At A Crossroads? – don’t wait too long

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My last article discussed how we can often find ourselves “stuck” either in our professional or personal life or indeed both and how sometimes just the realisation that we need to take some action to get “unstuck” is the first step to making positive changes in our life.

Another situation we can find ourselves in is facing a crossroads where there are many alternative routes that can be taken and a decision needs to be made as to which path to take. When we are driving a car, or walking and we reach a crossroads we MUST decide a direction of travel at that point unless we want to annoy other cars or pedestrians by just standing in the middle of the road. When reaching a life crossroads however it is a lot easier to hover and procrastinate.

So, what is your personal approach when faced with a life crossroads situation? This can happen at any age. I work with graduates who have just finished university and have several options available e.g. graduate entry level job in big company, go and work for a smaller SME, apply for jobs in total alignment with their degree subject matter or make a complete change as they no longer have interest in that subject three or four years later.

In later life, another crossroads situation can appear in mid-career e.g. Having worked for a smaller company for many years, knowing everyone and having built up a good reputation for the work you do, do you stay put and build on that reputation, enjoy being part of the team or do you apply for jobs in a larger organisation where there may be more career progression and salary scope, alternatively you could go freelance or self-employed and as a fourth option a hybrid model of part time work and other work or personal activity is also an option.

Further on in life many of the people I work with are approaching the last phase of their working life and the crossroads they face can present itself as stay in current role until lucrative pension package kicks in, move jobs into their ideal role before it’s too late, be brave and launch the business they have always dreamt of, reduce hours and enjoy more leisure time, or retire early.

These are just some of the many choices we can face and on one hand it’s great to see how many different routes there are but on another front, having too many options paralyses some people to the point where they just stay put and always wonder in a “what if” way what would have happened if they had taken another route in another direction.

Over the years I have read many inspiring self-development books and added any useful learnings to my own personal toolkit from this reading. One tip I took many years ago that I still use today was from the classic Susan Jeffers book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway… in here she states there is no such thing as a bad decision. I use this when faced with the crossroads situation, take time to consider the options, do a pros and cons list and talk to others but then go ahead and be brave, make the decision and don’t look back. Make the decision on what route you want to take and then set off down in that direction with 100 percent commitment to make it work. Don’t look back or torture yourself with ‘what if I had taken the other route’. If it turns out you took one that doesn’t work out make a different decision at the next crossroads you meet and I have met many successful people who have had to make an occasional U-turn in their lives and its worked out ok in the end.

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Peel Back The Layers

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If you are serious about your own personal development and continual growth an area of work that is never complete is building self-awareness. The majority of inspiring people that I have met in my life have had incredible self -awareness and saw this as an ongoing project and an area of their life that they were always willing to do more work on.

When I initially meet prospective coaching clients one of my first jobs is to ascertain how much work they have already done in this area. Some people have been lucky enough to have worked for organisations that have invested in people development and therefore these clients have attended training courses, developmental activities,360 degree feedback and even sometimes had psychometric assessments. Each one of these experiences has enabled the person to understand more about themselves, the good bits and the bad bits.

I was certainly privileged to have had such opportunities during my corporate career and learnt a lot however the learning hasn’t stopped since leaving and it is this ongoing commitment to personal development and self-awareness that is critical in achieving high performance either as an individual ,a leader of a team, in employment or self employed.

My advice would be to take every opportunity you can to learn more about yourself. What are your natural strengths? What are you passionate about? What interests you to the point that you choose to do it in your own time? What do you want to learn more about? What do others say that you are good at. What feedback have you had either formally or informally? What do you find easy to do? What are you motivated by?

On the other side of the coin what don’t you enjoy? What do you find difficult no matter how you try and apply yourself. What subject matter or tasks do you avoid as they don’t interest you? What feedback have you had from others regarding skills and behaviours you need to improve. What are you quite happy to pay others to do as you know this is more effective in terms of both money and time.

