Having had a couple of months of deliberate downtime, it is now time for me to start thinking about the “So, what do I do next?” question.

I ended 2017 reviewing my coaching notes and found a common theme there. It wasn’t hidden. I had just previously dismissed it as not being a “worthy” purpose. That theme is kindness. And my purpose is something like “Be kind, and help others to be kind”. There, staring me in the face, was the result of a visualisation exercise in March last year when the message I wanted to put on a billboard was


Among the strengths that others attributed to me during a later exercise were caring, kindness, and empathy. Like I say, the clues were there, I’d been looking for something more solid I think, and possibly more within my comfort zone.

I saw Hayley again last week for more coaching and was still struggling with kindness as a purpose. Partially because I kept having “But what do I do with this?” thoughts. She challenged me to ignore those, and proceed anyway. So I made myself a matrix.

I love matrices. One of my favourite time management focusing techniques is to draw up an Urgent/Important matrix and put post-it notes all over it to get an idea of what I should be doing, and what I should be delegating, or ignoring.

The more I thought about kindness, the more it seemed to work as a matrix.
The rows are who is being kind (me, or others).
The columns are who is the recipient of kindness (self, or others).

My work in progress kindness matrix

So the top left corner is all about self-kindness/self-compassion.
The top right corner is about me being kind to others.
The bottom left corner is about me helping others to be kind to themselves.
The bottom right corner is about me helping others to be kind to others.

For me, it all starts with the top-left corner and making sure that I know how to be kind to myself. That isn’t a selfish act; it’s a health act. If this were a part of Maslov’s hierarchy of needs, it would be there in hygiene factors. As air stewards usually remind us “Put your oxygen mask on before helping other people”. I already have some things I do to help myself - gratitudes, having a self-care toolbox, and spending time with positive people. But I suspect there is more to learn. So this week is a research week on the theme of self-compassion.

Other research weeks I’ve currently got noted down are:

  • gratitudes and why they work
  • reflecting and methods for unpacking tricky emotions
  • empathy

but I suspect they’ll change as I learn more.

It may turn out that I can’t make a living out of my purpose, but with more definition and understanding I believe that I can use it as a framework to help me to make more fulfilling decisions about where I focus my energies. And that can only be a good thing.