Find what works for you

I love to read stuff about doing things in your own way. Weeding out and selecting and finding what works for you, and you only. 

It’s so easy to consume other people’s opinions. Someone tells you they did something a certain way, and that if you do exactly the same it’ll work out for you too. 

Another person giving their opinion based on what they’ve heard other people saying over the years.

Then there’s collective thinking. Things we see in the media or online, things it seems everyone knows; what constitutes a good job, a successful relationship, the only way to live a good life.

Thing is, there’s always an exception to the rule. 

I read a piece by writer Ruby Tandoh about quitting. Generally we’re advised not to quit things. It’s seen as failure, as being lazy, as giving up, as not putting enough effort in.

Her take on it is – there’s amazing liberation to be found in quitting when you feel like it. You have a choice, and you can make it. You can quit something that isn’t working for you, that isn’t feeling good.

(Obviously this is dependant on circumstance, and being in a privileged position in the first place). 

Only later in life does the penny slowly drop and you realise that quitting isn’t just about wimping out or a can’t-be-bothered attitude. It’s about taking control of the situations, people and relationships that can forge – or damage – the meandering path of your life.

Ruby Tandoh article in WePresent

I loved hearing a different take on quitting. I quit my job four years ago. I’d stayed for years believing you could only leave a job when you had another great one sorted. Ideally with a pay rise. That thinking kept me stuck for years.

Because I had no idea what my next step would be. And as it wasn’t clear, and I didn’t know how to go about exploring what was out there, I just stayed put.

When I finally did leap – with savings, some potential freelance work and temp work on the cards, a bed at my parents should things get desperate – it felt like the best thing I’d ever done. 

The only thing more thrilling than quitting something is starting something new. In the vacuum that quitting creates, countless new maybes rush in.

Ruby Tandoh article in WePresent

It felt like the first time I’d really made a big decision for myself, that I was actually taking control of my life, and the direction in which it would go. 

I read a ton of books beforehand about career change, finding your passion, going freelance, being an entrepreneur. I’d read enough to convince me that I could be one of those people. That it is possible to quit a job and not only survive, but maybe go on to bigger and better things. 

I’m not necessarily suggesting you quit your job, it’s not a decision to take lightly. But I’m saying that you have to work things out your way, find what works for you.

Take on advice, take on different ideas about how to do things, and try them out for yourself. Keep what works, chuck anything that doesn’t.

Make decisions based on you and your life, not solely on what others think.

If you’d like to try a coaching session with me, send me a message on LinkedIn or at joaopoku@gmail.com for more info and details.

Written during Writers’ Hour. Join me on the next one.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Don’t feel bad about wanting to change career.

If you want to change your job or career right now, you might be feeling bad about it.

You might be feeling guilty.

You’ve at least got a job and a salary, even if you’re not enjoying it. So many people are currently without work or with an uncertain work future, or are just doing whatever work they can to survive.

Maybe you should just keep your head down, do the work, stop moaning.

Don’t ignore the feelings

I do think it’s really important to appreciate what you’ve got. And if you’ve got a job and money coming in, that’s a massive sense of security. 

But – don’t ignore those feelings. If you’re feeling frustrated, or underused, or that you’re directing your time and energy in something meaningless to you – that’s a big deal. No matter what else is going on in the world, how you feel day to day is important. 

How you spend your time is important – it’s everything. And if it’s not being spent on doing things benefitting you or others in a way that feels good to you, that’s going to have an effect. You could be channelling your time in a much more meaningful direction. 

You’re going to be of more use to the world doing good work, offering support, donating, campaigning, giving your time; if you’re feeling good. If you enjoy your work, and you’re working towards something, and earning money for it, you’re much freer. 

Feeling guilty, procrastinating, and doing nothing isn’t the way forward. And it’s not helping anyone.

Make a plan

Instead, give yourself time and work out a plan. Start educating yourself on what interests you the most, what’s most meaningful to you, what suits you best. Where would you really like to be applying your experience, knowledge, skills and time?

Start investigating options, and discovering what’s out there for you. It doesn’t always have to be a massive about-turn, doing a new qualification or needing a ton of experience.

Sometimes it’s simply a shift, transferring your skills and experience to something slightly different. There might be an area you’d not ever really considered working in before, you didn’t really know it was an option, that right now, is just right for you.

If you’re in the privileged position to have a choice – use it. And don’t feel bad.

If you’d like to try a coaching session with me, send me a message on LinkedIn or at joaopoku@gmail.com for more info and details.

Written during Writers’ Hour. Join me on the next one.

Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash

How to be sure your next step in career change is the right decision?

I have a client who is stuck. Let’s call her Maria. Maria needs help. She wants to ensure she’s making the right decision about her future.

Maria returned to the UK after living in Australia for a year or so, working as a personal PA. She spent the past few years doing jobs that haven’t challenged her or helped her learn or grow. As she puts it, she’s ready to do something which is going to force her to use her brain.

Maria thinks she knows what her next step will be, to do a four year part-time course in nutrition. But she’s questioning herself, wondering if this is just a whim. Is this the right decision? Is she interested enough? Will it be a viable career? Can she make money as a nutritionist? Does she want to spend the next few years studying, what about money?

Break it down and build a realistic picture

When you are in a situation like this, it’s good to break down all your questions and worries and do as much research as possible. It’s the same process whether it’s a course, a job offer, starting up a business on your own. The aim is to build a more realistic picture of what this will look and feel like, and then make the right decision based on what you discover. 

