The past three months have probably taught me more about myself than the previous twenty years together. Being a professional coach, I’m pretty aware of internal and external changes because clients continuously force me to reflect. Despite that, the past few months still took me by surprise.

In July we were blessed with an opportunity to start a guesthouse, sell and buy property, and start a renovation project.

In hindsight, maybe it was a case of having ‘too much hay on one’s fork …’. But in my defence, I was a novice and never considered the real cost to these ambitious goals in the limited timeframe. And really our small guesthouse, Stellenbosch Gardens, needed a creative vision and the season was creeping up. And the kids have been begging for a pool… the list goes on.

Thus started the journey.

For me, the hardest take-back is how a real blessing turned into a burden of sorts that ultimately feels like it cost me five years of my life.

Within the first week of renovations I had to make – what I feel anyway – the most decisions I’ve ever had to make together. If you know me, I’m great at making decisions and rather specific with that.

I love it, to be honest, but I got to a place where I couldn’t decide what to eat. I would tell Marlene, ‘anything, please just don’t ask me to decide on anything ever again’.

I have learned loads. I am still learning loads. I will always love making decisions.

This time has taught me to be more flexible, not to always be stuck on only one solution, ‘cause what will you really lose anyway? Queen Elsa’s ‘Let it Go’ from the Disney success Frozen became a mantra and I’m a better person for it.

I was offered great advice a few weeks ago for times when it gets too crazy and you even act out of character. Ask yourself, ‘Do I really need to act in this way?  Maybe / maybe not?’ Try it and let me know what it does for you.

How do you use an opportunity like this to grow and develop into the person you want to be personally and professionally? You might be able to learn from the least expected source … Construction builders aren’t in the building business – they’re in the problem-solving business. If something goes wrong, they have to find a solution with what they have in front of them.

I think I’ve learnt from my builder more than he has from me. I’ll be welcoming our builder back for the next phase only in Winter 2017. But only after I’ve done some proper planning on my side!


  • Plan: Time isn’t on your side but anytime is the best time to plan.
  • Calmness in the storm: Find your calmness in the crazy – maybe time out, breathing, a nature walk, or yoga. Whatever brings calm to you.
  • Step by step: Your planning and strategy have set out the correct order of steps. Be patient and do it correctly.
  • Own it: Regain ownership by remembering it’s your project, your blessing. Control and action it.
  • Enjoy it! Too often we wish things away because of stress and challenges.  And we lose out on our enjoyment. Don’t regret not having made the most of it.

Author: Stanford Payne CA(SA) is an ICF-accredited executive and business coach