1. Returning to old ways?

    Returning to old ways

    This month I have felt myself returning to old ways at work.  For me, this is worrying about things when I probably don’t need to.

    Of course, sometimes worry is a good thing as it makes you consider things in advance and plan so that things go smoothly.  However, I used to think this would stop bad things happening and that’s certainly not the case.  But, generally (read ‘probably always’ or ‘always’!)  it really, really isn’t.  It actually hampers you because you end up wasting energy, losing sleep etc which isn’t healthy.

    It’s hard to change the way that you are, but equally a learned behaviour can be unlearned.  Below I highlight some reading I’ve been doing to improve myself.

    I’m now into my sixth month in the new job.  I am definitely settling in, but there’s still a lot that feels new.  I actually have my probation review tomorrow so fingers crossed!

    Training Bubble

    This week I’ve been on a training course in London every day.  Being in a ‘bubble’ of learning and a new routine for the week meant that I had ample time to read on the commute.  In the last couple of weeks I’ve read two books that a friend bought me a while ago for birthdays/Christmas.  One was Calm which I’m sure is well-known.  The other was Lifestyle Essentials by Lisa B.  This is a fairly old book (2008).

    I found both really good.  There were recurring themes in both and also lots of themes that I’d found were ‘calming‘ myself such as: walking in nature, sleep (!) and being creative.  Lisa B’s book was a straightforward roadmap to getting on with things in life and I found it really useful and plan to keep both books on my bookshelf for future reference! I took note of Lisa’s advice to clean to Kylie.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned I’m a big fan once or twice.

    The training itself was for a product I will use in my job, however being in a different environment makes you think differently.  There was a lot of content to take on board and I found it very tiring.

    Anniversaries

    Further to a previous post which cited Carrie Bradshaw and Sex and the City, the programme recently turned 20 years old.  There were various articles published which ‘wondered’ why the show still had appeal.  For me, it’s a comfort blanket and I guess a source of hope.

    I am a perfectionist and can also be resistant to change, so things like a solid routine and trying to be organised really help me out.  Knowing there are shows like Sex and the City to fall back on and sometimes to fall asleep to is good to know!

    I don’t know about you, but I go through cycles with reading.  I do really enjoy it, but sometimes I  get into a routine of watching TV in bed instead (and often falling asleep as above).  My Dad literally said the same thing himself just the other day.

    Another book that I read recently was about the economy.  Sometimes I don’t feel as knowledgeable about the world as I should do.  However, I actually made my Dad buy this book (he’d been reading others by the same author) because of the title ‘Talking to my Daughter about the Economy’.

    In the book, Yanis Varoufakis references a quote by Henry David Thoreau which feels apt for this website:

    “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”

    And on that note I will sign-off.  Enjoy today.

  2. Who was the first blogger?

    First blogger?

    I read recently that Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and The City) could have been the first blogger.  She essentially diarised the comings and goings in her life and those of her close friends.  However, this was issued firstly in print format and then published books.  She may be to blame (via product placement) for my writing this blog, but also writing it on my second MacBook.  In Bridget Jones’s Baby, Bridget had moved on from a physical diary to journalling on her iPad.  She also clearly found it therapeutic to write down her thoughts.  She didn’t choose to publish them as a blogger.  It wasn’t her ‘meal ticket’ as it was for Carrie (though like Friends with their ‘rent controlled apartment‘ she also lived a gilded life).

    Anne Frank’s Diary

    After my trip to Amsterdam, I bought (another) copy of Anne Frank’s diary.  I’m currently re-reading that.  Sometimes I feel sad and don’t want to read it, as you know the ending, but it’s also fascinating to read all the thoughts going on in her head.  They were confined in a small place, but a whole microcosm was going on within that environment.  She also (so far) has always had hope.  We all have things that we don’t want the rest of the world to know about, but writing it down can help.

    Month 5 of the new role

    I’m now into my fifth month at my new role and things are making more sense.  I can now complete tasks (still with a  bit of help) and there is a lot going on.  I know now if the motorway is bad I will get home eventually and the world isn’t going to implode if I don’t leave the house by 7am.

    I will continue to blog about my journey (though I’m still learning this and am a novice blogger), and also work on developing myself using the Headspace App.  Lately I’ve been listening to ‘Managing Anxiety’ again and things are resonating more.  You hear different things by repeating things.  I often feel that way about favourite TV and films.  You can pick up different bits at different times.  Some things are comfort blankets as well, for me that’s both Friends and Sex and the City.

    As far as diaries go, I also have been filling out a Lett’s Five Year Diary and am now into my fifth year of it.  What I notice from this is the cycle of events which seem to recur year-on-year.  My emotions may follow a cycle, but people might drop round at similar times, or I might go to the same place and then a few days later realise I did that a few years ago too.

    At work, I am starting to understand more about the everyday tasks, though my role will always have questions to deal with that I might not have done before.  It’s a challenge, but it’s also good to solve the problem.  I just prefer to feel in control and efficient.  I’m also starting to understand the personalities of people in my wider team and also the relationships between them.  Who are friends, who potentially aren’t.  It’s quite interesting to be a bit of an outsider in that respect.  I’m also starting to form friendships, but it seems to be a slow burn.  This may have been the case at previous places, but I was at the last company for a long time so I guess my network was quite wide there.  You forget these things quite easily.

    Documenting life

    The whole world of social media and bloggers does mean that we are documenting more and more about our lives.  In the past, relatives might have been lucky to have a few photos at the end of their lives, now we have a digital footprint (some of which we might prefer to forget).  The Queen is known to write a diary every night.  Her musings would be quite fascinating I’m sure.  The monarchy are also active on Twitter.  See the photos of Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte released by Kensington Palace recently.   Meghan Markle is also rumoured to have been an anonymous blogger before she became famous, and then launched another blog.  The recent controversy about Cambridge Analytica and the introduction of GDPR (are you getting as many emails as me asking for you to opt-in again?) shows how much data people are giving away and the value of Facebook and the like show what it’s worth.

    There are definite pros and cons to documenting life and ultimately it’s a personal choice.  I recently gave my friend my old Fitbit and she likes it but is worried about the data she is sharing.  With my job I am used to using lots of data and am ‘happy’ about the ‘value exchange’, but maybe I haven’t thought about the consequences enough.

    It’s a lovely sunny day here.  So enjoy today.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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