From burnout and breakdown to discovering true purpose

From burnout and breakdown to discovering true purpose

Alice Thompson Posted on November 22, 2022 in Blog

For anyone who was watching from the outside, it might’ve seemed a bit strange that I left Social Bite – a purpose-led social enterprise I started when I was 20 which supports the homeless community and rose to fame with visitors such as George Clooney, Harry & Meghan, Leonardo DiCaprio and others.

Why would someone leave an organisation they started that’s doing such good work and flying so high it garners celebrity attention?

Well the truth is, it was a lot more complicated than that for me. In order to get Social Bite to the point where it was able to do everything it was doing, I worked myself into the ground and became addicted to putting other people’s needs before my own as a way to feel valuable in the world.

Five years into growing Social Bite, I had a mental breakdown that caused me to be pretty much housebound for six months. I experienced very real, very scary periods of psychosis and even considered taking my own life to make everything just stop. Not being able to trust my own brain was the most humbling experience of my life.

Where the public eye could see me smiling for the cameras at the ITV Pride of Britain Awards, I was having a panic attack in the hotel room just hours before, trying to figure out how I was going to be around people that night, never mind celebrities.

Social Bite had a far more modest start: In rural Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, where I was inspired by communities who’d lifted themselves and their families out of poverty using microfinance and social enterprise.

It was an eye-opening culture shock of a trip so being at events like the Pride of Britain a few years on, while an incredible achievement, just felt like a million miles away from where we started or the work I’d wanted to do. Feeling incongruent this way had become a real trigger for anxiety and overwhelm.

Eventually, after my 6-month disappearance, I was strong enough to go back to work. But it still didn’t feel like right place for me, it seemed like the bigger Social Bite got the smaller and less connected to myself or it I felt. So after a lot of therapy, it was only a matter of time before I wanted a coach to help me move forward.

I thought I was mad for not being able to enjoy the success. I thought a coach could help me fit into the mould of business whizz, a success loving, pedestal enjoying young businesswoman. But 18 months into working together, my coach called me out and asked me the most terrifying yet liberating question of my life…

“When are you going to admit that you won’t be truly happy until you leave Social Bite?”

She turned my world upside down because she heard what I was saying better than I had heard myself. This question triggered a profound journey of self-exploration, a search for what “purpose” even means and whether it can exist in our world of work without running us into the ground.

Hooked on the honesty, directness and liberation of the coaching environment I decided to share my experiences as a speaker and to study coaching. Once I got my qualification, I buried myself in the fields I felt important for understanding what had happened to me.

I finally started to piece together what professional wellbeing and purpose looks like when it’s healthy. I learnt about neurochemistry, breathwork, the Enneagram of personality types and trained in the Simon Sinek ‘Find Your Why’ process.

I began blending my knowledge of these areas with my coaching practise to deliver impactful talks and the best, most profound and liberating coaching service possible. And now that I’m aligned with myself, I will remain on this constantly evolving journey for the rest of my life.

Armed with the best toolkit for professional wellbeing, motivation and purpose, I’m ready to share this toolkit with the world through my speaking and my coaching practise.

To find out more about Alice and the topics she can talk about to inspire your organisation, visit her speaker page

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