Tessa Armstrong’s Career Change Journey

Tessa

I want to let you all know that I have been there too!

Many people ask me about my career and what led me to running my career coaching business and so my blog this month is all about my own career change journey.

I want to let you know that I have been there too!  I have spent time wondering about and imagining a career I would really enjoy and I have spent time planning and developing this career.  It is these experiences that have enabled me to build a career coaching programme with a lot of understanding behind it of what people go through in their careers and how they can create a fulfilling career.

From the beginning…

Many of you may not know this, but I actually did a music degree at Birmingham University.  I chose music because it is a subject I am very passionate about.  Whilst studying music, I started to think about my next steps and made the decision for music to become more of a hobby than to provide me with an income. At this point, I started looking into law.  I was particularly interested in family law as I wanted to be able to help people resolve issues in their personal lives.

A few years later I did indeed qualify as a solicitor in family law.  It was an amazing experience, representing individuals from a range of backgrounds.  It was also hard work and you had to learn fast.  I will never forget walking into the office one day as a newly qualified and being told I was going to have to go and do a court hearing (alone!).

However, something still wasn’t quite right.  After a few years, I was still really wondering what else was out there in the world of work. It fascinated me and I knew I had other passions I wanted to explore.  I decided to take a career break to allow me time to make these explorations.  My plan was to do some voluntary work within the charity sector as well as build more experience of working with children (two areas I am really passionate about). As it happened, within a few weeks of leaving my job, I was offered a job as a teaching assistant for a very good teacher friend of mine which I did at the same time as doing the Place2Be Certificate in Counselling Skills for Working with children. When these came to an end, I managed to secure a major gift fundraising role at Macmillan Cancer Support.  I had carried out a lot of research through networking in the charity sector and had previously done some voluntary work abroad and so I already knew a lot about the roles available.

My time at Macmillan was extremely inspiring, working for an organisation which delivers such a fantastic service and with people who are so passionate about the cause.  It was also fascinating to work in a place where there are lots of different jobs available within one organisation.  Although I missed parts of my role as a family law solicitor, at this point I knew my career was going to take a slightly different direction.

What led me to career coaching?

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After making the move from law into a different sector, lots of people started to ask me for career advice and I realised I was really enjoying the process of speaking to them about their own careers.   Deep down I’d always wanted to work for myself and so looked into how I could make a career out of giving careers support helping those who are struggling going into work each day.  I discovered career coaching and you all know what happened next!

I have now been running my business for 10 years.  I coach many solicitors as well as many individuals from other backgrounds and professions.

 

What about my passions for children and charities?

…and I haven’t forgotten about my other passions…children and the charity sector…

logoTMjpgMy passion for helping children has continued in a voluntary capacity leading me over the last couple of years to designing my primary school confidence coaching programme (My space 4 me) as well as a secondary school careers programme.

As you will no doubt realise, none of this happened overnight.  It took time, thinking, experimenting, talking, getting things right and getting things wrong!

My Book

Book Tessa Armstrong IAPC&MEverything you read in my book (The Tea Model), I have done personally as well as used this programme to coach 100’s of individuals. I have made goals, assessed my skills. I have developed a career vision, overcome that tricky negative mindset. I have explored different options through paid and voluntary work, networked to help me find the answers as well as battled with that work-life balance (which is always a work in progress for everyone!).

I want you to know that carving your own way through the world of careers may take time, but it is possible, and it will be worth it as I can honestly say I love what I do.   If you are not enjoying your job, please do use the people around you who have been on a similar journey like me.  There are always times in our lives when we need a bit of extra support and that is okay!

It is possible to find a fulfilling and satisfying job for you.

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

20 Pieces of Career Advice For You!

TessaIt’s that time of year when I do a round-up of all my articles and blogs for the year.  I do this so that when reflecting on your career (as many do over Christmas and New Year) you can quickly scan through this round-up and read what is relevant for you.  I hope it is helpful!

I try to cover a range of topics in my articles.  This year many of the topics covered are hinting towards what is covered in my newly published book (The Tea Model: Slowing down in a fast-paced world to find the career you love’.)

