Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Is it time to make your career dreams a reality?

Success doesn't come to you... you go to it.
(Marva Collins)

As Christmas approaches, our minds start to wander into next year.  Whilst reflecting on 2014, we think about what we would now like to achieve in 2015.   Perhaps you didn’t achieve everything you set out to achieve in 2014 or you may still have some important decisions to make in specific areas of your life.  Whatever your situation may be, is it now time to put an action plan in place to enable you to achieve what you want to achieve in 2015?

An action plan can really focus the mind and help you to put small steps in place to enable you to achieve your personal goals/objectives in life.  These goals may be solely focused on your career or cover all aspects of your life.

Here are some action points to help you start planning:

1.      What are your objectives?

2.      How are you going to achieve your objectives?  Think about this in detail.

3.      How would you rate your commitment in achieving these objectives on a scale of 1 – 10 (anything less than 8 may need your further attention!)? 

4.      How realistic are your objectives on a scale of 1 – 10?

5.      By what date do you want to achieve your objectives?

6.      When will you review your progress?

By putting a plan in place, your dreams can start becoming a reality.

Do not fear going forward slowly; fear only standing still.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Do you want to be happy at work?

Do you want to be happy at work or is your salary a big enough incentive to keep you going?

How important is enjoyment at work for you?

Provided you are on a reasonable salary and have a relatively secure job, I believe enjoyment at work can be just as important as the money you earn.  This is because being unhappy at work can have a huge impact on your life; your motivation and commitment may decrease and your  stress levels will increase.  Your enthusiasm for life will diminish.

Sound familiar?

When you realise that your misery at work is all you can think and talk about, it is definitely time to accept that you should do something about it.

What causes unhappiness at work?

A number of factors can cause unhappiness at work including:

·         Lack of control and fairness.
·         Micro management.
·         Long, inflexible hours.
·         Unmanageable workload and deadlines.

In an ideal world, to improve wellbeing at work, we would be allowed to work shorter or flexible hours, have manageable deadlines and workloads and have a good manager.  In the absence of these things, it is down to you to make some changes.  Here are some ideas:
In work:
·         Be organised - every morning make a list of the tasks and do the least attractive task first.
·         Dress confidently.
·         Take breaks - drink plenty of water and eat healthy snacks.
·         Arrange a lunch date.
·         Delegate work where possible. 
·         Ask for feedback.

·         At the end of each day, remind yourself of what you have achieved.

Out of work:
·         Pursue a hobby and do some exercise.
·         Take a holiday.
·         Set some goals.
·         Instruct a career coach.
·         Plan something nice to do each week.

You may think this is common sense but when you are feeling unhappy, it is easy to forget the little things that make a difference.  Often the smallest alteration to a working day can make the biggest difference to your happiness and wellbeing at work.  
Make some changes now – you will achieve more in your career and feel much better for it!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Does perfectionism hold you back?

I have coached many people who define themselves as perfectionists.  They approach me because they are struggling to move forward with their career for fear of making the wrong decision. 

Perfectionists do not want to ‘fail’.  They often want to ensure that any decision they make is absolutely perfect before proceeding with it.  However, the only way they will know if their decision is right is by giving it a go and taking a risk.  This turns into a catch-22 situation and the decision making process becomes extremely difficult and stressful.

It is really important to be aware of when perfectionism is helping you move forward and when it is hindering you.  It can be a great characteristic for doing work brilliantly (although it can be unrealistically expected of individuals) but it can also hold you back from making decisions and attempting new things.  For example, delaying a career change for fear of failing or choosing not to apply for a job because you believe other people will be better than you.

If you feel perfectionism is holding you back, ask yourself the following questions:
-       What is the worst that can happen?

-       How can you make it better?

-       What small step can you take now to bring you one step closer?

Also, have a think about the standards you are setting yourself.  Are they too high?

Always set standards that are high, but achievable.  Setting standards that are too high can be like setting yourself up to fail.  How about lowering the bar, making your goals something you know you can and will do rather than something that is always beyond your reach.


