Case Study: Draw Out Your Future – Liz’s story

Case Study: Draw Out Your Future – Liz’s story

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.

 

Feel inspired by Liz and keen to draw out your future? Book your place now for the next Draw Out Your Future 6-week course.

A fun icebreaker for you to try

A fun icebreaker for you to try

Icebreakers for virtual training  – what’s the verdict?

In my opinion, it’s even more important to have an icebreaker for a virtual training session than it is for an in person one.

Why?

When we partake in virtual learning sessions we miss out on the in person chit chat we have in real life, whilst grabbing a coffee or getting settled in a room before the training session kicks off. It is this interaction that helps us to build rapport and get to know one another.

Icebreakers are not just for online training by the way; a well-placed icebreaker at an online meeting can similarly help to boost engagement and start the meeting off on a collaborative note.

A fun icebreaker for you to try

Today I thought I’d share with you a fun one I used recently with participants from Secrets of Simple Graphics. Here’s how to run it, step by step.

Bananas Icebreaker

  1. Get a picture of a banana (from a free stock images site or simply draw one).
  2. Open up a blank PowerPoint presentation and copy and paste the bananas as many times as there are participants at your session (you want one banana per participant). Save as a .jpg.
  3. Share the .jpg during your meeting and simply invite participants to personalise a banana each using the Annotation tool.
  4. Admire everyone’s creations!

 

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2021 dates for Secrets of Simple Graphics online and the new programme Draw Out Your Future have now been confirmed.  Take a look >> 

Video: Meditative Drawing

Video: Meditative Drawing

Yesterday saw the last session of Secrets of Simple Graphics for 2020 and as we munched on our (non-virtual) cupcakes at the Afterparty Elevenses, the discussion shifted to the benefits drawing brings to our mental health, a topic I touched on previously.

As such, I thought I would share with you today a very simple technique I often use at the beginning of training or coaching sessions which really helps to ground and focus me before I begin – and I think the participants like it too!

Click on the video below to see how it’s done:

Meditative drawing

Give it a try the next time you need to centre your energy and let me know in the comments how you got on.

 

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2021 dates for Secrets of Simple Graphics online and the new programme Draw Out Your Future have now been confirmed.  Take a look >> 

How drawing helps with stress

How drawing helps with stress

Sometimes, when feeling stressed, the last thing you want is someone handing you a set of coloured pencils and a notebook, urging you to channel your stress in a creative manner.

Yet creative pursuits are generally seen to be a helpful antidote to feelings of stress and anxiety.

Recently I started to do some digging into the connection between creativity (drawing in particular) and the alleviation of stress.

Research led by Jennifer Drake, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Brooklyn College explored whether drawing reduces stress levels because it helps us to process emotions or because it helps us to escape from the thoughts and events that are contributing to our stress levels.

The answer? It’s all about the escape.How drawing can help with stress blog

Yes, we can sit and sketch out the pain of 2020, the argument we just had with our partner, our worries about the future and this may help us to process our emotions.

However, the true value is in the escape drawing provides. It takes us out of ourselves, out of our head where stressful thoughts lie.

The act of drawing something requires us to concentrate on what we are doing, to focus on what is emerging on the page. It is this level of concentration that provides the escape from stressful thoughts.

Start with a blank page and draw an item that is in your eye line. A cup, a biro, a piece of paper. Keep going, keep drawing until you feel calmer.

It’s important to pick an emotionally neutral object (so if the cup sitting in front of you is a gift from your partner whom you’re currently furious with, perhaps pick something else..)

I would love to know how this works for you. Give it a go and let me know how you get on in the comments below.

 

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Infographic: 10 ways simple drawings bring joy into our lives

Infographic: 10 ways simple drawings bring joy into our lives

Hello and welcome to another September week. It’s that time of year where I feel inspired to draw autumn leaves, mugs of hot chocolate, and thick, stripy socks.

In the meantime, I’ve been reflecting on all the little ways simple drawings can bring joy into our lives.

Here’s what I came up with. Hope you like it!

[Infographic] 10 Ways Simple Drawings Bring Joy Into Our Lives

How do simple drawings bring joy into YOUR life? I’d love to know. Tell me in the comments and I’ll include your ideas in version 2 of this infographic 🙂.

 

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Meeting our needs

Meeting our needs

Ever since being trained in the use of Person Centred Planning MAP and PATH tools back in 2002, I’ve always been a fan of using visuals for planning. I use visual planning in my own business, as well as with individuals and teams.

More recently I’ve been considering all the different ways we can use visuals for personal development.

I’m developing a series of visual templates and wanted to share this one with you.

You may be familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The author and coach Tony Robbins has developed Maslow’s theory to define what he calls the ‘6 Human Needs’. To help us to consider these needs and how we are meeting them – and in fact to take a step back and address more fundamental needs first – I have created this visual template.

Here’s how it works. Print out the template so you can fill it out. Feel free to add more doodles and drawings to clarify your thoughts as you work through it.

Meeting our needs visual template

Instructions for using the template:

1. First consider whether the basic needs of sleep, water, exercise and sunlight are being met (Tick the box underneath each need for all that apply). It is much easier to tackle change, make plans and move forward in life when these fundamental needs are being met.  If there is any need here that is not being met put energy into resolving this before moving on to the next stage.

2. Now from 1-10 score the level at which the following needs are being met:

  • Certainty/Comfort: The need for a level of predictability and security in life. At its basic level this is about knowing we have a roof over our heads, food on the table and people we can rely on, and that none of these elements are under threat.
  • Variety/Uncertainty: Variety is the spice of life (or is it?!) This is a need for change, spontaneity, risk and adventure, all of which are important in terms of adding interest and excitement in our lives.
  • SignificanceThis is the need to have meaning in our lives. We all want to feel important and to know that we matter to others and that we are are worthy of respect.
  • Connection/Love: The need to feel connected to and loved by other people, to feel part of a community and have close relationships.
  • Growth: This is the desire to grow, to develop, to learn new things, to stretch ourselves, to improve and to accomplish goals.
  • Contribution: This is the need to add value to the lives of others, to contribute to something bigger than ourselves, to make a difference.

Once you have considered the extent to which your needs have been met add each ‘score’ to the relevant section in the template. You may wish to draw a line between each score to highlight how balanced (or unbalanced) your needs currently are. For example, if you scored 6 in each area when you draw the lines between each one the result will be a very balanced wheel, however, if you scored 2 in some areas and 8 in others, for example, your resulting wheel may be a little wobbly.

3. Select three needs you wish to focus on (these don’t necessarily need to be the lowest scoring) and ask yourself what small steps you can take in the next week to move forward in each of these areas.

Reviewing our basic needs on a regular basis not only supports us in creating foundations from which we can make plans, it can also help to inform those plans. The next time you are feeling stuck or having difficulty moving forward consider printing off this template and taking time to reflect on your needs.

I hope you enjoy this visual coaching template (note: this template is for personal use only). I’d love to get your feedback! Hit reply to this email to let me know in the comments what you think.

 

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2021 dates for Secrets of Simple Graphics online and the new programme Draw Out Your Future have now been confirmed.  Take a look >>