“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” Maya Angelou
What a way to start this week’s blog: the beautiful, inspirational and motivational words of the ‘phenomenal’ woman Maya Angelou who passed away this year. What a legacy of inspiration she has left behind, so much of what she says fits in with the work I do and I have taken some of my favourite quotes and used them to help me write this week’s post.
“I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.”
We all have to make a living and most of us go out to work in order to meet the needs of ourselves and our loved ones. I wonder if you are one of those lucky people who have found their calling and go to work feeling excited about the day/shift ahead?
In my line of work I encounter many people who feel unfulfilled or unhappy in their work and that their lives are lacking because of it. So this week I want to talk about igniting your passions and doing something that really makes you feel alive. After all (as far as we know) we only get one shot at life so best to make the most of it!
“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated”
Please don’t feel that it is too late to make some changes and work in a career you feel strongly about. Yes of course if your ultimate dream is to be an astronaut and you are of a certain age, chances are you won’t fly to Mars but you could work in a field related to your interest.
I bumped into an old friend in the park this week and she looked so happy. I found out that after years of working in a job she tolerated she realised things needed to change. She applied for and was accepted onto a midwifery course and is now in the throes of her training. She told me she loves what she is doing and I have to say was glowing with life. She told me that she had questioned whether (at nearly 40) it was too late to retrain but with the support and encouragement of her family and friends she had just gone for it.
I asked her about her choice and she told me she had always had the dream of being a midwife but it wasn’t until she reached her late thirties that she conquered her fears of failure and took her first brave step forward. If there was an advertisement for following your dreams then she would be it: happy, challenged, inspired and fulfilled. That could be you! “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it.”
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”
What is your story going to be? Let’s think about igniting the passion inside you and finding what could lay ahead. Imagine the chapters that could lay ahead of you!!
“Nothing will work unless you do”
To really concentrate on your passions and explore the possibilities of where you would like to go in your working life then you need time. This in itself is a job.
You need time away from all those distractions that stop you from embarking on some true soul searching. So take a ‘me’ day. Turn off the internet, switch your phone on silent and remember, there are to be no chores done today! Spend this day thinking, writing and planning the new chapter of your life and you can only do this properly if you are free from the chatterings and ‘to do’ lists that occupy such a huge amount of time, energy and brain space and remember “all great achievements require time.”
How on earth do I do this?
What has always been your passion?
Take a trip down memory lane and into the fold of your childhood. Can you remember the activities you loved most even way back then? Perhaps you were always an organiser or maybe you enjoyed constructing things out of Lego/bricks? Did you enjoy caring for your dolls/animals/soft toys?
Life after childhood can continue on a trajectory which for so many reasons means you don’t nurture those initial interests and shape them into a career. Look to the things you enjoyed way back then, chances are there could be something in those memory banks that could be the thing you were always meant to do.
I have written before about finding inspiration in the every-day. Be it the walk to work, a song on the radio, a book or a film. Songs, music, film and literature could all inspire you and lead you down exciting thought paths. Take a step back from what you are doing to look around you and
They could ignite ideas and thoughts. Read about people who are doing the job you have always wanted to do, how did they get there? What was their inspiration? How did they find the drive and motivation to succeed? Use their stories to motivate and inspire you and learn from their success. I thoroughly enjoyed Steve Jobs’ autobiography and without doubt have used his words to help me reach the places I want to go.
Turn your hobby into work?
Do you have a hobby that makes you happy? We often associate hobbies with free time and relaxation and can feel at our most creative and relaxed when pursuing these activities.
Think about it…could you turn your hobby into a potential career? Could you take an adult learning course to become more proficient or perhaps you could sell your own products? This of course takes planning and thought but it is a potential.
If you are lucky enough to be able to travel to different places then use that time to find the new you and think about your passions. There is nothing more eye opening and inspiring than seeing new places and experiencing different food, cultures and language. How does all this make you feel about the future? Use that energy to really think about what you want to do. Maybe it will eventually be something to do with travel and other countries…teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) or perhaps becoming a travel writer. So many possibilities.
Question, question, question.
You’ve set aside a day to concentrate on you. Fantastic! This will be worth it in the end, I’m sure. You can complete the next exercise alone or with a friend/family member or colleague and stick to good old fashioned pen and paper or use your iPad or whatever. Now is the time to ask yourself some questions and remember, this is your future we’re talking about so dig deep and answer honestly, challenge and push yourself. Here are some questions you could use to help you explore your passions and potential future, these are by no means exhaustive but hopefully will lead to some fantastic discussion and really open up your horizons.
What are your goals?
In 30 years’ time what would you like to have achieved?
If this was your last week on this earth, what regrets would you have?
What do you enjoy doing?
In a dream world what would you do?
When do you feel most confident and happy?
What are your strengths?
What activities bring you the most fulfilment?
If money were no object, what would you do with your life?
List your dream jobs, highlight positives and positive negatives?
What is standing in your way of changing your career-how could you overcome these obstacles?
What are your passions-what careers could you pursue that could incorporate your passions?
Research, experiment and try! Push those boundaries!
Now that you’ve done your soul searching go out and get involved with the activities you love doing and perhaps new ones on the way. Take the time to feel what is right for you and the things that could work. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and prioritise.
Fingers crossed that over time you your passions will soon become clear. Your ideal career path may now be glaringly obvious and this then requires an action plan. You may well find many obstacles in your way but set out, in a way that works for you a series of short-medium and long term plans to achieve your goals.
“We have to confront ourselves. Do we like what we see in the mirror? And, according to our light, according to our understanding, according to our courage, we will have to say yea or nay – and rise!”
Thank you Maya Angelou for inspiring me to live life to the full.
Mistakes can feel disastrous and when we make one it can be difficult to see out the other side. We are often consumed with feelings of failure, inadequacy and even self-loathing.
However, we all make mistakes at work. Despite our diligence, effort and commitment, errors can and do occur.
The important thing is how we react to our mistakes and the lessons we can learn from them. In fact, it is important for us to see making errors as part of the learning process. Rather than simply viewing mistakes as a negative try to think of them as something through which you can grow as a professional; use them to increase your knowledge, skillset and performance.
So here are a few ways to help create positive outcomes when things go wrong.
Accept that you have made a mistake and take responsibility. Don’t try to hide it or pretend it didn’t happen. You need to deal with the consequences and move towards a positive resolution otherwise you won’t learn from what has happened and could go on to make similar errors in the future.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. You didn’t intentionally make the mistake, it wasn’t malicious. The best thing you can do for both yourself and your company/organisation is to accept the error and think strategically. If you keep berating yourself for what you have done your emotions will cloud your ability to deal effectively with the situation. You must in essence forgive yourself in order to take your next steps.
Share your mistake with your boss. Straight away. Don’t delay because you are scared. Saying you’ve done something wrong is really difficult but your manager is there to help when things go wrong. As managers, they also know that mistakes are part of working life. Being open and transparent about what has happened helps to build trust with your colleagues; they will respect your professionalism in coming forward. Remember too, they will have made mistakes themselves and may indeed share their experience with you.
Plan. Take the initiative and present your boss/colleagues with a plan of how to rectify the mistake. You should have solutions and strategies ready for your first meeting, this demonstrates your commitment to moving forward. Look to your problem solving skills and devise a thorough plan with an achievable timescale. This is far better than turning up, admitting your mistake but expecting others to have all the answers. It may also lead to something wonderful-a new approach or solution that could really impact upon your workplace.
Work Hard. You may find you need to give up some of your own time to work through your mistake and subsequent action plan. Come into work a little earlier, stay a little later but show willing and determination to iron out your mistake. Your commitment and tenacity will be noticed.
Avoid Negativity. Perhaps you feel others were to blame for the mistake. This may be true and you would hope that such colleagues would admit the error with you. However, this doesn’t always happen and getting involved in gossip and finger pointing will have no positive effect for you. Move forward.
Question and talk. Ask yourself why this mistake happened and what you can learn. Take the time to do this in an organised and structured way using good old fashioned pen and paper or talk it through with someone you trust (not necessarily a colleague). This helps you to break down events and really delve into the core of the problem. In effect you work backwards and through this you gain understanding of the who, the what and the why of your mistake.
Here are some useful questions to ask:
What were the events and circumstances leading up to the mistake? Was it a series of small errors leading to a larger one?
How did the mistake happen-what did you miss or what did you do wrong?
Have you made any similar errors previously?
If you had the same situation arise, what exactly would you do differently?
What information do you know now that you perhaps didn’t know when you made the mistake?
What do you need to learn in order to avoid making such an error again? (Training/shadowing a colleague?)
How can you change in order to avoid the same happening again?
Now see the positives. Having taking responsibility for your actions, been honest and open, proactive and tenacious see how you’ve grown as a professional. Perhaps making the error has subsequently led you to an amazing solution to the initial problem, a new and improved way of doing things or even a whole new way of working that is more efficient/productive. The impact of such learning will not only be felt by you but by your colleagues and organisation. Who knows what steps you will take next!!
So you see now why I started with the quote “mistakes are the portals of discovery”? What will you discover and learn next?
Just to lighten the mood after all this discussion about mistakes-I think Big Bird had it just about right
Thanks for reading
Time for a Change?
I am going to start this week’s blog with the words of Steve Jobs. I really enjoy books by and about him, and his words seem so relevant to me and often inspirational:
Last week a close friend of mine resigned from her job. This was a role she’d been in (in various capacities including senior management) for close to fourteen years. She’d worked long hard hours to achieve status, recognition and career advancement. She made a difference in her line of work and was respected and trusted by colleagues and wider working community. Yet one day she walked into her boss’s office and handed in her resignation letter. She knew it was the right choice. She had made up her mind.
Friends and family asked her if she was frightened by the future or sad that she was saying goodbye to a career that could potentially go on and reap further financial and personal rewards. Her reply was not one of fear or upset but instead one filled with excitement about what lay ahead and the choices she was looking forward to making. She said “life is too short to stay in a job in which you are unhappy. I was unhappy. I was good at my job but it just wasn’t what I wanted to do and no longer challenged me in the right ways. In fact it challenged me in all the wrong ways. I knew it was only me who could make the change. I am looking forward to starting again and the new path ahead of me” She is not going to settle.
Does this ring true with you? What are the signs that perhaps it is time for you to start looking elsewhere?
