Tuesday, 21 December 2010

What do you want for Christmas?

After a bad day at work, do you find yourself listing all the things you are not happy with and do not want your career to include?  We’ve all been there!

When things aren’t going well, many of us find ourselves focusing on what is wrong and what we don’t want rather than what we have and what we want.  We don’t want a boring job.  We don’t want a long commute.  We don’t feel valued or appreciated.  If this sounds familiar, you are not alone but what does this achieve?  

Have a think about what would happen if you gave Father Christmas a list of things you don’t like or don’t want for Christmas!  Will your stocking be empty?  You will certainly be in less control of receiving what you want.

Treat your career in the same way as you treat Christmas!  To increase your chances of pursuing a fulfilling career have a think about what you like and what you want, not what you don’t want.  What do you like about your current job?  What do you want from your next job?  How short do you want your commute to be?  How do you want to feel on a Sunday evening? 

To help you on your way, answer the following questions as you reflect on 2010 and move forward into 2011: 

·         What is your biggest achievement of 2010?
·         How did you celebrate? (If you didn’t, make plans to celebrate now!)
·         What did you most enjoy in 2010?
·         What are you most grateful for?
·         What do you want to achieve in 2011?

What is it like to now be opening a full stocking of presents on Christmas Day?!   

Have a fantastic Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Monday, 13 December 2010

It’s that time of year again....are you thinking about your New Year's Resolutions?

As I was thinking about what I wanted to achieve next year in both my business and personal life, a memory popped into my head which I would really like to share with you.

In 2004, I spent a short time volunteering in South Africa for an organisation which cares for vulnerable children and alleviates the suffering of families affected by HIV, AIDS and poverty.   Whilst I was there, I got to know a young boy who lived in one of the 22 poverty stricken villages covered by the organisation.   He was a very intelligent boy and spoke excellent English despite it not being his first language.  Sadly, I cannot write as positively about his personal circumstances.  Both his parents had died in the previous year and he was having a tough time living with his grandmother who was verbally abusive towards him and frequently threatened to hit him.  This was his life in the developing world. 

One day this boy said to me that he had a dream to study engineering in England.  Wow, I thought, what a fantastic ambition for a young boy living here!  However, as I reflected on this, I realised that in reality it was extremely unlikely that he would be able to pursue his dream.  Given his circumstances of living in a poverty struck village in the developing world, career opportunities and choices were limited.  His future career was largely out of his control.

My intention of sharing this with you is to provide you with the motivation to start reflecting on the changes you want to make next year and to think about the opportunities and choices available to you.  My last blog was about your past and current life story.  It is now time to write your 2011 story! Write down what you really want to achieve and when you want to achieve it.  Simply make it as specific as you can and ensure that it is within your responsibility.  Unlike the boy in Africa, you have a great degree of flexibility and control - use it to your advantage and conquer that Sunday evening feeling!

On a similar subject, you may be interested in reading my article ‘Feeling good about your career in the New Year’.  It is written for lawyers but don’t let that put you off!  The article can relate to everyone’s working life!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

How do you make the Sunday evening feeling a good feeling?

Welcome to my first post on my career coaching blog!  For those of you who have experience of that ‘Sunday evening feeling’, my career coaching blog is especially for you!

Before my first session with clients, I often ask them to provide me with a brief summary of their background.  This can include their career history, aspects of their career/life they enjoyed/disliked, and satisfying career or life achievements.  Not only does this information provide me with a useful background about the individual to enable me to coach them effectively, it gives my client an invaluable opportunity to have a think about all those forgotten things they are inspired by, are good at or have achieved. 

As this is my first post, it therefore seems right that I now tell you a bit about my career path and my passion for helping people to find fulfilling and rewarding careers.

I initially studied law, having been attracted to the challenge as well as having a particular curiosity in family law given my interest in helping people.  Following my studies and subsequent training contract, I qualified as a family law solicitor in 2006 and enjoyed the successful beginnings of a career, working hard and tackling the challenges my caseload provided. 

Having been qualified for 2 years, I started to wonder what else was out there.  I have always been determined to find a career that is really me and is what I really want to do and decided that there was more in life I wanted to explore.  Leaving behind paid employment and stepping into the unknown was a challenging risk I was prepared to take.  I always knew that if it was my last day on earth and I was looking back on this point in my life, I would regret not giving it a go.   I therefore saved some money, started to look for opportunities and left my position as a family law solicitor at the end of 2008 to pursue a 6 month career break, initially intending to do some voluntary work within the charity sector. 

Within a couple of months of my career break, I had gained experience working in a school, completed a Foundation Course in Counselling Skills for Working with Children with Place2Be and was fortunate to secure a paid position at Macmillan Cancer Support.   It was great to experience such different places of work and witnessing the courage of those being helped by Macmillan made me even more determined to find a career that I was really passionate about. 

It was at this time that career coaching started to feature in my mind.  Given my experience of moving from the legal to the charity sector, a number of people approached me to ask for advice and guidance on careers.  I started to realise how unfulfilled many people are in their careers and the negative impact this was having on their lives.  I investigated the world of career coaching and became more and more passionate about it.

I am now writing my first post as a qualified coach having spent 6 months establishing my business, Tessa Armstrong Associates.   I have found a career that is really me and is what I want to do, using my past and present experiences and skills to enable individuals to discover what they want to do and support them in getting there.  

Finding this career path took a lot of thinking time, research and planning as I thought seriously about what I wanted to achieve.  It also took a lot of perseverance as I had to overcome challenges and obstacles along the way but it was all worth it!   I really enjoy what I do and hope you have enjoyed reading a bit more about how I got here. 

So, I will now leave you with one question.  How do you feel on a Sunday evening? 

If enthusiasm, excitement and fulfilment are not the words springing to mind, this is the time to write your life story - you never know, you may renew a passion for an area of your life that you have hidden away over the past few years.