Increase your wiggle room

You might be yearning for change, or sensing something’s coming round the corner that you need to get ready for. You might not know what it is yet. Increasing your wiggle room is a good thing to do. You are likely going to need this, and there is always more fun to be had as well when you have more wiggle room.

What do I mean by wiggle room? This could mean a few different things.

Financial: It’s good to have what my friend calls, a “f***off fund”. A stash of immediately available money that can buy you a few months of headspace. That might not be where you are right now at all, but keeping “financial wiggle room” in mind might help you plan towards that. Pay down debt, actually sell those things you were always thinking about selling. Not locking yourself into bigger and more expensive things if you can avoid it. Reconsider some of your regular expenses if you actually need them. Delaying or reconsidering bigger purchases. Mend and repair. (A lot of this is also better for the environment)

Time: What are you doing right now? How fulfilling is it? How much space do you have for thinking about next things, about making change? Often change involves researching new fields, meeting new people, finding new communities etc. All of that takes time. This needs to go somewhere. If you want change (or change is upon you and you’re reacting), this is NOT optional, this is part of the work of figuring out the next thing. This might mean shedding some commitments or ways of spending time that are a part of your old life. (People often ask me how I find all that time to write. I haven’t had a TV since 2004. Most people watch several hours of TV a day.)

Space: Decluttering is always a good idea. Freeing up physical space can literally make space for something new. Or you find you have more space you really need, and downsizing might be a helpful step for more freedom. Or you might find that your shed could be the perfect place to start your new thing from. Look at your space and how it serves you, and what you can do to make it serve you better.

Playtime: Yes. Change isn’t linear. A lot of this will involve experimentation, trying things out, see how they feel and how they fit. How you fit. Don’t bet the farm. Explore. Be playful. This can be so much fun, let your curiosity take you places.

Where else do you want to increase your wiggle room?

I write more on making gnarly change better in my new book Or ping me for a chat.

Being a helpful friend in times of crisis

A lot of people had and are having a very difficult time right now. Often, only few folks know what’s really going on. It’s difficult to open up and seek help when there is already so much mess. Good support makes a world of difference and can really lighten the load for someone. Experiencing care keeps us within the fold of the human family, and that is particularly helpful when things have gone wrong.

Sometimes, though, the opposite of “good” are “good intentions”. Your approach to help can have unintended consequences that make the situation more difficult for a person who is already struggling. That is likely not what you have in mind as you are trying to help, so here are a few pointers, in no particular order.

When in doubt, ask what would be helpful first, and listen to what they say.

  1. This isn’t about you. This should be about what is genuinely helping the other person with their situation. Otherwise, they might have to manage your efforts on top of an already crushing situation.
  2. Don’t make your awkwardness their problem. The stiff upper lip is all too real, and the situation is often more awkward for them than for you. Use your bigger holding capacity to hold what’s yours.
  3. Doing vs. Being. We often think of help as “doing something”. Often there isn’t actually anything you are able to do. Being with the person can also help, that might be what they crave the most.
  4. Emergencies can require interventions. Like helping an addict friend to targeted support, or encouraging someone to leave a horrible living situation, or calling an ambulance for someone who initially refuses. Some of this can get messy and you might get yelled at and called things.
  5. You might never get thanked. Lots of rough emotions around. Try not to add yours. Doing the right thing has its own reward.
  6. Keep your relative privilege in check. Massive rifts might mean that your friend who might have been similar might no longer be in the same “lifestyle bracket” (and might never come back). Your ideas of help will now likely be vastly different from theirs.
  7. Plan WITH that person, not FOR that person. Whatever your idea, make sure this will actually improve their situation and not just add another project on top. Don’t insist if your idea doesn’t land.  
  8. Money stuff might change the dynamics of the friendship. Be clear what you are expecting if you help with money, particularly if this is meant as a gift, or a loan, and what the terms and conditions are. Also, your own self-care still applies.
  9. Show them they are still a part of the human family. They are still the same awesome human, the same accomplished professional even though their outside circumstances might be vastly different now. Participation will matter more than ever. Maybe they just want to talk about football or the neighbor’s cat rather than their current situation. Let them.
  10.  Ask before jumping in to problem-solve or to give advice. Jumping into advice mode is a lot of people’s default setting, and you probably have good intentions. Your friend might have already consulted lawyers or citizen’s advice or other experts for their mess, and that might be better suited than your neighbourhood whatsapp group or the hot take you just read somewhere on the internet.   
  11.  Resist the urge of bombarding them with this long tickbox list of questions “have you…”, “oh but surely…”, “but what about…”. These are about your own need for information and clarity, and this is unlikely to help your friend (unless they asked for thought partnering).  
  12.  No sales (unless they specifically ask). Social media can be a horribly ambiguous place. This is not the time to highlight the fact that your best friend runs this amazing program on “money consciousness” if you are indeed a friend.
  13.  No platitudes. Instagram pseudo-psychology stuff like “every cloud has a silver lining”, “love the life you have”. This signals something like “I am just going to ignore all the difficult things you just told me, I’ll just say something nice-sounding so I feel better”. An “oh shit mate how awful I don’t even know what to say” is better than a platitude.
  14.  Be prepared for the long-haul. Your friend might have experienced something that drastically altered the course of their lives. This might take years to mend. They will need all the strength they can muster as they sustain themselves for the long-haul. All support must help with that.  
  15.  No diagnosing. People who get to diagnose other people get a lot of training to do this, and often have to pass state health-board examinations or similar. Unless you did that and are qualified and use proper process, stay clear of labels. Don’t use labels with third parties. You might make their situation worse by spreading rumours. If you are worried of course do bring up the concern to get professional help and let them do the diagnosing.
  16.  Keep things confidential you hear. Particularly when your friend asks you to. Be mindful on social media and what you might inadvertently disclose about their whereabouts or circumstances. Your friend’s safety is more important than your feed.
  17. This is not your story. Big rifts have these epic, cinematic qualities, and some details are freakishly gruesome. Some of this might, indeed, make a great story later. This is, however, not your story, and likely isn’t yours to tell. If you need entertainment, read a book or watch a film and live a life rich enough so you will have your own conversation points.  
  18.  Respect boundaries: Theirs. This is particularly key when you work in a people profession and have some training that might or might not be useful. Helping professions, charities and similar organizations normally have rules of engagement. Coaching and other interventions need contracting. Don’t casually drag people into stuff. Respect your tools and use them responsibly. 
  19.  Respect boundaries: Yours. As a friend, your help might only go so far. It might not be able to fix everything. You might not be trained to do this, or it might be too much for you to hold on top of what is happening in your life. The long haul might be longer than you are willing or able to see through. You drowning alongside them won’t help the other person either. Be clear about what you are or are not able to do so you know what you are committing to. Help can come in different sizes. Thank you for yours.  

A longer version of this is a bonus chapter in my upcoming book “The DIY Phoenix – How to drag yourself out of the ashes, mend your wings and start flying again“.

What’s in a name

In some cultures, you get a new name after big life milestone events. It makes sense. In the Western culture I am in, it is not quite that easy. Modern life has a lot of paperwork going even without legal name changes. Immigrants are justifiably weary of messing with existing paper trails that offer at least some protection.

When I started my business, I named it Christine Locher Ltd., I started the Ltd. company just to be able to complete a project on a freelance basis. I knew there was writing in the offing, and I wanted the coaching to play a bigger part. Name it after yourself, I thought, that is least likely to change as I was figuring out what that wanted to be, how I wanted to contribute.

Well. You all get a good round of laughs now. Laughing with me, as the saying goes, hopefully, not laughing at me. I am Lior now. Lior Locher (not Christine). The paperwork is under way, and will likely take time (likely: years) between Covid and Brexit and many places closed.

Lior means “my light”, and we all need more of that (I started writing this on the shortest day of the year in Northern Europe). It is a Hebrew name, it is also gender-neutral, which is not a coincidence.

I wanted to affirm some of the changes in my life, and I wanted that to be real, not just when I get called to the Bimah, or because I think Lior sounds better. All in all, it feels more truthful. I feel more like me as Lior than I ever felt as Christine (and I still get it wrong in emails and the signature is still wonky, after being a Christine for 42 years).

Rituals matter. Coming out as yourself matters. Putting a stake in the ground matters. While I am normally the one supporting others in big change journeys, it’s nice to be on the other side sometimes, doing my own work, taking all the steps to make this take hold in my day-to-day, and putting my own flags in where I think they belong. Feeling how big change feels, at the full amplitude and occasional gnarliness of it all. Seeing if my practice holds, if the stuff actually work that I use with others. Doesn’t mean it ain’t gnarly, but it holds alright.

Put your own oxygen mask etc etc. You need a place to stand on to be able to support others. I have done major structural work on that platform. And now Lior is here, back. Ready. It’s still me, only a bit more so.

Reporting requirements (NONE)

Companies often have reporting requirements. People usually don’t, or not as much as we think we do. You don’t have to update everyone with everything that is emerging. You don’t. If you have a partner, you probably have a good grasp at what stage of thinking process and with what sort of topics they want to get looped into, and how (if not and you are sharing/building a life with someone, have these conversations!).

For most other people around you – it’s OK NOT to tell everyone everything immediately as you are figuring out what comes next, or as you are making changes or as you are hatching out entrepreneurial ideas. Incubation periods are a part of change. Not everyone will welcome change, and envy can make people do unhelpful things, even when they are your friends or family. As you are experimenting with reshuffling parts of your life or trying out something new – be choiceful about how much you share and with whom, and when. Give yourself time.

Gather your cheerleaders to support you – and keep your little hatchlings away from people known to pour ice water over everything until they had a chance to grow.

You will also find that, as you start to play in new fields, you will meet new people, make new friends, go to different events (live or virtually). This might need skills in prioritizing, setting boundaries and in negotiating and renegotiating that space as a lot of elements of your old life still continue at full speed. These are key skills for turbulent times. Make this a conscious part of your change journey. And if you don’t know where to start, start by making that space.

Part of your headspace will be occupied with lots of new things. Celebrate that. Check out that new scene, revel in being a beginner once again. It’s how new stuff starts happening, in creating those new connections between things, ideas, people. The more you can make this enjoyable, and find people who support you, the better. In all other cases, it can be OK to be quiet for a bit.

Check out the values worksheet here.
go deeper and get the book.
ping me about how coaching might help.