What Exactly is a Calibration – and Why Do We Need It?

Definition of Recalibrate
re·​cal·​i·​brate | \ (ˌ)rē-ˈka-lə-ˌbrāt
transitive verb

to calibrate (something) again … these systems gradually drift off course so that the navigator periodically needs a fresh point of reference to recalibrate the navigation system.
– Stefi Weisburd

Sometimes we’ve been doing things the same way for so long that we no longer remember how to do them any other way. Or maybe even why we’re doing them in the first place. So when something – say a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic – forces a shake-up, it’s a great opportunity to recalibrate and check our navigation system is still pointing in the right direction.

Remember when lockdowns, shutdowns and mandates were in place, taking travel, parties, eating out and general fun off the table? ‘Corona time’ became a thing. It was slower and largely unstructured, loosely zoned around exercise, work, Zoom catch-ups and food (ok, and maybe wine). With a basic human bias towards action, most of us still had a sizeable hole to fill. And so we filled it with some good old-fashioned introspection.

Without the constant hum of activity, we had time to think about our lives. Unsettled, uncertain and a little afraid for the future, we started to question whether there may be a better way to go about things. Relationships, jobs, family, houses, lifestyles, our wellbeing, even religion… there wasn’t much that escaped contemplation.

With pandemic aftershocks still being felt, self-reflection has become a constant companion for many. We’ve started to think about what’s really important to us, what we truly value in life – and to question whether we’re on the right track to achieving our definition of happiness.

This process of assessing where you are now, and working out what changes need to be made to get you to where you want to be, is called calibration.

Whether you decided you should change career, move to the seaside, run a marathon, be more present or start a family, the tricky part will be not reverting to the status quo once the pandemic is behind us. If you want things to change, but you go back to the way things were without an effort to correct them, you’ve lost the lesson. As Henry Ford said, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.”

You also don’t need to wait for another crisis to hit before you calibrate.

Think of life kind of like ‘The Sigmoid curve’. It’s a cycle of learning, growth and decline – if you don’t bring fresh ideas and innovation to the table, you can’t continue to grow and thrive. To lead a healthy, happy life you need to keep making changes while you’re learning and growing, well before you spiral into a decline. A bit like exercising when you’re healthy, rather than letting yourself get into a rut that’s hard to pull out of! Author and educator Helen Keller was spot on when she counselled people to “Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.”

Recalibrating means continually evaluating your values, and actively working to bring your life into alignment with them. To understand and create your own way of ‘be’ing’ – where you’re purposefully pursuing what brings meaning to your life – is the ultimate objective. 

What you truly value will shape your personalised definition of success. The societal ideal of white picket fence, big house, dog and 2.5 kids may tick none of your boxes – recognising that, and working towards your own version of success, is what’s important in the recalibration process.

If you’re unsure what values are really important to you, think about when you’ve been truly happy in your life. What was it that brought you that joy? Use this exercise to help you identify what’s important – it’s the only mandatory exercise I undertake with all my clients, because values are just so intrinsically linked to your version of happiness.

Once you’ve nailed down your values, you can create effective boundaries to help you focus your time and energy on staying true to them. Learning, growing and thriving, calibrating along the way to stay on track.

Wondering where to start? Try this…

Recalibrating your life can feel like a great big confronting task. So start with one area of your life – for the purpose of this exercise, let’s go with ‘work’.

If you started working from home when the pandemic threw ‘standard operating procedure’ out the window, you probably learnt a few things about yourself. And not just that you could Zoom like a fiend. Quite possibly you enjoyed an extra hour a day not packed into peak-hour transport, or appreciated being able to throw a load of washing on, take a walk or prep dinner during your breaks. Or maybe you simply enjoyed the freedom of a little flexibility, when most other freedoms were taken away.

If your work perspective has shifted, and you’re one of the 83% of workers that want to hang on to a more flexible work model, now is your time to shift the conversation with your workplace. Whether you’ve become emotionally attached to your dining table desk or want to log in from your beachside hacienda in Costa Rica, with over 40% of workers thinking about resigning this year, you’re in the box seat.

Consider the ways a calibration will honour your needs and discuss them with your team and workplace. Think about possibilities that will help reshape work to be more effective and enjoyable (for all) – it could be something as simple as blocking out hours that completely shifts team connection and productivity.

Recalibrating is all about reflecting on your values and adjusting your actions to stay true to them. Think back to your ‘Corona time’ contemplation, the dreams and ideas that sparked joy, and make a conscious effort to make it happen now. Winston Churchill was onto something when he wisely cautioned “Don’t let a good crisis go to waste”!

If you’re ready to make some real changes in your life, my Recalibrate Self-Paced Coaching Program could be for you. You’ll learn other life-long skills like value-setting and taking action to achieve your goals, as well as how to smash through limiting beliefs, bad habits and negative thinking. You can download an Info Pack for all the details, or simply get in touch and we’ll organise a time to chat!

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I’m an experienced career coach and mentor here to help you improve your mindset, motivation and momentum. I believe everyone has the power to change their lives. It starts with taking responsibility.