BLOGS

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  1. The key ingredient for making a career change (Jan)
  2. Making your dream career a reality (Feb)
  3. What do you do when your current job doesn’t suit you? (March)
  4. Finding the best career and job ideas when feeling stuck(April)
  5. The best kept secret to career success(May)
  6. Four rules you need to know for career success (June)
  7. Four reasons why celebration is so important for career happiness and fulfilment(July)
  8. Six reasons stopping you getting the job you will love (Sept)
  9. ‘Showing negative emotion is not the done thing’ (Oct)
  10. Publication of my new book: ‘The Tea Model: Slowing down in a fast-paced world to find the career you love’ (Nov)

 

VIDEOS

  1. How to achieve the best work-life balance for you and enjoy your job
  2. Stop leaving your career to chance
  3. The best kept secret to career success
  4. Confidence Coaching for Children

ARTICLES

  1. How to stop procrastinating over career-changing decisions
  2. Don’t forget this important consideration when making a career change
  3. How to ‘just do it’ when perfectionism takes over
  4. How career coaching can help you create a career that suits you
  5. 6 benefits of coaching for career success
  6. 9 ways to progress your career when feeling lost

 

CAREER ADVICE BOOKS

….Did I mention MY NEWLY PUBLISHED BOOK?!

The Tea Model: Slowing down in a fast-paced world to find the career you love

Book Tessa Armstrong IAPC&M

 

Do get in touch now or in the New Year to tell me your career news (or dilemmas).  In the meantime, I wish you a very happy Christmas and a fantastic new year! 

Best wishes

Tessa

Tessa’s 2018 career blog round-up – something to help everyone’s career!

CareerIt doesn’t seem that long ago when I was writing my 2017 round up and already we are looking forward to our next Christmas break.  I wonder what lies ahead for your career in 2019.  Will it be a career change?  Will you be returning to work?  Are you facing any uncertainty at work, perhaps through redundancy? Perhaps you are contemplating having a break from work?  Is there a promotion you have your eyes on?

Whatever your situation at work, I hope my 2018 blogs and articles will provide you will some helpful and insightful information to help you. There is something for everyone…

BLOGS

Unpacking an inspiring career in 2018 (Jan)uk_career_development_1000px

Hidden careers you never knew existed (Feb)

How do you choose the right career coach for you? (Feb)

Aiming for perfection is not realistic (Mar)

How to explain a career break (April)

Stop procrastinating and just do it! (May)

Find career inspiration now from our new spotlight interviews (May)

How to tackle the changing job market (Jul)

The easiest way to find a job you actually enjoy (Oct)    

How to redesign your career now? (Nov)

 

GUEST BLOG

CV Pitfalls/setbacks and how to get over them by CV-Library

 

SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEWS

Fundraiser follows passion and sets up successful travel company

Discover how Radha made an inspirational career change from charity fundraiser to setting up her own company.

Engineer and Mum makes successful career change following career break

Find out how Suzanne made an exciting career change and successfully returned to work after a two-year break to start her own business.

Creating your dream career through a portfolio career

Discover how Toni Sharp has created a portfolio career, combining work as an employment solicitor and her love for travel.

 

ARTICLES

Three action points to help you change career (Jan – Life Coach Directory)

Taking a career break from work (Jan – Jobsite)

What to do when work gets you down (March – Life Coach Directory)

How to find hidden career opportunities (May – Life Coach Directory)

Top 10 UK Career Development Blog (June)

The secret to finding the best career path for you (Aug – Life Coach Directory)

Getting the most from your career search when times are tough (Oct – Life Coach Directory)

Four simple words that can transform your career (Dec – Life Coach Directory)

I look forward to being in touch again with more blogs and articles in the New Year!  In the meantime, I wish you a very merry Christmas!

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

Spotlight career interview: Creating your dream career through a portfolio career

My spotlight interviews return to help and encourage those wanting to find a fulfilling and rewarding career.

toni 1My third interview is with Toni Sharp who talks about how she created an inspirational portfolio career spending part of her working week in her role as an Employment and HR solicitor whilst also spending time working as a travel consultant.  Portfolio careers are a great way of creating a career which matches your interests and provides flexibility. The increasing range and variety of jobs available allows for a more creative and flexible approach when designing your career path.  Toni’s journey in creating her portfolio career is an inspirational read as she details how she made her decisions to find different roles which match her passions, skills and interests.

 

Spotlight career interviews:

Read Toni’s interview here: Solicitor makes leap of faith and creates her dream portfolio career

 

Previous interviews:

Returning to work:  Suzanne talks about how she made an exciting career change and successfully returned to work after a two-year break to start her own business. Read her interview here: Engineer and Mum returns to work and makes successful career change following career break.

Career Change: Radha talks about how she changed career from fundraiser to setting up her own travel company.  She shows how taking control of your decisions can lead to amazing career opportunities.  Read her interview here: Fundraiser follows passion and sets up travel company

 

Relevant help sheets:

Could a portfolio career be right for you?

Career options for lawyers

Transferrable skills for lawyers

 

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

Tessa’s 2017 career blog round-up – something for everyone!

career clipartWill you be pondering over your future career during the Christmas break?  If so, perhaps one of my blogs from 2017 will help to guide your thoughts.  I have provided all the links below (please excuse any inaccuracies with the publishing date– these became slightly muddled when I launched my new website in June!).

There is something for everyone –  whether you need help with your current job or would like to search for something new. Have a look…..

Stop waiting, take action! (Jan)

How to cope if you are put at risk of redundancy (Jan)

How to get a new job now – The three Ps! (Feb)

Four ways to feel happier at work (March)

Are you tired of being available 24/7? (April)

3 steps to turn your fear of rejection into career success (May)

How to make the first step towards finding a job that suits you (June)

How to stop stress preventing you from pursuing changes in your career (July)

Four focus points to help you make a good impression when starting a new job (July)

Who is the best person to tell you what job you should do (and it’s not me!)? (Sept)

Three steps to overcome your fear of being judged (Sept)

The importance of learning to say ‘no’ (Oct)   

Does looking at past events help you change career? (Nov)

Are you fed up of worrying about your career? (Dec)

Five ways to overcome setbacks (Oct – Life Coach Directory)

Is it time to stop feeling so stressed at work? (Dec – Life Coach Directory)

I look forward to being in touch again with more blogs in the New Year!  In the meantime, I wish you a very merry Christmas!

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

The importance of learning to say ‘no’

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Learning to say no is about making a choice to focus on what is important to you, enabling you to reduce feelings of stress and freeing up time to focus on your personal goals and values.

How often do you check your emails each day? They are really distracting, aren’t they? I find that I must physically close my inbox to stop me looking at my emails, otherwise I am too easily distracted by those unread new arrivals in bold that are shouting at me to respond ‘NOW’.

Responding to emails is a great example of a daily task that prevents you from being effective and is often the cause of time management issues. Let me explain its true impact by relating it to Stephen Covey’s 3rd habit, ‘Put First Things First’.

In his book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, Covey describes a time management matrix dividing how we spend time in to one of four ways, defined by the importance of the task (does it provide results?) and the urgency (visible tasks):

  1. Urgent and Important tasks – immediate and important deadlines (often a crisis or problem) Focusing on this area can cause a lot of stress.
  2. Not urgent and important – to develop effective personal management – activities that will move you forward in your career.
  3. Urgent and not important – Time pressured distractions such as email. These are not really important but someone wants it now.
  4. Not urgent and not important – Activities that have little value but can be relief from other work.    

Checking emails most frequently falls within category 3. However, we often mistakenly think they are category 1 tasks which explains the distractive nature of emails. This misunderstanding usually arises from the expectations of others rather than the email itself being THAT important.

The problem of being consumed by category 3 means that little time is left for the not urgent and important jobs in category 2. Category 2 tasks help personal development, the discovery of new opportunities and provide solutions to resolving problems in category 1. Failing to spend time on this category can lead to neglecting important areas of your life and career.

One way to resolve the heavy focus on category 3, is to learn to say no. Identify your priorities and manage the expectations of others by identifying those emails that can wait. This can relate to any category 3 task.   Even if you are asked to do something good, if it keeps you from what you really want to be doing then learn to say no in a respectful and pleasant manner. Keeping a focus on category 2 can make a huge positive difference to the effectiveness of your working and non-working life.

Remember: Every time you say yes to someone else’s priorities, you are saying no to your own priorities.  

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

9 ways to improve your time management skills

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‘I never seem to have enough time to complete my work. I work really long hours and no longer have time to do the things I enjoy out of work. It is making me feel stressed.’

It can be really difficult managing a large workload. You can end up feeing exhausted and extremely stressed.

