5 things I’ve learnt from being back in the office full-time

After 18 months of working from home, I changed jobs and found myself back in the office full-time.

Here’s some of what it taught me:

I don’t need to be there
After working from home full-time for around 18 months, it’s clear that being in an office full-time doesn’t need to be mandatory for a lot of jobs.

Talking is easier than Teams
It’s much easier to walk over to someone’s desk and have a 2 minute conversation than it is to message them and wait for a reply which in one instance took 2 days.

It’s easier to switch off
When I log off, close my laptop and leave it in the office at 5pm before heading home it creates a good sense of separation. When I close my laptop at home and then sit at the same dining table to have dinner. There’s no clear separation between work and home.

Some days I don’t want to talk
It’s nice to be in the office and talk to people but some days I’m quite happy sitting alone, not interacting, typing away and reading documents. Being in the office when I don’t want to interact or talk isn’t ideal because it’s a social environment.

I like having the option for both
Being in the office means I get dedicated writing time on my bus journey and it’s easier to switch off. However, being at home gives me more flexibility in how I structure my day.

I think all of these things depend on the working environment. If you don’t like your job or your colleagues, it’s no wonder you wouldn’t want to be there at all. But if you do like what you you do and the people you get to work with then office is probably a great place to be.

A necessary break

Currently working on and through lots of different things in my life. I’ve allowed myself to take space from blogging in order to ensure that I’m not posting about things that are fresh and problems that I’m yet to solve.

A current theme for me is acceptance and I feel very lucky that my life circumstances have allowed me the opportunity to really focus on that. I’ve been learning new things whilst also revisiting past lessons. In the coming weeks and months I’ll be writing about it all. My aim is to get back to posting three days a week but I’m glad I gave myself a break. I needed it.

What is the most loving thing that you can do?

Imagine bearing the weight of all that is difficult and challenging in your life on your shoulders all at once. Then, imagine having to go out into the world with that load and pretend that everything is fine.

After a while the load becomes too much to bear and you reach a point where you need to step back, to withdraw and retreat.

That is the most loving thing that you can do for yourself.

When you don’t feel okay and you don’t feel well (as in your overall wellbeing is in poor condition), you need to take care of yourself.

Being in situations where you can’t fully honour and accept where you’re at only makes things worse.

When you’re burdened by challenges you need to replenish and care for yourself rather than constantly be in situations that require you to put on an act and pretend you’re okay.

That can be a a difficult lesson to learn when you struggle with being vulnerable or want to be seen as someone who always has it together.

Trying to make things happen

Have you ever found yourself putting time and effort into something whilst hoping for a very specific outcome? And then the more it seems like you won’t get what you want, the more you try to make things happen, the more things seem to not be working out.

I think most of us probably get some amount of enjoyment from working towards the things we care about. But if there appears to be no real progress, after a while it starts to feel un-fun.

This might feels like a reason to push and pull, to apply force and pressure to get a desired outcome. We do this because we think it’ll help. We think if we encourage a situation enough, that it’ll lead to us getting what we want.

We think we can lead a horse to water and make it drink.

But the outcome is often exactly what we don’t want.

We’re actually better off stripping things back and doing much less. And in doing so we can get closer to ourselves and actually check in with how we feel and consciously decide how best to proceed.

When something is not working, often the best thing is to simply fall back, do nothing and let things be.

Time to do nothing

I recently found myself with a problem.

My initial instinct was to solve it.

I found myself focusing my efforts and energy on figuring out the best solution but at the same time, I felt stuck.

Then suddenly, it occurred to me that I could just do nothing. This problem was the sort of thing that wouldn’t matter in the years to come, it also wasn’t urgent. Whether I took action right away or in a couple weeks would make no real difference.

So, I decided to do nothing which felt strange at first but it was also liberating.

How to avoid getting caught up in your feelings?

Around a month or so ago, an idea came to me that I found really useful.

The idea was that situations that emotionally charge us are a reminder to focus on ourselves. Instead of getting caught up in the moment, feeling bad or worrying, take some time to check in with yourself.

Perhaps you were involved in a situation that left you feeling upset. You could ‘go off’ at the other people involved, blame them or get annoyed at yourself.

You could also ask yourself ‘Why is this bothering me?’, ‘What can I do for myself to shift my mood?’ or ‘How can I take responsibility for the part I played in this?’.

Asking these questions assures you’re looking at the situation consciously, taking care of yourself and not focusing on other people.

How to tell if it’s working?

When you’re working on yourself, it can be easy to overlook the progress you’re making. Sometimes it can feel as if nothing has changed.

It’s not until you find yourself in a challenging situation and you are able to manage it so differently compared to in the past, that you realise the work you have been doing is working.

Perhaps, in situations that feel comfortable you used to default to playing small and hiding away. But, now you find yourself speaking up and allowing yourself to be seen and heard even though you feel nervous.

That’s how you know the work is working.

Wasting ‘good’ advice

Your good advice is wasted on those that just want a listening ear.

It’s easy to know when you don’t want someone to tell you what they think you should do. But how often do you extend that to other people.

Have you ever found yourself giving what you believe is excellent advice only for the person to totally ignore it?

Perhaps you weren’t paying enough attention to understand that they didn’t want advice in the first place.
 

Bent out of shape

People that are used to people pleasing know what it’s like to put their own wants and needs aside.

Sometimes, you convince yourself that you’re just compromising to find a balance. This is fine, until you realise that you’re the only one willing to change. This could all be with one person or apply to your life overall.

You can become so used to doing it that the thought of doing anything else feels wrong.

But the thing about bending, is that it can lead to breaking. However, before you reach breaking point you end up bent out of shape. By this I mean, you’ve spent so much time bending (meeting the needs of others) that you’re no longer yourself. You’ve become what you think other people need you to be.

When you’re engaging in the art of compromise which is the overlap in the Venn diagram of 2 people’s needs (or a balanced back and forth of meeting one another’s needs without self-sacrifice), it’s fine. The problem occurs when you consistently go outside of your circle into another’s, so that they get what they want.

People become so used to you doing it that they may even push back at you if you stop compromising for them.

However, sometimes it’s only when you stop and reflect on how you act that you realise you’re doing it but also the negative implications, one of which is your needs never being met.

A life changing perspective

A running theme throughout a lot of my posts (and what has become the baseline for this blog) is this idea of life’s challenges and difficult moments having a lesson or a takeaway.

Having this perspective completely changes your life.

You go from things like blaming other people, being overly self critical, treating yourself unkindly and feeling stuck to feeling empowered with the ability to move through challenging situations with greater ease.

Let’s say you like the way you look but someone makes fun of your appearance. On one hand you could get upset, feel bad about yourself and feel anger towards the other person for how they made you feel.

On the other hand, you could accept that this person has an opinion, remind yourself that how you feel about the way you look is what matters most and see if there’s something worth learning there.

If the persons comment upset you, perhaps the lesson is that you need to work on your self-confidence. The takeaway could be a reminder that other peoples opinions of you shouldn’t matter more than your own, that you don’t need to take on the opinions of others or that you need to become more comfortable with not fitting into other peoples standards/ideals.

And then maybe you’ll go away and work on these things. An example of this might be embracing the way you want to look by going a week wearing whatever you want as a way of learning to become more comfortable with looking different. In doing so, you’ll probably realise that it’s exhausting to allow yourself to be bothered by everyone else’s opinion and that you feel at your best when you’re just being yourself.

This might seem excessive to some but the truth is that you can choose the way you look at things and how you handle them. Imagine if you faced every difficult or challenging situation with this kind of perspective. How different would your life be?