When looking at ourselves consider the following layers

  •  Personality … what do you naturally like doing and what are you naturally good at
  • Motivation…. what interests and inspires you, what makes you feel good
  • Confidence … what are you naturally confident doing
  • What are your values and beliefs… what is really important in your life, what do you stand for? What do you firmly believe in?
  • Attitude… day by day how would describe your attitude to daily life? How do you show up in the world? How would others describe you? A Ray of Sunshine always positive and inspiring , Cloudy – sometimes positive, sometimes negative or a Dark Storm – one of lifes victims.
  • Behaviour… what do you do and how do you behave day in day out.
  • Image … what image do you present to the world, how would others describe you?

These are just some of the things to consider as you become self aware.Learn more and how to apply this to audit and build your life plan in Own It available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2phNU6t

A G.A.M.E. Plan – executed

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So it has been a while since the last blog and the months have certainly been busy. Just prior to the end of 2016 a project that I have been working on met a key milestone when the paperback version of my first book was published. It took a few more weeks until it was on Amazon in both kindle and paperback version; a few more weeks before it was officially launched and hit number one in 3 categories of Amazon.

The whole experience from the idea, through the planning phase. the writing process followed by the final editing has been amazing. I have learnt so much from those people that are experts in this field and also from others who have already trod this path and kindly shared their experiences and own learning.

The whole project came about very quickly, in fact this time last year I had no intention of writing a book in 2016. This is what happens when you find something that you love doing and it ticks a lot of elements in the individual motivational mix we all  have inside of us. Having spoken with other coaches who had written a book I initially just began to explore the possibility of writing one in the future. I was so inspired by the simplistic process that the publishing company suggested that I decided to commit myself to the project in full in July 2016 by investing a whole day in planning the book outline. This turned out to be one of the best investments I made as in the space of 7 hours the ideas for content I already had inside my head having practiced as a coach for 20 years were formulated into 10 chapter headings. It was during this planning exercise that A G.A.M.E. model was also born as a way of formulating how I could convey to readers a few things; the way I work with clients, the way I have achieved major projects in my life and in the end the methodology to actually write the book OWN IT. I will take you through each element in more detail in future blogs but just as an introduction this is what it stands for

A – Awareness of self

G. – Goal Clarity

A. – Act Daily

M. – Momentum

E. – Enjoy & Evaluate

So that’s what I did with the book project. I knew I had the necessary discipline to take the project on, once I set my mind to something I do it! I set myself the goal of writing the book by the end of the year. I worked on some writing each day, I set up a system of writing on my IPAD then transferring it into a word doc in order to keep the momentum of writing alongside my busy schedule. I definitely enjoyed the whole process and I have evaluated what I have learnt for book two!

What I also did was surround myself with the right people – more on this in another blog

If you are interested in finding out more take a look at  http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl or http://www.own-it-book.com

 

 

De-Cluttering

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I have been working with a lot of clients this month in the area of time management and making sure they are working on the right things. When you have really big goals you want to achieve or you have a lot of different conflicting things happening in your life it is vital to make sure you are not falling into the trap of being a  “busy fool” . I love this phrase as we can all fall into this trap, we rush round feeling very busy and stressed but when we look back on the week or month its difficult to identify what we have achieved.

One thing that can really help in this area is to ensure your surroundings help you focus. Sometimes just the sight of my desk can stress me out if I have just dumped customer files, training materials and  items into the office without sorting them out and putting them away. These sort of surroundings can set the scene for a unproductive day or week if they are left like this.

When you walk into an area or go by someones desk that is super tidy it creates the impression that this person is organised and in control.

To prevent getting into this cycle of clutter, disorganisation, working on the wrong things or being frozen into inaction due to the mountain of stuff to sort and do it is useful to have an ongoing system of putting away, de-cluttering, scheduling and creating time to sort out all of this. A lady who has written a very different book in this whole area is Marie Kondo in her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up  https://www.amazon.com/Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Decluttering-Organizing/dp/1607747308. Worth adding to your reading list.