1. Month 2: The learning curve is tough. Still frazzled

    Learning makes you frazzled: Reflections on month 2

    I’m now into my third month of the new job and am still learning lots.  I’ve continued to feel frazzled, but have learnt that I’m not the only one.

    Further to my last post about being Frazzled, I found an article about an initiative between Marks and Spencer and Ruby Wax who have set up Frazzled Cafes.  Ruby Wax has been a strong advocate on the importance of mental health and mindfulness.  You can go to the selected Marks and Spencer cafes outside of hours and talk about things that are worrying you or causing you anxiety in a ‘safe space’.  This sounds like an amazing initiative.  I know that I’ve felt very ‘up in my head’ lately with so much information to process.

    Keep in touch

    I’ve found that I’ve felt very tired as I am learning so much.  I’ve adjusted to the commute now, though seeing eight to ten deer run out in front of me one morning was a little frightening! I get to listen to a lot more music (and might start listening to podcasts to be productive in the future, but for now music is quite soothing).  I am also finding that I enjoy driving my car.  I don’t enjoy traffic jams, but it’s nice to have a longer drive between work and home.

    It’s important to keep in touch with people as else you can become quite insular and this can make thoughts more irrational in your mind.  There is a world going on outside of work.  Good things are happening and bad things are happening.  I am quite bad when I have a deadline to meet and get so wrapped up in it that I forget there’s always a blue sky and that the sun will rise the next morning.

    Take time to stay in touch with family and friends.  Today it’s Mother’s Day in the UK, so spend time with your Mum, or send thanks to mothers everywhere.

    Amsterdam

    Last weekend, I took a long weekend in Amsterdam for my Dad’s birthday.  It was bitterly cold, but allowed us to see people skating on the canals and also develop a love of Stroopwaffels.  The big waffles fit on a cup which allows the caramel to melt a bit.  You could perhaps buy a pack and invite some friends around for your own ‘frazzled’ sessions if you didn’t want to go to Marks and Spencer.

    Enjoy today, if you can with your Mum.

  2. Month 1: I’m frazzled…

    Frazzled: one month in

    Tired, tired, tired.  Yep you’ve guessed it, it’s tiring being new.  You are soaking up a new environment, new people, new commute, new everything… Where’s the toilet? What do you do for lunch? And don’t forget that little thing of what do I have to do in this job?! Hey guys, does anyone want to be my friend? Is it any wonder you end up frazzled?

    I’ve always made friends at the places that I’ve worked, so I am sure this place will be the same, but you can’t force things to happen… You can’t rush through this experience.  You have to wait and things will sort themselves out.

    With my first week under my belt, I set out on my first full week.  My first week thoughts can be found here.

    Sleep is key

    I continued to be ‘on edge’ and haven’t slept that well during the week, mainly through thinking / processing the new information.  This isn’t the best strategy as then you become even more tired.  I’ve been drinking cherry juice, a herbal tea and also have This Works Sleep spray (and stress rollerball) – but it’s really hard to stop yourself from stirring at 3am I feel! Though these products definitely help me.  Thankfully I’ve been making up for lost sleep at the weekend (generally).

    Don’t be so hard on yourself

    I feel that I under-estimated how hard changing to a new environment would be.  There’s nothing negative about the company or team or role in this, but literally that for me, I don’t like change and I tend to soak everything up and therefore have been thoroughly drained.

    I know that I wanted to change, but equally I think you forget how you’ve been through phases like this in the past and ‘only’ remember the bit once you know what you are doing.

    I actually feel lucky to be working where I am, it’s a unique place and everyone seems lovely there.  In fact, I sometimes think I’m excited as I see lots of opportunities… but rather wish my mind would stay quiet and let me rest… I’m not keen on 3am.  Irrational thoughts abound.

    I’ve been fixating on silly things really, like now I shower in the morning (like seriously – who cares!?).  I’ve found that if I leave just before seven I generally have a good commute, and I’ve also mainly been leaving early.  There are times when motorways are busier, or blocked because of an accident.

    Of course now I have less free time and I have been used to having lots of time to do things in the last nine months.  Now I’ve got the evenings and weekends (but I also have to consider recovery time in this for a while).  I think it takes time to get into a new routine.

    Commute

    The other day there was an accident on the motorway and that prompted me to get off and drive through various villages – courtesy of the Waze app.  This made my commute an hour that morning.  Even though I got to work at 8am, it felt typical that this had happened on the day I was due to present to the whole department.  I’d planned to get in early and do my prep before heading to the meeting.  However, it made me realise that some things aren’t in your control and there’s no point getting het up about it and I now feel more relaxed as I know that I can get to work.  It might take me longer that way but on the plus side, at least once I know where I am going it takes in some beautiful villages.  Though fingers crossed for a flowing motorway!

    Tidy house, tidy mind?

    I’ve felt like tidying things at the weekends, which must be my way of taking control of the uncertainty.  I like routine and feeling organised, which at work is someway off still – and that is natural – no one (apart from me!) is expecting me to be fully up to speed in the five weeks I’ve been there.

    Going out after work

    I’ve returned to some semblance of ‘normality’ because I went to a gig in London during the week in January.  Not that I like to go on a ‘school night’ normally, I’d rather go at the weekend, but I had no option for this particular gig.  I had worked myself up about going somewhat, but (of course!) it all worked out fine and I got home at a decent time.  And actually slept better that night.

    I’ve started to arrange to meet up with friends, which again helps you to be rational and not put all your energy into the new role.  There is life outside of work.  My friend who has also returned to work (after a long time off) and her partner have noticed how doing things differently gives you a fresh perspective.  A change in routine can make you think differently.  Though she has also been both frazzled and tired.  So that made me feel better.

    Ambitions

    I’ve found that I have felt the stirrings of ambition again, which is probably caused by being in a new environment.  You realise how much you know from your previous experience – although there are definite peaks and troughs where you conversely worry that you don’t know enough.

    I’ve had to go to a couple of health appointments too in my first month, which makes you realise that health is the most important thing and that you need to be kind to yourself, and give yourself time to settle into the new environment.

    Mistakes

    You are bound to make mistakes, it’s part of learning.  Week 5 felt like lots of things were going wrong – though I’m not sure they were necessarily down to my mistakes.  It just felt like things were compounding and you can then get irrational (and in my case I got a bit irritable because things weren’t going right – and I was tired of course).

    I’ve started to get tasks with deadlines, so this causes a level of anxiety in me.  However, I also need to think that I pretty much have always delivered.  No one will die if I don’t deliver either.  Worst case a meeting will be rearranged.  I’ve also put steps in place to get help from a colleague first thing.  So here’s to a successful sixth week.

    Tips

    I found an article in Indeed about ‘How to Succeed in Your New Job’.  It looks at what to do in the first week, first month and first ninety days in a new job.

    The bonus tip at the end is to ‘be gentle with yourself’ which I will take as a reminder to myself as I sign off and get some rest.

    Enjoy today.

  3. Week 1: I’m the ‘newbie’

    Newbie Status

    I started a new job this week, so definitely felt like the ‘newbie’. I had to set an alarm, and more importantly, get up consistently for the first time in a long time.

    The day before was New Year’s Day and I started out fine, but as time went by I felt my nerves increase and I got a bit tearful.  That night I tossed and turned because I didn’t want to oversleep.  I was overthinking: what would it be like, would people like me, could I do the job etc etc.  All of which I’d not be able to give a rational answer to during the night of course.  Some of which wouldn’t be in my control too e.g. you can’t make people like you.

    I was due to start later on my first day, but I still wasn’t sure whether I would leave really early or not.  As the schools were off, I figured I’d give myself an hour to get there.  I arrived on time.

    The second day, I got up promptly at 6.15, showered and left the house a little after 7am.  My journey was fine, perhaps because a lot of people were still off work for Christmas.  I was already tired though, as everything was new, and it was overwhelming.  As I went in early, I left early so the traffic so far hasn’t been too bad for me.  I even managed to fit in some exercise at home.  This led me to shower in the evening, which meant a slightly later wake up time (all important?!).  I also took lots of stuff in: to personalise my desk, and also to get into a routine.

    It’s strange as I felt a little like when I first knew I was leaving my previous job, which made me think that I’ve restarted the change cycle.  It will take time to fit in and build up shared experiences with colleagues.

    As much as I’d like to fast-forward through this phase and get to be ‘competent’ again and feel that I belong, I know that I have to go through this.

    The first day I ended up with pen on my face somehow, and I’ve been babbling away about things and really just want to know what I am doing, but there is going to be a learning curve associated with new things.  There will be things that I can bring from my previous roles, but there is a lot to learn about how this company operates.

    I’ve managed to park in the same parking space for the last few days, which might mean I’ve displaced someone else.  I am getting to grips with the logistics of the office, and I’ve met quite a few people.

    I am also allowed to ask silly questions, because of course no question is silly.  Being the newbie  is something that won’t last forever, but here are some thoughts from an article in The Muse which I found comforting.

    In summary, I was tired from my first week, but feel optimistic for my second.  I will be less of a newbie!

    Enjoy today.

     

  4. Preparing for my new role

    Annie Sloan Painting: preparing for my first attempt

    Last week, I finally got going with the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint after attending two courses at BumbleDee earlier in the year.  It’s been on my ‘To Do’ list for a while now, with the furniture preparing to make an appearance and waiting patiently in the loft.

    I can see it could be quite addictive.  I’m not sure how artistic I am… but it’s an opportunity to improve and develop.

    Overall, I painted this piece of furniture and a few wooden frames that I’d bought at charity shops earlier in the year.  No preparation is needed, you can literally paint straight onto many mediums.

    I was pleased with the stencil, but I needed to add more colour (thickness and texture) underneath the brown and also try different sandpapers.  Not a bad first attempt though!

    If I hadn’t had the time off, I probably wouldn’t have found the shop and signed up for the courses.  My Mum did it too and enjoyed it, so it’s something to keep up and improve on into 2018.  It is certainly better than mindless shopping.

    BumbleDee Annie Sloan Nymph Stencil - My First Attempt!

    BumbleDee Annie Sloan Nymph Stencil – My First Attempt!

    Celebrity Spotting: famous for five minutes

    Last week I managed to do another thing that I’d not normally have time to do.  My Mum and I were going to a concert at The O2.

    I’d been prepared and booked an overnight stay in London (a nice little treat in itself – courtesy of the Hotels.com Reward night).  After a leisurely morning swim I was watching ‘This Morning‘ on the TV, whilst perusing a map of London working out where we were heading for the day.

    I realised we were very close to the Studios, so we walked along the river and ended up in the background shots on the TV.  Not quite ‘famous for five minutes’, but still was exciting!

    My friend later saw that I was also in the Daily Mail Online – so the excitement continued for a little while longer.

    Merry Christmas Everyone: sending positive thoughts for 2018

    Thoughts now turn to Christmas and spending time with family and friends.

    There’s no doubt that starting the new role is central to my thoughts.  This week I attended a team meeting and social event so got to meet many of the team, which breaks the ice a little for the new year.

    I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.  Take some time to think about what is important to you and how you can take action now to prepare for a successful 2018.

    I will be making sure I’m prepared to start my new role, and not leave anything to the last minute, but that can wait until next week for now.  Time to relax, and enjoy the festive season.

    Merry Christmas Everyone Shakin' Stevens' song in my head!

    Merry Christmas Everyone Shakin’ Stevens’ song in my head!

    Enjoy Today.

  5. Change: What I’ve learnt this year

    Looking back on 2017: a year of change

    2017 has been an interesting year.  I’ve learnt a lot.  It has been a year of change for me and I am not a fan of change!

    Having ‘all the time in the world’ during the time off has meant it’s been quite easy to procrastinate and put things off ‘until tomorrow’ or even the ‘day after tomorrow’.

    Mark Twain said: “Never put off til tomorrow, what you can do the day after tomorrow”.  This is one of the quotes I’ve used at @butterfliesflutter17.

    I wanted to achieve a lot in this time, but I learnt that you can only achieve so much each day, week, month.  At work, I was always pushing myself to do as much as possible, and I like to feel efficient at home too.  I enjoy ticking things off my ‘To Do’ list.

    One thing I could have done earlier was visit my old office.  I have stayed in touch with people, but it wasn’t until last week that I popped in to catch up with some colleagues.  In the run-up to Christmas it felt nice to go and see some familiar faces and see how they were getting on.

    In some ways it felt like I’d not been away as it felt so familiar.  At the same time, it also felt like I had moved on.  I had been ready for the change, and look back in fondness at my time there.  I am grateful for the opportunity to have had the time off this year.

    This led me to thinking about what I’d tell myself if I were to go back in time one year before I knew the change was coming. I hope that if others find themselves in the same situation this might help.

    What I’d tell myself (hint: change is good for you)

    1. You could spend a lot of time worrying, but this is a waste of energy and time (both now and generally).  Things will work out.
    2. Take time to settle into a new routine.  Don’t rush things.
    3. Be ready to deal with the emotions associated with change (change curve – Wikipedia).
    4. Don’t feel guilty if you need to sleep in – make the most of the opportunity!
    5. Keep in contact with people.
    6. Don’t take your feelings out on yourself or others.  Be kind.
    7. You will feel lost and uncertain at times, but remember all the good things you’ve done and the skills that you have.
    8. Continue to exercise as it really helps to maintain a positive outlook.
    9. Walk and talk in nature.  You can find a lot of information on Google, but you don’t want to isolate yourself.
    10. Apply for things that interest you.  You have nothing to lose.
    11. Take time to understand yourself.
    12. Try new things and keep an open mind as inspiration can come from anywhere.

    Month-by-month summary (the change curve in action?)

    Below is what I’ve learnt each month.  It may or may not follow the change curve, but there were times when I’d take a step back and think about the emotions that I was feeling and where I might be on that curve.

    Month 1: tidying and adjusting to a new routine (change is unsettling)

    • Spend time tidying and sorting things out as this helps with processing the change.  This is time for you to do things you don’t normally get time to do.  The things that are always pushed to the bottom of your ‘To Do’ list perhaps (see Mark Twain quote above)! It might be a little like the ‘nesting’ phase mothers-to-be experience before their new arrival.
    • Personally here I found that Steps reforming helped me as I was able to watch their videos on YouTube whilst sorting through clothes and paperwork.  Search for some of your favourite songs.  It really does help to lift your spirits.
    • Naturally, I was upset as eleven years anywhere is a long period of your life, but I’m not sure I’ve sobbed to let my emotions out – and I was sure that this would happen.  I think crying would be cathartic, however you can’t force it (I’m still waiting!).
    • You will feel uncertain because change is unsettling.
    • Take time to investigate what types of careers might suit you (the link is to a Guardian article about career change).
    • Keep up with exercise – start a new routine.
    • Start thinking of new ideas: in my case I went to libraries and investigated writing a kids book.  Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do?
    • I wanted to blog, so I started looking at this.  I bought a URL and wrote a daily journal.  The journal is a good idea either way because you want to track your thoughts and feelings.
    • Make a conscious decision to do things that you wouldn’t normally be able to do whilst in a full-time job.
    • I started reading Po Bronson’s book ‘What Should I Do with My Life?’.  It seemed like a very good place to start (as Julie Andrews would say – see previous post).
    • Investigate areas of interest to you.  For me this was the Media Industry as I felt this is what I was interested in outside of work.

    Month 2: sleeping more, walking with friends (processing change)

    • I started sleeping more!
    • I considered whether I lived where I wanted to live.  I questioned all aspects of my life.
    • I met up with friends and walked and talked – this was very therapeutic!
    • I felt lonely – but this is only natural as I’d gone from sitting with people in an office every day to being at home.
    • I started looking at self-awareness – articles, quizzes etc.

    Month 3: feeling a little lost, starting to do new things (change makes you think)

    • I continued worrying and wasting energy.
    • I felt lost.
    • I signed up for a painting course (my Mum and I did two courses – which we stumbled upon through a friend of my Dad’s).
    • I started doing things on my own.
    • I started to reach out to contacts.
    • I applied for jobs – I faced rejections and different questions which aided my thinking.
    • I started the Davina 30 Day Fat Burn programme.
    • I went to see the Queen go to Ascot (one of those things I might not normally do – especially two consecutive days).

    Month 4: undertaking a lifelong ambition, ongoing investigations (change is exciting?)

    • I flew to New York in Business Class and back in First, which was a lifelong ambition.
    • We went to different parts of New York and saw different things, and enjoyed lovely weather.
    Secret Garden in Brooklyn, NY. Viewing change through a window.

    Secret Garden in Brooklyn, NY. Viewing change through a window.

    • My friend came over from Singapore so I got to spend some time with her.
    • I submitted an article to a competition in Glamour (I didn’t win – but here’s what I had to say).
    • Jet lag clearing after New York really felt like a turning point, I felt happy.
    • I undertook the quiz and read Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies, discovering I’m an Obliger.
    • I discovered Grey’s Anatomy via the Masterclass (I’m still watching it!).

    Month 5: a month of starting new things (change opens up options)

    • I’m always looking for a happy ending.
    • Loss of sleep was a constant due to the uncertainty, but equally so was sleeping in!
    • I took my niece to a theme park – which is the first time I’ve done something like that.
    • I started setting up an online presence and began a daily Twitter quote (@butterfliesflutter17 – follow me for some inspiration).
    • I continued with the Davina DVD.
    • I started the Slim Fast 7-Day Challenge with a starter pack from Costco (as a family friend had been doing it).
    • I continued to apply for roles I was interested in.
    • I undertook the Clifton StrengthsFinder profile (book).
    • I was told about profile tests on the National Careers Service so I undertook those.  There are a lot of services offered by the Government.  At the time of doing this, I found the tests sufficient for me, but was impressed by these.
    • I googled ‘Career Change’ and found Careershifters, and attended an online workshop, but I didn’t feel ready to get involved as I felt a bit fragile then.
    • I really wasn’t sure where I was going, but decided to focus on jobs when I returned from my Singapore trip (procrastination in action?).
    • I spent time writing and walking with friends.
    • I undertook the second painting workshop.
    • I reminded myself that I’d wanted a break and the time to think, to counter the feelings of uncertainty.  I was also lucky that I wasn’t in a rush to ‘get a job’ and could take my time.

    Month 6: spending time alone abroad for the first time (change isn’t so scary?)

    • I had an interview on my birthday, which I thought would mean I’d be more relaxed.  It was my first face-to-face interview for many years, and it took me ages to wind down afterwards and then I was over-thinking for days.  So that wasn’t my best idea!
    • The process of thought for going to interviews was similar for myself and my friends (previous post).
    • I flew to Singapore on my own, and then spent a lot of time alone.  This was challenging for me, but I did lots of different things and coped.  There were wobbles along the way, but I got by and improved as time went on.

    Month 7: full circle, symmetry in routines and repetition (change is cyclical)

    • I thought back over the past and how I would give up on things that I wasn’t good at (which I learnt is something my father does also!).  However, this is okay if you reframe it as focusing on your strengths.
    • I felt I’d come full circle as I restarted the exercise DVD after my holiday, started tidying again and also got ready to see Steps in concert so listened to their music again.
    • I did worry that I wouldn’t get a job, even though I’d only really just started looking.  But I reminded myself to keep going as the right job would come along.
    • I found I’d get ahead of myself before even going to an interview and visualise myself working there.  I think this is good and bad, though whether you can protect yourself from rejection… I’m not sure.
    • I centred myself on the fact that nothing is forever and that change is constant.
    • I also felt sad that the ‘time off’ was coming to an end.  Or would at some point.  I was positive that I’d get a job then (although again I worried that I wouldn’t at the same time).

    Month 8: interviews allow you to assess fit for you as much as the company (change can be uncomfortable and take longer than you think)

    • I had a lot of interviews and I learnt that it’s a two-way process.  I was assessing my fit with them as much as they were with me.
    • I am a nervous person, but was given feedback in one interview that I didn’t come across that way, so this was reassuring.  I had lots of positive feedback about myself and my CV which bolstered my confidence.
    • I enjoyed undertaking CIMA CPD and learning about different things again.  I’ve done bits and pieces throughout the year, but really ramped things up this month.
    • I went on my ‘final’ holiday to Tenerife for a week.
    • I am good at putting myself under pressure, but I wanted the right thing for me.
    • I determined I could only be myself and be honest in interviews.  So you need to understand what it is that you want.  Over the years, I’ve written various pros and cons lists and documented strengths and weaknesses about myself.  There are many questions and quizzes out there to help you too.
    • At the end of the month I was offered a role and start in the new year.
    • Writing got pushed further down the priority list.

    Month 9: sorting out for new start (change brings order and a new routine)

    • I continued tidying, organising and sorting myself out.  I must enjoy this.  I think it gives me a sense of control and order.
    • The role and company I am going to ticks a lot of boxes for me.
    • I can still take time to enjoy things that I like to do.
    • I can write and blog … nothing ends, it’s all a new start.
    • With new starts come uncertainty too… whether you can do the job, what the company will be like, what your colleagues will be like.  All natural nerves I think.  Here are some tips for overcoming first day nerves (which I will re-read again in due course).
    • I had my hair cut in preparation for the new role (and Christmas!).  I had my ears pierced again because I wanted to – but felt like an act of change.
    • I’ve again started writing out things that I’m grateful for and I’ve reflected on the time off to see what I have learnt.
    • I will enjoy the rest of my time off.

    Overall learnings – change is part of life

    I’ve achieved a lot this year. There have been a few moments of clarity over the period.   However, as Po Bronson said in his book, I’ve not had an epiphany.  I have simply taken things step-by-step and focused on what makes me happy.  I found that I enjoyed doing some of the tasks as part of the interviews so that solidified that what I’ve been doing to date is good for me.  I feel I’ve landed in a good place and am ready to start in the new year.

    Moment of Happiness, Gretchen Rubin. Life changes.

    Moment of Happiness, Gretchen Rubin. Life changes.

    I found a recent Moment of Happiness from Gretchen Rubin was quite apt.  It’s also important to remember that no matter what is going on in your life, there are always bigger things happening to others.  The news about the possibility of alien life potentially being found was fascinating to me.  It really puts things into perspective and makes you wonder what is out there.

    I’ve continued to use Headspace daily (and got my brother onto it too).  I’ve learnt that change is an ongoing process, so I’ll continue emerging from my chrysalis.

    As always, enjoy today.

  6. New year, new start

    I’ve been offered a new job.  I’ll be working for a well-known (in my field) software company.  I’m thrilled.  So far I’ll be looking for roles for four other people when I get there! Not sure if that’s the company, me, or a mix of both.  Either way,  I start in the new year, so it really is a case of new year, new start for me.

    2017

    At the beginning of the year, I was lucky enough to already have a month-long holiday booked to Australia and New Zealand.  I was open to new ideas and was seeking inspiration on that trip.  It was also nice as normally when I go away I worry about work (at least for the first day or so).  This time I had a natural end point, albeit I would then be entering a period of uncertainty.

    When I returned, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do next.  I was again lucky that the weather was so good from when I left work.  Going out for walks, alone or with others was great.  I had lots of different ideas it appears having reviewed my notes.  However I’ve ended up returning to the arena that I’m familiar with, though from a different angle.  It actually feels like I’m returning to my first ever role.  I’ve gone full-circle and learnt a lot to allow me to return if that makes sense.  Like a natural symmetry.

    Looking back over the whole period, I’ve had a level of anxiety.  I’m not someone who likes change much.  This week I’ve found myself pondering what the new company will be like, whether I will settle in quickly, whether I can do the job etc etc.  I think all normal things really.

    I’d worked at the same company, in different roles, for eleven years so any new place is going to be different.  However, I have had opportunities to interview at lots of great places and it’s funny how you might not end up where you thought.  By going through the processes, it helps solidify what is important to you.  I am feeling so positive about the new role.  I just hope to ‘fast-forward’ to the feeling comfortable and knowing what I am doing phase!

    I’ve now got four weeks to ‘sew things up’ and get as prepared as possible for starting the new role.  I also want to enjoy the run-up to Christmas.  I will have had nine months off, so it’s bound to be a shock to the system!

    Christmas

    Christmas is a time for reflection generally… I’ve finally created some photo books, one of the month-long trip to Oz/NZ, and the other for my year to remember what I’ve done in the time off.  I enjoyed spending the time looking over the photos, as it’s amazing how much you forget about.

    Last week I restarted Davina’s 30 day fat burn plan and I also opened the Happiness Cube which is also a 30-day plan.  This led me to thinking about habits.

    I’ve long been a fan of Gretchen Rubin and she’s done a lot of work around identifying how we make and break habits.  More information here.  Christmas is also a time when we start thinking about what we’d like to change about ourselves and we often set ourselves resolutions in the new year.

    What I’ve learnt

    During the time off, I’ve rediscovered my love of swimming, but also my love of learning.  I’ve been enjoying doing the CPD required as part of the CIMA qualification along with doing research into new techniques for interviews.

    For me, in 2018 I want to focus on health and fitness, so having some form of exercise regime alongside the new role.  I also enjoy writing, so can continue to do this with this blog and with the book I’m writing.  I’ve also enjoyed learning more about myself and what matters to me.  I think it’s important to stay true to your values.

    One such article I’ve been reading states that our generation, or the pace of innovation, now means that we need to continuously be learning things.  Technology and what it can do for us really interests me, though I’m a bit dubious about robots (have you all seen I, Robot for goodness sake!).  When I was in Singapore at the ArtScience Museum there was a robot there which to be honest freaked me out.

    At the ArtScience Museum’s new exhibition on artificial intelligence, you’ll be greeted by a robot receptionist

    It was very clever, but there was just something spooky about it I felt, but I have an overactive imagination! Facebook shut down their project with robots after they started creating their own language.

    I think there’s much to be positive about the future and what technology can do for us.  The field that I’m in will certainly have an interesting learning curve ahead.

    Enjoy today!

  7. Day 238: Progress comes full circle

    I’ve been on my last holiday of the year now (poor me – having been ‘technically’ on holiday since 1 April I hear you say!), so it’s time to switch to the ‘job search’ proper.  This might be a slow process as everyone else’s thoughts turn to the Christmas period.  I am lucky that I’m not in a rush and can take my time, however having made the decision to go back to work I’ve now put myself under pressure, which is silly.  To date, I’ve applied for things that interest me, but I might need to take a ‘step’ back and think about what it is that I want out of work.  In some ways, I’ve come full circle to the time that I left my previous job.

    Tonight I’m going to see Steps perform, and their reforming and my rewatching of their videos on YouTube (such as their newer song ‘Scared of the Dark‘) whilst clearing out clothes from winter to spring/summer when I first left work, has come full circle and yesterday I was changing my clothes back to winter again, whilst listening to their cheerful tunes.  Their music has really helped me throughout the year.  I’ve also found that I want to tidy up again, which is probably because I need to tidy out my mind.  I wonder if I’m avoiding thinking about what I should be doing next.

    I found a useful article yesterday by Kathy Caprino (link) with questions to help focus your mind on what you do want to do.  I asked friends what stood out for them about me when I was younger as a starting point.

    Whilst I was away, I undertook a phone interview and spent some time fretting about the outcome of that and then what the future might hold.  This is, of course, contrary to anything that I’ve learnt in Headspace, but it’s hard to change a lifetime of worrying.  It’s a continual process.

    On my return to freezing Britain, I spent a lot of time preparing for a presentation, and then a face-to-face interview following the phone interview.  So I had two interviews last week, and in a week prior to going away did three interviews back-to-back.  I think I nearly cracked to be honest.  Positives are that I’m getting interviews, and also I’m getting positive feedback on my experience etc., so hopefully the right thing will come along at the right time (can you tell I’ve worked in Marketing a lot!).  What I’ve noticed, however, is that there seems to be a cycle of emotions related to interviewing, within the wider cycle of emotions associated with change.

    In one of my friendship groups, we have all been interviewing for different things and are all in different situations, but we all seem to be going through the same thoughts:

    • Preparing and the anxiety and trepidation of trying to second-guess what you might be asked, and how it will go.
    • The actual day, nerves kick in and then you get to the company and are ‘on’ and you do the best you can (NB it appears to have a positive impact on weight loss as a plus!).  I think  you can be over-prepared as well as under-prepared, so it’s about finding a balance. As I’m not working, I can devote a lot of time to preparing, but then it can also take over so balance is definitely key.
    • Then it’s the aftermath of the event and you find yourself thinking ‘why did I say this’ or ‘why didn’t I say that’.  I think that’s normal.  Though I’d like not to wake in the middle of the night thinking about it over and over again.  When I was working, I’d feel guilty about contemplating changing roles and if I went to interviews, I’d not like to be deceitful – that’s how I viewed it.  However, now I feel in limbo, I’m free to apply wherever I like, but I don’t have the backstop of my current job, so reframing the mindset is important.
    • Then you wait.  You start to visualise what it would be like working at the place, should you get the role.  You try to second-guess the outcome.  Sometimes you hear back quickly, sometimes you don’t.  You wonder whether not hearing is because they are still considering you, or that they’ve ruled you out.
    • So far I’ve not had an offer of employment, but when I do I need to make sure that it’s going to be right for me.  You don’t want to rush in as work takes up such a lot of your life.  You are never going to be totally sure, and won’t truly know until you start somewhere, but you have to trust your gut instinct.  Also, you can make the best of any situation in life and nothing (in this respect) is permanent.  You can change most things in life.

    Dealing with rejection can be tough, as you think ‘if I’d said that’ would the outcome have been different.  However, so far, I’ve mainly agreed with the outcomes.  I don’t enjoy change and putting myself ‘out there’ much, but I knew that I wanted to change and take the time out.  Now I’ve made myself anxious about things, and need to take that step back to get my mind totally in gear for it all.  I’ve done lots of things in the business world, so I will take some time to think and sort myself out this week.  I also need to allocate time to writing: both this blog and the children’s book that I’ve been working on.  I need to prioritise and plan my time efficiently.

    For balance, I am also going to restart one of Davina McCall’s fitness DVDs which is a 30-day plan, and I also bought a 30 day happiness project challenge in John Lewis, so want to start both of those this week.

    In the meantime, it’s almost time for Steps!

    Enjoy today.

     

  8. I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which have never happened #MarkTwain

    I’m currently getting ready to go on holiday (again, I know!), though this is tinged with sadness as it’s my ‘last’ holiday before I need to think about returning to the ‘real world’.  I know in the scheme of things that lots of people have much more to worry about than that, but it feels like a time of reflection is upon me.  Someone recently said to me that work really doesn’t matter, as I’ve got myself into a bit of a state when going to interviews.  I’m putting pressure on myself to achieve as I am competitive I think.  I’m getting better with my nerves, but it is like going into an exam where you only have one shot – however, equally there are lots of roles out there and the right one will come along.  I don’t like to fail or make mistakes though, but I also believe that things happen for a reason.  I also read recently that women are more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome and not apply for roles because they don’t tick most of the boxes, whereas men will go for roles even though they only have some of the skills asked for.

