December 2022

For many this season brings with it a mix-match of emotions. The happiness of being together is tainted with memories of loss and loneliness. Its not surprising then that this isn’t always a time of joy for individuals or families. This year emotions are running deep for me. I miss my kids; I am sad about the death of several friends, and I sometimes dwell on just how empty my life has become since retirement. As an executive coach it is critical that you are in touch with your feelings, and your thought processes. Otherwise, you cannot help others around you. So let me be clear, I am so thankful for all of you and for my family. The following reflections are written to help those of you who are struggling with your own thoughts….

  1. This time last year we had just sold our family home and had made our way to BC for 3 months that was intended to sort out in our minds where we should locate for retirement. The house sale was both a sad and uplifting experience. On the one hand we were moving away from the place where had raised our two kids; but the maintenance for such a large house and yard was extensive – and it’s a relief that we no longer have that worry. We are happy in the condo that we now own; as it allows us far more flexibility.
  2. We are very appreciative of our friends and family (f and f). It has been sad to see some of them struggle during the year and others have died. However, we are the richer for having people like them in our lives, and any sadness is overwhelmed by the love we feel coming from f and f.
  3. I am blessed by the clients that have allowed me to touch their lives. I am uplifted by the many stories of endurance/ resilience and courage. Thank you for letting me share some of your journey.

Where does this leave us as we come to the end of the year?

I’d like to put an emphasis on how planning has helped me and my wife deal with some of our challenges, and remind you to integrate a planning activity in your life as you start a new year. For example, its improper to complain about being lonely during the Holiday season if we haven’t tried to reach out to others around us (i.e. arrange a dinner/ coffee/ walk together/ etc). Such activities usually take pre-planning because they don’t come naturally. My wife and I have become obsessive about doing this! When you do this most decisions become measured and consistent. Your calendar becomes the marker of such planning, making it easier to answer the question as to whether to do something or not!

What are the broader implications about using a planning tool? Using our example above, by planning our visit we were able to stay in BC for three months, which has allowed us to make a decision to stay in Calgary. The finances from selling our family home have been used to purchase a condo, and to shore up our investments. All of this was made possible by doing the hard work of planning ahead of time. What is the comparison between planning for the future versus living randomly? Planning allows thinking about the future, and forces uncomfortable conversations to happen before the crisis hits. Planning expands our horizons, because they force conversations about the bucket list, investments, and other pragmatic items. Living randomly sounds very romantic, but in my experience the glitter soon wears off when you haven’t planned appropriately.

I let my values and purpose drive the conversations about the future, and what we should do. Doing this together with a loved one allows you to put emphasis on the important things – you cant do everything so its important to be able to choose wisely; done more efficiently when you’ve been able to think through the issues ahead of time. So this rambling newsletter is intended to encourage you to seek out your friends and family this holiday season, and to plan when you can see them. It is also intended to remind you of the importance of planning activities for 2023. Just as the ad tells us “to let your fingers do the walking through the yellow pages”, so I encourage you to let your mind do the walking through potential markers of happiness and meaning in 2023. I wish you and yours a fantastic holiday season,

Peter Craighead

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