For example you might be worried about the future, wondering how easy it would be to get a job with your new qualification. Nothing is certain, but you can get a clearer idea. See if the course leader can put you in touch with past students and find out what they are up to now. 

This way you can find out what’s realistic. Research jobs that appeal and are a viable next step; working as a nutritionist, working in the food production industry, perhaps writing articles for a food and wellness magazine. Get as full a picture as possible on what different opportunities there may be, and what appeals to you.

The best way to deal with a difficult decision is to be as informed as possible.

So if the course content is a worry, again, arrange to talk to the course leader and find out more detail. What exactly will you be studying each week, each term? Will it cover everything you want to know? Will there be content on setting up your own business – if that’s a route you’re interested in? How many hours of study will you do per week? How much extra reading will you need to do?  

Does what you find out seem interesting and exciting, or dull and off-putting?

And if money is worrying you – what can you do about it? Could you do a part-time job alongside studying, how would that fit in? Would that support you? Would you have the time? Do you need to save up first?

You’ll be better equipped to make a decision once you’ve carefully considered all of the above, and you’ve written notes and ideas and plans. And it’s important to listen to yourself. Are you drawn towards this course, this imagined life? Are you full of energy thinking about it, are you excited? Or are you withdrawing, feeling uneasy, feeling trapped? 

There is no certainty, but once you’ve put as much research into your decision as possible it will help.

If you’d like to work with me on some coaching sessions, find me on LinkedIn and send me a message, or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Written during Writers’ Hour. Join me on the next one.

Photo by Han Lahandoe on Unsplash

Start already

Ever have those days when you want to make something happen – write something, start a creative project, start a job search, but you’re paralysed? You just can’t get started? You’re unsure, lacking confidence, you just don’t know where to start?

I heard something recently which helps put these feelings into perspective. It’s a reminder that anyone out there that’s ever created something you’ve admired, had to start somewhere. And most likely they felt as nervous and unsure and lacking in confidence as you do now.

Imagine the day when this creative person started that one thing you so admire. A film, a book, a painting, a tv show. That very first day when they sat down with a notebook or laptop. Imagine how they were feeling? 

Bursting with energy, enthusiasm, confidence, bright ideas? Maybe. But perhaps they also felt unsure, nervous, unprepared, out of their depth. Maybe this was one attempt following many ‘failed’ attempts before. Perhaps this was totally new to them, a leap from their normal day-to-day work. It’s possible they felt as insecure and scared as you do.

It could be that there were a million other things they could be doing – leaving this idea for another day, when they felt more ‘ready’.

And if you had the opportunity to go back in time and speak to them, chances are you’d urge them to do the work. 

If they hadn’t prioritised their work, it wouldn’t have got done. And you wouldn’t have had the chance to be moved, inspired, or delighted by it.

The point of this is – prioritise your creative stuff. That thing you have a real yearning to do, or really need to do, but you don’t feel ready? Just start. Make it important, make it a priority, dedicate time to it, even just a little bit every day. Everyone has doubts when they start. But it’s the only way stuff gets done.

If you’d like to have a life coaching session with me, sign up here on LinkedIn. Or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Written during Writers’ Hour. Join me on the next one

Photo by serjan midili on Unsplash

Is this the right time for a career change? Dealing with uncertainty.

At the moment there is a lot of fear and uncertainty around the coronavirus and how it will affect us all. Lots of people are worried about their jobs, paying mortgages and bills, home schooling, older parents and family.

If you’ve already started considering a career change, you might wonder if now is really the time. There’s too much uncertainty. Surely no one is hiring or interviewing, the economy is taking a big hit, isn’t this a pointless task?

I watched an interesting video on dealing with career change during a difficult time, with so much uncertainty. The host made a really important point that stood out to me – “now is the time to channel fearful energy into proactive energy”.

Here’s how.

I talk a lot about a few different things that really helped me with my career change. Amongst them are reading inspiring and practical books, blogs, and interviews around career change. About interesting people and how they life their lives. And also listening to podcasts, around the same subjects.

But time is quite often an issue with career change. We feel as though we’re too busy to think about something so big. We don’t have the headspace to really explore by reading widely and looking for inspiration, and writing down our dreams and thoughts.

Well now, a lot of us are working from home and not commuting. Or staying in in the evenings and weekends rather than carrying on with our busy social lives. So it’s a great opportunity to make use of the extra time. And channel that fearful energy into proactive energy.

For once, we have time.

Career change requires a lot of thinking time, exploring what you really want from your career right now. Maybe your ideas or values have changed in the past few years. Maybe you’ve started on a trajectory that really isn’t right for you any more. It’s time to get clear on what your next move will be, whenever the time’s right. 

Use books, online activities, talks, articles and blogposts to find some of your answers. Work out what inspires you, what kind of lifestyle you want to lead, how do you want to spend your time? Who is out there doing things that interest you, or is someone that you admire? How did they do it? What is their life philosophy? What can you learn?

It’s also a great opportunity to do online courses and learn something new. It could be something that could help you in your next job, new skills or a new awareness of an industry. It could simply be learning something that interests you and makes you happy. There are lots of free or inexpensive courses out there – many hosted by well-known, inspiring people.

Staying stuck is the worst – whatever is going on in the world. Taking action, in whatever small way, really helps. Channel that fearful energy into something productive.

And if you’d have a life coaching session with me, sign up here on LinkedIn. Or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash