We caught up with Liz Moss, who attended Draw Out Your Future in January 2021, to ask some questions about her experience.
What motivated you to attend the programme in the first place? What problems were you experiencing that you hoped the programme would address?
In all honesty, I signed up for the programme the day before it started with very little idea of what it was all about! The course was recommended to me by a friend and colleague during a bit of a peer coaching session. I literally took her word for it that it would be fun and good for me – so signed up on the spot without thinking about it!
I had recently left a really full-on contract and was looking for something to do that would help me re-set and re-adjust my work-life balance and regain some control on my brain and perspective on my life which I felt like I had lost in managing major organisational changes during a pandemic!
How were these problems affecting you?
I'd been working a lot of hours, supporting a lot of people for 18 months and work had become all-consuming. Having delivered the contract, I dragged myself through Christmas but felt a bit lost as I came into the New Year. I had a few bits of work on but nothing like the workload or intensity I had been working in and I felt a bit lost without the pressure. But I didn't really want to fill my time with more work! Whilst I was glad to have been working through the first few waves of the pandemic, I, like many people, also felt this was a bit of a wake-up call to focus on other things in life aside from work.
What other solutions did you consider?
Well – I am a bit of a workaholic – so I had a nice long list of things to do whilst I was less busy at work – another qualification, catch up on my CPD, update my website, refresh my LinkedIn profile etc.. but that wasn't what I really needed. I contemplated taking three months off and having a proper break but didn't really know what to do with my time and options were limited as we were still locked down. I love being busy outside with my dogs – but it was pretty cold so that wasn't too appealing at the time!
What reservations, if any, did you have about joining the programme?
As I said – I didn't really have a lot of time for reservations but my gut reaction was definitely "I can't draw!"
Followed by, I don't have time and this will be an evening commitment that might be restrictive.
The first reaction I decided to embrace as a bit of fun – and the second – well I couldn't really make those excuses stand in the circumstances so just told myself to get over it and get on with it!
What elements of the programme really resonated with you?
I really enjoyed the visualisation, creativity and drawing. Previously my visualisation and creativity extended to PowerPoint with a bit of clip art but seeing some of the techniques and tools for things that I use every day such as agendas, programme plans, action plans presented graphically just felt less intense, more fun and more accessible.
I also found the act of drawing incredibly powerful in helping capture concepts that are a bit hard to articulate in words. It gave me a new way of accessing and processing thoughts and communicating them that felt almost abstract because the act of drawing was distracting me from overprocessing and trying to describe things perfectly.
Whilst the drawing element was great, the overall course was very well put together and took me on a journey of just enough reflection on my life without getting in too deep – I could work at a level I was comfortable with and drawing made things seem a bit less serious. Each session provided the opportunity for a bit of self-reflection, awareness and thinking about what things I actually enjoy in life. It helped me realise that I am actually pretty happy with where I am and with a few adjustments to the work-life balance I can get the future I want. I feel like the course has given me permission to spend more time on the things that give me pleasure and energy in and out of work in a way that no other coaching or course I've done before has ever achieved. I'm much happier for it – although my house is not as clean and tidy as it used to be!!
What, if anything, surprised you about the programme?
This shouldn't have been a surprise but because I had been so fixated on work for so long – it took me a while to get my head around the opportunity this course provided to consider my life in the round. I'd gone in thinking it might be a good way to do my marketing strategy – instead, it gave me good ways to motivate myself to do things that were important to me – turns out that wasn't a marketing strategy!
What has been most surprising is that I actually love drawing – not in the classical art kind of way – but this simple graphic illustration is something I can do – and I find it relaxing and something I'm actually happy to share with other people – my drawings aren't perfect but they get the message across and create a more personal sense of engagement. I'm never buying another card again!
What did it feel like to be a participant on Draw Out Your Future?
Good. I'm a bit of an introvert and not that great at joining new groups or sharing personal stuff but I didn't really have to – I was able to participate as much or as little as I wanted to – there were opportunities to volunteer for demonstrations and opportunities to share the work we did but no pressure. The groups were friendly but professionally run and everyone was very supportive. Emer provided lots of useful information, tools and resources and always made herself available to follow up with if need be.
What would you say have been the impacts for you in Drawing Out Your Future? (personally/professionally)?
Personally – I have made little changes to my daily routine which feel like big changes to my life. I have a clear picture of the future I want and it feels realistic. I have the tools I need to keep focusing on different elements of my plan and when I feel I'm getting off track or have achieved them I can re-draw the picture!
Professionally – I have introduced using graphics into my work in a number of ways. As a coach, I'm encouraging my clients to draw things and they also are benefiting from the experience. I've also been using graphics to promote coaching programmes in a more interesting way on social media which has got some really good feedback.
How would things be different for you now if you decided not to join Draw Out Your Future?
Had I not done this course I think I would still be doing what I'd always done before – distracting myself with doing work and not really making the most of my life and being a bit frustrated about my work-life balance. Nothing majorly wrong with my before life but definitely got a new and more positive perspective on my work and life now.
What would you say to someone who is considering going on the programme?
Do it. Don't overthink it just do it. It's a few hours of your time that you'll enjoy and you'll definitely get something from it. Don't worry about not being good at drawing – it's not really about that – it's a really good course for reflecting on what you enjoy, what you're good at and what you want to do more of in the future – what those things are is totally in your control and there's no pressure to do anything you don't want to do. It's not scary and it's liberating to try something new.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I work with lots of different people and organisations and have a really good range of tools and skills to support different styles – I think this course has given me another set of tools and techniques to complement this.
Liz Moss is a self-employed business consultant who specialises in helping people be better than they think they can be and organisations work better together. She provides programme/project management for organisational changes and developments, coaching, learning and development, facilitation and mediation.
All the artwork in this article has been created by Liz.