Monday, 4 December 2017

Are you fed up of worrying about your career?

When looking back at 2017, were there things you were worried about in your job or career which you now realise were not worth the worry?

Perhaps you were worried about not being good enough for your new job.

Were you anxious about a work appraisal?

Perhaps your family and friends were telling you not to change career making you worried about it all going wrong if you went against their advice.

Were these things worth the worry? Did worrying make you feel happy and positive, driving you towards a fulfilling career, or did it make you feel stressed and tired? 

Worrying can make you feel miserable.  It stems from negative attitudes and beliefs and can delay decision making and progression.  A common belief which causes worry is thinking you are not good enough.  This belief frequently stops people achieving what they want to achieve.

If you found 2017 to be a year of worry and would rather make 2018 a year of self-control and planning, then have a think about your current beliefs about yourself and ensure you adopt an ‘I can’ attitude which will help you move forward with your ideas.   

With this new positive attitude, you can then move forward with your planning. These questions will help:

1.       Do you still want to be in your current job in 2019?  What can you do over the next year to develop within your current role?

2.       Do you want to progress within your organisation? What is your next role and what can you take on to enable you to progress?

3.       Do you want a career change?  If so, what is your overall goal and what steps do you need to take to get there in 2018?

Leaving behind the worry and taking control of your thoughts will enable you to decide what you want in your career and have the confidence to achieve it!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Does looking at past events help you change career?

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” (Wayne Dyer)
An increased understanding of your response to past events, enables you to think more positively and develop greater self-confidence to act on the best career decisions for you.

When I first meet an individual for career coaching, I am often greeted with a look of surprise when I ask them to rate everything they have done from school to date by their motivation.  I can understand their surprise, for they have come to me for help with their future career path and not their past.  However, it is an invaluable exercise in identifying attitudes and beliefs which can hinder or help the career change process.

Our attitudes and beliefs are shaped through our response to experiences and events and dictate how we feel and behave.  When our response to an experience forms a negative belief, we can feel miserable and our motivation for exploring new and exciting career possibilities is low.  In contrast, when we have positive thoughts, our motivation is high, and we become far more willing to try new things.

In reviewing our motivation from past experiences, we can start to identify our positive and negative beliefs, and this can help us make future decisions.  I will show you how through two examples:

1: Negative beliefs

I work with many solicitors who initially give their motivation at work a low rating.  One common reason for this is the frequency of having to deal with telephone calls from unhappy clients.  Dealing with these calls can make individuals feel anxious about speaking on the phone as they begin to mistakenly believe they are not good at dealing with people.  Consequentially, they decide that their next career move must avoid this.  When thinking of a career change, it is important to deal with negative beliefs such as this and learn to change them to avoid closing the door on possible opportunities too early in the career change process 

2: Positive Attitudes

In reviewing past events, we can also identify experiences that made us respond with a positive attitude and feel really motivated.  Perhaps you did some volunteering for a charity which made you feel good about yourself and wanting to do more.   In reviewing these positive experiences, it is important to look at what specifically you were doing during the experience that made you respond in this way - these activities and skills will be relevant when deciding on a best fit career.

Evaluating past events helps you to understand your thoughts and beliefs.  How you think will affect how you feel about your next career choice and the subsequent action you take.  Positive thoughts and beliefs will enable you to make the best decision regarding your career.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The importance of learning to say ‘no’

Learning to say no is about making a choice to focus on what is important to you, enabling you to reduce feelings of stress and freeing up time to focus on your personal goals and values.

How often do you check your emails each day?  They are really distracting, aren’t they? I find that I must physically close my inbox to stop me looking at my emails, otherwise I am too easily distracted by those unread new arrivals in bold that are shouting at me to respond ‘NOW’.

Responding to emails is a great example of a daily task that prevents you from being effective and is often the cause of time management issues.  Let me explain its true impact by relating it to Stephen Covey’s 3rd habit, ‘Put First Things First’. 