This song always inspires me when I am making difficult decisions
Remember: You can dance right through your life
The ‘Sunday Blues’
I remember Sunday nights when I was of school age. That slightly sinking feeling as dinner ended and the Sunday evening programmes started to play. Thoughts of homework and the week ahead began to infringe upon that precious weekend time.
Cut to adulthood. On Sundays are you consumed with a sense of anxiety and worry about Monday? Do these feelings mean that you find it almost impossible to enjoy this last day of your weekend? Of course, most of us will think about what we’ve got to do the next day/week but ideally these thoughts should not ‘ruin’ what is in fact a well-deserved break.
Monday Morning Melancholy
Do you find yourself feeling physically ill on Monday mornings? Not content with making Sunday a day of upset and worry does your job mean that you physically dread what is to come?
I doubt many of us jump out of bed at the sound of the alarm on a Monday morning but you should assess your situation if you are overwhelmed with worry or anxiety as you set off to work.
“I’m not coming in today”
Sick leave and sick pay is there for a reason. It is an important part of working life and helps support people when they need it.
However, are you ‘pulling a sickie’ on a regular basis and misusing the system? Why is that? If you are phoning in sick just in order to hide from your job or avoid going in then you have to start making the changes needed to stop such behaviour; this could well mean finding a new job.
Not this again…
Not every aspect of your working life will fill you with joy but it is important that at least some of the work you do makes you feel positive. After all, your productivity and performance is affected by job satisfaction.
If you’re finding that you’re bored, listless and perhaps even resentful when completing your work then is it time to move on?
And another thing…
We all love a good whinge and moan at our partners after a stressful day or week at work, it is a form of catharsis and can be a way of unwinding and dusting yourself off after a busy working day.
However, if you find that all your conversations relating to work are negative and that the topic of work seems to dominate then step back and examine your role and position. Ask your family how they perceive your attitude towards your job.
Instead of working in a role that makes you so unhappy that you constantly talk about leaving or how much you hate what you do why not instead find a job that makes you want to share how happy you are and how exciting your role is.
The Final Countdown
Are you always on countdown? Countdown until the end of the day, week, year, next bank holiday or even retirement? I once met someone who crossed off her working days on a calendar with ‘freedom’ marked clearly in red at the end of her ‘sentence’.
We all look forward to our holidays and breaks from work but if you are constantly clock and date watching then you must be pretty frustrated. I know some people for whom work simply flies by because they enjoy what they do. Don’t you deserve to feel the same way, for at least some of the time?
I can’t get no sleep…
Picture this: It is the middle of the night, you are in bed and unable to sleep. Thoughts and stresses relating to work are rushing through your mind making you feel as though you’ve consumed too much caffeine. It is still a few hours until your alarm goes off, the thought of which makes your stomach flip.
The next few hours are spent in a dizzying frenzy of pillow adjustment, tossing, turning and sighing. Any slight noise outside or from your partner only serve to irritate you. Your mind feels crammed full of dates, times, issues, deadlines…I could go on. Half an hour before the alarm goes off, sheer exhaustion means you are finally falling asleep. The day ahead will now be even more difficult to deal with.
If work is causing this type of scenario to be familiar to you on a regular basis then you have to assess whether it is worth it. The odd sleepless night is unfortunately something we’re all familiar with but once it becomes a prolonged issue then your health and wellbeing is at stake.
Many people enjoy a glass of wine or nice meal at the end of the working day. However, if food or alcohol are becoming a crutch to lean on to help you cope with work then it is time to reassess your situation.
Too long in the job?
Have you been in your current role for a long time? Can you complete your work quickly and easily…in fact, does it no longer offer any real challenge? Perhaps you are now effectively overqualified for the position you’re in.
If you continue in this way then you could start to resent your job and company because you aren’t reaching your potential.
Have you considered what I would be like to work in a more stimulating and challenging role?
Take a look at those one or two rungs up the hierarchical ladder within your organisation, could you picture yourself doing any of those roles? If not, then what could you do?
Perhaps you find yourself working for a boss or leaders who make decisions you can’t agree with. Your boss may be a bully or a ridiculously hard task master. You may find that you no longer share the same vision and goals as those in charge.
These are all good reasons to consider whether you still belong in the role you are in. There are of course ways of working out a solution but you should also consider whether a complete move would be more beneficial to you and your career.
It is time for a change and you feel ready
We are all entitled to change our jobs simply because we want a change or because it feels like the right time to move on and broaden horizons. It is perfectly acceptable to seek variety and difference in our work. The last thing you want is for your working life to become mundane, it isn’t wrong to want to feel challenged and inspired in your job, and if you no longer do so then…what’s next?
So if you see an advert for a job which you think could be perfect for you then put in an application! You will never know until you try.
Thanks for reading everyone
I’m currently sat at my desk enjoying a cup of tea whilst I work through my weekly admin and social media tasks. Outside, another mild April shower is mixing with glorious sunshine in an azure sky; the plants and trees in my garden are green and fresh and it’s hard not to smile because at last…spring has arrived!
A time for fresh beginnings and new starts.
I’ve made up my mind to make a few changes to my life this year and I thought what an ideal topic for this week’s blog: How to spring clean your life!
What do you want to change?
