What’s fun got to do with it?

What’s fun got to do with it?

What's fun got to do with it?There are frequent themes that crop up when people come to me looking to create a change in their career.

Wanting greater flexibility and to do something that they really connect with tend to be the top ones, but as we explore a little further, another theme repeatedly emerges.

It’s one that is raised in a slightly tentative voice, the thing they almost don’t mention, yet as soon as they do, realise just how important it is to them:  “I’d like to have more fun at work”.

In my experience, the phrases ‘having fun’ and ‘at work’ are not used together often enough, and my clients seem to reflect this.  It’s as if it is a silly expectation or something that is considered unimportant or inappropriate.  Yet not having any opportunity for fun within your work can be hugely de-motivating, and if someone feels this way year after year, is it any wonder that they start looking for a change?

This theme is naturally a big concern for these individuals, but it is also one for the people and organisations they work for.

There is evidence that shows how having fun and experiencing positive emotions at work has a lengthy list of benefits…….here goes:  it increases people’s happiness, helps to protect them against stress, enables higher productivity, promotes exploration, enhances creativity, supports learning and builds individuals engagement and company loyalty.

Phew….and hurrah, fun at work is good for people and for business.

If you were in any doubt about what fun has to do with it – say it out loud – EVERYTHING!

So what does fun at work mean and who is responsible for creating it? Continue reading

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Choice – a blessing or a curse?

Choice – a blessing or a curse?

I recently had cause to buy a new pull-out bin to fit inside a cupboard in my kitchen.

Not a very scintillating purchase and one that I thought (hoped) would be a quick one.  Bear with me, there is a point…..

As I opened up a website, I was faced with 48 different options and before I knew it over an hour had passed and I still hadn’t chosen ‘the one’.  Who knew that such variety in bins even existed?  “Just pick one” muttered my partner – but it was late in the evening and I was stuck in bin choice paralysis.  How did life get this exciting?

A few days later, I happened to comment to him how I prefer to shop at our local mini supermarket rather than go to the bigger one.  He looked at me slightly quizzically.  I tried to explain, “It’s so much easier when there are just 1 or 2 choices for each item”.

I hadn’t realised I felt this way until that moment.  Normally I love having choice – being able to have something just as I like it is one of life’s pleasures.  And I’m not the only one.  From food to gadgets to fashion and more, the consumer world has gone mad for enabling customers to personalise everything and choose just the right combination, flavour, colour, function or style for them.

Thinking more widely, having choices and options in life are of immense value, perhaps more than we can possibly imagine.   To have choice in life is to have freedom.  Having freedom gives us the ability to decide what we do, who we do it with, how we do it and when we want to do something different.

But here’s the thing:  sometimes having too much choice can be totally overwhelming. Continue reading

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Marvin wanted more – how about you?

Marvin wanted more – how about you?

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Our thoughts and creativity can be sparked by many different sources.  Paying attention to these can result in seeing aspects of your life in a different light and learning from unexpected places. 

In this case, I draw parallels from my daughters book ‘Marvin Wanted MORE’ by Joseph Theobald.  It’s a great children’s book about a sheep who is feeling gloomy and wants to be bigger so he can run as fast and jump as high as the other sheep.  To get bigger, he starts to eat more…..and becomes so intent on wanting more he eventually eats the entire planet.  But now he is unhappy – he has no-one to run and jump with. 

The story has a happy ending (of course) and I love the morals behind it.  Slightly randomly, it is also a story that I relate to in my career coaching work.  Who would have thought it possible to take such inspiration from a sheep! Continue reading

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Back to work: what if new stationery isn’t helping?

Back to work: what if new stationery isn’t helping?

Back to work

There’s something about September that always signals a new start.  For me, it’s even stronger than the calendar New Year.

It may be years since I left full-time education, but that ‘back to school’ feeling remains incredibly familiar, with it’s mixed sense of anticipation, optimism and sometimes foreboding, plus a strange urge to buy new stationery.

It’s that time of year when your head is still in holiday mode, but your body is back in the formality of work, with all its expectations glaring at you.

I’ve always found that the longer you are away from work, the harder it is to return.  Monday mornings after a 2-day weekend can be hard.  Bank holiday weekends harder.  Getting back into work after a 2-week summer holiday can feel like an hourly battle (imagine a year’s maternity leave!).   And you can pretty much double the struggle if you are less than motivated or feeling severely overstretched or unfulfilled in your current job.

So, how can you manage your initial ‘back to work’ hurdle? 

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What does success mean in your life?

What does success mean in your life?

What does success mean to you?For many of us, January signals a time to think about the year ahead and start making some decisions and plans.

What will make this a great year for you?

Our energy, motivation and resources are rarely limitless, so how will you choose to invest yours in 2016?

I was recently reminded of a conversation I had with a teacher friend of mine.  She had set an assignment for her Year 6 junior school pupils and asked them to write about “What do you want and hope for in your future?”

When reading their work, there was a distinct pattern; iPads/gadgets/new technology, a good car, a big house, some said a family, others said to be famous but mostly they wanted lots of stuff!  All except for one child who said they wanted a happy life.  Such insight and wisdom at the age of 10 don’t you think?

It made me wonder what people set out to achieve – be it at the start of a new year or over a lifetime.  What constitutes success for each of us and how will we know when we’ve got it? Continue reading

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Reflecting to Learn and Learning to Reflect

Reflecting to Learn and Learning to Reflect

ReflectingWhen I first had my twins, I initially went from a capable, confident individual who could take most of the usual quirks and responsibilities of everyday adult life in her stride…….to a clueless parent who had no idea what to do with two babies, couldn’t fathom the mechanics of their double pram and was rendered a nervous wreck when trying to leave the house with them in it.

This was undoubtedly the biggest learning curve I had been on since, well, since I was about their age! There is nothing like jumping in at the deep end to realise how little you know and how much you need to work out. But when you are busy in a new or challenging situation, and preoccupied with the ‘doing’, it can be very hard to stand back and observe what is happening, understand how you feel about it and identify what might help you to increase your competence.

During the first month a Health Visitor came to our house once a week. She did the usual baby weighing stuff and then each time asked me this simple yet insightful question:  “What have you learnt this week?” I smiled the first time she asked it. As a coach, I knew the power of her question.

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Signs that you are getting ready to change

Signs that you are getting ready to change

Signs of changeMy hair has been long for most of my life.  Somehow it formed part of my visual identity and I had always liked it that way.  It came as quite a surprise to me when I decided to have it cut several inches shorter; a fairly modest ‘just above the shoulder’ length but a big change for me.

Thinking back, I know I was partly inspired to go for a ‘new hair-do’ by my partner who (very) tentatively suggested that a shorter style might suit me, but as I definitely don’t always go for his tips in fashion, I know there was more to it than that……

I was on the brink of actively seeking a change in my life and cutting my hair was an outward sign.   Altering something about the way I looked reflected my growing strength to create a new working life, and in a sense, it was affirmation that I had the courage to do it……..if I could cut my familiar long hair then I could change my familiar job.  How right Coco Chanel was when she said “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life”.

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Lost your career mojo?

Lost your Career Mojo?

Career Mojo 2Take a seat and imagine this……. you are feeling a bit stuck in your working life….. you’ve lost your career mojo and really can’t remember what inspired you to follow the career path you are on.

In fact, you’ve all but disconnected with what motivates you, what you are really good at and what impact you intended to have on the world.

You’re sure it’s in you somewhere but fear you may need the very latest sat nav to locate it.

Then picture someone sending you a link with the chance to re-connect with it.  To explore what is important to you, to review your strengths and the skills you enjoy……to identify what gives you purpose and truly gets you going (yes, as well as needing to pay the mortgage).

In this reverie, someone is guiding you through this process, supporting you, helping you to think big and reflect on different perspectives.  You feel listened to and any slightly battered pieces of self-belief are starting to regenerate.

After 7 Explore sessions, you have clarity on the ingredients you need to be fulfilled in your career and working life.  This is the foundation you were longing for;  with this in place you can find ways to either improve your current career or maybe consider new choices or changes in a time and way that suits you.   You feel more in control…..excited even…..

…..and click…..you’re back in the room.  This is THAT link…….the one to The Explore Coaching Package offering you the chance to have a really good look at yourself and work out what you actually need and want in your career.  You could think of it as a Career MOT.

Get in touch now to find out more or book a FREE consultation.

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Being the Role Model you want to be

Being the Role Model you want to be

Role ModelYesterday, on the afternoon of the UK 2015 General Election, one of my twin daughters (aged 3.5 years) asked me what I had done while she was at nursery.  I told her that it was a special day because the whole of our country was deciding who should be in charge, and that I had gone to say who I thought it should be.  Her response was:  “Oh, who is SHE?”

I have to admit I almost burst with pride on two accounts!

Firstly, that the fight for women’s right to vote and the on-going one for gender equality lives on in my daughter’s instinctive assumption that a woman would be in charge.

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Feedback: how to turn towards the sunshine

Feedback: how to turn towards the sunshine

As an associate coach with Bowland Solutions, I am pleased to share a recent guest blog post I wrote for them.  Bowland Solutions work with businesses to provide everything you need to ensure your 360 Degree Feedback and Performance Appraisal processes are efficient and effective.

Feedback:  how to turn towards the sunshine

Feedback: how to turn towards the sunshine

When I was a child I had an autograph book.  Apart from once queuing (with some trepidation) to get Darth Vader’s signature, it was mainly full of messages from friends and family.  My Grandma’s message to me was this (apparently an old Maori proverb):

“Turn your face towards the sun and the shadows will fall behind you”.

I was struck by its optimism and ever since then the idea of having a positive outlook has always stayed with me.   I have come to see how the more you focus your attention on the positive things, the more likely you are to notice them.  I also recognise how appreciating these can help you to see further positive possibilities and even create more ‘sunshine’.

I am interested in how people apply this concept in their working lives; how we use the idea of focusing on the positive in order to develop performance (in individuals, teams and businesses) and how we use it to guide our decision making.

Continue reading

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