overwhelmed.
Hall argues that, in the digital age, “you have to set your own boundaries about how you choose to live and work”. That may be so if you are a senior manager or have a supportive employer, but lower down the ranks the sense of control is weaker. There is also a section on post-traumatic growth, which seems to be all the rage at the moment – the idea that you grow from trauma and develop greater resilience with time. Perhaps that is the case for some trauma, but it surely isn’t for all. But, despite these quibbles, the book will clearly resonate with many people.
It ends with a plea to recognise that ‘never-ending growth is a myth that doesn’t make us happy’ and to focus on transformation – what might be possible if we live within our planetary means – and on connection – to each other, to the past and to nature. Hall says that ‘the art of enough’ is a constant process which changes over time. She writes: “I have a hunch that there is a deep interconnection between our individual feelings of not being Enough, and our experience of being overstretched in our daily lives in service of doing Enough, and our inability to stop consuming too much – to say – we have Enough. That how we feel on the inside is deeply connected to how much we feel we need to do and ultimately how we can live sustainably together without harming the planet.” As we all run around on our individual hamster wheels, often feeling like imposters despite our years of experience, there’s definitely food for thought there.
*Becky Hall’s The art of enough: 7 ways to build a balanced life and a flourishing world is published by Practical Inspiration Publishing, price £14.99.