If this sounds familiar, perhaps take some time to review how you spend your time at work.   Use the following points to assist:

  1. Every morning make a list of the tasks you must complete that day and a separate list of tasks that you would like to complete if you had time.
  2. Do the thing you least want to do first. You will be so pleased when you have achieved it and feel motivated for the rest of the day.
  3. Eliminate all distractions when working on a large piece of work. For instance, turn your mobile off and close your emails.
  4. Focus on one thing at a time. For example, allocate part of the day to making telephone calls and another part to responding to emails and clearing your inbox.
  5. Are you expected to do everything yourself? If possible, delegate some of your work.
  6. Learn to say ‘no’ when you have too much work to do and to explain the reason why.
  7. If you are struggling with a piece of work, ask for help. Feeling that something is beyond your capabilities can make you feel out of control.
  8. Do you need to work late every day? Ensuring you leave work on time at least once or twice a week will free up time for your personal life.
  9. Plan to do something you enjoy at least once a week.

Often the smallest alteration to your working day can make the biggest difference in enabling you to work more quickly and effectively. It can also ease feelings of stress and allow you to enjoy your life again.

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

For lawyers – What to do when you feel dissatisfied at work

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‘I have been wondering whether law is the right career for me for a while now. I don’t feel very motivated or satisfied at work but my options are limited as my skills are so specialised.’

It is not uncommon for lawyers to consider a career change when they are feeling demotivated or dissatisfied at work.   If a recent event has made you feel this way then wait until the situation has calmed down or you have managed to resolve it before you make any decisions.

Also, take a look at your current situation. What specifically is bothering you about your current situation –   is it the working environment, the subject matter, your work-life balance or something else? A career change may be the answer but consider other solutions too such as changing law firm, changing specialism, in-house work, further training and development, seeking help from your supervisor or even pursuing a hobby out of work.

If you do decide that a career change is right for you, the good news is that you do have transferrable skills. Start having a think about them now. Your skills are likely to include people skills, advanced drafting skills, research and problem-solving skills, excellent oral skills as well as many others that make you employable. You can then start investigating career options that closely match your set of skills.

Remember, with all challenges you face, if you keep doing what you are doing you will keep getting the same result. Try new techniques and tools to help you succeed and if you think a career change is for you, start your investigations now!

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

Lawyers – Are you fed up with stressful days and sleepless nights?

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The obsession with billable hours…

Many lawyers tell me they are becoming increasingly stressed at work. They do not enjoy their job and have no work/life balance. They are feeling really fed up and see no way out.

When I hear lawyers talking like this, I can usually predict the cause of this kind of stress and it normally comes down to targets and billable hours.

Each day a lawyer is faced with a battle against the clock of chargeable hours. Some days they win this battle and achieve their target hours and some days they do not. On the days they do not, they leave the office feeling drained and demotivated. After all, lawyers like to win!

When the days of winning become less frequent, the obsession with dividing the day into 6 minute units commences.

How have I only charged 6 hours when I have been sat at my desk for 12 hours? How can I stop writing off time? How can I ask for more work? Do I have time to waste a unit by making a cup of tea? How quickly can I run to the toilet?!

Slowly, the lawyer loses all perspective on life.

If you feel your stress levels are rising due to unachievable targets, please take some time to stop and review matters before you start counting how many units it takes to make a cup of tea. There may be changes you can make to your case load and working day that will make all the difference.

For example, if the hours you record are not a true reflection of the number of hours you have been sat at your desk, start making a detailed note of what you are doing during non-changeable time. Whilst doing this, have a think about the following questions:

  1. Do you need more work? If so, arrange a meeting with your boss to discuss your workload.
  2. How do you structure your day? Are you working in a productive manner or do you find yourself flitting between different tasks? It is very difficult to focus and record time accurately when flitting between tasks. Ensure you allocate specific times of the day to answer emails, make phone calls and review your post. When concentrating on one task, do not allow yourself to get distracted by the phone, your email or anyone else.
  3. Do you write off time? If you feel a piece of work has taken longer than it should have, perhaps check with your boss before choosing to write off time. It may be a piece of work that required you to take a long time.

As you become more productive, your billable time will increase and you will be able to enjoy life out of work again.

As an alternative, should we all be thinking about scrapping billable hours and target hours? According to Roll on Friday’s firm of the year, this is one of the reasons Slaughter and May usually rates higher in the work/life category than other Magic Circle firms. Perhaps this is the way forward?!

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk