Read this if your work feels too small or insignificant

Read this if your work feels too small or insignificant

Do you ever wonder about the impact you’re having on the world?

In 10 years I will reach the age my mother was when she passed away and, as anyone who has lost a parent prematurely will know, it’s a milestone we can’t take lightly.

Realising this lately reminded me I may never get around to all those lofty goals I have planned for my life, particularly if I don’t begin work on them sometime soon.

If I knew I only had 10 years, what would I change?

This question can put a lot of things into perspective.

The truth is we overestimate what we can do in a year while wildly underestimating what we can achieve in a decade, or even a lifetime.

It’s been many years but I clearly remember this about my mother’s funeral: The number of people that swelled the aisles of our local church to pay their respects. In my mind’s eye I can still see all those people standing at the back of the church. Hundreds queued to shake our hands in sympathy that day, many of whom I’d never laid eyes on before.

I was still young enough to be shocked that my mother had this other life I knew so little about. As a nurse at the local hospital she had cared for the elderly relatives of many people in our town. One after another they spoke of her kindness and warmth. It was deeply comforting and I was struck by the massive impact she’d had through her work in our community.

As I edge ever closer to the age she was when she died, I find myself thinking of her legacy more and more.

A decade is a long enough timespan to do something worthwhile. The tendency is to be hard on yourself and wonder what the hell you’ve been doing up to now. I mean I’m 46 already and while I’ve made a start, I have yet to make the kind of contribution that I aspire to.

In calmer moments, I get over it by reminding myself that while I still, God willing, have time to do many good things in this world, I should take my cue from my mam, who even in death was still teaching me about the important things in life.

If you want to make a difference, by all means dream big, but don’t forget it’s who you are that will be remembered in the end.

What do you want your legacy to be?

What to do when your job starts feeling like Groundhog Day

What to do when your job starts feeling like Groundhog Day

Have you ever felt as though you were living the same day over and over again? It’s frustrating when the job you once loved starts to feel like Groundhog Day. It’s easy to blame yourself. Why can’t I stick with anything longer than 12 months? Why do I get bored so easily? Before you do anything rash it’s worth taking a closer look at the reason why you’re feeling this way.

In my experience, the number one reason people get bored is because the job is no longer a challenge. How often have you played it safe when it comes to taking on a job? If you’re bored it could be because you’re playing small and not doing all that you’re capable of.

This happened to one of my favourite characters in a recent episode of Million Dollar Listing New York. If you don’t watch the show, here’s the overview. Ryan had a career crisis because he was feeling bored with his business. He consulted a psychologist, took some time off and tried to reconnect with the work he was doing in the early days when everything was new and exciting. After a lot of soul searching he realised that he was bored because he’d stopped taking risks in his business (spoiler alert: he went out and bought a Brooklyn real estate agency!).

You know what I’m going to say next.

1) Figure out how you can take more risks

What can you do that would be a stretch for you now? What bold moves can you take to achieve your version of a Brooklyn real estate brokerage?

If leaving your current job is not an option, can you develop a side hustle? This could be giving talks at conferences and events, hosting your own event or taking on some consulting work. I have done this myself in the past. When I wanted to improve my public speaking skills (and get over my nerves), I spoke at events and took on additional projects like teaching workshops. All of these tasks pushed me outside of my comfort zone where I could grow and develop my skills.

If you want to take on more responsibility at work start with how you can make life easier for your manager. What could you offer to take off of her plate that would be make your role more challenging? This brings me to my next point.

2) Ask for what you want

You would be surprised by how many people I see unhappy at work but unwilling to ask for a change in their role. It’s funny how we resist taking the simplest action to change our careers. Go and ask for what you want. Most managers want to have happy staff so if you want to have more responsibility or reduce your hours to take a course or start a business, your manager may be more open to it than you think.

The key to doing this successfully is to make it clear what you want and then be willing to negotiate to make it happen. Don’t give up if he says no to your first request. It’s important to work together to come up with a solution that works for everyone.

But what if you’re not sure what you want?

3) Become an observer

Start by becoming an observer of what you do right now. You will find valuable clues about what could be next for you. When you don’t know who you’re becoming, you can begin by articulating the 5 per cent that you can see (a fabulous post by Tara Mohr on this here).

Here’s how to do this. Set an intention to observe your day to gain insight about your situation. Then switch into observer mode at work. Watch yourself as you perform your daily tasks, interact with people and go about your business. What do you notice about how you conduct yourself? The impact you have? How you feel? Notice where you feel the most joy, the most resentment and keep an eye out for situations that bring out the best in you and make you feel good at the same time. It’s as though you are sitting on your shoulder watching everything play out. You will naturally switch back and forth between observer and doer which is fine. I always discover something new when I do this.

4) Share your feelings with your colleagues

In Million Dollar Listing, Ryan consulted with a psychologist and his wife. But if you can, I believe talking things through with a colleague can be helpful. If you have a good relationship with your co-workers they can give you valuable insights into why you might be feeling less than enthused about your job. Maybe burnout is an issue in your industry and your colleagues have been through similar challenges. They can also give you helpful feedback about what they see as your strengths. Remember that the people you work with, including your manager, might have advice on how you could vary your role or switch to another job altogether. It’s ok to admit that you’re not fully enjoying your work and ask for help.

5) Clear the clutter

I’m talking about the mental clutter that often weighs us down when it comes to work. Whether it’s the thousand emails sitting in your inbox, the number of meetings you attend, or the colleague who consistently asks you for time-consuming favours. Whatever it is, ask yourself: What do I need to let go of here? What’s getting in the way of me doing my best work? Some of the issues that have come up for me in the past include: people pleasing, the desire to do everything perfectly and the need to do everything myself. Trust me, the world won’t fall apart if you don’t respond to every email or explain to a colleague that you can’t respond to every request. How can you help them in a way that’s less time consuming for you? Can you delegate this aspect of your job?

When you decide to let go of the things that are getting in the way you’ll open up more space for the work you need to focus on. Be warned, letting go can make you feel a bit wobbly at first because you’re breaking new ground. If this is bringing up a few objections for you, start with something small. Once you see results, it will give you the courage to tackle bigger issues.

6) Review your goals

What do you want to achieve in the next 12 months? Write down your top three goals and think about how your job will help you to achieve them, whether it’s continuously developing your skills, gaining experience or buying a new home. Reframe your current role as a positive addition to your life. Instead of constantly thinking: I don’t want to go to work today, a new affirmation might be: My job supports my personal and professional growth.

If it turns out that this job is not going to help you achieve that goal, then of course it’s time to look for a new opportunity. The advantage of doing these exercises is that you will gain so much clarity on whether your current role is still right for you, or whether you’ve outgrown it and it’s time to move on.

I would love to hear how these tips work out for you in the comments. In the meantime I wish you an amazing and inspiring day 🙂

How to make a decision when you’re feeling stuck

How to make a decision when you’re feeling stuck

“I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.” – Maya Angelou

How do you go when it comes to making decisions?

If you’re anything like me, not being able to make a decision on something important can drive you crazy.

As I’ve discovered, what holds us back the most are our own fears and negative thoughts about the choices we have in front of us. I’ve come up with a couple of hacks to help you make decisions with confidence and reclaim your power.

First I review my options and ask:

1) Which one (or two) options feel right instinctively?

Hint: Your first thought is usually your best thought when it comes to accessing your intuition. What I’ve found after making some tough decisions in the past couple of years is that out of the many choices on offer, there is always at least one that provokes an inner YES. That doesn’t mean it’s always the one you should choose but it’s an important consideration.

If you can’t access your intuitive feelings about this choice, you need to slow down and stop ruminating on the problem. The more relaxed and accepting you can be about the process the more you can access your intuition.

After I do this I ask:

2) What would love do?

What’s the most loving choice you could make here? When I talk about love I don’t just mean what’s best for other people in the situation, although that’s important too. I mean what’s the most loving thing you could do for yourself right now? As women this is often the last place we go (if we go there at all!) when it should be one of our first considerations. I find this question cuts through all of the ‘shoulds’ rolling around in my brain and stops me from giving too much weight to what other people think.

Hopefully this has narrowed down the field. Now review your options and ask:

3) If I choose this, will it make me truly happy?

This question can be a real game-changer. If you’re forcing yourself to settle in some way it’s going to become obvious when you ask this. Which option available to you now is going to make you the happiest? When you get up in the morning, when you pick your kids up from school, when you look at your bank account. This can help you to cut through all the clutter and make more empowered decisions.

Another tip. When I’m making a decision I’m also guided by my Core Desired Feelings as well as meditation and Tarot. But it’s worth bearing in mind that sometimes patience is required when it comes to making the right decision. It may be true that you need to do more research, sit with your choices for a little longer or wait for better timing.

Let me know in the comments if these questions resonated with you.

Do you have any other tips for making empowered decisions?

The reason you’re not nailing interviews anymore (and 3 ways to fix it)

The reason you’re not nailing interviews anymore (and 3 ways to fix it)

This post was first published on the Firebrand Talent blog.

I used to be that girl. The one who breezed through interviews and always got the job. But then something changed or rather I did — to a new industry. Suddenly interviews became more challenging and the rejections started to pile up. I could no longer rely on my ability to wing it.

These days clients come to me with similar issues, most often when they’re applying for more senior roles or switching to a different industry.

