The importance of going with your gut instinct

I remember years ago saying to a friend, “I don’t really know what I want to do but I think I’d like to be working in a sort of studio space with cool interesting people, maybe in another country, maybe France.’’ It was all very vague, but that’s what my gut instinct was saying to me.

We were ambling alongside the Thames, talking about life and the future. She was someone I could confide in, and tell my hopes and dreams. But secretly, at that time I felt a bit silly not knowing what I really wanted to do, by then probably in my late twenties or early thirties.

Fair enough knowing what kind of environment I wanted to work in and with what kind of people. But how come I didn’t know what job I wanted to do? Surely it shouldn’t be that hard?

Fast forward 10, 15 years, and here I am working from a coworking space in Spain, with different spaces for people to work in, like the studio image I had in mind. It’s full of interesting entrepreneurs, small businesses, freelancers and remote workers from around the world.

Back then, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for work, or how to get there. But I had a vague image in my mind, and a feeling of what I wanted. I knew that my current work wasn’t for me, it wasn’t making me happy, and that somehow I had to find a way out. I had to rely on my gut, my intuition.

It took me a long time to get there. It’s funny looking back. I did know in my heart what I wanted – to live abroad, to have more freedom in my work, to do work that I felt was of value. I just wasn’t clear on the details.

It took a lot of reading, ruminating, talking to people, speaking to coaches.

And, ultimately, doing stuff which moved me forwards. I left my then job, travelled a bit, freelanced a bit. Took a course in teaching English abroad, applied for a new job and got it, moved to Spain. Started coaching other people in the same situation I’d previously been in.

Listening to your gut, and then doing something about it, is hard, but worth it.

Get in touch here if you’d like to speak to me about coaching, I can help you make your career change: joaopoku@gmail.com

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Hibernating (but how can I change career if I spend all my time hidden under my duvet?)

Hibernating. I love it. I think I’m actually a bit obsessed with the idea of hibernating in January. Partly I think my introvert side relishes the chance to do what comes naturally. Also, I just so enjoy the whole not doing much/watching films/eating chocolate/reading loads vibe I get to enjoy over the Christmas period, that I don’t want to let it go. 

I want to celebrate the joy of hibernating. Going along with nature, seeking out staying warm and cosy. Naturally using dark days and nights as a chance to take things slower, rest, recuperate from generally very busy lives.

However, on the surface this goes against my general advice when it comes to doing stuff like sorting out your life. Keep taking action, be productive, don’t spend too much time ruminating and not doing…

So how do the two tie together? Hibernate, spend as much of your spare time as you can watching films and eating chocolate. But at the same time focus on your goals and keep the momentum up? Well – I do think it’s possible. 

You might want 2020 to be the year you finally change career.  You’re kind of feeling pumped that you’ve made the decision to go for it. But also kind of overwhelmed about where to start, and generally a bit knackered from Christmas and feeling January meh-ness. 

Well, the main thing is to keep taking tiny steps forward. Plan out a series of small goals for the month. Things that are achievable but that are going to keep propelling your forward in your search. And consistently do them. 

So for example every morning or evening, set aside 10 minutes to focus on your career change goals. One email to enquire, get advice, ask a question. One 10-minute bit of research. 10 minutes completing a job application. A few minutes contacting people on LinkedIn who might be able to answer some questions about their industry. 

Try to make sure you are actually taking action during the 10 minutes, not just reading and day-dreaming. Make contact, create, or open opportunities for yourself.  

Once you’ve got into the habit of taking action every day (that’s the aim, anyway), you won’t feel bad about the whole ‘taking it easy’/pretending it’s still the Christmas holidays vibe I like to eke out. 

You’re still taking action, but you’re not adding to what can already be a slightly depressing, difficult month, by putting loads of pressure on yourself and berating yourself for not dedicating all your time to figuring things out.

Be nice to yourself, set some goals and make them happen, and enjoy hibernating with the best of us.

If you need some help with the whole goal setting thing, or in taking first steps to change your career or life, get in touch for some coaching sessions. You can also sign-up for a one-off 1-hour Get Unstuck! coaching call – designed to get you taking action straight away. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com. It’s what I do for fun.

Photo by Nine Köpfer on Unsplash

January blues: Why I love January and how you can make it the best month

I’ll let you into a little secret… I kind of love January. I know that January in Valencia, where I live, is a little different to January in the UK where I’m from. The sun here means that January is a month where you still actually want to leave the house and do stuff. Whereas in the UK January is sort of the month that doesn’t exist. You put your head down and survive it. It’s cold, it’s rainy, it’s miserable, you’ve eaten too much, you have no money, you’re off alcohol, there’s no Christmas to look forward to…You stay indoors and you endure.

But a few years back, still living in London, I had a revelation. Thinking about it, January is basically the same as December. So why do we love December and despise January? The weather’s the same. Why does the mood go from twinkly and pretty and full of expectation and high spirits to awfulness and despair? Is Christmas Day that big a deal? Is it all about that?

I realised that what I love about the Christmas season is resting: ideally a week of no work, spending time with people I love, getting cosy, brisk freezing walks in the countryside then the relief of getting home and flopping on the sofa. Eating loads of delicious food and chocolate, and dessert every day. Films, reading. Playing games. Doing less. Lazing around. Chilling. Especially the days after Christmas Day, which have lower expectations, so you can go into full on relax.

Enjoy all the good stuff

Why should January be any different? Can’t I still make delicious, warming dishes? Eat apple crumble? Go for brisk walks? Watch films? Read? Enjoy twinkly lights? Appreciate being inside when it’s tipping it down outside? Yes! Ok so there’s the small matter of trudging to work every day in the freezing cold and dark. It can be really hard. But – the mornings, evenings and weekends are still ours. 

Here’s to January being the best month! The month to nourish and hibernate. To relish in watching a film every night. Continue eating massive delicious healthy meals. Get out and about and love coming home again. Take time to be quiet and reflect. To dream and make plans.

I’m lucky. I don’t really have anything to complain about. So for those of us that can, let’s appreciate what we’ve got.

What if we chose to love January rather than dread it. How would that change things?

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If you’re up for taking some time to reflect and plan for the year, check out my post on this: The perfect time for writing, reflecting & planning.

And, if your big plan this year is to change career but you’re feeling stuck and lost, I’ve started running 1-hour Get Unstuck! coaching calls. Designed to get you taking action straight away, after a 1-hour call with me. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com to arrange.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

The perfect time for writing, reflecting & planning.

This time of year, the days between Christmas Day and the New Year, I naturally turn to reflecting on the current year, and on the new year to come.

How do I feel about the year that’s about to end? Generally a good year? Not so good? Did anything go well, and what could I have done differently?

What plans do I have for January? Do I want to change how I go about my day-to-day routines? What big plans do I have for the whole year, what do I want to achieve?

I love to write it all down.

I find writing cathartic, whether it’s a blogpost, the day’s to-do list, big plans for the future or simply getting down on paper how I’m feeling. Reflecting in this way is therapeutic, getting it all out of my head, and down on paper. It’s a way of processing my thoughts.

There’s such freedom in writing. Random words, imagined conversations, massive crazy dreams. Writing down how you really feel about something, and would never dare tell anyone.

Also it can help you come up with solutions. Getting down all possible options, making a massive plan of all the steps it will take to do something.

Here are a few writing exercises I’ll be doing over the next few days, that you might want to try.

Reflection

1. When reflecting back over the past year, a really nice exercise is to think of and write down all the things I’m proud of. What did I overcome, or survive? When did I do something that took courage. What did I find a solution to? Was there a situation I dealt with well? Who did I help? In which moments did I cheer myself on and get something done?

Those times you’ve felt nervous, or unequipped or unqualified, you’ve struggled with imposter syndrome – but then you did it and it was fine? That time you were assertive when usually you’d give in. That time you tried something new and loved it.

It can be hard at first, but if you push yourself to list every little thing you’re proud of, most of us can come up with quite a list.

Brief moments

2. It’s also great to consider moments of peace, contentedness, happiness, or joy during the past year. It doesn’t have to be something big, like an amazing holiday or event. Rather, those brief moments.

For example a lovely unexpected exchange with someone you didn’t know. A time you chose to do what you wanted over what someone else expected of you – and you relished in the moment. That time you took a few minutes from your busy day to sit on a bench in the sun and close your eyes, enjoying a feeling of peace.

If things aren’t going particularly well at the moment, thinking back over what you are proud of, and those little moments of joy, can help you get perspective. It wasn’t all doom and gloom – there were great moments.

3. Compare how you feel right now, with how you felt this time last year. How have things moved on? What are you pleased about? What are you frustrated at? If things haven’t gone as you’d like, you can spend some time reflecting on what you need to do to bring about change.

Future first

4. And on to what’s to come. What are my immediate plans for January, what do I want to get sorted at the start of the year? What’s bugging me? What practical things do I want to sort out, or what changes can I make to my routine?

(Download my morning routines guide here: 3 easy steps to a morning routine you love!)

5. Equally important – what do I want to enjoy or try in January in order to start off the year well? January’s the month where I like to hibernate, so which films do I want to watch, which books do I want to read, which recipes do I want to try cooking?

6. Longer term – what big plans do I have for the year, work wise, health wise, financially, personally, emotionally? However big or however long I think they might take to fulfil, I write it all down. I’m a big believer in being clear on your goals and what you want to achieve, and writing it down. For more help on this, see my vision boards guide here: How to create a vision board.

So there we go, a few tips on taking the time to reflect, reassess and plan. I hope these tips inspire you.

If you realise you need help in making this year different, I’ve recently launched my 1-hour Get Unstuck! coaching calls. Designed to get you taking action straight away, after a 1-hour call with me. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com to arrange.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Career change – how to pick one thing and get started?

Something I often see with people who want to change their career, is that they’ve got a few vague ideas about what to do next, but they can’t see through the haze and just pick one.

How do you know which is the right one?

“What if I spend lots of time researching and going down one route, only to find it’s not right for me and I’ve wasted time? How do I decide which path to take? Why can’t someone just tell me what to do?!”

Pick one

The solution is – pick one. Just pick one and try it out. Stop procrastinating, stop wasting time. The only way to stop dithering is to take some action. Get some real insight and experience and you’ll know if it’s right for you.

You might have quite a list of possible options, from the safe and practical to the wildly exciting and (for now) completely out of reach. 

But most people will only have around 1-3 things they’re really seriously contemplating. 

Maybe your options are:

1) Stay put and go for a promotion. I’m stagnating in this role. Maybe more money and responsibility is what I need? Maybe I’ll love it? Or at least if I’m earning more and have a better job title I’ll feel better about my life?

2) Find a job in another company. Maybe my current role is actually ok, it’s just my company that I don’t like? If I were doing the same role in a really cool company, where I actually share the same values, maybe that’d be a good change?

3) Retrain as (fill in the blank). My secret dream. I think I’d love to do this, but it seems so out of reach. I’d need to do at least a year’s training. And the cost of the course will be loads…And I’m not sure I’m really confident enough to go for it, what if I’m no good? 

3 month rule

So the first step is, pick one and give yourself three months to gather information and start taking action. Ignore the other ideas for the time being. Don’t procrastinate around picking the first one, just pick the one that leaps out to you the most today.

Side note – by the way, this doesn’t mean that I think you can or should change career in 3 months. Of course it’s possible, but it took me waaaay longer, from the first moment I thought about changing. But 3 months is a good amount of time to get stuck into your project and a lot can be achieved.

Next, write a list of all the little goals you’d need to achieve to get there. Write down everything. First steps, like find out HR manager name, find LinkedIn account login, Google search where you could do a course in your area. Make each step small and achievable. Keep going through to the final goal – receive promotion letter and accept it. Receive job offer and accept it. First day of course!

Now put some time frames on your list – realistically how soon can you achieve each goal? Make it achievable but push yourself too, try and take a small action daily if possible.

Then, you are going to methodically work through your list, ticking things off as you go. You can add to it when you realise there’s a missing step – but DON’T add to the list just to procrastinate. Keep really focussed on achieving your goal.

Reassess

When it gets to the three month mark, you can reassess. Where have you got to after three months of research and (crucially) taking action? Have you achieved your goal? (Whoo!) Have you realised it’s not for you? Are you feeling uninspired by what you’ve found out?

Don’t worry if you’ve realised it’s not for you – this is good news! Because you can scratch this idea from your big list. Now you’ve got headspace to concentrate on the other two. You’re getting closer to working out what you really want to do.

Maybe in this time you’ve had a realisation, and are on a different path anyway.

The whole point of this process is to get you taking action. The number one cause of all my frustration and angst before going through my career change was thinking and worrying so much, rather than taking some kind of action.

As soon as I took things into my own hands and started doing, taking serious steps to change things, it all became a lot easier and more exciting.

Speaking of taking action, I’ve recently launched my 1-hour Get Unstuck! coaching calls. Designed to get you taking action straight away, after a 1-hour call with me. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com to arrange.

Photo by Stephanie Harvey on Unsplash