When New Year arrived on 1st January 2020 I was with family, taking time out from planning our upcoming move from London to Singapore. Looking back now it shows me we never know what is round the corner. We can’t predict the seemingly unpredictable. 
When we landed on 13th January to start our new adventure, I was apprehensive about getting my Singapore business started, but up for the challenge and excited about getting out there and meeting new friends and potential clients. 
On 23rd January Wuhan went into lockdown and the (as yet unnamed) coronavirus was all over the news. Soon after Hong Kong closed all its schools. “Gosh” I thought, “I hope that doesn’t happen here”. I networked with gusto and got all the formalities completed and set up my Ltd Company. 
On 23rd March my son’s school closed and my plans came crashing down. I cleared my diary of all the coffee meetings I had booked. I felt a period of despair. I started (trying to manage) online learning whilst growing my new business. I realised it was not going to be easy. I cried into my salad over lunch one day. I got angry about the patriarchy. Specifically, the practical realities of not being “the main breadwinner”. 
Then I drew on one of my strengths of optimism. It had to be OK. I wasn’t going to let it not be. Like everyone, I moved everything on-line. I accepted that I wouldn’t be travelling to see friends and family any time soon. 
I learnt a lot this year. Here are five of them: 
Slowing down is good, but it is hard at first. As someone who prides themself on working at pace and achieving a lot, the change of lifestyle this year initially came as a massive shock. Like running on a treadmill that stopped suddenly, I pretty much ran into the control panel and squashed my face. But after a while the enforced slow down and simplification felt like a good thing. I set myself more realistic goals. I read more. I sketch-noted. I pottered with my plants and my balcony got ever greener. I started an online stretch class. 
We never know what other people are going through. While I was finding it difficult never having any quiet time, in our apartment with the family 24/7, juggling home school and working, other people were struggling in a different way. A video call with someone home alone 24/7 showed me the flip side of the coin. She was isolated and lonely. She was missing human contact. She was working crazy hours, so she didn’t have to stop and be by herself. I stopped making assumptions about people’s situations. I started to be more grateful for what I had. 
Showing vulnerability may not come naturally, but it is powerful. I heard what is now one of my favourite quotes this year: “Vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but the first thing I look for in you.” (Brene Brown). I think we have all got more open about our vulnerabilities this year and that can only be a good thing. People are talking more about their challenges. People are showing more of their whole life. We are literally having people look right into our home lives in many cases. We are talking more about our mental health. That is a big change, even from five years ago. 
People appreciate when you pay it forwards. When I was still very new here in Singapore, I got stuck in a car park. You have cash cards here on your dashboard to get you in and out of car parks and my card didn’t have enough funds on. The cars were building up behind me and no one was answering the buzzer. My panic levels were rising. Then a stranger came to my rescue. He gave me his card and wouldn’t take any cash. He was literally my saviour and the happiness I felt then and for a long time after was wonderful. The power of kindness and the feeling of good in the world was immense. I have been looking out ever since for someone stuck in a car park to rescue. In the meantime, I also try to help people in other ways. 
Just because it’s not the ‘ideal’ time to do something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start. Something I sometimes hear from my coaching clients is that it isn’t the ‘right’ time for a job move so they will wait. I say, if you wait for the perfect conditions to make a change, there is a risk you will die never having done anything. Of course, everyone is different, and you have to do what is right for you. For me it was a case of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. Life is too short. Be brave. I wasn’t going to let a global pandemic stop me in my tracks. 
Here’s to a great 2021, whatever it may bring. 
For positivity, support and tips: 
Or connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ellierichpoole/ 
About The Author 
Ellie Rich-Poole is The Recruitment Coach. She coaches people at a critical moment of transition, helping them to move forward with positivity – whether in their job, their career or their country. She goes on the journey with them as a supporter and challenger to help them get to action and get results. This is often coaching individuals who are looking for a new role following redundancy or time out, identifying what is important to them and creating a plan to achieve it, or working with individuals who are new into their role. 
She also works as a Consultant supporting business leaders and HR Directors on a range of talent projects. 
She has over twenty years’ experience in HR, Resourcing and Talent Management and within Executive Search as a head-hunter. She set up her own business in 2016. 
She has lived and worked in the UK, Germany, Chile and now Singapore and enjoys supporting globally minded individuals and organisations. 
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