MUSE - Claire Harrison
Words + Photography by Claire
What are some rituals or self care practices you do to unwind on the weekend and stay grounded?
My self care rituals are not limited to the weekend! I have a morning routine that’s really important to me for my emotional health & wellbeing. As I work for myself from my home on Sydney’s Northern Beaches I’m able to carve out time in the mornings without the pressure of small children or a morning commute to the city! Mornings are a really important time for me to get centred and focused for the day.
It starts with some gentle yoga to wake up my body, then I go for a brisk 30 minute walk to the Avalon headland for coffee and some quiet time, just watching the sunrise, the surfers and the ocean. I find this a really calming and grounding way to start the day. In the warmer months I’ll go for a swim in the ocean before coffee but I find it really hard to commit to that in the middle of winter! Once a week I go on a longer morning walk with my friend Lizzie, usually somewhere around Avalon or Palm Beach, or in the national park. We talk about anything & everything & I always come away from our walks with at least one nugget of inspiration.
Once I’m home I meditate for 20 minutes, make tea & a nourishing breakfast and write in my journal before starting work. Journaling is essential for my creativity, so much so that I now run a one day creative journaling retreat - most of the answers we’re looking for are already inside us, we just need to find a way to access them.
My husband and I love the outdoors so we spend a lot of time either on the water paddling in our kayak or hiking in one of our beautiful national parks. Being in nature is essential for my mental health & wellbeing. I struggle with depression & anxiety & if I’m having a challenging day just getting out in nature for half an hour can really lift my spirits.
What are some positive impacts as a result of slowing down in the face of the world pandemic have you seen and see evolving in 2020?
The common theme I am hearing from my clients & friends is a real desire to slow down & reassess how they spend their energy & time. Many people I know are reassessing their work, their relationships, their stuff - all the things they thought were important. I am hopeful this experience will be the catalyst for people to change the things in their lives they’re not happy with, and that people will start to reconnect to and listen to their inner voice about what they want and who they want to be in the world.
More clients are now coming to me to learn meditation and explore mindfulness & creativity, and learn how to simplify their lives & live with greater purpose. This makes me really happy as we can start to create meaningful change in our lives when we take responsibility for ourselves and our own happiness.
What is the most pivotal advice you’ve received so far?
I’m not a huge advocate for advice giving, as we are all so unique, how I might approach something will be different to the way you might approach it. Having said that, people who really listen to our stories & challenge us to think differently by asking great questions & sharing their own experiences can really help us shift our perspective.
These moments can provide real insight and an opportunity to reflect. I’m also a voracious reader and I’ll often read something that gives me a lightbulb moment and shift the way I behave or think about things.
When I was thinking about leaving my career in advertising to start my business & was struggling with the decision a dear friend and mentor told me to have faith in myself & just go my own way. It has stuck with me ever since and was the impetus I needed to take the leap.
As a career coach and leadership mentor what are some of the most frequently recurring patterns you see when leaders face obstacles to growth and at large how do they overcome and rise above?
This is a great question and I’ll try not to give a really long answer! Most of my clients are women and I see the same themes over and over again. Firstly, perfectionism is a huge issue with women, so many of us struggle with trying to be perfect, do perfect work & be our best selves all the time. It’s exhausting. This leads me to the second one, women are really struggling with how to manage their energy & burnout is a real issue. Thirdly, we don’t spend enough time cultivating our relationships at work. We rarely proactively seek mentors or coaches to support us, or build relationships across our organisation at every level. We think if we do a great job and tick all the boxes that will be enough to get us promoted and doing work we love. Unfortunately this is just not the case. Relationships mean more than we realise when it comes to our careers - whether you work for yourself or for someone else.
To become a great leader & happy human it’s essential to know your strengths & values and put them to work so your life has meaning. Adopting a positive mindset, being curious & resilient in the face of setbacks, building strong relationships, finding and using your voice, being confident & collaborative with others & letting go of perfectionism are all essential skills not just for leaders but for life generally. Amazing things happen when we get out of the waiting room, take responsibility for ourselves & embrace life on our own terms.