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.