1. I’m not a kook just like Monica

    I’m not a kook just like Monica

    I’m a keen Friends fan and if I identify with any one character it’s got to be Monica.

    In one episode the others are teasing her about her lack of ‘kookiness’ as she likes to do things just so.  Monica ends up laying awake in the night having left something in the lounge area to prove she is a kook.  She just can’t do it.  Nor can I.  I think I worry that I will forget to do something – but what’s the worst that would happen in reality? No one is going to die because a bill isn’t paid (at least I hope not!).

    As much as I’d like to be laidback and relaxed, it’s just not the way I’ve ever been.  My brain seems to be constantly alert and I can easily overthink things.  This article on the Headspace website sounds very like me.

    Default Worrier

    My default setting is to have something to worry about.  If it’s not a work task, then I can easily fill that space in my mind with another concern.  Just this week I lay awake having been to a show that evening, unable to sleep and mind whirring with thoughts.

    To try to improve myself, I’ve started to write down what I am worrying about.  I will then revisit the list to see how many things were worth the time and energy.  I imagine very few will be.

    I like to feel efficient and can easily get overwhelmed if I feel I’ve got too much on my plate, often coupled with perceived lack of time to achieve it.  I could see myself behaving like Monica in this episode where she is busy cleaning because she knows her mum will pick on her.

    Christmas Present list

    Being a keen Friends fan I got excited yesterday when I saw a whole range of new Friends games out for Christmas and promptly added them to my Wish List.  Primark recently had a whole Central Perk range including a photo frame of the famous frame on Monica’s door.  I was also very happy to discover the Central Perk cafe in Singapore at the end of my trip last year.  There is something magical about Friends.

    With efficiency in mind, I’ve started to think about what to buy people for Christmas, even undertaking an ‘audit’ last weekend of what I’d bought so far as I like to pick things up throughout the year.  This sounds very Monica-esque to me.

    Subscription Services

    This led me to thinking about the current trends for subscribing to things like Spotify and Netflix, vs owning physical things.  There was a recent BBC article about this.  I still like to own things, but it’s also very efficient and ‘tidy’ not to have lots of things cluttering up your home.  I recently purchased the Magic of Tidying book though it’s sitting on my Kindle waiting to be read.  I’m currently re-reading my physical copies of Harry Potter (which I also own on Kindle).  There’s something to be said about holding a proper book, but there are also merits to the ebook.

    I think my cupboards will always be a bit messy and at least I can be happy in the knowledge that even Monica succumbed to this problem too.  Or you know, I could worry about it.

    Enjoy today.

  2. Nature or Nurture?

    Nature or Nurture?

    The Nature vs Nurture debate is something that has been discussed a lot over the years.  In my last post, I noticed myself returning to old ways.  Do you think you are a product of your genes or your environment?

    Perfectionism – learned or earned?

    I definitely identify myself as a Perfectionist and scrolling through the headings in the article I’m like ‘yep, yep, yep’.  That’s me, you’ve totally nailed it.

    I am a Virgo star sign, so a natural born worrier.  However, I notice that I am harder on myself that I think I should be at times (this article says that perfectionists use the word ‘should‘ which I know from some coaching I’ve had that this is a trigger word for me to notice and to stop and think as ‘should‘ often means you don’t want to.  It’s probably linked to an outer expectation, or you are comparing yourself to another).

    I also notice that my parents, especially my Mum (also a Virgo), get stressed and worry and don’t sleep – so basically the same as me.  Probably everyone is the same, but others are better at masking it.  But is that the right thing, or should (sorry!) we be talking about our thoughts and feelings more?

    Take today

    Even today, a beautiful sunny Saturday, I have felt myself rushing to get things done.  Where’s my deadline? Oh it’s me.  I think that I try to get things done so that I can rest.  However, I’m not then enjoying the moment.

    I enjoy writing, but I could find myself rushing to try to get a post done rather than actually taking the time to enjoy that I can touch-type (and I do love typing, the noise, the feel of the keys – there’s just something about it that is soothing for me)… the birds are twittering outside.  There are always plenty of things to take in and be grateful for.

    I also think the ‘always on’ culture in life means that everyone is striving to achieve and accomplish something all the time, but we need to take time to stop and relax as well.

    An email from CGMA gave a link to another article from Psychology today which said that perfectionists can overcome their tendencies – so that’s good news! Basically we need to stop comparing ourselves to others.  I also think there’s something in mindfulness and just ‘being’ rather than always doing.

    Nature around us

    The other day a butterfly was fluttering around outside my front door.  I’d just arrived home from work and got out of my car and the butterfly continued to flutter around a flower near the door.  So I feel very fortunate to have got some photos of it.

    ButterfliesFlutter

    Of course ButterfliesFlutter is my Twitter handle, but the butterfly even seemed to flutter around me the next day too.  So go out for a walk, respond to the nature around you and enjoy today.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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