    As mentioned in previous posts, I tend to evaluate life in the lead up to Christmas, as I’m sure many of us do.  However, this year, I’m a little in limbo as to where I will be heading. I left my role at the end of March 2017, and have genuinely had a lovely time off.  I was blessed with beautiful weather for the most part, and had lots of time away.  I flew First Class home from New York which I’d always wanted to do, I’ve spent time on my own abroad (whilst staying with my friend in Singapore), I’ve sat in a field and watched the Queen go to Ascot (twice – as once just wasn’t enough!).  I’ve also rediscovered my love of swimming and want to spend some time improving my crawl in the future.  However, I also expected to achieve a lot more.  I’ve started writing a kids book, but I put this on the back-burner in favour of doing other things.  Though it’s not like I can’t write and work but, in my head, I thought I’d have plenty to time to write lots, and do other things too.  Another thing that interests me is some form of team sport, maybe hockey.  It’s been nice to be open to ideas and seeing what sticks.

    I’m lucky to have been able to take this time, as lots of other people haven’t been given the opportunity.  Though if fortune wishes to favour me with a lottery or premium bond win I’ll not be complaining! At the same time, I’ve actually been enjoying using data again when starting to undertake tasks as part of interview processes.  So I guess I can’t disguise my inner geek!

    I’ve had a few knocks so far, but am learning as I go.  I know that I have good experience behind me, so need to wait to find the right role for me.  I’ve already worried a fair bit about not hearing back from companies, or as quickly as I might like and can easily start to panic that I won’t get a job, but I know that I will.  I suppose it’s a natural anxiety and fear of the unknown.  I know I’m a hard worker, and a nice person who gets on with people and genuinely cares about them.  I’ve also got a wide range of skills to bring to a company.

    I’ve learnt that I can make friends wherever I go.  I need to keep myself calm and realise that starting somewhere new will be a learning curve, and will be tiring etc., but that no one is going to expect me to be up and running at 100% on day 1.

    I’ve spent a lot of my life worrying, and as Mark Twain says ‘most of it never happens’.  However, this seems to be something that I do naturally.  I used to think that it would stop bad things from happening, and worrying probably does make you think things through and be more prepared, but unfortunately it’s not going to stop bad things from occurring.  Checking your school backpack multiple times, or even my case or backpack for this holiday, isn’t going to make the things you’ve packed disappear! If you forget something, you can buy it! People will still die, get injured, ill etc.  If you think about what is going on in the world now: someone is taking their last breath, someone their first, someone might be falling in love, or getting married, whilst another discovers someone has had an affair, or that they need to divorce.  So many different things are happening to people all the time.

    I’ve read a couple of articles lately (I think on LinkedIn) that refer to looking for a job as being similar to dating.  I am wondering if I’m not that proficient in either.  I certainly shy away from the dating side of things! However, feedback on my interview skills has been positive, so perhaps I should investigate dating in 2018! I feel that I need to sort the job situation out first – but you never know what life is going to throw at you!

    Having time has meant I’ve been able to read widely: be it books or relevant articles as well as join interesting seminars and I’ve undertaken online courses.  Another thing I’ve re-learnt about me, is that I love to learn! So I then wonder if I’d enjoy being a researcher or even an archivist.  I remember reading an article on a BA flight in their in-house magazine about Iron Mountain.  A quick Google search brings up an article for you if you are interested.  Basically there are loads of priceless artefacts in there which amazes me! Recently President Trump has released some of the JFK files.  I remember watching a film, probably the Kevin Costner one, and feeling inspired to go to the States and find out the truth.  Of course, I’ve not done that, but it would be fascinating to uncover something in those papers.  I suppose I can relate this to using data to find something out to help a business too.

    The winter nights are drawing in, I’m sure I have SAD but have never been diagnosed.  So I think it’s time to relax and watching some telly before my yoga class.

    Enjoy today.

  9. The fear of death follows from the fear of life #MarkTwain #EnjoyToday

    Mark Twain once said that ‘the fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time’.

    I chose a quote from Mark Twain to put on Twitter today because I’m related to him and maybe because of that, always wanted to be a writer. I’ve flitted with the idea of doing many things over the years: being a teacher, something to do with sport, being a full-time mother (I’m none of those things). I ended up starting work after A-levels and moving quite naturally into accounting and then analytics.

    I do feel that I fear death and that I live life quite quietly. I am an introvert and do like to take time to recuperate from the outside world, but others might see this as a waste of life. I especially struggle at this time of year, and wonder if I have SAD. I’ve travelled a lot and go to lots of events that I want to go to. In 2017, I was given the chance to take some time out in what would have been my twentieth year of work. I felt that life was passing by too quickly and I wanted to reassess what I wanted from it.

    Naturally this can lead to spiralling thoughts and emotions, but ultimately everything ends at death. I have perhaps become too morbid too quickly, however the older you get, the closer death gets to you. You assume you will live to a good age, but actually there are no guarantees in anything. That scares me as I like routine, organisation and feeling in control. However, we aren’t really in control of anything.

    I recently found a website where you can see how long you have been alive via many different metrics http://www.howlonghaveibeenalivefor.com. I thought it was quite interesting (that could be the analyst in me!). There have been articles in the news about ways to find out how long you have left, but would you want to know? Would you make different decisions if you were aware of your fate? Or are you better off not knowing and taking opportunities as they arise? Though if we wait around, then time passes by before we realise and it’s easy to procrastinate and then nothing gets done.  Someone once asked me to imagine I was an 80 year-old sitting in my rocking chair, and what I’d want to say about my life.

    I’ve been off work for seven months now, and have mainly been enjoying the time. However, despite having perceivably ‘all the time in the world’ to do things, I still find that I put myself under pressure to enjoy the time off as I probably won’t get it again.  I’ve used the time to do a lot of trips away, write, think about who I am, study up on some topics of interest to me and my job etc.

    I plan to use this blog to explain how I’ve felt as I go through this change journey, as I hope it might help others who are facing similar questions.

    To end on another Mark Twain quote: ‘give every day the chance to become the most beautiful of your life’. I hope that we are able to turn into beautiful butterflies exploring the meadows in our own time and in our own way.

    Enjoy today.

  10. Day 197: Lazy Sunday afternoon?

    It’s Sunday today and for once I’m at home with no real plans.  Tomorrow I’m going away on a UK Staycation, so I’ve spent a bit of time packing.  I sometimes find it hard to relax and feel that ‘I should be doing this or that’…

    I’ve got this holiday and then a further week in Tenerife in November, but it feels like the ‘gap year’ is coming to an end, and the time in-between the holidays I’ll have to get more serious in the job search.  This makes me sad and also scared as I’ve yet to sort out what the next step is.  I know things will work themselves out and I don’t want to rush into something that is wrong for me, but at the same time it’s hard not to let the anxiety get to you at times.  I know this is silly as I’m in a fortunate position, whilst others have had to take ‘a job’ in order to keep their families going.

    I like spending time at home, but equally I’m used to keeping busy so it’s sometimes not until after an event that you truly appreciate it.  In the moment, the mind can always be thinking ‘what-if’ and ‘I should’.  I’ve found this on many occasions in my life.

    In July I fulfilled a lifelong dream of flying First Class, but I felt that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have done because of an internal pressure on myself.  I perhaps felt uncomfortable and like I didn’t belong there, but I’d paid my money to be there. Now, if I look back on my time off, it’s one of the highlights (along with sitting in a school field with a slice of cake and then watching the Queen go to Ascot!).  Holiday photos can be useful memories of what you’ve done, but I don’t often spend the time looking at them.  Instead I have a ‘to do list’ item to backup the photos to an external hard drive, and then it’s done and I forget about them.  My Mum and I have ‘creating a photobook’ on our lists, so I’m going to make a conscious effort to reminisce after this holiday and maybe wider at the time off and what I’ve achieved.  Look out for some photos on the blog soon!

    I’ve just watched a BBC documentary about Concorde.  My friend was lucky enough to fly on it with her parents, and I wondered if she fully appreciated it at the time.  It just struck me how magical it was and I hope that something else is launched to bring that wonder back to the world.

    Holidays themselves bring up a cycle of emotions in me.  I might fret about whether I’ve packed everything that I need or not (even though I rarely forget anything and if I did I could just buy it!), then if I’ve got all the paperwork together, to how early I should arrive at the airport – the list can go on and on.  I also tend to think about death and I get quite emotional about going away – so tomorrow I’ll leave my Dad at home and you think ‘what-if’ again.  A friend once dreamt that my Mum and I died on a plane, which always puts me a little on edge! I did for a time get into a ritual of watching the last episode of Friends and also Sex and The City – a comfort food type thing I guess!

    Once on holiday, I tend to go through a range of emotions.  When I was working I’d want to get everything in a good state before I went, and would invariably send my boss an email in the early hours of the morning if I’d forgotten something.  It would then take a few days to wind down from being in ‘work mode’… Sometimes you’d then get a cold or some sort of illness, which I often wondered was a way of releasing the stress.  I’d then start to relax and before you knew it the time would fly and it would be a countdown to return to work.  Now of course things are different, but instead I’ve replaced returning to work with what to do next… Again this is a mindset thing, and you need to take control of your thoughts and rationalise them.

    I received an email from Adam Grant today which took me to a BBC article about Ikigai.  This concept explained how Japanese people believe that ‘the sum of small joys in everyday life results in a more fulfilling life as a whole’.  There is a four-way Venn diagram which says that ikigai is in the centre of:

    • Something that you love;
    • Something that the world needs;
    • Something that you are good at; and
    • Something that you can be paid for

    So that gives me some food for thought.  I’m also going to a cottage with a ‘wishing well’ which I hope will give me some inspiration for a children’s book that I’ve started to write.

    This led me to recall how in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book ‘Big Magic‘ (which I went to see her talk about in London), she said that ‘… ideas and inspiration are given freely to us, but if the ‘Big Magic’ gives you an idea, and you don’t work on it, trust me, someone else will.  Ideas travel to people, like the wind’… Small things, or coincidences can occur which make you think.  I’ve had an idea for a while, and have started to write it out, but and this could be the Obliger in me again… I’ve not done as much as I should have done.

    I thought it was funny in Friday’s episode of Cold Feet that Jen daydreamed about going onto Dragons’ Den.  This struck me for two reasons: 1) Peter Jones used to live in this house as a child, so I wonder whether he slept in the same room as me and 2) Jen basically became ‘Joy‘ and tried to sell the mop that Joy invented, which I had cited as an inspiration in a previous blog post.

    So whether any of these do have any meaning, or perhaps I have too much time on my hands to think… only time will tell.

    In the meantime, in the UK it’s currently a nice sunny afternoon, so …

    Enjoy today.

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