Surviving the “November feeling”

I won’t miss November. November is routinely the most difficult month in my calendar:

  • Tired children – long school terms grinding their attention to detail down. Added fact that we are never teaching them at the best times (evenings and weekends)
  • Weather – many primary schools still don’t have the luxury of an indoor hall!
  • Clocks change – more chance of finishing an after-school club in total darkness
  • Lack of competition – summer is still a long way away
  • Parent queries – eg/ my son’s getting frustrated at the behavior of the group”….made even more galling when stated by the main ringleader’s parent!
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Summer sunshine feels painfully far away!

November is a month….where you may have to be on your “A-Game” simply to limit the damage. Do the best job under the circumstances. Still possibly receive criticism for it.

November is the month….where all transport networks go down the pan. Journey times double. The prospect of sitting in a tailback or bus replacement service, as time to make your next session ebbs painfully away. This makes November a time of awkward phone calls and apologies.

November is the month….where children drop out of courses. It’s hard not to take these personally. Some leave for legitimate reasons, others for flimsy reasons. It’s easy to forget, but everyone else is feeling the strain of a long year as much as you. Anxieties come to the fore. Methods and intentions will be questioned, lingering doubts (that you wish you’d known about before) expressed if they have been held in.

November is a month….which often seems never to end. Session after session blend into one another, becoming a ceaseless treadmill of hard work.

November is a month in which to SURVIVE, not THRIVE!

Get used to this.

How to get through it….and stay sane!

You aren’t alone in struggling at this time of year! Try to keep going!

Coaching as a career can chip away at your psyche. Bad periods are inevitable. Every now and again, your best plans will come crashing down around you – a combination of unfortunate events. Unless you are incredibly strong-willed, setbacks will affect you to some extent.

I have an existential crisis about once every 4-6 weeks! After this long (a decade and counting) I’m not immune to self-doubt.

There is not a single winter or summer that passes, without my thinking, “am I doing this right?….are all these problems down to me?” at least once! The difference is in learning to become more resilient. Finding ways to cope, and not suppress bad moments until they become crippling.

And remember that better times are round the corner!

Eat & live well

With fatigue, it becomes tempting to plan meals around takeaways and petrol station cafes.

My diet was truly appalling in my first couple of years in the job. This contributed to my bad mood, and my tank would run empty very fast each day.

I am traditionally a “night owl”. But this has changed with the years. Catch up on rest whenever you can. This involves a large amount of sacrifice, if you are in your twenties and enjoy a night out. But it is only short term.

Be the bigger man/woman

This applies to in the session and between sessions. Try to avoid getting involved in petty arguments, that drag your morale down. 

Children are more likely to get overwhelmed at this time of year. Many factors contribute to this. But the result is that they are more likely to over-react, see unfairness where it doesn’t exist, or just be silly. Even though you can’t just let them run riot, have some empathy….it is inevitable this time of year.

People will complain in November. This is as inevitable as Christmas displays in Sainsbury’s on November 1st!

Sometimes complaints come across as a personal attack. A common strategy is for parents to pile on an extra 3 insignificant points for every (half) valid point. Try to a) have some perspective – we all vent about colleagues/horror groups/customer service at times – and b) justify your logic/position/methods as calmly as you can.

Sometimes, all people are looking for is reassurance that you have considered ____, or have thought ____ through. November is a time where diplomacy is required more than any other. Unfortunately, it’s doubly hard to maintain, when you are weary and under pressure.

Doesn’t make it any less true though……


Even if you are not a routine-minded person, try and at least add a bit of structure to your day. Trust me, it will help.

Make sure you have a session plan well in advance. Even design a few in October, that you can draw on for inspiration….if you are lacking in any that day!

Recaps are often important around this time of a course. At this time of year, children often give the impression they have forgotten everything! They haven’t, their brains are just overloaded.

Put the phone down

You don’t need to go off the grid. But having periods away from technology helps refresh my mind a lot.

I read, do the crossword, write ideas in a notepad….anything to take the mind off the world. The paranoid side in me always assumes an email or phone call in November is a crisis or complaint!

I hate Novembers! Just 2 days to go!!

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