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end of the career path?

This week, my dad finally retired. He’s been counting the days for years. His birthday – the “official” retirement date – came and went. Just a few more months. The second retirement date came and went. As did the third. So, here we are 9 months on and he’s finally hanging up his business cards, email signature and logo embossed diary. Well, until that exhibition in a few months time. Well, it’s good to stay busy 🙂

I was also reminded of this here, which I’ve seen used at a number of universities and business schools to help their students come to the realisation that career paths are no longer linear or for life necessarily.

Lets look back over time…….with a sweeping stereotype of the many generations in today’s workplace.

Post World War 2, we had the baby boomers. A generation brought up by those who’d experienced a seriously tough time at home and aboard, had learned to manage meals, clothing and entertainment on a shoestring of rations and home made/grown produce. Baby boomers went to work to climb the ladder, to be breadwinners and to succeed in providing more comfortable lives for their families. Here is where our view of the career path being straight and narrow came from.

Their children became known as “Generation X” (ok, so having a best selling book titled that helped), who were taught hand work matters, achievements count and do your best in all things. They lived through a time of strong trade unions, angry strikes and periods of redundancy – they learned jobs were often insecure and your staying power was based on your efforts and your relationships. Generation Xers often found the “up and out” mentality unappealing and began midlife career switches to lateral career paths.

At the end of the 70s, Gen Ys began being born. Few remember the 80s workforce dramas, but clearly remember being latchkey kids with working dads and mums. They learned work and life didn’t balance out and that TVs would be their friend. Gen Ys look for more instant feedback and gratification in the workplace (older generations might say they’re attention seeking) and will leave if the hours put in aren’t recognised nor deliver the value to make their work/life balance. Career paths are managed by SMART objectives and promotion centres.

Gen Z or the Millennials follow on and bring in technologic skills galore, yet sometime struggle with interpersonal face to face situations. Short comms on messaging systems replace emails and task chunking key to success. With lower risk thresholds, more millennial are content to look around, move firms, roles and countries to find work they enjoy. Gamification becomes the new HR buzz word in how to develop and grow these employees in an attempt to keep millennials engaged and from resigning.

OK, so I’m not one for stereotypes and do recognise I’ve painted a blinkered view on each generation to highlight a little of their career paths to date.

What I believe is that there are commonalities across generational groups, but there are also exceptions to all rules and individuals within the groups. Phew. Without them, we’d have missed out on quite a lot and there is often a golden thread that runs through their work from school to retirement (possibly beyond too into volunteering or philanthropy).

Take me as an example. I began working in an old people’s home as a general helper. Then I worked as a aircraft design engineer in Germany. Back in the UK, my next job was in the charity sector with a membership organisation, before moving to a people development role in the healthcare sector. Back overseas to Gibraltar, I joined the HR team of a betting company. Heading to London, I lead a staff development function in an inner city college. All before finding a home in people development in consultancy firms. Now I run my own business, helping you stretch your life – as your coach, trainer or Pilates instructor: 3 strong passions of mine and often found blended together to give you what you need.

Who knows what will come next!? What I am sure of it will involve my common thread: people, purpose and passionate energy. I know there is no single path for me and that it will involved plot twists, successes and fails. I’m excited to keep walking it.

Do you know what your common thread is? Or where it will take you next? Let me know if you do or if you don’t, as I’d love to help you move forward into achieving the next step on your path.

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strike the right balance – work, life, play

Hmmm when thinking about this super important b-mail topic, I’ve asked myself some tough questions on whether I’m the right person to give you any advice, insights or suggestions on striking a balance between the many elements of my life.

I juggle a raft of responsibilities and commitments for my family, for my clients and for me. Most of the time, I’m successful. Sometimes, I drop a ball (or two!). Sometimes, I take on too much. Sometimes, I focus on doing things for others and screw myself over.

That said. I recognise I’m not perfect, I’ve got work to do on creating a better sense of proportion across the elements of my life and heck, I’m motivated to keep trying!

You with me? Yes? Then hoorraaaayyy, let’s get going.

First off, I believe there are a few baselines I need to cover off, in order to give us any chance of striking a balance.

Balance is right up there with trying to hit perfection: the goal posts will move and your definition of balance will move to follow. You change. Your priorities change. You adapt to circumstances and to others in your life and work. Accepting balance isn’t going to be a perfect split of time, effort or energies and nor will it be a fixed measure will help.

My take on balance isn’t going to yours and vice versa. Nor can it or should it be. Our unique combinations of personal values, life stages, experiences and motivations make us unique and our sense of balance unique.

Balance is a big picture game, not a detailed minute by minute account. In this case, big is most definitely where you will find beautiful. Using a bigger scale view, I find, means I gain a better sense of control and achievement. Putting myself under pressure to balance each hour or day is a route to failure. Looking at the week or even month adds successes, I’d otherwise have overlooked.

In summary: ditch striking perfection, accept your balance is just that, yours and think big.

Getting to it, here’s my tactics to seeking balance across my life, work and play.

1) Get a planner or diary system that works for you.

I use an Erin Condren planner to collate and carry around with me plus a Day Designer single day printable for my “work at home” days by Whitney English. (Want to check out these? Erin can be found here and Whitney here.) I also use erasable markers in a colour coded way – work is dark blue, family is turquoise, deadlines for bills or submissions are red and so on. I also have shared Google calendars with my partner, so we’re both in the loop and up to date.

2) Ensure you have time for doing your version of self care.

This might be a long bath, refreshing G&T on the seat outside or a hard cycle around the block. Whilst this might feel like a luxury, hardly ever does someone blast through their goals, achieve an ambition or secure a significant change in their life without some rest and recuperation time. That includes you. Call it maintenance, call it downtime, call it being a couch potato. I call it necessary.

3) Chunk it up – Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I’m a bit of a neat freak. I like my counters, cooker and fridge cleaned down and disinfected. I like the laundry basket to be empty. I like my taps to shine. I like the floor to be fluff free (Seriously, where does it all come from!!). That said I can’t do them all at once as time is often short. Priority 1 = countertops and then the rest are done in rotation (or by delegation to the rest of the household!).

4) Balance the rush with some reflection.

Including either a short breathing exercise and a bit of Pilates inspired stretching to a little gratitude practice enable me to see although I might not really feel like I’ve done much or to the standard I’d have liked, I have made inroads into serving others, living my values and showing up in a positive way. I like to count 3 things I did good and 3 things that were good done to me. You might prefer to follow a gratitude journalling app or write a note at the bottom of your planner page.

5) Don’t travel the road alone.

I’m a big fan of combining – mix up two or more tasks into one time slot. For example, commuting and catching up on newsletter, articles and the daily news. My partner and I both love reading – we read aloud to each other in turn and share our passion for different authors. I’ve discovered the Just So stories and he’s learnt about Tudor times. I also skill swap or time swap with friends in order to get things done in a quicker or more simple way.

With those in mind, I’m off to strike a balance and I hope you are too 🙂 What do you do to balance your life, work and play? Is there a mindset approach, a reframe or a practical tactic you deploy? All suggestions welcome!

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a permission note for change

One of the common concerns I come across in my work helping my clients create successful changes in their lives and work is a requirement to be given permission to do whatever it is they are trying to do.

From their wife, husband or partner. From their parents. From their boss and team. From their friends. From me, as their coach or trainer.

Only one person needs to give permission. You. It’s your life and your choices that can lead to you being happier, healthier and more fulfilled. OK, it would be naive of me to suggest things don’t get easier if those nearest and dearest to you are onboard with your stretch plan and outcomes. They just don’t get to give you permission.

So here’s a little something I’d like you to read out loud to yourself, whenever you get triggered to seek permission.

Hey you,

You’d doing great things and the stretch you’re adding into your life, work and play are all for the better. I give you my wholehearted permission to become and be the new you:

  • Step into the right mindset
  • Dress to suit my end goal
  • State who I am going to be, loud and clear
  • Run like no-one is watching
  • Bend or break the rules holding me back
  • Play at work
  • Say yes to what my want
  • Listen to my gut and believe it
  • Question the norm
  • Invite positive people in
  • Take risks
  • To get it wrong on the way
  • To be perfectly imperfect
  • Hold fast to my why
  • Experiment in my how
  • Go outside my comfort zone
  • Serve others, in my work or volunteering
  • Ditch comparing myself to others
  • Give myself time
  • To define my own view of success
  • Spend time with people who light me up
  • Own the room
  • Worry less
  • Try it and see how I go
  • Make my own path
  • Wake up early and stay up late
  • Do the things I love
  • Enjoy my stretch
  • Be happy
  • Be extraordinary
  • Be at my best

You got this.

From me.

Print this out, delete, amend or add your own permission statements and then use this permission note whenever you need to move forward in achieving your goals.

Does the idea of seeking permission resonate with you? What permission statement do you need to give yourself? Share it below and give yourself permission here.

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a simple tool to explore your purpose

February is all about sharing the looooooovvvvvveee and I hope you are enjoy more love in your life with the tips from the Valentine’s inspired post.

Extra love coming your way in this b-mail with a free download with bonus inspiration! I’ve created just for you a “purpose on a page” worksheet to help you explore, ponder and reflect on the where, how and what your life and career could be.

Check out your free download - "purpose on page"

Download your copy of “purpose on a page” here.

Once, you’ve got your worksheet printed out, my suggestions for completing it are to go with your first thoughts or gut instinct. Get them on paper without “editing” or seeking to “validate” them. This is an iteration in a series of iterations. As you populate the page, your thinking will evolve and lightbulbs will switch on. No worries – erase, cross out, reprint and go again.

The second page is a selection from my Pinterest boards – are we connected there yet? No? Click here to go straight to my boards. I totally believe that if you can imagine and picture your goals alongside finding quotes or images that give me a boost when things aren’t quite going as I’d like and help my stretch myself to achieve more when things are going well.

Why not print this page out and pin up above your desk or on the back of your front door? Or create your own one from Pinterest? It’s really easy or if you have your own photo or favourite saying, why not use canva or picmonkey to make your own from scratch?

I’d love to see your inspiration page or Pinterest boards – drop a link into the comments or post them on my Facebook page

Now, go ahead and share “purpose on a page” with your friends and loved ones with the social media buttons – share the February love and enable they to explore their purpose too!

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say no to resolutions, say yes to achievable change

So it’s mid-January and you’ve had a few weeks to living with your New Year resolutions.

You had great intention and for a few days, you really had the energy and motivation to tackle them. Then life, work and other commitments kicked back in, bills started arriving, you packed away the Christmas decorations. Before you know it, you can’t remember when you last did anything towards cracking on with those resolutions.

Just a second, what were those resolutions you set?

You might want to hang your had in shame. You might want to reset your resolutions and give them a new start date. You might want to forget the whole dang thing.

And this is why I say no to resolutions. And why I want you to say yes to achievable change.

To build new habits, travel in new directions and change your life, work or relationships, takes real consideration, effort and energy before you start. It’s why I produce a whole workbook on setting goals and life rules that align with your values. I want you to achieve your desired changes, not hit hurdles and blocks.

(If you missed the workbook and planners in the festive season, here’s a link to part one and here for part two.)

So, what to do now? Follow these tips and stretch your life:

First off, go easy on yourself. Change is often difficult, even when we really badly want it. Acknowledge any feelings of fear, discomfort or stress. These are typical reactions to moving away from your current norm and into something new. Setbacks and mistakes are too. They are part of the change process.

Next step back, revisit the workbook or work through it now to ensure you’re creating goals that are grounded in your strengths and values. This is essential to making goals that you can live with and work towards in a sustainable way.

Do a reality check:

  • what other “must do’s” and “should do’s” form part of your diary?
  • These might be things like go to work, attend a class, take a fast walk around the park.

  • what deadlines are fixed in stone and what can vary?
  • Your friend’s birthday dinner or an important meeting are likely to be fixed, but which gym class you book this week is probably flexible.

  • what’s your cashflow like?
  • Your bank balance needs to be able to afford change. e.g. the fresh, organic ingredients for that yummy morning smoothie or the full price of your new kit or mentoring.

  • where can you get inspiration?
  • To both keep you motivated now and in the future. Do you need a change buddy? Or a source of new ideas? Maybe a collage speaking to why you’re making these changes?

    My final tip? Keep going. Little steps. Every day. Be bold and be brave. By bedtime, you’ll be a bit closer to achieving your change.

    I am intrigued, tell me how are you doing with your goals and life rules for 2015? What’s working and what’s driving you round in circles?

    Over the next few b-mails, I’m going to dig a little deeper into the key ways, tools and steps to life, career and fitness change – let me know what you’re puzzling over and I’ll include an answer in the b-mail.

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