Positive Self Reflection – our unsung hero

Starting a new role is such an exciting time but so often brings with it a flood of self doubt and nervousness. It can hit people a few days before they start or as late as in the middle of the wee hours on their first day.  That self talk kicks in and goes a little like this …. will they like me, will I be able to do the job, what if I can’t meet their expectations.

Two of my clients started exciting new roles this week and experienced exactly this and for both of them the self talk and nervousness had come as a surprise. I expect this was partly because they had both been in their previous roles five plus years and hadn’t been the new kid on the block for some time.  It is always easy giving advice from the sideline but I couldn’t hold back. I reminded them that their organisations could have chosen someone else but they had seen the talent and skill match and wanted them on their team.  I got them to reflect on how they felt when they started their last job and reflect on what they had achieved within their first six months. Instantly the tensions started to disappear and I could hear the self belief come back in to their voices.

It was a great reminder to me that we all experience times of self doubt and the best tool we have at our finger tips is “positive self reflection” identifying and reminding ourselves what we have achieved before, how far we have come and the value we have added along the way.

Your challenge from me:  is next time you find yourself experiencing that self doubt chatter find a quiet spot and do some self reflecting on the value you bring to your client and/or employer.

You’re not alone – Monday blue’s can hit us all

One of my clients asked me last week if I had ever experienced “Monday Blues”. When I responded “sure I have”, a look of surprise come over their face! I have come to realize that even when you love your job the Sunday evening blues or Monday morning blues can hit you. For me I think this started when I was young and Sunday evenings always had a certain ritual that made me feel sad the weekend was over and slightly hesitant the busy week was just around the corner.  Mum would make my sister and I get ready for our school week, ensure shoes were polished, homework completed, and nagging us that we had to have an early night. As I have got older and wiser I have introduced some strategies to help ensure my Monday’s are a positive day or just like any other day at the office. I have to admit I am not always successful but when I fall of the wagon I know what to do when the next Sunday evening comes along.

One of the strategies that worked for a number of years was to get into work early on a Monday and tick some boxes off my do list, tidy my desk and have some quiet time before others arrived. I had started to notice few months back that this was not working as well as it had in the past. I would find myself unproductively surfing the internet.

Last Sunday morning I decided I needed to change my Monday routine so this week I sent myself off to a 7am spin class. Not only did I enjoy the class I had one of my most productive happy Monday’s for some weeks. I am already looking forward to hitting the bike again this Monday.

Some other strategies you might like to try are:

Get Up a Little Earlier on Monday – rather than staying in bed till the last minute then having to race to the office give yourself a little extra time. It’s amazing the calming feeling this can leave you with. If you’re not a morning exercise person head to a local cafe and treat yourself to breakfast or a coffee.

Set yourself up for a good start to the week before you leave work on Friday – at the very least, if you plan out Monday’s workload on Friday, you’ll feel less overwhelmed come Monday. Planning ahead can help you cope with Mondays and maintain your productivity levels for the rest of the week. Include de-cluttering your desk and getting any filing done and dusted.

Do something special on Sunday evenings – try and mix up your Sunday evening routine. This might be a TV free evening, a long soak in the bath before you go to bed, preparing a special dinner or trying a new recipe.  We have gone to an early movie on a Sunday which still allows us to have an early night.

Monday morning doesn’t have to be the most painful day of the week; it is only so, if you allow it to!!

Some years ago I came across a great book called “No More Blue Mondays: Four Keys to Finding Fulfillment at Work” by Robin A. Sheerer.  Alas I leant the book to a client and it hasn’t found its way back to me. When I read the book the following really resonated with me and I have since shared it with a number of clients.

 As you continue to pursue the goal of creating satisfying work and a life you love.  It is important to remember that making a commitment is not a one time event.  You will need to renew your commitment again and again.  Life is not static.  You will encounter new obstacles, get tired, bored, and discouraged; occasionally lose your way or get sidetracked; grow up and grow old; notice that your energy and priorities have changed; and even discard some values and adopt new ones.  So remember that commitment needs to be ongoing.   Committing yourself to work is no different from committing yourself to any important relationship or undertaking.  From time to time you need to reevaluate your decision and then renew your commitment, or commit yourself to a new direction.

Enjoy the Journey!

Your challenge this week – what can you do differently to help avoid the Monday Blues.

Four qualities you should have in your toolbox

Late last year I stumbled across the Happenstance Theory (Jim Krumboltz). It really caught my interest as at the time I had a number of clients who were either going through restructures or had recently been made redundant. The more I read about Happenstance Theory the more I became convinced the four qualities often referred to as key to enabling people to capitalize on chance events and turn serendipity into opportunity, could be found in my clients who were successfully managing change in their careers. More importantly these clients were able to leverage off the change in a positive way.

Happenstance Theory focuses on the importance of creating and transforming unplanned events into opportunities for learning. This is not the same as leaving everything to chance. Rather, this theory advocates an active searching process while also remaining open to new and unexpected opportunities that were not planned.

 Curiosity                         exploring new learning

Persistence                     exerting effort despite setbacks

Flexibility                        adapting to changing attitudes and circumstance

Optimism                        viewing new opportunities as possible and attainable

The reality is we will continue to face constant changes at work with the ever increasing pace of technology changes and the unpredictable economic market.  If we want to be career resilient we should all ensure these five key skills are at the top of our toolbox.

This week’s challenge is to undertake a quick self assessment of the competencies above, how do you rate yourself? If you identify areas that require further development or a bit more proactive effort on your part put a plan in place today. One of my clients decided to place this list on the wall in her work area and she reported back that it really helped her take control of her own destiny during some pretty tough weeks of uncertainly.

Lazy co-workers – is there one bugging you?

Over the last few weeks I have had a number of clients grumbling about lazy co-workers. Working alongside these people who clash with our work ethic and values can be extremely energy zapping and if you don’t have coping strategies it can result in damage to your own career reputation.

Some of the common traits of these co-workers are:

  • going to the gym during lunch break then returning 70-80 minutes later only to eat their lunch at their desk for another 20-30 minutes
  • whenever you walk past their desk they are either on Trade Me, Facebook or surfing the net
  • they have a continual stream of personal calls during core working hours.

It is also no surprise that these people are normally first in line to complain when the pressure comes on or if they think someone else is being overpaid for what they do.

It is a topic I could write pages and pages on but as this is a blog here are my top four strategies for coping with the lazy co-worker.

Don’t allow them to distract you. Try to stay focused on your own work. If you’re struggling find a quiet room, see if there is an opportunity to move out of their line of sight, or as a last resort invest in earphones and listen to music. Don’t spend your day focusing on the fact that your lazy co-worker is constantly checking Facebook, talking about non-work issues to other co-workers or popping to the Post Office to post off their Trade Me sales. This will only result in you having to work longer hours or missing deadlines yourself.

Don’t let them affect your career reputation. A lazy colleague can hinder your progress on your projects or deadlines. Manage your Manager by communicating there is a risk of the deadline being missed. This is your opportunity to speak up, if you haven’t done so already. Most importantly to keep your reputation in tack don’t get drawn in to office gossip or complain to other colleagues. It won’t stop them from being lazy and it’s not professional. If you waste your time and energy on being angry or annoyed about your lazy colleague, your work performance may start slipping and you may be less pleasant to be around. A hostile, grumpy or snappy colleague is just as bad as a lazy one.

Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the issue of fairness. As we have all learnt “life isn’t fair”. As hard as it is focus on investing your energy on being the best that you can be.

So my challenge to you this week is if you are working alongside a Lazy Co-worker put the above strategies in place as at the end of the day it’s all about managing your career reputation. If you’re lucky enough not to be in this position, but know somebody who is, “lean in” and share this blog with them.

Career Fitness Checkup

As we get older many of us commit to regular health and fitness checkups. We should take the same care with our own careers. I recommend conducting an annual “Career Check-up” where you take time out to reflect and seek feedback on how you career is tracking, are all your skills still relevant and what your employer wants and last but most importantly what is your career reputation. If you want to do a career check-up more frequently that’s even better.

Over the last couple of years I have worked with an increasing number of clients who haven’t undertaken regular Career Check-ups.  The result is when they  unexpectedly find  themselves out of work they  are unprepared and/or lack the resources or resilience needed to move quickly in to job search mode.

The results of this can be wide ranging but in general they struggling to move forward , they can remain in the  in the “poor me” phase, or lose confidence in their own abilities.  If they haven’t kept up regular contact with their networks they also find themselves having to  spend considerable time rebuilding these relationships  From a personal view  people who only reconnect with me when they are out of work go to the bottom of my list when prioritising my time.

Those clients who fall into the Career Fit group quickly get into the job search mode; remain upbeat and positive about what lies ahead. Their networks rally around them and help out with introductions and coffee chats. The Career Fit clients also find new career challenges quicker and often the new role is a step up from their last role.

So my question for you  is: If you  unexpectedly  found yourself out of a job or lost your career mojo and decided it was time for a change  are you  Career Fit or Career Unfit?   My simple checklist below will help you answer this question.

Career Fit People

  1. Have a  clear understanding of their strengths and attributes.
  2. Regularly check their career reputation by asking for feedback.
  3. Have a healthy network that can assist them during their career investigation and job search.
  4. Have all their communication tools ready;  up-to-date LinkedIn profile, CV, and an authentic, snappy elevator pitch.

Career Unfit People

  1. Struggle to articulate their strengths and attributes.
  2. Haven’t pro-actively sought feedback.
  3. Have neglected their networks for many months (sometimes years).
  4. Use outdated (or no) communications tools; CV is stale; not on LinkedIn or have a limited profile; and struggle to articulate their value proposition to a future employer.

If you find yourself in the Career Unfit group the good news is you can take control and get yourself into the Career Fit group.  All you need to do is set yourself some weekly goals over the next two months and make it happen. If there are areas you are struggling with call on your support team or invest in a Career Strategist.