Take a piece of paper. You could divide it into work and personal life or simply concentrate on one. Write a list of the things that are the same as they were last year but that you want to change. You could still be in a job you don’t like, perhaps you still haven’t achieved the promotion you’ve been after or maybe you don’t have an interest outside of work.
Seeing the things you want to change sets you on that path towards making things happen. Writing it down in effect makes it real; out of the realms of head space and into the ‘now’.
Does this all feel a little overwhelming? That’s fine, most people will feel the same. You now need to prepare your mind and body for this new start…
Who is holding you back? Break free from toxic relationships.
Are there people in your life who you feel hold you back? At work this could mean colleagues who are forever gossiping and engaged in negative behaviour. In your personal life maybe one of your friends puts you down or only ever talks about themselves. These people don’t make you feel good about yourself and they certainly don’t help you move forwards.
It could be said that relationships are a bit like a bank. Both people in the relationship will at some point need to take from the coffers, life/work throws an awful lot our way and we look to others for support and advice during these times. However, both people should also contribute to the account and if it is only a one way process then re-evaluation is necessary and in some cases the best thing could be for the relationship to end.
You don’t need to do this unkindly but do try and distance and release yourself from those people who are taking too much from you and never giving in return.
At work avoid the gossip and find people who are positive and enjoy what they are doing, it is good to like your job!
In friendships, don’t always feel obliged to return that call and you can say no to the meet up which you know will leave you feeling despondent and sad. It is ok to let go.
As I get older I realise that the quality and not the quantity of friends and friendships is what truly matters. Look forward to the future and walk there hand in hand with those special few.
De-clutter your home and workspace
This is a tricky one for working people. Sometimes it feels as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to fit everything in: work, family life and hobbies are juggled and managed as best as possible. So to spend a few hours tidying up your house and workspace may seem like a big ask.
However, it will also pay big dividends.
Faced with a seemingly infinite pile of papers on your desk or bulging cupboards (the contents of which teeter on the brink of a fall every time you open them) can have a huge influence on the way you feel.
Nothing is prioritised, you don’t know where things are and the result is that too many things compete for your attention and it is impossible to focus. This impacts on your productivity and sense of well-being.
Those clever folks at Princeton University actually conducted a study around this and what they say speaks volumes (this article is printed in full in The Journal of Neuroscience January 2011 edition.)
“Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.”
I found these two super articles which I think show just how easy it is to get on top of your home and work clutter and clearly outline the huge benefits of doing so.
So…get spring cleaning and who knows what you might achieve!
I am a huge fan of social media and I have experienced (and been grateful for) the benefits of using social sites such as Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook.
I also welcome newsletters and emails from my associates and contacts and find such communication invaluable.
However, I make sure that the people I follow and interact with are of benefit to my business and life and hopefully the same applies to the people who follow and interact with me.
As a busy professional I don’t have the time to read through everything that is posted and that would be made even more difficult if I was following/reading posts or emails by and from people/organisations who didn’t help me in one way or another.
So unsubscribe and unfollow. Time is precious and needs to be used wisely: not reading what someone (who you don’t even know) had on their sandwich for lunch.
Love your body
I am not a nutritionist and I am no expert on exercise but what I do know is that when I eat well and exercise there is an extra spring in my step. It is easy to feel sluggish and slow through winter when comfort eating and hot and hearty meals are de rigueur during those chilly and dark months.
So now that the weather has picked up and you are no longer making your way to work in the dark there is no better time than right now to boost your physical and mental health with a delicious and nutritious diet.
Use this new season to experiment. What new healthy recipes are out there for you to have a go at? Can you think of a more exciting way to get your five a day?
Think about what you’re putting into your body and ask “will that nurture me and help me to achieve my goals? How will I benefit from eating this item?” I am not for one minute telling you to give up everything you enjoy…nope, that would be another blog J No, what I am suggesting is to energise and strengthen yourself through the eating choices that you make.
The same applies for exercise. 30+ minutes of exercise will be a huge boost to your mental and physical health. It will help to provide the life and enthusiasm we all need to be our best and to make the most of each day.
Look for a form of exercise that suits you. I would go mad running on a treadmill and so a jive/dance class suits me much better, it may well be the opposite for you. Treat your body, make the effort and jump into spring!!
Dust off those cobwebs
Do you feel like your brain needs a good old spring clean? Do those grey cells need a boost? Then why not treat them to some learning?
My last blog was all about my new exciting foray into the world of reading. I can’t tell you how much of a lift I’ve felt from experiencing the delights that books (entirely unrelated to work for once!) have had to offer. My brain does feel more active and energised, I feel more alert and to be honest inspired. This has benefited me both personally and in turn professionally; spending some time detached from work means I am more focused when I’m there.
So if you’ve always fancied learning a language or you mourn the loss of an old hobby, what’s stopping you from getting back in the saddle and treating you and your brain to some ‘us’ time?
Go for it!!
Now, take another look at that list. Does it seem quite so scary now or have you itching to get going? How much more organised and energised do you feel? I hope your answer is a good one!
It is now time to make those changes, fuelled by all the benefits that have resulted from your new springtime approach. Let’s see where you are in a few months…
I wish you all the best for a very happy and healthy Easter
Thanks as always for reading
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.Posted: March 25, 2014
Read your way ahead!!!
