This Year Will Be Different

This year will be different‘. How many times have you told yourself this? On New Year’s Day? Your birthday? On your work anniversary? On a random rainy Tuesday morning as you’re bleakly staring out the bus window on your way to work (the last place you want to be heading towards)? 

This is the year where I work out what on earth it is I want to do. The year I finally get a job I’m great at and that I enjoy. This is the year I stop doing what everyone else thinks I should be doing, and I go for what I’ve secretly been yearning to do.

This week I read an email sent by someone I’ve admired for a long time now, called Monika. She’s the author of a book called This Year Will Be Different. It’s a book I read at a time when I was desperate for change.

She’d written an email to thank the people who’d helped her when she got started as a freelancer. A few key people had taken a chance on her, given her advice, or seen something in her. These people had changed the way she thought and they supported her way of working. 

I wanted things to change

I got a bit misty-eyed reading it. Because her books have had a big, positive influence on me and inspired me so much. When I read This Year Will Be Different it was exactly what I needed at the time. I wanted things to change and I didn’t want a repeat of the previous year, and the years before that.

In This Year Will Be Different Monika interviewed women who were doing interesting work, living unconventional lifestyles. Freelancers, women with portfolio careers (doing a few different jobs), designers, travelling translators. They talked about personal branding, finances, working for themselves, their life philosophy. 

You can’t be what you can’t see

That was far from my reality, working for a big corporation, shlepping into an office every day, doing work I didn’t care about. I’d vaguely dreamed of having this kind of lifestyle, feeling freedom, having a portfolio career, travelling, working for myself. Not going to an office.

Reading this book was a massive dose of inspiration. Hearing these women’s stories lifted me. I saw that you can choose to work and live in a way that really suits you. They had worked out what they enjoyed doing and were being paid to do it. They all had lifestyles that suited them. If they could do it, why couldn’t I? Why can’t you?

There’s a saying – you can’t be what you can’t see. It’s important to find your own inspiration. Examples of people who are working and living in a way that excites you and inspires you and makes you feel happy.

I hope you find something that touches you in the same way, and inspires you to make the changes you want.

If you liked this post, I’ve written more about surrounding yourself with inspiration here: The One Habit.

If you’d like to find out about life coaching sessions with me, email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

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Best 6 books to help with career change

  1. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

    Reading this book, for the first time in my life I started to consider a life where you don’t have to put up with being chained to a desk doing work you don’t want to do.

    I was going through a particularly bad patch in my previous job, in around 2007. At this time, my favourite running joke with a friend on my team was that I was digging an escape tunnel under my desk, à la The Shawshank Redemption.

    Just about every lunch break I’d go for a walk, feeling desperate, head to the nearby Waterstone’s bookshop on Oxford Street, and scan through the books to somehow try to find answers to the questions I had whirling around in my head. What am I doing with my life? Why do I feel miserable? What can I do to make it better? The title jumped off the shelf at me.

    I’d pop in again and again to read a bit more each day. One day I finally made the purchase – one of the best decisions I’ve made. I still refer to this book, a decade later.

    Tim was one of the first to write about ‘lifestyle design’, shunning the typical idea of working 9-5 in an office doing a job you don’t like and waiting until you retire to do all the fun stuff you dream of – and instead finding ways to incorporate these things (learning, travel, adventure, entrepreneurship) into your present day.

    How did it help me?

    It inspired me to dream of a life where I’m not wishing my time away until my next holiday, where I decide what I want to do, how I want to live my life, and then find a way to make that a reality. To not put off dreams until later in life, dreams such as living abroad and learning a new language. I’d previously lived in France, and promised myself that I’d live abroad again, one day. See what happened here.

    Tim has written several other books, all great, but this is definitely my favourite. He also has an amazing podcast, the Tim Ferriss Show, where he interviews seriously impressive guests (Tony Robbins, Richard Branson, Seth Godin) about their ‘tactics, tools and routines’ for being mega successful – I’m obsessed.