In his book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, Covey describes a time management matrix dividing how we spend time in to one of four ways, defined by the importance of the task (does it provide results?) and the urgency (visible tasks):

1.     Urgent and Important tasks – immediate and important deadlines (often a crisis or problem) Focusing on this area can cause a lot of stress.

2.     Not urgent and important – to develop effective personal management – activities that will move you forward in your career.

3.     Urgent and not important – Time pressured distractions such as email.  These are not really important but someone wants it now. 

4.     Not urgent and not important – Activities that have little value but can be relief from other work.

Checking emails most frequently falls within category 3.  However, we often mistakenly think they are category 1 tasks which explains the distractive nature of emails.  This misunderstanding usually arises from the expectations of others rather than the email itself being THAT important.

The problem of being consumed by category 3 means that little time is left for the not urgent and important jobs in category 2.  Category 2 tasks help personal development, the discovery of new opportunities and provide solutions to resolving problems in category 1.  Failing to spend time on this category can lead to neglecting important areas of your life and career.

One way to resolve the heavy focus on category 3, is to learn to say no. Identify your priorities and manage the expectations of others by identifying those emails that can wait.  This can relate to any category 3 task.   Even if you are asked to do something good, if it keeps you from what you really want to be doing then learn to say no in a respectful and pleasant manner.  Keeping a focus on category 2 can make a huge positive difference to the effectiveness of your working and non-working life.

Remember: Every time you say yes to someone else’s priorities, you are saying no to your own priorities.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Three steps to overcome your fear of being judged

Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.
(Robert Allen, author/speaker)
I have recently been busy updating my social media accounts, an activity many would find easy as it simply involves updating profiles and sharing useful messages and articles.  However, for me, it is not so easy.  It takes me right out of my comfort zone and, when I wonder why, I think this is because part of me fears being judged through social media’s power to amplify public opinion.

What will other people think of me?  What happens if a negative comment is posted on my LinkedIn or Facebook page for all to see?  What happens if someone disagrees with me?
In the end I sometimes find myself procrastinating over the perfect wording to avoid judgments being made.  Perhaps that is the lawyer in me requiring 100% accuracy and perfection!  However, is perfection possible?  Can I really control other people’s reactions in this way?  No, of course I can’t, and the immediate and public nature of social media does not allow for this. To be noticed you need to step out of the norm (despite the risk of attracting diverse attention).  There is also no time for procrastination when you have a business to run!
As well as procrastination being a risk factor, the fear of being judged can be really debilitating for some people.  It can quickly lead to a loss of self-esteem as it causes individuals to become anxious or easily embarrassed.  Not many people want to look silly and this can lead to individuals keeping quiet rather than doing what they want to do.
Does this fear sound like something that is affecting you from confidently moving forward with your ideas?  If so, use these three steps to help you to challenge your fear.

1.     Be decisive – do you want your fear of being judged to hold you back? 

Your fear affects your feelings and these feelings affect your behaviour, preventing you from achieving what you want to achieve.  Don’t let the opinions of others become more valuable than your own individuality, allowing others to hold you back. You may miss the career opportunity you have always hoped for.

2.     Be curious - think of something more useful to believe

It is your thought patterns around fear which need to change first to enable you to change your behaviour.  Instead of holding a fear of judgement, replace your thoughts with curiosity.  You may learn new things that help you move forward with your plans and strive towards your goals.

3.     Take action….

…..I am now going to be bold and take action by inviting you to follow me on LinkedIn or to Like my Facebook page. Please also share anything that you believe would be useful to others.  I share lots of information to help those wishing to change career, develop their career or improve performance.
I am also thinking about making and sharing short video clips with helpful career tips…watch this space! 
Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.
(Robert Allen, author/speaker)


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Who is the best person to tell you what job you should do (and it’s not me!)?


We all want someone to tell us what job we should do, to make the decision on our behalf so we can simply focus on enjoying our career.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  I know that’s what I wanted when I was pursuing a career change. The decision-making process was hard work and I just wanted someone to tell me what to do.  When I was advised that the best decision would be the one I made for myself, I realised I needed to take responsibility and do some serious thinking!

What did I discover?  I found that I was frequently being given advice on what I should or should not do and I didn’t know which advice to follow.  I soon realised I would be far more committed to a decision I had made personally, rather than a decision someone had made for me or advised me to make, and what I really needed to do was develop a thorough understanding of my skills, passions and aspirations to enable me to make that decision.

Still not convinced?  Let me give you another example….

Do you remember the career advice you received at school?

I have a very distinct memory sitting in the school careers room completing a personality questionnaire and subsequently being advised, amongst other things, that I should be a probation officer.  It was as simple as that…the answer to my future career was found by completing a 10-minute test.  Was this the right answer?  Well, I did not become a probation officer!

There can be limitations in being pigeon holed into a specific career before you are ready to make that decision.  It can lead to career paths being pursed but not enjoyed and an individual’s confidence being knocked. Many people need time to build their self- awareness and once they really understand what they want from their career, they will then be in the best place to move forward.  Many of my clients say they regret following early career advice for this reason.  They wish they had spent more time thinking about and discussing their personality and aspirations before taking the next step. 

Have I just talked myself out of a job?!  

No, because the best thing about all of this is that, although it may be up to you to make the decision, you do not have to go through the process alone. I become part of the process when individuals become stuck and need some help and guidance in moving forward.  I help individuals build self-awareness to enable them to discover and explore different career possibilities and find the best career choice for them.  I also help individuals to eliminate issues of procrastination, fear and anxiety to enable them to believe that they can achieve a fulfilling career. Career advisers can also help with the decision-making process.

It is all about you and how your career is going to fit in with your life.  You may need a bit of guidance and assistance in getting there but….

…the best career decisions are those that you make and discover yourself.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Four focus points to help you make a good impression when starting a new job

I was recently asked if I had written a blog on starting a new job and making a good impression and was surprised to discover that, over seven years of writing about careers, I had not yet covered this topic.  This month I am therefore going to write about four focus points to help you make a good impression when starting a new job.

Making a good impression

When starting a new job, you want to make a good impression.  You want to be liked and do your job well.  The question is, how do you do this when there are so many different aspects to starting a new job that you have yet to discover. What will the office culture be like?  What will my boss/colleagues be like?  How will I fit in?  What will my daily routine be like?

Starting a new job is an exciting time but can also feel daunting as there is so much to think about and take in.  Planning for every eventuality is an impossible task.  However, what you can do to help you prepare is to think about your approach to the job and I have identified four focus points to help you:

1.     Preparation: Ensure you are prepared for your first day.  What do you need to bring?  What are you going to wear?  Have you researched the company/organisation?

2.     You: Be open to new ways of doing things and be careful to avoid comparing your new job to your last one.  It is important to be confident but not arrogant!

3.     People: Introduce yourself and spend time listening and getting to know people so you can understand more about the office culture and the way people work.  Work out who you can go to for help (the things you don’t want to bother your boss with).  Ask questions, but not too many!

4.     Work Routine: Throughout your first week, spend time working out the most productive way to structure your day.  Be organised and write notes to help you organise the range of information you are given and remember the names of people you have met.

Managing your new job and making a good impression will be a lot easier by being prepared, organised and open to new opportunities!   Most importantly, it will help you to enjoy the new experience!


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

How to stop stress preventing you from pursuing changes in your career (in two easy steps!)

‘The best way to make decisions is to go after what it is that creates meaning in your life and trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.’  

I recently listened to the Ted talk, How to make stress your friend by Kelly McGonigal, and it reminded me of the decision-making process I went through to make a career change.  After a lot of research, I had reached a point when I had an idea of what I wanted to do but my fear that a career change would be too stressful initially prevented me from pursing my idea.

Like many of us, I was viewing stress as a negative thing.  The thing that causes us to lose sleep, eat too much or eat too little.  It can make us feel anxious and it can make us grumpy.  We all respond to stress in different ways and, when our response is negative, we develop fears and avoid making decisions.

In her TED talk, McGonigal talks about how we should change our thinking and view our response to stress in a positive way to enable us to move forward with decisions.  In particular, she explains how we can become resilient to stress through human connection and reaching out to others.  In building this resilience, we can then trust ourselves to handle life’s challenges and we won’t be alone whilst doing it.     

If you are at a crossroad in your career and finding it hard to decide which direction to go in, my suggestion to you is do a reality check through a very simple two-step process:

1.     Become aware of what is concerning you and making you feel stressed. I remember when I was thinking about a career change, I was concerned about telling people – what would their reaction be?  I was also concerned about venturing into the unknown.

2.     Acknowledge and accept your concerns and create a simple statement such as ‘I acknowledge that the change will be stressful to me but I know my need is greater and it is worth going through the stress.  The benefit is that I will have a job I want’.

When you believe you can deal with stress and view it in a positive way, making decisions in your career will become so much easier.


Monday, 15 May 2017

How to make the first step towards finding the job that suits you

Surround yourself with passionate people who inspire possibility.
(How to find work you love, Scott Dunsmore (TED talk))

Sometimes we can become surrounded by negative people who, unknown to them, prevent us from exploring possibilities, reaching our potential and finding the job that suits us. 
When I started telling people I wanted to move from being employed to self-employed, I was met with a mixture of advice, a lot of which focused on the potential negative side of self-employment.  Have I thought about the risk?  How will I get business? Won’t I be lonely? It would have been very easy for me to give in and continue with my current employment.  However, I quickly learnt that if I wanted to try new things and push myself to the limit, I had to surround myself with people who filled me with inspiration, encouragement and support, rather than those who filled me with fear.

If you want to find the job that suits you, be cautious of those who try to put you off making a big decision due to their own fears. Choose to spend time with passionate people who will encourage and support you.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

3 steps to turn your fear of rejection into career success

I recently watched a very amusing and informative TED talk by Jia Jiang titled ‘What I learned form 100 days of rejection’.  As we all know, fear of rejection is extremely common and can surface anytime, anywhere and to anyone.  It prevents us from trying new things, stops us from achieving our goals and pushes us away from what we really want in our life and career.

In his talk, Jia Jiang talks about how a fear of rejection can arise from misunderstandings. When being rejected, we often run away wrongly assuming we are the reason for the rejection.  We don’t ask questions, we don’t engage in conversation and we don’t find out the true reason.  We close the door to discovering other possibilities and we achieve nothing.

I can remember applying for a training contract as a trainee solicitor and being faced with a pile of rejection letters.  Each letter took away a small chunk of my confidence and it felt like a personal attack on my personality and ability.  I could have given up but I now know that these jobs were simply not right for me.  There was in fact one firm I really wanted to work for and so I persevered with the application process and was successful.  The rejections had taught me that the competition was tough and so I needed to work extra hard to achieve.

How can we all turn rejection into opportunities and success?

Jiang’s solution to overcoming our fear of rejection is simple and can be summarised in three steps:

1.     Embrace your fear (Don’t run)

2.     Ask the right questions (Don’t assume)

3.     Turn your findings into opportunities (Don’t stop)

It involves a desensitisation from the pain that rejection brings (step 1) and asking for what you want (step 2).   It is through asking the right questions that we can discover the true reason behind the rejection and uncover further opportunities (step 3).

‘When you get rejected in life, when you are facing the next obstacle or next failure, consider the possibilities.  Don’t run.  If you just embrace them they might become your gifts as well.’ (Jia Jiang)
To find out more, watch his talk and listen to how Jiang proved the success of embracing rejection by setting himself a challenge to seek out rejection for 100 days.  It is only 15 minutes long and will certainly engage you in how to overcome the fear of rejection in an encouraging and inspiring way.

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!