The Power of a good Book
If you haven’t read the book by Dr Seuss from which I sourced my title then take a look at this you tube video. A singer/songwriter called Tim Moore has sung the book and it’s wonderful.
There are so many activities that I enjoy and which help to make that work life balance feel favourably balanced (for at least some of the time.)
I love dancing. I enjoy the freedom it provides and the way it makes me feel. I love to travel, to experience new and exciting countries, different cultures and traditions. Travel opens up the world and makes anything feel possible. However, I wanted something new. I wanted to set myself a challenge and try something that would enhance my life and was which I didn’t really do already and if I’m honest one which I could squeeze into my pretty packed schedule.
So I chose reading. I have read a lot of academic text books and I read an awful lot of work related literature every day but not fiction.
So I set out on an exciting adventure, to a bookshop and I browsed the sections that appealed to me and came out with a selection of books that I know will challenge, stimulate and entertain me. I can safely say I am thrilled that I chose to start reading for pleasure again.
The benefits that I’m experiencing have definitely made an impact on my working life. So I thought I would share with you my thoughts on the wonders of reading in the hope that if you aren’t much of a bookworm you might take it upon yourself to visit the library or local bookshop very soon. There are countless genres, authors and topics just waiting for you to try. Learn and Grow One of the main benefits of reading is how much you can learn.
Books expose you to new worlds, people, concepts, cultures, and places (I could go on!) expanding your mind and in turn: knowledge. Broaden your horizons; there is so much out there for you to know!
Reading helps us to understand the world around us and can help foster understanding and acceptance of people and places outside of our everyday experience.
Learning/increased intellectual capacity will have a positive impact on your self-esteem but is also sure to benefit you at work and socially when interacting with colleagues and friends.
Books are crammed full of words (obviously!) and gradually you will accumulate and in turn use a much wider and more varied vocabulary.
Your written and spoken language will also benefit as you experience and learn from the way a variety of authors use language for effect. You will be influenced and inspired by the craft of other writers. Prepare to be impressed by your own work!
When you read a fiction book how many characters/events/twists you have to retain in order to understand story? With Non-Fiction you will be provided with countless facts and statistics.
Your memory will absorb and work with the information provided and in turn increase its capacity and performance.
This also applies to problem solving and analysis of people and situations. As you read you will formulate your own reactions to events and issues presented in the book and think how you would deal with them. These skills are a demand for most of us in our professional and personal life and therefore more practice through reading will certainly benefit our real life performance.
Give yourself a thorough workout Your brain is a muscle and just like the rest of your body needs to be worked and exercised in order to remain alert and performing at optimum level.
The stimulation provided through reading will strengthen and challenge that grey matter and in turn improve productivity and performance.
Feed your brain with words and prevent it from becoming stale and stagnant.
Challenge and exert your mind with texts that awaken new thoughts and approaches to life. Keeping your brain active through activities such as reading can also help delay the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_exercise
Escape and Relax We all know that day to day life can be stressful and a lot of hard work! Most of us have vast array of commitments and demands which means we don’t ever stop for breath.
A book can transport you away, somewhere far away and best of all you get to choose where and with who. A good book can help you to escape and unwind and forget about the chores lined up or report due in on Monday: yes of course they will still need doing but taking a little time out will not result in chaos.
Taking some time to read gives your mind and body a chance to recover. Feel those tensions release and the stress ebb from your body as you lose yourself in a wonderful piece of writing; emerge from your reading session feeling refreshed.Reading will also help you to switch off and sleep if you are finding that difficult.
If you are suffering from stress or depression there are a world of books out there that could really help.
There is a huge wide world out there The books you read can take you to places you may never have heard of never-mind visited before.
Maybe you will start to build some travel plans based on the things that you read. I’m not saying everyone will start spending every last penny jetting off to the most far flung corners of our planet, you can find plenty of adventures here in the UK but hopefully it will awaken an appetite for exploration and adventure.
Life can feel pretty exciting when you know there is a holiday or adventure around the corner! The important thing is that we realise that the world is not centred on our tiny island and that the globe is one huge source of learning and adventure.
Appetite for life Reading books can also lead to new hobbies and the development of new skills.
Literature (of any genre) can inspire and motivate us into taking up new hobbies, maybe move out of our comfort zone but most importantly take up new challenges for self-improvement.
One of my friends read ‘Touching the Void’ by Joe Simpson and was so inspired by Joe’s passion and love for the outdoors/climbing that she decided to join a walking club. She is animated and enthusiastic when she talks about her hobby and it was the book that inspired her choice.
A photography book found in a charity shop was the inspiration for another friend to pick up a camera and start taking a few shots. Last month she enrolled onto a photography course at college…and it all started with a book costing just 50p .
Always fancied doing something but never got round to it? Find a book and be inspired. Who knows what you could be doing in a year’s time? Scuba-diving? Published your first novel? Maybe even volunteering overseas. The opportunities are out there.
Get Creative Of course, being transported somewhere magical and different, be that a historical period of long ago or into the mind of a successful entrepreneur will impact upon your own creativity at work and at home.
Reading exposes us to so much more than our own imaginations would ever create on its own. In turn our own responses and reactions to our work and professional life will become much more varied, our ability to draw a range of solutions or approaches to a situation will grow exponentially.
No problem… Not sure how to do something? Unclear as to how you feel about a topic? Got a challenging project at work? Turn to the books!
Read and learn how other people have approached your problem or situation; find out how other people feel. You are sure to pick up some great ideas and may even learn a whole new approach.
Learning through the experience of others is a powerful and transformative tool.
Focus Throughout writing this week’s post, I have been distracted any number of times…my phone, the internet as well as quite a few work related thoughts and questions which are buzzing around at the moment.
In this modern age of technology it can feel as though we are being pulled in a thousand different directions and it is hard for us to concentrate on one thing. This can really impact on our productivity.
Reading is an opportunity to practice your focus and being absorbed in just one activity. It focuses the brain and helps train us to concentrate. So switch off all modes of communication. Grab that book and absorb everything it has got to offer.
Fun! Reading is so much fun. Words can make us laugh, cry and shout and the emotional energy generated through reading is a wonderful thing.
You don’t need any fancy equipment, you can spend a lot of money on reading or do it for free through our wonderful libraries, maybe you can help out your favourite charity by buying your books from one of their shops.
What a treat to sit and spend some time engrossed in an activity which has so many amazing benefits. Read some books! Tell your friends!
You could even join a book club, give it a go and reap the endless rewards.
Thanks for reading
I want you to go back in time…yes, really!
Picture yourself when you first started in your current role. What do you see? A bright eyed bushy tailed employee, keen to make an impact, eager to do your very best, inspired, excited and motivated by the career path ahead of you?
Look in the mirror today. Do you still see that same person?
Maybe so. Perhaps you still feel exactly the same way about your job and are continuing to enjoy the fruits of your labour in what is a continually fulfilling and rewarding job. That’s fantastic and long may it continue.
However, I think I am safe in saying that a lot of you may feel slightly differently. At the start of something new there is a sense of adventure, exciting anticipation at what is to come. Move on a few years/months and naturally this sense of elation can dissipate when you find yourself slap bang in the middle of the reality of the ‘day to day’.
I’m sure you’ve all experienced a time at work when things just seem to be ‘plodding’ along or stagnating and that time of wonder and excitement seems a very long time ago.
You may have started to clock watch or feel that your working days seem to drag by and you lack motivation. This can and does happen to even the most enthusiastic of people, the key is how you react to such feelings?
How do you re-ignite that drive and passion that brought you to the job in the first place? Take a look at these simple ideas to help put a spring in your step at work and a capital M back to your mojo.
This is not a fix it plan for those of you who are truly dissatisfied with your job and are looking to leave. I feel that is a separate issue altogether and something I would be happy to talk about in the future. No, these are some small steps to put a bit of rocket fuel into your current working life.
I’m sure my song choice this month might raise a few eyebrows and I can’t say I listen to it all that often, but when I do hear it I feel energised and ready to tackle anything. It is definitely on the playlist I use when I need an extra boost.
Einstein got it right. Things won’t change unless you do. So if you’ve lost that spark then you must alter your habits, attitude and behaviour in order to regain it; nobody will do it for you. This goes for all aspects of your life. Accept and react to this concept and you will start to see a difference pretty quickly. This may not be easy, but the best things often aren’t and you don’t need to make drastic changes in order to make a huge difference to your ‘everyday’
There will always be people who say ‘I can’t’ or can only see the negative aspects of their working life. Step away from those people and say to yourself ‘I can!’ and look for what is good and wonderful in and about your work. Write down and fill your mind with your achievements, goals achieved, challenges surmounted and believe in yourself.
If you have a big project ahead or something which you know will be difficult, instead of losing enthusiasm or feeling defeated before you’ve even begun, write down what you need to do to succeed…and go get it!! Picture yourself at the finish line and start moving towards it. Visualise your success. Positive Mental Attitude all the way!!
Change Your Working Environment
You may be reading this at work or in your working space, if not, try this when you’re next there. Take a good look round, how does your working environment make you feel? If it is anything less than positive then it needs a facelift.
You spend a long time in this environment so it is up to you to make sure that it works for you. Try to make sure your working space becomes a vibrant and stimulating place for you to be.
Motivational quotes are widely available. Pick a couple that really speak to you and create some postcards or posters to display. Read them when you are feeling the need for a push in the right direction.
A couple of photographs of people or places that are important to you will inject some life into you when you’re flagging.
There are so many simple touches that could make a huge difference to the way you feel when you’re working: colour, art, new wallpaper, a plant…the list could go on. Brighten up your environment (don’t go overboard and make sure if you work in a group space that you don’t encroach on your colleagues’ areas) and create a space within which you can feel creative, motivated and inspired.
You could also change where you sit at work from time to time. A different perspective/viewpoint or sitting with a range of colleagues instead of the same ones can really help to mix things up a little bit and help to rejuvenate you.
Walk/cycle to work. Get off the bus/tube one or two stops earlier. Take a lunch break and leave the office! If at all possible complete some of your work in an outside space: park/gardens/café.
Whatever you do, try to get outside. We all need light and sunshine (yes, I know, in the UK this can be something of a rarity) and the boost we get from fresh air and being outdoors cannot be underestimated. It is easy to feel lethargic and lack lustre when our whole day is spent inside and the only ‘outdoors’ we get is during the walk from the car-park into the office.
It is an instant fix and will really help your energy levels and creativity-who knows what wonderful and exciting things you might see.
Work from home?
If your job/role permits it, how about working from home from time to time? By this I do not mean using these days as a chance to catch up on domestic chores and replying to a few emails whilst watching daytime TV.
I mean working in a different environment, surrounded by your home comforts and using the time to your advantage work wise.
A change in working environment, free from the politics we all find ourselves part of at work can be liberating. It can also mean you get a large chunk of work done without distractions-so make sure you don’t create alternative ones!
Imagine that feeling of accomplishment when at last you get through that pile of work that you simply haven’t been able to tackle whilst at work.
I firmly believe that music is food for the soul. It is also food for your creative and working self so use it to your advantage. Listen to music before, during and after work to kick start, inspire and motivate you. Feel like the day is dragging? Take a five minute break, find a breakout space and listen to a track you know will awake those feelings of positivity. Not looking forward to the day ahead of you? Create a playlist to listen to in the car/on the bus/tube and use the energy created within you by that music to grab that day by the horns and make the most of it.
Goals and Organisation
What better way to get your mojo back than feeling organised and ticking off achievements from that ‘to do’ list?
At the start of your working week set your goals for each day and for the week as a whole and feel a renewed sense of energy and satisfaction when, at the end of that time you can see exactly what a talented and accomplished person you are.
De-clutter your desk and de-clutter your mind. Tidy up your working area and make a concerted effort to maintain this throughout the working week so that you can get straight on with the task in hand. It is so distracting and such a waste of your precious time if you spend half of it moving a pile of papers from one side of your desk to another or searching for ‘lost’ documents. This applies to any type of working environment, not just a desk.
Return some order and prepare to feel energised!
Change the patterns of your working day
We all have a daily routine which in some ways provides us with a sense of stability and order. However, the same routine day in day out can really take the wind out of your sails and leave you feeling that life is mundane.
Small changes to the patterns of your working day could really help you out. Change your route to work or your mode of transport. Alter your lunchtime in some way, travel a bit further to buy your sandwich or even visit a museum or gallery. Is there a class you could take before or after work?
Try something new, break those patterns and see how change can make a difference to your thoughts and feelings about work.
Hmmmm, a tricky this one. I know how hard it is to maintain a healthy balance but it is important to try and make sure that you have a life outside of work.
If all your days simply consist of the following: work, sleep, work, sleep (repeat to fade) then it will be impossible to maintain enthusiasm and vigour. See your friends and family, keep up that hobby and most importantly have some fun. Change your priorities to include ‘you’ time.
The impact on your feelings of well-being and work will be marked.
Talk to people, learn from those around you.
Chatting about your feelings to trusted work colleagues, mentor or friend can have an amazing impact on you at work. We all know that old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ well, share your feelings and explore your options with them.
Be proactive and positive in these discussions, what strategies could you use to regain some of that enthusiasm? What are the barriers to your feeling fulfilled/happy at work? Learn from those around you.
You will find that people are more than willing to help and maybe one day you could do the same for someone else.
Nurture your body, nurture your mind
I think every single blog posting of mine extolls the virtues of eating well and exercising. If you put the right fuel into your body alongside a healthy dose of exercise you will find that your feelings and attitude towards your working life will lift.
Had ‘one of those days?’ Instead of heading off to the take away on your way home, why not head to a dance class or yoga session? At lunchtime, I know how tempting those sandwiches and cakes are but what follows is often an afternoon slump. An energising smoothie or perhaps some sushi will really help you to attack the rest of the day, and of course don’t ever forget breakfast!
So there’s a few pointers to get you started. Thanks for reading and speak very soon.
This week I want to explore the idea of job satisfaction and what better way to start than taking a look at Dolly Parton’s 9-5 video 🙂
Do you dread going in to work? Do you feel dissatisfied in your current role? You aren’t alone. Many of us are on that quest for the ‘perfect’ job. The job that will have us jumping out of bed at the call of the alarm clock to enjoy a day of fulfilling and rewarding tasks which, as a bonus we will be paid for with a wage befitting of our talents and expertise. That utopian ideal has to be out there, surely?
Maybe some of you have already found such a position! Other may still be on that journey…
In the meantime here are some ideas to help you feel positive about the job you are doing right now.
Start your day well
In my blog posting dated January 22nd “I’m Feeling Good” I talked about actively noticing the small things around you (perhaps on your commute to work) and using those sights/sounds to generate a sense of positivity.
If possible during your working week take a step back in the mornings to try and find something to make that day feel special. I know, with the current weather and temperatures that this is very hard but it is worth it and will help to lighten your mood.
Take time to have breakfast (hugely important, don’t skip this meal) and ponder the day you have ahead and find things you are looking forward to, even if that is coming home and making something delicious for tea! What is important is that you focus on the good in your life.
Exercise…this will always help to start your day well and in turn help make going to work that much easier, release those endorphins and gather your thoughts which will help give you the kick-start and enthusiasm you need for a better working day.
Again, I have already discussed the importance of a healthy diet and exercise and the impact it has on your mental health and perception of things in your life such as work. Please take a look back through my blog postings for more information, but my basic point is that taking care of yourself will have a profound impact on how motivated, energised and positive you feel.
There is little more satisfying than at the end of a working day seeing a ‘to do’ list with lots of ticks besides those tasks you’ve completed and deadlines you’ve met.
At the start of your working day ensure that you provide focus and direction for yourself with a simple and straightforward list. Don’t go overboard and set yourself far too much, but provide suitable challenge to ensure you feel satisfied once that list is complete. You should try and stick to tasks until they are complete and avoid committing to projects you know you can’t fulfil.
This can also apply to long term goals. You could go for weekly as well as monthly and treat in the same way as outlined with your day to day achievements.
Keep these lists in a book and over time it will bear witness to your efficiency and hard work. This will feed into your sense of achievement about work.
Avoid Negative behaviour
We have all encountered those people at work who enjoy gossiping and complaining about work and their colleagues. These people can have a huge effect on your own state of mind. Even if you arrive at work in a positive and buoyant mood if you surround yourself with negative people then without doubt they will impact on your own feelings and behaviour. Politely avoid the individuals and conversations that could drag you into that spiral of negativity.
Take charge of your professional development and treat it as an ongoing priority. This will help you to feel you are making progress and moving forward rather than stagnating. You may have a line manager or mentor who is officially in charge of this process but take an active part in what is happening to you. If you don’t think that you’re progressing in the way you would hope then address it with your manager, if you would like further training or opportunities then ask for them. Being proactive and ‘part’ of your development will again feed into your sense of achievement and success, hopefully avoiding that feeling of things being done to you rather than by you.
We all like to be acknowledged for the work we are doing and we can all benefit from constructive, meaningful and honest feedback. It helps us to learn and grow as a professional and take steps forward in our career. Without it, we can feel lost or unappreciated so it is a vital tool in any career.
If you don’t feel you are getting the feedback for development that you need then ask for it. This process enables you and your manager/customer/client to get to the core of your performance and provides the opportunity for praise as well as suggestions for improvement. This can provide focus/goals/strategies for an enhanced and more satisfying working life.
This is a difficult one in some professions, I am well aware of the demands of certain jobs which mean you don’t have much time outside work.
However, having a sense that you are more than your job is very important and finding the time to pursue activities other than the work you are paid for will impact on your overall feelings about your job.
Hobbies and a social life will cut the feeling that you simply exist to work and trying to find that balance (no matter how difficult) between your work and home life will pay dividends in the end.
Spend time with your family and loved ones. Their love, support and care will provide additional strength and resilience to cope with your work pressures and they need you as much as you need them.
If you are choosing to change career paths they can help, reassure and advise.
Communication is so important in the workplace. Second guessing and speculation leads to ambiguity and insecurity.
Talk to people. They may not realise there is an issue or might not be aware of a problem that seems glaringly obvious to you. Sounding out a problem and working through it with someone will take a huge weight off your shoulders.
It always helps to discuss and share issues rather than leaving them unclear. You can learn from others and ideas proliferate through discussion and group work.
Talking helps to foster clarity, respect and trust between colleagues, the benefits of such speak for themselves.
Take charge of the information made available to you and by you. Be proactive in seeking out the information that will help make your work life better and provide the information others will need to understand your role.
Don’t always expect colleagues or even your boss to fill in the blanks of issues you need clarity on, you will be disappointed and sometimes unfairly so.
It is easy to sit back and complain about a lack of information or that you don’t seem to know just what is happening in your workplace. Don’t just wait for your manager or colleague to fill you in, actively seek what it is you want to know and resolve worries and issues.
Help to create a pleasant working atmosphere
If you work in an environment with others then try to foster a positive working atmosphere. A bright and cheery disposition will help with that.
Bring in cakes, organise social events and group lunches. Bring your colleagues together and help foster friendship and a team spirit-you will all reap the benefits of a happier and united workforce.
Practice Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EI) is quite a complex concept, hard to pin down and even harder to ‘learn’ if it doesn’t come naturally to you.
However in a working environment EI is a hugely valuable and important attribute and will impact upon the happiness and stability of your workplace and colleagues.
Smile, laugh, listen, empathise, forgive, accept, motivate, show awareness: understand and work with the emotions of both yourself and others for a better purpose.
It is perfectly reasonable to find this hard but that doesn’t stop you from working towards a more emotionally intelligent state.
End your working day in a structured and reflective way and then switch off
At the end of the day set aside some time to reflect over your achievements of the day, think about what has worked well and what could be done differently tomorrow. You can then plan your strategies and goals for when you return to work. If you are in the middle of a big project which is going to take some time, write down the next steps in the process in order to mentally switch off once you step away from your place of work (I know, easier said than done but you should try.)
Once you step away from your workspace, try and leave all thoughts of your job right there. The end of the working day should mean precisely that. Go and do something completely different and enjoy some head space away from your everyday working challenges. Unwind in a way which works for you; be that an exhilarating game of squash or long hot bath.
Have you ever considered that this job is perhaps just not right for you? If you are really unhappy and unfulfilled in your career and can’t shake these feelings then consider your options and seek out change. It is perfectly reasonable to want to be satisfied in the work that you do.
Take a look at other vacancies and apply. If possible, shadow other professionals in roles that you think would be right for you. This process in itself is cathartic and proves to you that there are alternatives out there.
I understand the financial demands on people today but if your circumstances allow it try to find a job that does make you feel happy. You deserve it.
Thanks for reading