If you’re not nailing interviews like you used to, it could be that you don’t have the right experience, but it could also be because you’re unclear about what you have to offer. Don’t take for granted that you’re communicating this information in the right way. It’s trickier than it looks.

There are a few key things you can do to prepare for the interview, boost your chances of nailing it and make yourself more hireable:

1. Be prepared to tell your story in your interviews

In a recent mock interview when asked about project outcomes, a client spent 15 minutes telling me about the great projects she’d worked on without outlining what she did to create these impressive results. She’d been leaving out the most important part because she was worried interviewers would think she was taking credit for other people’s work.

I’ve coached a lot of very smart people who get tongue tied when it comes to talking about what they’ve accomplished. They focus on the success of the company, the team and the projects they’ve led, leaving out the crucial details of how they contributed.

If you’re worried about sounding arrogant, write down five things that make you the perfect candidate for the role. Imagine what your current boss would say about you (provided it’s positive of course!).

Are you able to turn projects around quickly under deadline pressure? Do you have an innate ability to magic up creative ideas that always match the brief? Or does your outgoing personality mean you can instantly put new clients at ease?

Don’t forget to mention why you want the job, particularly if you’re changing industries. Maybe you’re passionate about health and wellbeing because you experienced a health crisis that forced you to radically change your lifestyle. Be prepared to tell that story in the interview because it’s something people will remember. Sometimes it’s the seemingly insignificant details that can give you an edge.

2. Understand the company and its current challenges

Your interviewer will want to put your skills in context. What can you help them to achieve? Spend some time researching the company and understanding their values, the type of projects they’re involved in and the budgets they’re dealing with. You’ll want to do your homework because you might be asked for ideas in the interview, particularly if it’s a senior role.

How do you get up to speed without spending hours on research?

Start with the company website and then search for recent news about the organisation.

Read up on industry developments and make sure you’re across any issues like new legislation, funding cuts or technology advances.

Next check the company’s LinkedIn company page and see if there are any current or past employees in your network who you could contact for more information.

When you’ve done your research, write down how your experience and skills can help the company solve the challenges you’ve uncovered or help it to achieve its goals.

3. Get specific about your experience in your interviews

While it’s perfectly acceptable to pause and gather your thoughts when you’re asked a question, humming and hawing over every answer is not a good look.

Take some time before the interview to think of specific examples from your previous work history that demonstrate your skills. If you work in marketing or advertising it’s likely that you’ll be asked how you’ve dealt with conflict, missed deadlines or managed client expectations. Write down five or six examples of scenarios that had positive outcomes. Be prepared to talk about challenging experiences and how you dealt with those too.

If you do this prep work (and it can be done in a couple of hours I promise), you’re far more likely to impress the panel.

How do you go at interviews? Do you get tongue-tied or nail it every time?

23 excuses that stand between you and the career of your dreams

23 excuses that stand between you and the career of your dreams

1) I’m too old and no one will want to hire me:-(

2) I can’t earn decent money doing what I love.

3) I don’t have enough time to study/attend interviews/figure out what I really want to do.

4) My life is already too stressful. I haven’t got the energy to focus on changing my job.

5) The industry I want to work in is full of low-paid workers in casual employment.

6) The job market is too competitive.

7) If I started my own business I wouldn’t have a consistent income.

8) I’m not an expert in anything.

9) I can’t change my job because I have a mortgage and kids.

10) The field I’m interested in is too political/specialised/hard to break into.

11) My husband/wife/mother wouldn’t like it if I went back to study.

12) Someone else deserves the job/promotion more than I do.

13) I haven’t worked hard enough for it.

14) There are no opportunities for someone like me. You need experience/a higher degree/more confidence.

15) I wouldn’t want to work 60 hour weeks and all the social workers/lawyers/business owners I know work those hours

16) The economy is in a downturn so I should hang on to the job I have until things improve.

17) I want to be in a senior role but I don’t want to manage a team or take on more responsibility.

18) It would take too long to retrain, and then I would be too old (see pt 1 above).

19) You need to be really aggressive / cut-throat to make it in that industry.

20) I’d have to take a pay cut.

21) I don’t know if I would really like it.

22) I don’t know what to do.

23) I should probably wait until the kids go to college/my husband gets a better job/we move house/I win the lottery…

Do you recognise any excuses on this list?

The first step towards making any change in your life is getting honest and real about what’s stopping you (hint: it usually has a lot more to do with what’s going on between your ears than reality).

As Woody Allen has said, 80 per cent of success is showing up.

What will you show up for today?

PS: If you want to get over your objections and create a viable plan for your future I can help. You can book your Free Discovery Session here to chat with me first, or book your Single Shot Coaching Session here.