FIND CAREER INSPIRATION NOW FROM OUR NEW SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEWS

How do you make the first step towards building a fulfilling and rewarding career?

Over the next few months I am inviting others to tell you about their careers in a series of spotlight career interviews.   I hope these interviews will provide interesting and inspiring reading to those of you who are feeling unfulfilled by your careers.

I decided to launch this series of interviews because many people I speak to lack the confidence to change career or are finding it hard to work out what they want to do for a job, frequently asking me for true examples of career changes to help them progress with their ideas.

I hope this series of interviews will encourage you to make the first step towards building a fulfilling and rewarding career as well as providing you with new job ideas.

The first spotlight career interview

Radha_profile pic

I am launching the series with an interview that will show you how taking control of your decisions can lead to amazing career opportunities.

By making the first step and trying out ideas, Radha made a successful and inspirational career change from fundraiser to setting up her own adventure travel company, Flash Pack. Do have a read of her interview below.  She gives some great advice for those wanting to change career and you may also be inspired to take a holiday!

FUNDRAISER FOLLOWS PASSION AND SET UP SUCCESSFUL TRAVEL COMPANY

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

Stop procrastinating and just do it!

career-coaching

Do you procrastinate over making decisions about your career, leaving your success to chance? 

A few years ago, I did a seminar for the Coventry and Warwickshire Young Professionals titled ‘A great way to get ahead in your career and it’s much better than leaving it to chance’.  It was about developing the ability to step out of your comfort zone and take control to enable you to achieve a fulfilled and successful career, full of opportunities and enjoyment.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  All you need to do is take control and you will be successful and happy.

If only it was that simple.  If it was, I would certainly be out of a job!  This is certainly a case of ‘easier said than done’, but why?  Why is it so hard to take control of our own lives?   Why do people need my help?

Procrastination, procrastination, procrastination…

Yes, we procrastinate.

I am sure you have been guilty of procrastinating, finding it creeping into your decision-making process and casting doubt on your great ideas.

Think about it.  What was the last big thing you wanted to achieve in your career?

  • A promotion at work?
  • A better work life balance? (Given we spend 70% of our waking energy on work, unsurprisingly I hear this one a lot.)
  • A career change?

What happened next?  Did you achieve it?

We all want things from our working lives, but often it stops there.   Procrastination takes control and we do nothing about it.  We leave success to chance.

However, it doesn’t have to end there.  You don’t have to leave your career progression to chance.  If you want to get ahead, there is a more beneficial and reliable way….

 Just do it….

  • Do something about it: Become aware of the challenges you face at work and the resources available to overcome them– don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do (it may never happen).
  • Do try different things: if what you are doing is not working, try something else. For example, if you are constantly running out of time to complete work – research different time management techniques and adapt the way you work. It could be as simple as turning off your emails for parts of the day as emails are a big distraction. 
  • Do think long term – Think to the future. What are you aiming for? Make an action plan to help you to move forward in the most efficient way.  

Needing more inspiration? Have a look at this:

Art Williams: Just do it speech

As Art says, just do it!  Take control and do it – this is much better than leaving your career to chance.

If you don’t climb the mountain, you can’t see the view (Harvey Mackay)

How to explain a career break

career break

Have you ever taken time out of your career and subsequently found yourself worrying endlessly about how to explain this break in a job interview? 

I was recently asked to contribute to an article on career breaks on jobsite.co.uk.   Whilst reflecting on the subject, I realised that through my coaching work I am starting to see a rise in the number of people taking career breaks.  They are taken by individuals for many different reasons and at different stages of their career.  Some take time off to look after their children or a sick relative, some are having time out having experienced a stressful time in their previous work, others want to experience something completely different through voluntary or project work.

Whatever the reason for your career break, returning to the workplace can feel daunting and this is often made worse by a common misconception amongst ‘career breakers’ that prospective employers will be reluctant to employ someone who has had a career break.  However, you will be pleased to hear this is not true.  If you focus on how you used your career break to your advantage so that a prospective employer can understand your reasons for the break and what you gained from it, they will be far more interested in employing you.

Tips for returning to work

If you are planning on or are currently taking a career break, have a read through the following headings to help you start preparing for your return to work.

Be positive

Be positive about your experiences to enable you to demonstrate what you have gained from the break.  Focus on what you have done, not what you haven’t done.  It’s all about developing the right attitude.

Be Prepared

Prior to taking a career break, think about what you want to achieve and how you may wish to use your experience upon your return to the workplace.

Whilst taking your career break, develop your ideas about what you want from your future career. Be open to meeting new people and discovering new opportunities.

Remember, you will always have strengths and skills to offer a prospective employer. Spend time identifying these.

Be organised

Once you have decided what you want to do after your career break, make an action plan to enable you to network, seek additional help and prepare for applications and interviews.

Practise

Rehearse the benefits of your career break to ensure you can fluently explain this to a prospective employer.

If you would like to read more about career breaks, have a read of the article I referred to, ‘Taking a career break from work’, for more information and guidance.

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

‘Aiming for perfection is not realistic’

perfectionism

Is 100% perfection ever possible?

Not according to Winston Churchill,

“The maxim ‘nothing but perfection’ may be spelled ‘paralysis.’” (Winston Churchill)

….and I think my course tutor agreed when she wrote on my feedback form:

‘There is obviously more you could do but aiming for perfection is not realistic (although it is expected of lawyers.)’

This was 10 years ago, yet I will never forget her comments.  I have been guilty of perfectionism and have had to learn to lower my high and unrealistic expectations of myself to allow myself a chance to try new things and learn from mistakes I make along the way to improve.

I am, of course, not the only one. Perfectionism is extremely common and continues to trouble individuals as they enter the workplace, as confirmed in a recent article about the rise in perfectionism in young people.  This article sets out the characteristics and beliefs of a perfectionist as:

  • Holding excessive standards and punishing yourself for failing to achieve these standards.
  • Validating your worth by perfection.
  • Experiencing guilt and anxiety about unworthiness.

Does this sound familiar? I am sure those of you who are perfectionists will agree that always believing nothing is ever good enough is an exhausting state of mind.  It can lead to stress, anxiety and poor concentration as well as other mental health issues.

If you consider yourself to be a perfectionist, there are steps you can take to alleviate the pressure you put upon yourself.  Use the following tips to start the process:

  • Failure is not a weakness – start to believe there is a learning process through which you can gain knowledge and succeed.
  • Set yourself high achievable standards and realistic goals that do not require perfection.
  • Get the job done. Do not procrastinate for fear of failure.  Take manageable steps instead, taking each decision at a time.  Enjoy the process, not just the outcome, and this will open new opportunities you didn’t know existed.

Don’t let perfectionism hold you back.  Motivation comes from striving to be excellent, not perfect.

“Strive for excellence, not perfection, because we don’t live in a perfect world.” (Joyce Meyer)

 

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

How do you choose the right coach for you?

IPACM-Logo[1]

As an accredited coach with the International Authority for Professional Coaching and Mentors (IAPC&M), I was recently invited to take part in a round table discussion to discuss the important matter of accreditation and why my accreditation with the IAPC&M is important to me, my business and my clients.   Given the absence of a regulatory body in the profession, this is a hot topic amongst coaches as it raises questions about whether coaching is always taking place to the highest standard in the industry.

Given my background as a solicitor, it took me a while to get used to the idea that any individual can practice as a coach without accountability.  It was therefore an obvious step for me to become accredited with the IAPC&M to ensure that I was doing all I could to provide the best service for my clients.  Being accredited gives my clients the assurance that I have the professional ability to provide the best service for them and provides me with a professional accountable framework in which I work to ensure I maintain these high standards in coaching.  I have continual access to support, guidance and professional development and can continue to invest in developing my professional skills.

How is this relevant to me?

Individuals – When choosing the right coach for you, firstly ensure they are accredited.  You want to be able to trust that they are investing time, money and energy in developing their professional ability and providing you with a good service.

Coaches – If you are considering training to be a coach, become accredited by an organisation which is striving to ensure coaching is to the highest standard in the industry.

To find out more, please have a listen to the discussion which can be found here or click on the link below.  (You will hear my input at 11 minutes and 33 minutes!)

 

If you want to find out more, you could also have a read of the IAPC&M’s  Guide to choosing your coach.Screen-Shochoose-a-coach

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

Hidden careers you never knew existed

peoples_careers_icons_various_colored_types_hexagon_isolation_6826946

The more time you spend investigating different sectors, the better suited your career choice will be.

I was unsurprised by a recent headline that popped up in my newsfeed last month.

Children in poorer countries have higher career aspirations than UK

On the face of it, you would perhaps question the accuracy of this headline when there are hundreds of amazing careers available to us in the UK within countless sectors.  However, this article was prompted by the results of a survey of 20,000 children so there must be some truth behind it!

The finding from the survey that took my interest was the evident need for children to be introduced to different types of careers at an early age.  As children are heavily influenced by their social surroundings and who they know, their career expectations did not always match the opportunities available to them, limiting their chances of finding a career that gives them happiness and fulfilment.

However, it is not just children who lack knowledge of different sectors.  Adults, through no fault of their own, are guilty of this too!

How many different career sectors are you aware of?

At school, we were typically taught to think about careers in fixed categories with no overlap, common examples being law, medicine, veterinary science, engineering and teaching.  This is fine until you have spent five years in your chosen sector and realise it doesn’t quite feel right for you (perhaps it didn’t ever feel right).  Your job role may contradict your true values or differ from your interests.  However, you feel your career choices are limited and have little knowledge of what else you can do.

The reality is, there are thousands of sectors to choose from.  There is something for everyone, to fit with all personalities, skills and interests.  If you were not introduced to these at an early age, perhaps it is time now to seek them out.  Identify your passions and start making links between them by stretching your imagination.  Pretend you are back at school again and revisiting your choice!    For example, if you are interested in young people, education and creative writing, expand your thinking beyond teaching.  You could investigate writing short stories or educational materials or working for a charity that promotes creativity in young people. There will be so many different and exciting strands to explore.  Just remember, your investigations may take a few steps rather than one big jump!

Expanding your sector choices will increase the opportunities available to you and enable you to find a career that best suits you.

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

Unpacking an inspiring career in 2018

suitcase

Can we all find an inspiring career which makes us feel happy and fulfilled?

We all want a career we love but often lack the ability to find the job that inspires us the most.  In fact, many people I speak to say they would change career tomorrow if they could but have no idea what motivates them or what they could do.  I then wonder, where has their positivity gone?  Where has their childlike curiosity disappeared to?  Do they really have no idea about what motivates them?

The reality is that our positivity and curiosity does not disappear but instead becomes buried deeply under a sea of everyday thoughts and beliefs about ourselves, the world and the future.  These have formed through past experiences, knowledge and predictions for what might happen. 

‘I am not good enough’

‘If it goes wrong it will be my fault’

‘They will think I’m crazy’

It is these negative thoughts that are pushing your positive thoughts under the surface and preventing you from being open to opportunity and fulfilment.

So, how do we allow our positive and curious thoughts to resurface?   Well, if you bear with me for a moment and use your imagination to work through the following instructions, I will attempt to help you…

First, pack the interfering everyday thoughts into an old suitcase and secure the case (you can unpack them later if they mean that much to you!). 

Your positive and creative thoughts now have room to resurface, retrieve these and pack them into a new suitcase.  Use these questions to help your thinking:

What jobs would you like to try for a week?

If all jobs were paid the same, what would you do?

What are the three things you feel most passionate about?

Great!  You now have two suitcases, one with new inspired thoughts, the other with old everyday thoughts. 

Now imagine both these cases are on an airport conveyor belt. They will pass you once and you must choose just one of them to take home and continue filling, the other will be left behind.  Which case are you going to keep, the case of positive ideas and thoughts or the case of old everyday thoughts? 

Quick, they are passing you…this is your chance…GRAB ONE NOW!

I am sure you are now getting the point! 

Remember, you know yourself better than anyone else.  If you actively seek out the thoughts and ideas that will give you the best chance of finding an inspiring career, you will find happiness and fulfilment.

WISHING YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY AND INSPIRED NEW YEAR!

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk