How to Build your Career Confidence and Resilience in a Crisis (Part 2)

How has the lock down impacted your career confidence and your resilience?

In Part 1 of this series we looked at what was happening to us during the crisis and our responses to that. This time we’re focusing on 3 simple techniques to build your career confidence. This is important because right now with all the uncertainty your career confidence is probably taking a hit.

Often people think we are born either confident or not but it’s about 50/50. 50% nature and 50% nurture, which means there is lots of scope for development. But you do have to keep working at it, especially now. Presently you’re probably finding it hard to focus on just you and your career. Even if you can find 10-15mins per day then you can focus on one of the techniques I’m going to share.

What is your biggest career confidence issue right now?

It’s probably one of these! Career confidence can plummet if we experience any of the following:

Redundancy – we often feel it’s personal – ‘why me?’ and you may think it’s somehow linked to your performance.

Furloughing – when you have time away from your role, and you’re not actively using your skills or connecting with your colleagues you can begin to experience self doubt and question your abilities.

Working from home – being separate from your boss, colleagues and clients can mean it feels harder to connect, to get recognition or feedback. You may miss the stimulation and support from others and this cna impact your productivity.

Lack of opportunities – feeling that your career is on hold or that your stuck can impact your confidence. You feel you can’t progress, you can’t leave and you can’t change career or job.

3 Easy Career Confidence Techniques to Give you a Boost

Here are 3 simple techniques, rooted in positive psychology, that you can try out to give your career confidence a boost:

Keep an Achievement Journal

This will build your confidence and provide evidence that you can use to remind yourself of why you are in the job you are in. When the doubts creep in you can instantly access lots of examples of when you have performed well. This is also a way to begin the process of internal validation –recognising that you do have what it takes to do the job.

Grab yourself a new beautiful notebook and spend 5-10 mins everyday capturing at least one achievement in your notebook. An achievement is simply something you have done with a good outcome. It could be a deliverable, a conversation, taking an action or… It could also be a piece of feedback from someone else.

Record it and reflect on it – notice what skills you used to make this happen successfully. Gradually increase the number of achievements you record each day. Enjoy re-reading them.

Replace Negative Thoughts with a Positive Statement

We’re not our thoughts but sometimes our brain works damn hard to convince us we are. If you give negative thoughts such as ‘I’m not as good as they think I am’ or ‘I can’t do this, I’m not good enough’ airtime then they will constantly erode your confidence and perpetuate feelings of doubt.

You need to rewrite the script. Choose a positive statement to replace the negative thoughts with. It could be something as simple as “I am skilled and experienced, and good at my job.”

Neuroscience then tells us we must create a new neural pathway to embed the positive thought. What do I mean by neural pathways – well in the brain we have ‘well-trodden’ thought patterns.

It’s useful to think of these are a field of grass. Imagine you come to the field and on the first day you walk across the field you leave a slight indentation, the next day you return to the field and walk the same route, and the pathway becomes more noticeable. By the end of the week the path is very visible and so you walk that route every time you come to the field because it is routine.

So, it is with our thoughts we’ve created pathways that mean when we’re presented with a challenging situation we immediately think ‘I can’t do this’. With our new positive statement, we must create a new pathway across the field and let the grass grow up around the old one.

This will take conscious effort and hard work. You will have to be conscious of your negative thoughts and work hard to replace them. It’s tempting to go onto autopilot and follow them down a familiar route so resist the urge and create a new response.

Focus on what you have done, not what you haven’t

In the lock down you probably have learnt new tech, home-schooled your kids, hosted a zoom get together, developed new ways of connecting with others, and lots more. Congratulate yourself for what you have managed to achieve in these strange times even if they feel like a small achievement.

Then identify 3 new actions you could take to boost your career. For example, identify a new project to get involved with; raise your profile in your company; update your CV; reach out to your network or something else. Taking a proactive and conscious approach to your career now will give you a sense of agency and control.

Think of career confidence as a muscle that you must keep working on in order to support you. While you might need 45 mins at the gym to keep your actual muscles healthy, you can probably spend a quarter of that time focusing on your career confidence using just one of these techniques.

In Part 3 we’ll be looking at how to develop resilient thinking to support your career confidence. You can watch my webinar Build your Career Confidence & Resilience in a Crisis here.

For more ideas on boosting your career confidence read Be Brave: 3 tips to boost your confidence or sign up for my FREE career confidence booster or book a call to discuss how coaching can make a difference.

Photo courtesy of Prateek [email protected]

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How to build Your Career Confidence & Resilience in a Crisis (part 1)

How has the lock down impacted your career and your resilience?

Are you facing redundancy, being furloughed, taking a pay cut, trying to keep your business afloat, overloaded with work or feeling like your career is on hold? In the current crisis we have no map or plan to guide us through our responses. Geopolitically we’re all used to relative stability and predictability and that certainly for the short term is under threat. Our health, security, finances and social life are all affected, and so are our careers.

As a result you may be experiencing a whole range of emotions including anxiety, anger, frustration, guilt, or sadness.

You may also find yourself judging your reactions and evaluating your responses:

  • Am I motivated or not?
  • Do I feel optimistic or not?
  • Am I working hard enough?
  • Is my team working hard enough?
  • Is my career going to be safe or not?

While you may feel out of control and full of fear about the future, there are things you can do to feel more resilient and confident to deal with whatever direction your career takes post crisis. My 4-part blog series will help you navigate the lock down and crisis.

Understand your current confidence and resilience levels

This is my formula for career confidence:

Career confidence = hope + optimism + strengths + resilience

Hope is not blind faith kind of hope it’s more than that. It’s having a goal and a plan to reach that goal. Read more about How Hope Can Boost Your Career. Optimism is feeling positive about a future outcome (which may feel hard to do right now, but we’ll come on to that later). Understanding your strengths and believing that you can perform using those strengths is another facet of career confidence. Believing that you’ve done it once, therefore you can do it again. And resilience – we’re going to explore in more depth because it’s a particularly important right now.

What is Resilience?

Your ability:

  • to bounce back
  • to cope with the unexpected or unplanned events/situations
  • to learn & grow from experiences
  • to care for ourselves

Why is it important now?

We’re having to cope with uncertainty and lack of control. Our brains like to have certainty so will fill in uncertainty with worst case scenarios even if they’re based on flimsy evidence. This then impacts our positivity and optimism so we may feel like we are just surviving rather than thriving. Plus, we feel we’ve little control – the future for our job/career is unclear and we can’t plan for it.

And we’re having to cope with our own job situation. We may be worried about finances, or job loss.

If you’re a manager/business owner then it could also be that you’re coping with your employee’s job situations too and having to make hard decisions about people’s futures.

We need to maintain our optimism and positivity to balance out the overwhelming negativity presented to us daily.

What does this look like in practice?

There are 3 stages we will experience:

Respond                             Manage our emotions & situation. There needs to be a period of adjustment to move from fear to acceptance. Initially we may experience a flight or fight response, but we can’t stay in crisis mode indefinitely. It’s not good for our physical or mental health, as it increases our allostatic load. This is the wear and tear on our bodies from living in a constant stress response. The chemicals our brains release to deal with a stressor can lead to us feeling tired, foggy and unmotivated when they are constantly present.

Recover                              Learn from what we are experiencing so we can emerge stronger. You’re probably already noticing things you want to continue to do post crisis.

Thrive                                 Prepare for the next normal – considering how do we want to be in the near future and what do you want to be different – less commuting, more wfh,

If we don’t learn and change from this experience, then we are not being resilient we are just surviving.

How confident and resilient are your feeling right now?

On a scale of 1- 5 with 5 being very resilient and confident, give yourself a score that represents how you feel either combined for resilience and confidence or a score for each. Or you can take my confidence test here. It’s normal for levels to fluctuate as we need to actively build and protect our confidence and our resilience reserves.

I’m a wobbly 4 – so naturally an optimist and a positive thinker, although married to the complete opposite which has its own challenges! I do have anxieties about our family situation, and I am sensitive to the collective consciousness too, so I know I need to work hard to maintain my resilience.

What depletes your resilience reserves?

It’s important to understand what reduces your resilience so you can attend to it.

  • Poor sleep at least 7-8 hours
  • The news
  • Emotional overload – coping with the yoyoing emotions experienced in the crisis
  • Physical overload – volume of work/ hours/ running a home
  • Stress and worries – brain is wired to look for risk and negativity and this means in our current situation you may feel you are on hyper alert for risk
  • Lack of a support system or having to be a support for others

What can you do to build your resilience?

  • Time to invest in what you find uplifting – meditation/ spirituality / physical/creativity/ what gives you energy
  • Look for the positives and the helpers – need to work harder to see the good because our brain looks for negatives. Notice people who are natural helpers, they’ll be in your community, organization and nationally. Seeing others taking positive action gives you hope.
  • Work out what your “comfort food” is – the things that makes you feel safe and secure.  (people, activities, movies, self-development, music, etc.)
  • Remember you are doing your part. By working from home and social distancing you are contributing to your employer’s survival as well as protecting the health service.
  • Make a list of what you can control. Remind yourself you’re not powerless, you can shift your attention to what you can control in your career.

Now make a plan to boost your resilience. It’ll help to restore your sense of agency and your self-confidence, especially if you scored yourself 3 or below. Create some time to focus on building up your resilience reserves.

In part 2 we’ll look at 3 easy things you can do to boost your career confidence. You can also watch the full webinar on Build your Career Confidence and Resilience in a Crisis

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How job seekers can use their downtime to boost their career

The current pandemic has led to a standstill in the job market, with many businesses having to adapt to operating remotely or having to close their doors altogether.

This ongoing uncertainty has caused many employers to put their hiring efforts on hold until things return to normal. The result of which is that many job seekers are not only left without a job, but there are now less advertised roles out there for them to apply to.

But if you’re a job seeker and you’ve found yourself with more time on your hands, all is not lost. The situation presents you with the ideal opportunity to boost your CV and employability.

How? Consider using your downtime for one (or more) of the following.

Take an online course

Taking an online course can help you to learn new skills and add new qualifications to your CV. And the best news is, there are plenty of online courses out there for you to choose from!

Providers across the UK offer a range of courses covering most industries. And these don’t have to come at a huge cost to you. In fact, you’ll find a mixture of free and budget-friendly courses online. Additionally, many course providers are offering huge discounts in response to COVID-19.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider the most sought-after skills in your industry and run a quick Google search to find the most widely-recognised course providers in your sector.

Strengthen your skills

You might also want to perfect some of your existing skills to help make you feel more proficient and confident when using them.

For example, if you’ve got a basic understanding of coding, why not learn some different coding languages and boost your skills in this area? Or, perhaps you’re a dab-hand with Excel, but you’d like to learn more about data entry?

There are a number of online resources (courses included), tutorials and advice available to you that can help you to build on your skills and strengthen your suitability for your dream job.

Build your knowledge

It always pays to add to your knowledge and there are several ways you can use your downtime to do this, in addition to courses.

You might wish to read books, magazines or online journals relevant to your industry, or you could even find a podcast to listen to. As well as keeping you in-the-know, it’s a great way to relax and unwind!

Building your knowledge in this way helps to show your passion for your industry and also gives you plenty of talking points for your CV, cover letters and during interviews.

Spruce up your CV

With all this extra time on your hands, now is the ideal opportunity for you to spruce up your CV. If you’ve been using the same CV for weeks (or maybe even months) to little avail, spending some time reviewing and amending this could boost your chances of landing a job when everything gets back to normal.

Work on a side hustle

Is there a project you’ve been meaning to start for months, but so far, you’ve been unable to find the time to get it off the ground? Well, now is your chance!

You could even turn this into a side hustle (depending on the nature of your project) that could earn you some money while you job search.

Some lucrative examples of this could be freelance writing, blogging, accounting, web design or online teaching (perhaps teaching a language).

Attend events virtually

Many businesses are having to operate remotely to respect social distancing. As such, many have begun offering digital services. This means there are plenty of webinars and careers events being shared online that you can get involved with.

Keep an eye out for virtual careers fairs or webinars from key players in your industry. These are usually free and just require you a quick sign up with your email.

Make the most of your downtime

While these aren’t ideal circumstances for anyone, this can be a particularly tricky time if you’re currently looking for a job.

But don’t let your downtime go to waste! Using the suggestions above, you can keep yourself busy, build your confidence and enhance your career by boosting your CV and employability.

Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and Fast Company.

Photo courtesy of Clem [email protected]

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What Does the Current Crisis Mean For Your Career?

Now I get that you may feel that there are more important things to think about right now than your career. The crisis and the uncertainty can feel paralysing. You may feel you’re stuck in panic mode because you didn’t plan for this. And underneath you may be worried about your job and the impact the lock down is going to have on it.

But it is valuable to use this enforced down time to do some self reflection and check in on your career. Yes, things will return to normal, but it may be a new normal. It’s good to be prepared for whatever that new normal looks like.

During the crisis you may find you’re working your usual hours and have very little space to be reflective. Or if you’ve been furloughed you may find you can devote quite a bit of time to thinking about yourself. After all there is only so much Netflix you can watch!

What can you do?

“Action conquers fear” so implement some crisis management techniques. Here’s 3 things you can do to prepare for what’s coming next:

  • Take Stock – reflect on your current career situation to see what is possible for the future, what can help you right now and what action you can take. A career SWOT is a really handy tool for this. It encourages you to consider your career strengths and opportunities alongside your weaknesses and threats (the parts we tend to focus on).
  • Take Time – re-evaluate what’s important in your life and career. It’s events like the current crisis that make you realise where you want to be focusing your energy, and where you don’t. Visualising what you want for the future so you can start to make changes, and begin moving in a more positive direction now. A vision board is a great tool to help you do this. Read my post on How to Create a Career Vision Board for tips on how to approach it.
  • Take Action – review what has come out of both exercises and make a plan of action. From your SWOT it may be things you can do now to increase your opportunities, develop new strengths or minimise your weaknesses or the threats. From your vision board, it could be starting to plan out what changes you need to make to achieve the life/career you ultimately want to be leading.

You may not be able to change the lock down situation at the moment, and the effect it’s having on your life but you can start taking control of your career situation.

You can download my Career SWOT tool HERE, and if you want to kick start your career change thinking why not join my Free 10 day career change challenge – sign up below:

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How to motivate yourself on Blue Monday

We all know January  20th this year is earmarked as the most depressing day of the year, thanks to the weather, the distance from payday and the Christmas holidays, plus the general feeling of overindulgence after Christmas. But you don’t have be blue on Monday, you can buck the trend and turn it into a positive day instead!

How to motivate yourself

  • Be inspired

It’s also Martin Luther King Jr day today! Be inspired by the famous civil rights activist. Look up some of his quotes or find out a bit more about him.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

If you need more motivation, here are my top 10 inspirational career quotes.

  • Write yourself a hope letter

If your resolutions for 2020 are looking a bit wobbly, try writing your self a hope letter instead. Focus on one area of your life where you would like to make a change and start writing a letter to yourself that answer the question ‘What do I hope to have accomplished a year from now?’. Be as detailed as you can about what you want to be different in a year’s time and how you accomplished it. Pop it in an envelope and ask a friend or family member to send it to you in a year’s time.

  • Take a lunch break

Go outside and get some fresh air – a change of scene will help your mood and make the day go quicker. Ask a friend to go with you or just enjoy some quiet time on your own.

  • Choose to work on something you enjoy

If you can, plan in advance to work on an aspect of your work that you really enjoy. Schedule it in your diary so that you have some uninterrupted time to really focus on this piece of work. Knowing you’e going to spend the majority of the day doing something you enjoy will really motivate you.

  • Be social

Remember everyone will be suffering from Blue Monday blues so be the one who approaches it differently. Choose to be positive, make an effort to talk to your co-workers, and encourage others to follow your lead.

However, if you feel like everyday at work is Blue Monday, something needs to change. Get in touch for some help and support with finding a job you love.

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Want to get your career in shape for 2020? Take my festive quiz

How healthy is your career? Is it feeling a bit flabby and out of condition? Well now’s the time to get ready to knock it into shape and give it a bit of a work out!

Take my festive quiz to work out what to focus on in 2020.

The Office Christmas party is tomorrow – are you:

  1. Dreading it – it’s the same people every year and the same venue – yawn!
  2. Really excited – you can’t wait to have a laugh with all your work mates
  3. Going to go for the champagne and canapes but planning on sneaking off after an hour ‘cos you just don’t connect with people there anymore
  4. In a state – you’ve got nothing to wear!

This year’s Secret Santa pressies are all experiences rather than things – you’re really hoping it’s:

  1. An Assertiveness course so you get better at saying ‘no’ to work you shouldn’t have to do
  2. A Leadership course – you’re ready to develop further and understanding the theory would be good
  3. An opportunity to volunteer in the community with a homeless charity – you want to do something meaningful at least once
  4. A presentation course to boost your confidence when speaking in the team meeting

You’ve got a week off over Christmas what are your plans:

  1. Sleep for as much as possible you’re exhausted
  2. Work on my CV – January’s a great time to look for jobs
  3. Read ‘Thrive’ by Arianna Huffington to get some ideas
  4. Go sale shopping – you can get some great bargains on Boxing Day

When you pull your cracker at the work Christmas lunch you get:

  1. A pair of dice
  2. A keyring in the shape of a heart
  3. A miniature bird in a gilded cage
  4. A manicure set

Your partner asks you what you want for Christmas and you answer:

  1. A new boss – your current one is a nightmare
  2. A new job – it’s time for a change and a promotion
  3. A new career – you want to fulfill your dream at last
  4. A new work wardrobe – you hate your current look

Quiz Results

Now add up your scores and work out what 2019 means for your career.

Mostly 1’s

You can leave your career to chance and make changes only when something goes wrong or you can’t bear it any longer. Next year focus on identifying what you want from your career and then planning to get it – moving towards a goal is much more motivating than trying to escape from a situation.

Mostly 2’s

You have a very positive outlook to your career, love your job and are open to opportunities – you know where you’re heading. Next year focus on keeping your motivation and energy high to achieve the role you want, and work on building your networks.

Mostly 3’s

You’re a bit trapped in your current career – the perks are good but you want to do something that makes your heart sing and gives you purpose. Next year focus on working out what that is going to be – don’t waste anymore time in a job you don’t love. Set yourself a goal for when you’re going to change careers.

Mostly 4’s

You’re feeling a bit unconfident in your career at the moment, and this is impacting how successful you feel. Next year, focus on becoming more self assured at work. Collect examples of what you are doing well at work, ask to go on some confidence boosting courses and start to believe in yourself.

Need some help with your planning? Get in touch to find out more about my super focused 2020 career planning session.

Need some help with your confidence? Read my book ‘Developing your inner coach

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3 Things You Can Do To Boost Your Career Success

Are you where you want to be in your career? Is it giving you the satisfaction and enjoyment you want? Have you achieved the level of career success you feel is right for you?

If not, what is going on and what can you do about it?

It’s good to reflect on what’s working in your career, and what’s getting in the way. You don’t have to wait for happiness to appear once you’re successful, you can expect it in all your jobs. And to be honest it’s really a prerequisite for meaningful career success anyway.

The research suggests that to be successful you need to be happy with what you are doing. So the first thing to check is your happiness level. Is your job making you happy and, if not, what is missing or not working?

Next …

Do A Career Success Audit

Answer honestly to truly understand what’s going on:

  • Am I visible enough? Do the senior team know who I am? Am I talking about my achievements regularly, or do I let others take the credit. Do I seek or avoid opportunities to be ‘seen’?
  • Am I proactive? Do I seek out chances to learn new skills? Have I pushed my manager for opportunities to do something new?
  • Do I have a strong personal brand? What would others in the organisation say about me? How do I make others feel when they work with me?
  • Am I someone who delivers? Do I get things done and meet my objectives? Do I procrastinate?
  • What is my leadership style? How does this fit with the culture of the organisation?
  • Am I a strategy, big picture kind of person or do I prefer operational, hands on type of work?
  • How motivated am I towards the next logical step in my career? Do I want to do it, or do I feel I should do it?

Now you should have a clearer picture of what’s going on. And where you could increase your enjoyment at work, position yourself for a promotion or be clearer about how to perform better at interview.

3 Things To Boost Your Career Success

Work out your communication style

Everyone has different ways of communicating. We all have preferences about how we like to give and receive information. Reflect on your preferences – what annoys you about how someone presents information to you? Do you like short, focused, bite-size info, or prefer lots of detail? Would you like planned times for discussions, or prefer spontaneous, creative get togethers? Do you like to include feelings and emotions or prefer facts and evidence? Are you able to communicate most effectively in writing or verbally?

Once you understand your own style then you can start to notice other people’s. For example, if your boss starts to glaze over and becomes impatient when you talk about feelings driving a decision then maybe s/he prefers fact based information to support your feelings/intuition.

Tailoring your style to adapt to others around you can make you more effective at achieving your objective. And can make sure your voice is heard. You can still retain your own style and preferences. But becoming skilled at matching other people’s communication needs will be so useful in your career.

Develop A Problem Solving Attitude

Consider your attitude to problems. Do you see them as a challenge or do you get deflated by them? Being solution focused and resilient is definitely a skill that will serve you well in all your jobs. If you already tick this box, then see if you can cultivate it in other team members. If you think this is an area you could develop further then some mindset work is required….

Develop Your Own PR Plan

It’s not just celebrities that need a PR plan, we can all benefit from being strategic about our profile at work. Think about what you want to achieve – being seen as an expert, getting promotion, being more visible, or being more comfortable with the spotlight.

Then identify what could be in your own plan. Ideas could include:

  • look for speaking opportunities – internally and externally (conferences, networking events, pitches, etc.)
  • volunteer to make a presentation to Senior Management on your area of work or progress of a project
  • author reports that will be read within the business
  • contribute to the Company website – write a blog or share some news or be the ‘face’ of your team/department
  • attend networking events and start connecting with people who could be useful in your career
  • get used to talking about your achievements and start dropping them into conversations with other people
  • make more effort to go and talk to colleagues/peers rather than always emailing

Being proactive in getting more satisfaction in your career, will not only boost your success and happiness, it will also give you a sense of autonomy and ownership over your career. This should be the best year for your career.

If you need help with the Career Success Audit or working out what to do next, do get in touch for a FREE no obligation clarity call with me.

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Refresh your Career – plan a summer review

It’s nearly the end of June – wow! How did that happen? Before you disappear on your holidays make some time for a quick summer career review. Check in on what you’ve achieved so far this year and celebrate what’s gone well (maybe with a glass of fizz or a slice of cake!). Then think about the next 6 months – what do you need to refresh or tweak to keep your career aims on track?

Don’t feel you have time to stop and think about your career?  How long do you need? 5 – 10 minutes reflection time can be really powerful.

What does a mini-career review involve?

My 5 minute summer career review will give you chance to take a moment for reflection, ask yourself some searching questions and refocus your energy for the rest of the year.

Firstly find some quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.  Think about being somewhere different such as your garden and grab a notebook and a pen, and then we’re ready.

Reconnect to the career goal you set yourself at the beginning of the year (if you didn’t get round to setting any career goals this year read my blog on Why you need a road map for your career and use this opportunity to identify your career goals). Answer the following questions – make a note of your answers:

  • What has gone well in my career in the last 6 months?
  • What could have gone better?
  • Who have I enjoyed working with and why?
  • What have I learnt in that time both personally and professionally?
  • What still needs to happen?

The last question is really important as it gives you chance to focus on the next 6 months. You can identify what you need to do to realise your career goal whether that is changing careers or jobs, getting promotion or working on some new projects.

How to get motivated

  • Don’t get hung up on a SMART goal (they can make it a bit dull) instead phrase your goal in a way that is clear and motivating for you. Focusing towards something usually works best. For example ‘I want to be in a challenging more senior role in a larger company where I can learn x skills by the end of the year’. If you find yourself phrasing it in ‘away from’ style for example, ‘I don’t want to be in the same job next year’ try and turn it into something more motivating such as ‘ I want to be in a vibrant and dynamic new company where I can look forward to going to work’.
  • Keep your goal alive. Find what works for you but consider whether an image, a word, screensaver can represent your goal and keep it active and in your line of sight. So often we set a goal and then it gathers dust in a drawer – you need to be able to tap into it’s motivating energy on a regular basis. Or use futureme.org to send yourself regular reminder emails to keep you on track.
  • Celebrate what you have done – yes, give yourself a pat on the back and a reward. Don’t focus on on what you haven’t done yet.
  • Develop a motivation mindset. Check in on your self belief – do you feel you can achieve your goal or do you have doubts creeping in? Identify any blocks and think about how you can overcome them. I like to write them down and develop a strategy for each one to stop it circulating in my head! If you need some help overcoming your doubts and your inner critic have a look at my book Developing your Inner Coach.
  • Find an accountability buddy. Staying on track can be the hardest thing if you feel there is no accountability. Sharing this by reporting in and updating on progress can be really useful at making you get on with it. I run a monthly Accountability and Motivation programme for clients and they have found it incredibly helpful. If this is something you feel would make all the difference do get in touch.

Don’t just drift in your career, take control and use today as your motivation to stop, reflect and plan.

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What’s the Secret Formula for Career Happiness?

It’s not surprising there’s a growing buzz around career happiness – in your lifetime you will work over 90,000 hours! Who wants to spend that amount of time being miserable? It’s not that we haven’t been concerned about being happy at work before, it’s just never been on the mainstream agenda. Now, employers are waking up to the fact that contented employees are linked to productivity and performance. More importantly though, we are seeing the connection for ourselves between our career and our mental health.

There are huge benefits to being happy at work but do you believe it’s within your control? Many people wait passively for happiness to arrive, or not. They let fate decide whether they have a good boss, colleagues that they like or work that they enjoy. The good news is that you can be proactive about creating your own career happiness.

Firstly you need to be intentional. You need to be focused on creating the right conditions to achieve career happiness and be prepared to make changes if you can’t get it in your current job or company. You must be 100% in control of seeking it.

What’s the secret formula for career happiness?

There is a formula to guide you, created through years of work with career changers – understanding why people are unhappy at work and what they seek in order to change that:

CAREER HAPPINESS = (Freedom + challenge + balance – stress) x meaning

Let’s break it down:

  • Freedom:

How much choice do you have, and do you want, in how you do your job? Autonomy over the nature of the work you do or your style of working is so important. And not having the routine of a 9-5 or working in an office setup can also play it’s part. Look for a supportive manager who trusts you and gives you freedom of choice.

  • Challenge:

Too little challenge leads to boredom, and your job can become mundane and dull. Too much challenge leads to stress. But the right amount of challenge, combined with a sense of competence allows you to perform at your best. Imagine how it would feel to have that sense of ‘flow’ everyday! Look for opportunities to step out of your comfort zone.

  • Balance:

There are never enough hours in a day but if you’re spending too many of them working then you can feel out of kilter. Having time to think or reflect boosts your wellbeing. Make time outside work to be with people you love, engage in creative pursuits or do some exercise.

  • Stress:

Some stress helps us to perform well, but pressure, overwhelm and overload delivers negative stress. High stress levels on an ongoing basis leads to anxiety and burnout, and this can wipe out career happiness in one fell swoop.

  • Meaning:

We all want to feel what we do is meaningful. Meaning can be opportunities to learn and grow or seeing a tangible result to what we do. It can be working for an organisation having a positive impact in the world, or working in a role that directly makes a difference. This is a key component of the formula and, without meaning happiness can be hard to find.

What about money?

Money of course is important – we have to live but money in itself does not bring happiness. If you’ve had a job where you’ve chased money over meaning then you’ll know this is tough to sustain for a long period.

We need to move away from a model that suggests money = success = happiness because we never reach the happiness bit – we’re always striving to be more successful before we can focus on happiness. We have to achieve happiness in the present – in the here and now.

How can you increase your career happiness?

  • Do a review – use the formula to be specific about what’s missing and work out how to increase each area or minimise the stress component. Make a plan – remember you are taking control of your happiness at work.
  • Talk to your boss about what you need to change at work, or be prepared to move jobs if there’s no prospect of achieving career happiness in your current role.
  • Build in regular checks to keep an eye on the formula and adjust things if you need to.
  • Develop a positive mindset – the way you see the world influences your happiness levels. Look for ways you can be curious, learn from or help other people.
  • Spread the love – emotions are contagious, particularly negative ones, so surround yourself with positive people and focus on the good things you can share.

This article first appeared in Psychologies magazine.

If you need help boosting your career happiness, and getting more from your work then get in touch for a discovery call, or download my free e-book on Career Happiness.