Thursday, 15 May 2014

For lawyers - What to do when you feel dissatisfied at work

‘I have been wondering whether law is the right career for me for a while now.  I don’t feel very motivated or satisfied at work but my options are limited as my skills are so specialised.’

It is not uncommon for lawyers to consider a career change when they are feeling demotivated or dissatisfied at work.   If a recent event has made you feel this way then wait until the situation has calmed down or you have managed to resolve it before you make any decisions. 

Also, take a look at your current situation.  What specifically is bothering you about your current situation -   is it the working environment, the subject matter, your work-life balance or something else?  A career change may be the answer but consider other solutions too such as changing law firm, changing specialism, in-house work, further training and development, seeking help from your supervisor or even pursuing a hobby out of work.

If you do decide that a career change is right for you, the good news is that you do have transferrable skills.  Start having a think about them now.  Your skills are likely to include people skills, advanced drafting skills, research and problem-solving skills, excellent oral skills as well as many others that make you employable.  You can then start investigating career options that closely match your set of skills.

Remember, with all challenges you face, if you keep doing what you are doing you will keep getting the same result.  Try new techniques and tools to help you succeed and if you think a career change is for you, start your investigations now!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

9 ways to improve your time management skills

‘I never seem to have enough time to complete my work.  I work really long hours and no longer have time to do the things I enjoy out of work.  It is making me feel stressed.’

It can be really difficult managing a large workload. You can end up feeing exhausted and extremely stressed.

If this sounds familiar, perhaps take some time to review how you spend your time at work.   Use the following points to assist:
  1. Every morning make a list of the tasks you must complete that day and a separate list of tasks that you would like to complete if you had time.
  2. Do the thing you least want to do first.  You will be so pleased when you have achieved it and feel motivated for the rest of the day.
  3. Eliminate all distractions when working on a large piece of work.  For instance, turn your mobile off and close your emails.
  4. Focus on one thing at a time.  For example, allocate part of the day to making telephone calls and another part to responding to emails and clearing your inbox.
  5. Are you expected to do everything yourself?  If possible, delegate some of your work.
  6. Learn to say ‘no’ when you have too much work to do and to explain the reason why.
  7. If you are struggling with a piece of work, ask for help.  Feeling that something is beyond your capabilities can make you feel out of control.
  8. Do you need to work late every day? Ensuring you leave work on time at least once or twice a week will free up time for your personal life.
  9. Plan to do something you enjoy at least once a week.

Often the smallest alteration to your working day can make the biggest difference in enabling you to work more quickly and effectively.  It can also ease feelings of stress and allow you to enjoy your life again.


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

How to deal with criticism

“I really struggle when my work is criticised.  I take it personally and can feel stressed for days afterwards.  I become really nervous and worry that my work will never be good enough.  What can I do to stop myself feeling like this?”

It can be really difficult to accept criticism.  You can end up feeling angry, frustrated and demotivated.  Criticism can also really knock your confidence.

Dealing with your emotions after being given criticism can be difficult and so here are a few tips to help you deal with it constructively:

  1. Accept that no one is perfect.  Placing unrealistic expectations on yourself can cause a lot of stress so ensure your expectations are reasonable.
  2. Replace the word ‘criticism’ with ‘feedback’.  Feedback is a more positive word and can put you in a better frame of mind to deal with it.  Ask yourself what you can learn from the feedback to help you move forward.
  3. When you are being given feedback, ensure you understand it properly and be open to what the other person is saying before you respond.  Once you have this understanding, you can ask questions to clarify what the person giving you feedback is wanting from you and what changes you can make to improve your work.  This gives the conversation a positive forward thinking focus.
  4. Don’t take it personally. Perhaps model yourself on someone you know who takes feedback well.  How do they behave? How do they talk and act?  Write down 10 qualities you admire about this person.  Now identify what they do, that you currently do not do and think about what you need to believe in order to behave in the same way.  Next time you receive feedback, use this new belief and try a different response.  Keep going until you start seeing the difference!

Throughout your career, there will always be someone who may criticise you.  You are not alone.  Even the most successful people are criticised.  It is how you deal with it that is important.  Keep in control and use any constructive criticism to enable you to become an even better employee.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Overcoming Fear of Failure – Making a Career Change Possible

Have you ever thought about changing career but have been so afraid of failing that you decided not to?

In the UK, we are surrounded by opportunities and choices yet so many of us do not take advantage of what is available.  We have the option to find a career best suited to our personalities yet choose to remain in a disheartening career because we believe a career change is simply not possible. 

Fear of failure is one of the most common beliefs preventing career change.   You may be a perfectionist, a procrastinator or feel you are not good enough.  These all come from a fear of failure and can cause you to miss out on career opportunities, leading to unnecessary stress, worry and unhappiness.   


A fear of failure can be overcome through changing your thought pattern. Be willing to change and this will be possible.  Here are a few steps to help you:

1.       Be aware of your belief, ‘fear of failure’, and the reasons you have for supporting this belief (perhaps you made a mistake in the past or did badly in an exam at school).

2.       Ask yourself if it is useful for you to continue clinging on to these past experiences/beliefs or whether it is now time to update your beliefs. 

3.       If it is time for an update, decide what would be more useful for you to believe instead by turning your fear of failure into a positive statement.  For example, ‘I am scared of failing’ becomes ‘I am successful’. 

4.       Keep repeating your new positive belief; each time your fear of failure belief resurfaces, stop it and replace it with your new belief. 

5.       Now take action to support your new belief.  Fake it ‘til you make it!  Use this new positive belief to empower you to take action.  

You may now be thinking this is easier said than done or you are unsure of what to do next.  Making the decision to change and knowing where to begin can be difficult and takes courage and perseverance.  

I have had many clients who were desperate to change careers but believed it was not possible.  One client believed that a job was not to be enjoyed.  He had been told this by others in the past.  He subsequently developed a fear of failure and remained in a job he disliked.  This client then made the decision not to waste any more time and worked towards changing his belief.  This allowed him to explore career opportunities available to him.  He is now pursuing a career that he is passionate about. 


You have the choice to either allow fear of failure to control your life or to overcome this belief and pursue a career that fulfils you and brings a smile to your face. 


Thursday, 23 January 2014

How to enjoy your career in 2014

Do you enjoy your career? 

If the answer is ‘no’, let 2014 be the year to do something about it.

In my work as a career coach, many of my clients approach me because they are not happy with their career.  Perhaps they are feeling unfulfilled, struggling with their manager or working really long hours.  Whatever their reason, before I start coaching, I always ask how long they have felt like this and it is often the case that they have been unhappy with their career for well over a year, perhaps even longer. 

How long have you been unhappy at work?

Allowing career frustrations to escalate over time means that feelings of stress, dissatisfaction and unhappiness will increase. Issues relating to your career will start impacting other areas of your life such as family, health and social life.  Your work-life balance becomes unreachable.  

Perhaps not a very cheery thought for my first blog of 2014 but if this resonates with you, how about making some changes to make things better for yourself again?

2014 is the perfect opportunity to resolve your career frustrations and achieve the work-life balance you deserve. 

If you what to make some changes to your career, here are some steps to get you started:

1.     Write down what you want to achieve in your career this year.    Make sure it is something you REALLY want.  It may be easier to initially think about what you are missing in your life and then work out what you want instead. 

2.     Tell a trusted friend or relative about your 2014 goals.  Demonstrating some additional commitment will give you an even better chance of achieving the life you want. 

3.     Make a plan.  How are you going to achieve your goal? 

4.     Do one thing today towards achieving your goal.  No matter how big or small, do something to enable you to start the process.  

5.     If you are stuck for ideas, have a look at my free resources to assist here.

Just imagine how great December 2014 is going to be when you have achieved your goal.

Have a fantastic 2014!