Furlough Diary Day 9 – Confession

I’ve decided to come clean! Here is my confession. I mean no disrespect to those who are struggling, dealing with the loss of a loved one or are in despair. This is purely based on my life and my experience with Covid-19.

I am in SUCH A GOOD PLACE! In fact, I can’t remember when last I was in such a place, perhaps 1991. Naturally, the sunshine makes everything a little better and everyone a lot happier. As far as lifestyle goes, this is utopia for me and actually not much different than before the pandemic. My dream has always been to work from home and so I do, we already did our shopping online, I am already an introverted recluse by nature and my children are already home schooled by choice so no change there either. I’ve already built the work-life balance that I’ve always wanted so if you asked me how Covid-19 has affected me I would say that nothing much has changed.

What has made this place so good is furlough. For the last few years I have dearly wanted to have a sabbatical. Not a holiday, not a short break but a proper sabbatical. Even though I have built the lifestyle I want with the home-based work-life balance I enjoy, I have still overworked and pushed myself too hard. The framework has been in place but I have not kept to it. I’ve been through patches of working up to 110 hours a week, I’ve done far too many meetings, networking events and exhibitions and I’ve kept putting myself last.

Women’s Business Club is a beautiful and successful company that supports women across the UK but I have paid a high price to achieve this. Very few people know what I’ve had to do and sacrifice in order to get us to where we are today. My health being one of the sacrifices.

The elusive tomorrow has been when I have planned to slow down and take care of me. It’s always been when I’ve managed to get the company to a stable point and have a team that can manage without me. That day never came in the past seven years until Covid-19 when we were forced to make changes. Covid-19 didn’t ask if we were ready or if our team was strong enough. It didn’t ask if we had enough financial reserves or if our members would stick by us through thick and thin. No. Covid-19 hit us, just like it hit everyone else out there, and change was forced upon us. It was most unexpected and definitely not in the cash-flow forecast or business plan for 2020.

Within a relatively short space of time our awesome team converted our entire model into a fully functional online model allowing us to continue with business as usual. It’s been incredible seeing how quickly we have been able to adapt and how resilient we have been. Best of all we haven’t lost any members, everyone has adapted along with us, which has been phenomenal!

As the dust settled we had to take an honest look at the immediate future and had to acknowledge that our key income streams such as the conference, corporate memberships and other high ticket items had to be put on hold. Even though we were all going to soldier through and continue with business as usual the figures did suggest that some of us would better serve the company on furlough. I didn’t even dream of going down this route until one staff member actually requested it.

After doing some maths and chatting with our team we agreed that some of us would go on furlough. I included myself because to be honest they can do without me at this time. My strengths are strategy and growth, neither are of use when we need to purely maintain things during this time. In fact, I would do more damage than good trying to build the business when it needed a fallow season. So I took my finger out of the pie and left things to my awesome and capable team.

So why am I in the best place ever? Well, you see, I’ve wanted and needed a sabbatical for quite a few years now, even tried to take one on two occasions but it never worked. If ever there was a time to take a sabbatical is now and I recognised that and took the plunge. It’s early days and I have still had to do a few small work related things but already have found the change in pace refreshing. I feel completely different already and I haven’t even really got into it. I am really positive that for me personally, this season, is going to be life changing.

I will keep this diary up to date as often as possible but would love to hear from you too. How are you coping through Covid-19? Has it been a blessing in disguise or a really difficult time? I would love to chat with you and support each other through it.

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