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A back story to inspire you to action

November 11, 2022

One of the reasons I do what I do – coaching people about their wellbeing, performance and career development – is because I want people to have a healthy relationship with their work. It saddens me to see people damaged by toxic cultures, difficult relationships, unsustainable workloads or a lack of direction. Lots of my work is to do with the emotional stuff, but as someone who’s had back pain the majority of my life, I know that the emotional stuff can manifest itself physically and physical ailments can have an enormous impact on how you feel and perform at work.

So this month I thought I’d share my back story (literally) in the hope that even if it inspires just one person to take steps to address something physical that’s impacting their wellbeing, that’ll be a good thing.

My back story

I’ve done office jobs all my life; being fond of numbers, I did some calculations and estimate I’ve been sitting down working for the equivalent of 10 solid years of seven-hour days!! 😂

But actually, it’s no laughing matter. That sedentary lifestyle has real consequences for the health of my back, and I’ve had bouts of acute pain on and off for decades.

At the start of 2022 I had one of those ‘final straw’ episodes except it was my back, not the camel’s, that felt like it was breaking. I was inching round the house holding onto furniture and lost a fortnight’s work because I couldn’t concentrate.

Enough was enough. This time I was determined to change my habits and three things are helping me do that.

Getting to the core of it

Firstly, I stumbled across Back in Shape, an online back rehab programme run by osteopaths. Clear video exercises and personalised advice in the supportive Facebook group have helped me properly strengthen my core for the first time ever. I’ve learned so much about my back and why I get recurring issues. When I started out, I was struggling to get in the car; 5 weeks later, I drove for 5 hours with breaks but no lasting pain. At £22 a month, this prevention is half the price of treatment and I’d highly recommend their free trial (I’m not on commission!).

Changing how I work

Secondly, after years of deliberation, I’ve invested in a standing desk. I wanted something flexible (I wear varifocals so can’t see the screen straight on) so opted for this table-top adapter from Harmoni. £150 for 4 bits of wood (sleek looking bits of wood, mind) seemed a bit crazy but I like it so far. Even if it cuts my sitting by an hour a day, it’s worth it (again, not on commission!)

Focusing on progress not perfection

Finally, the daily mental fitness exercises I’ve been doing since last year are keeping my perfectionism in check. Pursuing perfection is a real motivation killer. Rather than aiming for a complete cure, and getting discouraged when it doesn’t happen overnight, I’m able now to focus on progress and confident that with this growth mindset, I’ll keep up the good habits (Definite vested interest. It works so well, I now run the PQ mental fitness programme).

I bet my procrastination beats your procrastination!

The key learning I’ve taken from all this is that it’s never too late to tackle something you’re unhappy with. I first had back issues age 11 and was recommended then to do the exercises that have made the difference now! 39 years – how’s that for procrastination? What I know now from experience is that when you fully commit to something, and seek out the help to do it, you can retrain your brain and your body into new habits and behaviours.

So, what unhealthy consequences does your work have, physical or emotional? If you’re experiencing any, I hope this inspires you to take steps to tackle them. And if it would help to have a sounding board to provide encouragement and accountability along the way, please get in touch for a no-obligation chat.

About me

I’m Celia Clark. I’m a career development coach based in the dreaming spires of Oxford. I help you think clearly about your job, in all its ups and downs, so you can be happy and successful in your work.

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