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

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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!

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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)

Unpacking an inspiring career in 2018

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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

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

How to achieve the best career path for you – Step 3

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Creating a plan of action to achieve your new career goal

In a previous blog I wrote about how building your self-awareness is the first best step towards identifying a career that suits you and in my ‘How to achieve the best career path for you – step 2‘ blog I wrote about how, when you have achieved this, it is time to start identifying and exploring different career and job ideas.

One you have progressed through these two steps, it is time to assess the suitability of the different career and job options you have discovered and narrow them down to those that best suit you. To help you carry out this assessment, continue to talk to people working within the relevant career fields and work out how closely each role matches your skill set and interests. Evaluate each option and work out the gaps needed to be filled in order to work in each area.

Once you have narrowed down your options, set your new career goal and create a plan of action to achieve this goal. Write down when you want to achieve it by and each step you will need to take to get there.

Your action plan may include investigating sources of vacancies, preparing a CV and making applications where relevant. You may want to contact recruitment agencies or attend seminars and conferences. It is also really important to continue talking to relevant people within the career field you have identified – you never know who may open a door for you. Networking is often the best way to move in to a new role.

You may also want to spend some time researching interview techniques and finding someone to practise with.

Finally, remember to celebrate when you have achieved the best career for you!

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

How to achieve the best career path for you – step 2

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Discovering and exploring career possibilities and ideas

In one of my previous blogs, I wrote about how building your self-awareness is the first best step towards identifying a career that suits you. When you have achieved this, it is time to start identifying and exploring different career and job ideas.

If you haven’t done so already, use the information in my previous blog to help you to identify which skills and qualities you would like to take forward and use in your career. Once you have achieved this, have a think about what these skills and qualities say about you. Are there any common themes? What is missing from your current job that you would like to include in your career?

Now think of as many career and job ideas as you can based on your skills, qualities and personality. Perhaps ask your friends and family for ideas or have a go at answering this question:

  • Which jobs would you like to try out for one week?

Make sure you write down ALL your ideas – even those you may feel are an impossibility….don’t write-off any job or career opportunities at this stage. Ignore the voices in your head that say ‘you can’t do that job’. They are only ideas at the moment and with some thought and dedication you may be able to make them a reality.

Now start investigating the careers you have identified. Use your contacts to build your knowledge about each idea and contact relevant organisations or companies to find out more.

At the end of this step, the question you are aiming to answer is:

‘What are the names of jobs and careers that would give me the best chance to use my skills, in a field that is based on my interests?’

Enjoy your investigations!

The third and final step will be to start creating a plan of action to develop your chosen career path and I will be covering this in my next blog.

The more career ideas you investigate, the better you will be at choosing the right career for you.

http://www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk

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

corporate

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

Mums returning to work – How to achieve your desired career

mazePortfolio Career

Prior to starting a family, you had control of your career. You could work long hours if required. You could apply for the perfect job that suited you. You could go out after work without a thought. You could even go home and flop on the sofa after a bad day at work!

You then became a Mum….

A new bundle of joy entered your life and, as you settled into maternity leave, work became a distant thought as you used the time instead to start adapting to your new life.

However, as the end of maternity leave approaches, the reality starts to sink in as you begin to think about returning to work. Things are different now. Priorities have changed and there is a little person now controlling your time.

How will you be able to control your career when you have your family to think about as well? Who will be doing childcare drop off and pick up? Who will be available if your child is unwell? Who is going to do the cooking, cleaning, shopping and feeding?

It can all be quite daunting for many Mums who also want to continue working and achieve the career they always wished for.

So, how can you achieve your desired career and dedicate time to your family?

My advice is to sit down with a cup of tea (and a large slice of cake), and start preparing your 10-year career plan.

10 year goal – What do you want to be doing in 10 years? Your child will be starting secondary school so you will have much more time to dedicate to your career.

4 to 5 year goal – What can you do that helps you work towards your 10-year goal? Your child will be starting primary school so you will have more time available.

1 to 2 year goal – What can you realistically achieve around your childcare options? Perhaps you can start building a portfolio career to help you progress towards your 10 year plan? (see my portfolio career factsheet)

Now – What can you do to start preparing the way for your career path? Networking? Voluntary work?  Self-employment? Do you want to start/continue part or full time work?

It is possible to create the career you desire around your family commitments. It just may take a little more time and planning than you expected so make sure you always keep your end goal in sight.

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk