Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Are you tired of being available 24/7?

Is it time to turn off your work emails, log out of Facebook and allow yourself some peace and quiet?

A recent article titled, The busier you are, the more you need quiet time, prompted me to think about the impact of instant communication on our everyday lives and how it is becoming increasingly difficult to find quiet time to think, relax and rejuvenate. 

Instant communication dominates our lives, allowing us to be in continuous communication with others.  We are bombarded with communication through mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, email, WhatsApp and text messaging.  Tablets and mobile phones have become an important part of our day as we cling on to them in anticipation, waiting for them to buzz, beep or ring.

According to research carried out last year, the average person swipes, taps and pinches their display about 2,617 times a day and spends about 2.42 hours a day touching the smartphone display.  Furthermore, 87% will check their phone at least once between midnight and 5am.

The acceptance of instant communication being available 24/7 has weakened the boundaries of time defining when it is acceptable and not acceptable to contact someone and this has resulted in the incompatible overlap of work and play.  If your boss emails you at 10pm, does he or she expect a response that evening?  Is it right to answer a work email whilst giving the kids tea?  Should we be checking Facebook whilst at a friend’s house?  Is it right to be responding to personal messages whilst at work?  The boundaries are becoming blurred making it harder to understand when it is acceptable to switch off without undermining our friendships or work ethic.

This bombardment of instant communication makes us feel overloaded, tired and stressed.  We are starting to see people becoming disillusioned with the continuous flow of Facebook communication or increasingly stressed by the constant access to work email.  The return of the iconic Nokia 3310 has even caused excitement as we reminisce about the days of being unable to check emails and Facebook on our phones (although, I have recently read that these may have 4G!). 

Is it now time to switch off?

Have a think about how you can temporarily switch off from the instant communication in your life and restore the boundaries of your work-life balance.  Can you turn off your work emails at appropriate times of the day?  Can you limit yourself to checking Facebook once a day?  Can you allocate a day, or part of a day, each week for quiet relaxation?  Perhaps you can go for a long gadget-free walk, read a book or listen to some music. Just think how refreshed, fulfilled and happier you will feel when you allow yourself some peace and quiet each week.    

Ensure you take time out of our busy world to give yourself time to think and relax.


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Four ways to feel happier at work

We have all felt unhappy at work at some stage in our career and can recognise the impact this can have on our life.  Work misery can dominate home life, friendships and health making your work-life balance all about work and little about play.

If you feel unhappy at work, you have a choice.  You can keep doing what you are doing, making work misery the norm and something you ‘just have to put up with’, inevitably leading to high stress levels and further misery.   Alternatively, you can focus on making positive changes at work, giving yourself the chance to be happier. 

To help you make some changes at work, I have set out four focus areas:

1.      Support - Are you getting the right support at work?  Ask for help when necessary from colleagues and managers.

2.      Expectation - ensure you are clear about what is expected of you.

3.      Working hours – are you working long hours?  Think about your work pattern and spend time focusing on your productivity.  Are you taking too long on some pieces of work?  Do you set aside specific time for admin tasks?  Do you sit at your desk stuck on a piece of work instead of asking for help?  If necessary, speak to your manager about your workload.

4.     Challenge – Are you challenged enough? If not, perhaps talk to your manager about obtaining more work.  Can you be given a different project to work on?

Through making small changes, bigger changes will start to fall into place making you feel happy at work once again. 

Remember - if you keep doing what you are doing you will keep getting the same result.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

How to get a new job now – The three Ps!

How to plan your job search strategy and make use of all the resources available to you to enable you to get the best job for you.

Is it becoming impossible to get a new job?
The job market is tough – we know this because we read and talk about it all the time.  People are struggling to find new jobs and are becoming impatient and fed up.  However, getting a new job is not impossible.  You may simply need to expand your job search strategy to get the job you want. 

Your Job Search Strategy
We can often be in such a hurry to jump ship that we forget about our job search strategy and all the resources available to help us.  We end up limiting our opportunities meaning our job search will take longer and our chances of finding the right job will be harder.
Take the time now to focus on your job strategy using The Three Ps.
Planning: It is important to plan your job search, ensuring you use all the resources available to you.  Be organised and maintain a record of everything. 
Positivity: Go for it!  Don’t get disheartened when you receive rejections.  It will probably mean that job is not right for you and there is a better one around the corner.   If you focus on the negatives, you will only see the negatives. Having a positive focus is the best way to achieve positive results.
Patience:  Don’t expect a new job to come to you. Finding a new job can be time consuming.  Giving your job search the time it deserves will enable you to move forward efficiently. 

Planning, positivity and patience will help you get the best job for you.
Please read my new Job search strategy factsheet, ’10 Effective Job Search Strategies’ for further help on the resources you can use to expand and enhance your job search.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

How to cope if you are put at risk of redundancy

It can be a worrying time being put at risk of redundancy.  You may feel frightened, out of control and unsure about your next steps.  It can be very stressful time and so it is important that you look after yourself emotionally, be positive and take as much ownership of the situation as you can.  

To help you move forward, here are a few steps you can take: 

1.       Know your rights. Ensure you understand the consultation process. Seek advice on the process, your rights and your entitlements.

2.       Identify your strategy. What will be your approach? Do you want to stay or does redundancy appeal?  

3.       Take ownership.  Put together an action plan for your next steps.

4.       Build your self-awareness. Be clear about what you want from future roles.  What are your strengths? What do you enjoy? What work environments suit you?

5.       Consider your career options.  This may be a great opportunity for you to enhance your skills or change career.

6.       Start job hunting.  Use all job search resources available such as LinkedIn, networking and recruitment agencies.

Be positive.  Be proactive.  Be prepared.

You can’t control being put at risk of redundancy but you can control your response. 

For further information please read my fact sheet, '10 tips on what to do if you are made redundant’.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Stop waiting, take action!

‘The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.'
Barack Obama
What a great quote to start the new year!  It truly sums up the message I would like to share with you in this month’s blog.

Stop waiting, take action

Waiting for good things to happen can be a soul-destroying experience, making you feel hopeless as you revisit past mistakes and wonder why good things always appear out of reach.

Living like this can be exhausting.  Dwelling on past mistakes and waiting and waiting….and waiting….

Can I persuade you to free yourself from all this waiting? 
Can you let go of past mistakes and associated feelings of failure? 
Can you believe that good things are in reach and you can do something about it? 
As Barack Obama says, the best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.  Find the courage to try new opportunities.  If something doesn’t work out, try something different.  Remember, there is no failure, only feedback. 
Through believing in yourself and acting on your ideas, you can make 2017 an exciting year for you and your career.
Stop waiting, take action and have a very happy new year!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Don’t give up on your career!

Have you ever felt like a failure?  You may remember an incident as if it happened yesterday. We’ve all been there!  I can certainly think of a few times in my life when I have felt like this.

Feelings of failure can be very difficult to overcome.  We often cling on to negative experiences, using them to justify beliefs that we are not good enough.  We can be very hard on ourselves.

Unfortunately, these negative beliefs can set us up to fail.  They can prevent us from doing the things we want to do achieve, especially in our careers.  They also cause low self-esteem and perfectionism, making us feel miserable.  We can miss some amazing opportunities through feeling like this.

‘Do not be afraid!’

As we prepare for Christmas, we will hear this phrase from the Nativity story a lot over the next few weeks so how about using it to help you move forward with your career journey.  It may not be quite as dramatic as the Nativity but imagine how exciting it would be to start the new year no longer being afraid to pursue your dream career. 

I know it can be difficult to overcome feelings of failure.  However, it is possible and perhaps Christmas is the best time to start challenging those feelings. 

Can you find the courage now to overcome your fear of failure?

How you answer this question is your choice. You can choose to end 2016 dwelling on past negative experiences or you can choose to challenge your feelings, learn from your past experiences and enter 2017 with a new positive vision of yourself and hope for your career. 

Taking responsibility to change your beliefs will enable you to experience all the amazing opportunities the (career) world can offer. 

Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

How I made a career change possible

Many people really struggle to see how a career change can be possible.  Perhaps they are unhappy in their job but feel they should persevere with it.  Perhaps they do not want to risk changing career for fear of failure.  Perhaps they have absolutely no idea what they want to do.  

I changed career and, although I did struggle at times to believe it could be possible, I am glad I persevered as I did eventually discover what I wanted to do.  This is how I did it.

I initially trained in law and qualified as a family law solicitor.  I was attracted to this area of law given my interest in problem solving and helping people move forward with their lives.  I enjoyed tackling the challenges my caseload provided but, after a few years, my mind started wandering. I started to become more curious about the world of careers and the options available.  I felt there was more for me to explore and that I might be better suited to something else, something that was really me. 

After a lot of thinking time, I realised that I was not going to be able to leap into my ‘dream’ job from my current role and so I made the bold decision to save some money and take a six-month career break to enable me to experience different roles of interest to me and make a better decision about my career. 

I remember one of the hardest things about making this decision was having to justify it to people.  Why would I leave the certainty of my job in law?  Perhaps many people wouldn’t leave their job but this decision was right for me and I always knew that I would regret not making this step.  If it didn’t work out, I would return to law.    

During my career break, my initial intention was to do some studying and voluntary work.  My focus was on improving the lives of adults and children within the education and charity sectors.    
Within a couple of months, I had completed a Foundation Course in Counselling Skills for Working with Children with Place2Be and was offered temporary paid experience working in a primary school.  By the end of my six months and upon completion of my work in school, I was fortunate to secure a paid full time position as a Major Gifts Officer at Macmillan Cancer Support.  

Working for Macmillan was fantastic and, through witnessing the courage of those suffering from cancer, I became even more determined to find a career I was passionate about. 

It was during this time that career coaching started to feature in my mind.  Given my experience of moving from the legal to the charity sector, several people approached me for career advice and guidance.  I was surprised by the number of people who did not enjoy their jobs and the negative impact this was having on their lives.  I started to investigate the world of career coaching and found this to be a career I wanted to do.

I established my business, Tessa Armstrong Associates, and have now been working as a career and performance coach for almost 7 years.  I am using my past and present experiences and skills to improve the lives of individuals by enabling them to discover what they want to do and support them in getting there.  I am also currently keeping in touch with my other interests (children, education and charity) in a voluntary capacity.

Finding this career path took a lot of research, planning and networking as I thought seriously about what I wanted to achieve.  It also took a lot of perseverance to overcome the challenges and uncertainty along the way but it was all worth it.  I enjoy what I do and hope my story has given you something to think about. 

The biggest thing I learnt was that a career change takes time.  There may be a few steps to take and decisions to make before you reach your destination.  Be patient, be brave and focus on solutions. 

If you do not enjoy your career, are thinking of a career change or struggling with your performance at work, have a look at my free resources here and start thinking about your next step.

Imagine a world where we all felt fulfilled, confident and excited about our career choices!