I don’t know what it is about September, but I always see it as month for a fresh start. Far more so than January. January is always so dark and miserable. I’m always short of cash after the extravagances of December and it’s such a long month until the next pay day – five weeks! Ouch.
September, on the other hand, seems to have greater possibilities.
Perhaps it’s something to do with the start of the new school year? Remember when you were at school, going back the autumn term? I always had an annual trip to WH Smiths (a stationary shop here in the UK), to buy a new pencil case, a set of coloured pens arranged in a rainbow, new pencils, rubber, pencil sharpener. The whole shebang. There’d be new shoes, a new school bag or briefcase. A time of new beginnings and anything was possible!
I still have that feeling now more than 30 years after leaving school. Thoughts like, what am I going to do for the next year? What is my ultimate goal to be achieved this next 12 months? How am I going to get there? What do I need to do in the next three months, six months in order to achieve it?
I use September as a time to rethink, refocus, reclarify what I want to do next. My ‘resolutions’ for want of a better word (for the record I NEVER set resolutions in January) are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and anchored (love this word) to a time frame. This is so useful. It stops me being overwhelmed by what needs to be done. Being overwhelmed means I do nothing (sound familiar?)
This year I want to spread my wings and find more associate work while building my private client base. I also want to look after myself better, do more exercise that brings me joy and not do exercise that is a slog. I am a sociable person. I like activities that bring in contact with people so I build relationships with them, rather than working out in isolation.
Having this self-awareness helps me make better – although not always successful – decisions about what I am going to do next.
What are you going to do next in the coming year? What are you thinking about? We are coming out of the lockdown mentality to the ‘returning-to-pre-covid’ normality. Are you considering a change? A new job perhaps? How will you find it? What might stop you identifying the right job? What thoughts are holding you back?
If you’d like to have a conversation about what you are thinking about, we can do that. I’m an impartial ear. There’s no obligation ‘to buy’, and our chat lasts 45 minutes. Drop me an email in September and start the journey that you want to go on – firstname.lastname@example.org
Facing Redundancy? Do the work to get the job you want.
I cannot tell you anything about facing redundancy that hasn’t been said before. Nor that you couldn’t find if you googled ‘facing redundancy’.
Instead, I am going to tell you the story of a young woman – or man. Gender isn’t relevant – who had been made redundant and was struggling to find a new position.
Initially, they were quite hopeful and positive. There was some money in the bank and the mortgage could be paid. Life might be less social than it had been as she needed to keep an eye on the pennies, but she didn’t have to live like a monk. Lockdown helped – no one was going out, so she could focus on her job search.
Initially, she thought about doing something new. It was a great opportunity to do so.
We explored what she liked and didn’t like about her previous job, her hobbies, and what she cared about. We also discussed the non-negotiables. The things that she would never do again – night shifts, working weekends, working 12-hour days. We explored her passions, what made her get up in the morning – even what she might go and protest about. This helped her define her values and helped her understand if she really wanted a complete change.
Next, we talked about her career to date. What were the highlights for her? The most memorable moments and experiences? What was it about those successes and achievements that worked so well? What did she learn about herself and the ‘wins’ she had had?
And as we talked, and I questioned, and she did some serious thinking, she came to the realization of what she wanted to do next. The kind of company she wanted to work for, and the kind of position that she would apply for.
This didn’t happen overnight. It required some investment in her time and money as we also worked on her CV, but once we had got to a point where she was clear about what she wanted, the whole process became so much easier and straightforward.
Did she find the job she wanted? Yes, she did. Of course, you would expect me to say that, wouldn’t you? But to be clear, it still took time. It still took more than one, two or even three applications to get the interview. She had to tweak her CV each time – a task she resisted until she released how effective this would be. Then she had to face some rejections and find the motivation to keep applying. Until she was able to conduct an interview for the job she really, really want, and which she was finally offered.
Is she happy? Yes, I can confidently say she is.
Did it happen overnight? Absolutely not.
Did she have to put the work in? Damn right she did.
Was it worth it? Absolutely.
There are several lessons here:
- Don’t apply for a job for the sake of it if you can financially afford to wait
- Be clear about what is important to you – your values and your non negotiables
- Understand the kind of culture that fits your personality
- Amend your CV for every job you apply so it is relevant to that position. Resist sending out a generic CV. It will get you nowhere
- Keep going
- Don’t give up
- You’ll get there in the end
Let me ask you this. Are you enjoying your job? Does it fulfill your purpose? Does it make you happy? Do you leap out of bed in the morning because you cannot wait to do the work that you are paid to do?
If yes – then brilliant! Keep doing what you are doing.
If no – then, is it time to re-assess your situation?
Read this quotation from the American author, Kurt Vonnegut. What do you think?
“When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archaeological dig. I was talking to one of the archaeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favourite subject?
And I told him, “No I don’t play any sports. I do theatre, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.” And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.”
And then he said something that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before:
“I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”
And that honestly changed my life.
Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who just did things because I enjoyed them.
I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.”
Wow. What do you think?
This really spoke to me. It set me thinking about the clients that I have had – past and present – who have started working with me doing a job they DO. NOT. ENJOY. They were so unhappy, disillusioned, sometimes even despairing they’d ever find anything else.
The takeaway from the quotation for me is it’s the ‘doing’ that is important; not the winning; not even the losing. No. It’s the doing. The doing because you enjoy something.
I believe if you are in a job you are enjoying, which makes you happy, that gives you purpose and fulfills you, then it won’t feel like work at all. In fact, it feels nothing like work!
I was recently told the story of an army officer who was coming to the end of his career in the military, and was in two minds about what to do next: a career in the City working in finance (a typical route for many leaving the military), or a new career as a carpenter? When the storyteller came across him a few years later he asked what the former officer was now doing. He was being the carpenter. Why? It certainly wasn’t because he was earning lots of money. It was because it was something he always wanted to do. He loved it. It did not feel like work. He was happy.
I wonder how he might have felt if he’d followed the expected route into the City? I don’t think he would have lasted very long. The City job would not have been fulfilling his purpose, regardless of the salary he could have earned.
His decision making was not about money, it was about passion, purpose and motivation. It was this that brought him happiness.
As I said at the beginning – are you enjoying your job? If yes – keep doing what you are doing.
If no, it’s time for a reassessment. Don’t settle for anything less than doing what you enjoy.
As we approach a new change in the lockdown situation here in the UK, I have noticed lots of women on social media talking about wanting to change jobs or wanting to “do something different”.
Often the ‘conversation’ goes “I want to change, but I don’t know what I want to change to”
or “I want to change, but I’m too scared”
or even “I want to change, I know what I want to do, but can’t motivate myself to do anything about it.”
Sympathetic posts come in reply, but none of them hold the woman to account for not taking action, offer to help identify what she really wants to do, or give her support to overcome her fears.
And so, the women do nothing at all. They stay exactly the same. Stuck
I have a similar problem getting back into running. In the last few weeks, there have been a few ‘Memory Reminders’ from Facebook showing me running regularly a year ago. In the 12 months since I haven’t been running at all! Initially, this was due to injury. Now?
I’ve run through the usual excuses of ‘it’s dark, raining, cold’.
Except, the clocks have sprung forward so the evenings are much lighter. The rain is intermittent, and the forecasts have been pretty accurate, so I could time the run around the rain, and to be honest, the temperature has risen now after a cold early Spring.
Why am I avoiding it? What is holding me back? What is stopping me?
You know, don’t you? It’s the same reason these women on social media don’t take any action to implement the changes they want – it’s all the fault of the Procrastinator Sprite And the Procrastinator Sprite is a powerful and influential little beast.
He (always a he. Don’t know why?!) stops us from doing so many things, doesn’t he? I imagine him sitting on my shoulder, scoffing chocolate (the evidence is all round his mouth), saying with his mouthful “You don’t want to do that… You want to find all sorts of other distractions. You don’t want to take action, because if you do, it’ll be scary, and the change will be painful and you won’t like it and you might fail…” and so he goes on.
But actually, I DO WANT to go out running. I really do. And these women do want to “do something different” and they do want to “work out what different might look like”,
What is the solution? There’s no one size fits all certainly.
I personally have to dig very deep and speak very loudly to myself to stop procrastinating about getting out that door to go running.
You may have to do the same thing to persuade yourself to start looking for a new job or “do something different”.
Ask yourself three important questions to get yourself started, and once you start, you’ll be on your way:
• What is causing you to want to change jobs/careers?
• What is important to you in a job (Brainstorm this. Every idea is valid)
• How will you feel when you know you have found the right job for you? Visualise this. Write down the feelings. Be specific.
A friend of mine told me she recently visited her daughter’s new flat (the daughter hadn’t quite moved in yet) and sat in silence for three hours. Three hours! There was no TV, no WIFI, no radio. Just her breathing and no other sound. No tasks for her to complete. She could be still. And silent. She described it as blissful.
And yet, on her return home, she felt unable to admit to her husband what she had been doing. When he queried where she had been she said, “The flat was very dirty, so I was cleaning”.
Why did she do that? Why did it have to be a secret? She hasn’t given me an answer, but I do have my own theories.
- We women find it exceedingly difficult to admit we need time for ourselves. It’s also difficult to admit that sitting and seemingly doing nothing, in silence, is actually doing something rather there doing nothing. Does that make sense? Read it again.
- We are programmed to always be “doing”: ticking off items on To-Do Lists, to be looking after people, feeding them, driving children around to activities, etc, etc. our programming tells us we must be doing something. All the time. Ahhhhhhhh!!!!
So, when – or should I say, if – we ever get a chance to sit down, be still, in silence, doing “nothing”, we have to either keep it secret like my friend, or find some justification for it.
I wonder if we agreed to allow ourselves this time, to give ourselves permission to be quiet, and still, even for a short time, what the impact would be? I’m interested to know.
Why not try it this weekend? If only for 5 minutes? Find somewhere quiet if you can (the loo?? Although small children will still find you there!). Sit down. Be still. Don’t read a book. Don’t look at your phone. Don’t listen to anything. What did it feel like? Did you feel uncomfortable for taking this time out? Guilty, even? Or was it, as my friend said “blissful”, even for a short amount of time?
I’d love to hear if you have been able to do this. Let me know.
Remember, 5 minutes only. We all have to start somewhere.
This post has been prompted because there have been several announcements in the last 2 weeks about job losses across traditional media of broadcasting and print journalism. The BBC and The Guardian specifically.
I will not be telling you how to find another job. No. This is about understanding what you are feeling right now, and what you might do to feel more in control of what you are going through. it will help you prepare for the future, whatever that may be.
Like grief, there are several – seven in this case – stages to experience when you are facing uncertainty such as losing a job.
- DENIAL & SHOCK – you knew it was coming and that it might affect you, but it is still a shock.
- PAIN & GUILT – why me? What did I do wrong? How could I have done things differently?
- ANGER & BARGAINING – they are wrong. It should not be me. I do not deserve this. What can I do to make it not me?
- DEPRESSION – there is no hope. I will not find another job within the organization. I will not find another job elsewhere. I am rubbish. I have no skills. I will never get anywhere.
- THE UPWARD TURN – Losing my job is hard because I love it, but I need to evaluate it and work out the pros & cons to work out what I might do next.
- RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH – I need to identify my skills and my values and work out what industry or job I might move into. It does not feel as bad as it did.
- ACCEPTANCE & HOPE – I have a lot to offer another job. I must find it, and it may even be better than the last one.
We are all individuals and you will experience these feelings at different times to your colleagues and friends, but you are still highly likely to experience some, if not all of them.
It’s quite normal to also feel panic, uncertainty, fear particularly if you’ve worked at a company for a long time, you are passionate about what you do and you have never had to give any thought to what you might do next.
On top of this crap news, we are in uncertain times. Understanding how you are feeling can help you start the process of feeling more in control about your future. Take it one step at a time. Look out for the different stages. Sit with each stage, acknowledge it and observe how you are feeling. You might then be able to move on. As I say, one step at a time.