  2. How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie

    King of self-help, Dale Carnegie, wrote back in the 40s and 50s about implementing small habits and behaviours that improve your life. As someone who had always considered myself ‘a worrier’, this is a book I looked to for reassurance. (I found it on my parent’s bookshelf one day.) Perfect title! It was exactly what I needed at the time, constantly worrying about what I was doing with my life and not knowing what to do about it.

    In this book Dale teaches us how to face worry head on, providing different techniques for handling it. For example focussing on today’s actions rather than worrying about tomorrow’s; analysing your worry by getting all your facts together about a situation, writing them down, then analysing them impartially, coming up with several solutions, and then making a clear decision and taking action.

    How did it help me?

    Amongst many other tips he gave me the realisation that your optimum state should be to be as relaxed and calm as a sleeping kitten. Feeling tired, tense, and anxious, is a habit. Relaxing is a habit.

    Imagine picking up a sleeping kitten, they’re all soft and floppy. Like a crumpled sock. That’s how your body should feel. Soft, relaxed, calm. First reading this at a time when my back and neck were constantly tense and uncomfortable due to feeling stressed and sitting at a computer screen all day, this was a revelation. And something I try to remember.

  3. Be Your Own Life Coach by Fiona Harrold

    I also found this book on a bookshelf at my Mum and Dad’s, I still have no idea how it got there. The cover is kind of cheesy. But I love it. It’s full of little pink post-it notes highlighting the pages I like to refer to.

    Fiona starts off talking about not going through your life with regrets, about doing the things you dream of. She talks about how your beliefs and outlook effect the rest of your life, and you need to make subtle shifts in your thinking if you want to make changes. It’s all about creating your ideal life, and building your confidence to make it happen.

    Fiona encourages you to take control of your life, don’t put up with a so-so life, strive for more. It’s as though you have this person to hold your hand saying, “You can do this. You are absolutely equipped to deal with anything that comes your way.”

    How did it help me?

    It’s a really reassuring read, with case studies showing how people have transformed their lives by learning to follow their intuition, believe in themselves, and give something new a try. It encouraged me to stop making excuses and aim to live the life I want. The focus on building self-reliance and self-worth is inspiring, especially as someone who had lost confidence in my abilities.

  4. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

    This is one of those books I’d pick up in the library when I was feeling totally lost and needed all the help and reassurance I could get.

    It’s all about taking action to get rid of the feeling of fear, rather than letting it fester and grow. Everyone’s scared of different things, all the time, and that’s not going to change. But you can practise facing the fear, doing whatever it is you are scared of that is stopping you from living your life as you want to.

    It’s like building a muscle, the more often you face your fears, the easier it gets. You get used to getting out of your comfort zone, and dealing with whatever comes your way. 

    How did it help me?

    The stand-out point for me is on tackling indecision and paralysis. When making a decision, you can take path A or path B – both are the best path to take. You’ll never be able to 100% predict the outcome. Deliberating, hesitating, over-analysing and not making a decision, all comes down to fear, and stopping yourself from taking action.

    Take path A and great things can happen. Take B and great things can happen. There is no wrong decision. Even if the path you take doesn’t pan out as you had hoped, you can correct your path as you go.

  5.  Working Identity by Herminia Ibarra

    I read this book around the time I left my previous job. The book focuses on the commonalities will all have in career change.

    You will go through a potentially tricky transition period. Read more about it here.

    You don’t have to immediately move on to the job you’ll have for the rest of your life. Take the pressure off.

    Test the next thing out, staying open-minded. It’s all part of the process.

    You’re shedding the skin of your previous work identity, maybe you’ll have to shed another one before you find something that fits.

    How did it help me?

    It was comforting reading about high achieving MBA types and rather than feeling inferior, taking comfort that we’re all the same, we all go through the same issues.

    Herminia’s words are encouraging; if you change career there will be a transitional period, it won’t always be smooth, but if you can accept that and just keep moving forwards, you’ll do ok.

  6. This Year Will Be Different by Monika Kanokova

    I read this book a few months after I had left my job of 10 years and was figuring out what I wanted to do next. One thing I knew was that I wanted to work differently. I didn’t want to work in a corporate environment or in a big office anymore. And  I wanted to do work I was actually interested in.

    I love this book as it’s basically a series of case studies where the author interviews interesting women who are doing interesting work, mainly freelance or have started their own businesses.

    The ones that really caught my eye were location independent. As someone who loves languages and has lived abroad before, I found this book so inspiring, reading about women from around the world, living where they want, finding a way in which to work to support this.

    To read the details of how someone makes this kind of lifestyle work for them was truly inspiring. And surprise surprise, my work is now location independent, working either from home, a co-work space, cafes or at my parent’s when I’m back to the UK visiting.

    How did it help me?

    Reading about people who are living their lives in a way that interested me was an eye-opener. Having spent my whole working life up until then working in offices, this opened up a world of different possibilities.

    I started to imagine myself doing something similar. From there, I started to figure out how I could do the same, and look out for opportunities which would allow me to live in this way. Seeing what is possible is the first step.

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    I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post. Please share with someone you think could do with some book recommendations!

    If you’d like my help, book in a coaching session with me here: Contact Me

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Favourite books on Career Change & Improving Your Life

I love to read. In reading I find answers, solutions, escape, inspiration, adventure, solace…

I think that reading was probably the main thing that helped me through my career transition. Well, reading, and then taking action. I turned to books for answers to the many questions I had. When I was feeling desperate, I’d wander around bookshops in my lunch break, dipping into any that caught my eye. They always seemed to be books to do with stress, being busy, feeling overwhelmed, how to be happy, how to change career, how to find your passion.

There are a few books I got my hands on that particularly resonated with me and had significant impact on the next stage of my life. They’re listed below, as a source of inspiration if you too are looking for some answers (or at least words of comfort or advice).

I’ve also included books I’ve read more recently on mindset, confidence and being yourself.

You can read a post which goes into a bit more detail on these books, here: Best 6 books to help with career change

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Books on career change & deciding how you want to live your life

What Colour is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles

The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

This Year Will Be Different by Monika Kanokova

Working Identity by Herminia Ibarra

The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

Can We Live Here by Sarah Alderson

Books on mindset: confidence, facing fear and taking action

Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie

Unlimited Power and Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Lucky B*tch and Get R*ch Lucky B*tch by Denise Duffield-Thomas

Be Your Own Life Coach by Fiona Harrold

F**k It by John C. Park

The Chimp Paradox by Prof. Steve Peters

Books on being yourself, being bold, being creative

Quiet by Susan Cain

Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso

How To Be A Girl by Caitlin Moran

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

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The One Habit That’s Going to Change Your Mindset, Improve Your Confidence and Make You Take Action

(Hint, the new habit? It’s listening to podcasts and reading books. We’ll get there in a bit. First, here’s the background.)

The New Normal

Over the past few years, surrounding myself with people who think in a certain way has totally changed my mindset and has been massively beneficial. Because of this I now believe I’m a person who can live an exciting, interesting, adventurous life.

I can leave a job I don’t enjoy.

I can move to live in another country.

I can set up my own business.

If other people out there can do it, why the hell can’t I? Whereas once before I wouldn’t have had the confidence to think like that, this kind of thinking has become ‘normal’ for me. My goals and dreams are totally doable and achievable.

And if I look back at the me from a few years ago, I realise how far I have come.

Hiding Away

At that point I was severely lacking in confidence. I didn’t know where I wanted my life to go (other than a consistent longing to fling myself from an office window- more with the desire to fly far far away than to land with a splat).

I was in a job I didn’t enjoy and hadn’t enjoyed for years. I felt trapped, lost, stuck, frustrated. I was meandering, aimless – I wasn’t yearning for a promotion or to become my boss, there was no appeal there whatsoever. I just wanted to hide away.

The prospect of a potential huge new project or important client would appear and I’d feel a sinking feeling, I didn’t want to deal with it and I didn’t feel equipped to deal with it, despite having worked in the industry for a decade! It seems incredible now but that’s how I felt.

Now things have changed. I’m much better at making decisions about what I want to do, and how I want to live my life, and going for it.

Deciding what I want, having the balls to ask for what I want, and making it happen. To have the confidence and boldness to go for it. It’s as though I’m building this decision-making muscle, which was lying dormant for many years.

The New Habit

I honestly can’t stress enough how important reading books and blogs and listening to podcasts has been in changing my mindset and building my confidence. Read more about this here.

Reading, listening and absorbing.

They say you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Well, through books and podcasts, I’ve been surrounding myself with people who are living bold lives, on their terms. Find out who here and here.

People who are passionate, confident, who admit to taking risks and making mistakes, but who have the drive to make it work.

People who have great, interesting lives, who haven’t let themselves be held back (by themselves).

People who didn’t know it all before starting out, who still don’t know it all, and have just learned along the way.

People who have found their own voice and are brave enough to be heard.

Sometimes I’m surprised to hear that these people are my age or younger. And they seem so self-assured and confident! But sometimes they say things which are kind of obvious. Or even a bit silly.

And I love it, because then I remember that they are just like everyone else, we ALL have the same fears and worries – there are just those who deal with them, and move forwards, and those who hold themselves back.

Taking action is key

I was listening to a James Altucher podcast yesterday and he said something I had to make a note of:

“The only way to get out of your comfort zone is to do something out of your comfort zone, not read something about getting out of your comfort zone.”

Taking action is key. It’s one thing to absorb all this information, and feel great and dream, and think big. But, you’re only going to progress if you actually start taking action for yourself.

Over to you

Think about someone you find inspiring or interesting. Have they written any books? Are there any autobiographies or biographies about them?  Do they have a website, articles, blog? Have they been interviewed for a radio show or podcast? Are there interview clips of them on YouTube? Have they done a TED Talk? Is it someone you know, or could make contact with? Could you invite them for a coffee?

Read about them, listen to them, find out about their life and see what you can learn from them. Then Take Action. What is it about them that lights you up? What have they done that you can you try or replicate? Can you channel their positive spirit? Build your tenacity? Adopt their work ethic? Try some of their daily habits? Incorporate some of their tactics in your daily work?

Please share with someone you think might enjoy reading this.

If you’d like to work with me, book in a coaching session with me here: Contact Me

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A Podcast Saved My Day

So, I was having a bad day…

Sometimes you read or hear something just at the right time and it feels like a mysterious sign. A while back I was having a bad day. Up until that point, my transition to moving to Spain has been fairly straightforward (forgetting the momentary panic of uncertainty around being able to rent out my flat).

But that day I had a general feeling of eurgh. Having left my London flat, I was staying with my parents before making the move to Spain. I had a day off work, I didn’t know what to do with myself, I felt restless, I felt tired, I was feeling sensitive. I started letting in all those horrible negative thoughts desperate to creep in. Thoughts such as “am I going to be lonely in Valencia, what if I feel like this, what if I’m aimless and listless and friendless, arghhhhhhh!”

…but a podcast changed everything

Thankfully I’ve figured out the best remedy whenever I’m feeling crappy, and that’s to take myself off for a walk and listen to a podcast. It was a lovely sunny Spring afternoon, and I ended up walking alongside the river. Before long I was feeling much more myself and my mood had lifted. Partly due to the walking in the sun, partly because I was listening to a podcast which particularly resonated with me that day (episode no. 120 of She Percolates).

The hosts were discussing the book Rising Strong by social scientist Brené Brown, and the idea of ‘Day Two’. ‘Day Two’ is the point between having (metaphorically) closed one door behind you (Day One), and being on a path somewhere new (Day Three). For example, you’ve left a job (Day One) and at some point you’ll start a new job (Day Three), but you’re right in that inbetween stage. On ‘Day Two’ it’s all a bit murky and you’re not quite sure where you’re heading. You’re feeling unsettled, unsure and above all, UNCOMFORTABLE.

Day two, or whatever that middle space is for your own process, is when you’re “in the dark” – the door has closed behind you. You’re too far in to turn around and not close enough to the end to see the light.” Brené Brown

 

Hearing the hosts talk about their experience of ‘Day Two’ really hit home as that was exactly how I was feeling that day, not quite here nor there. I was listening to someone who was sharing my experience, albeit talking about the ‘murky time’ in their business rather than a move to Spain. It made me feel better. A real ah-ha moment. And it reminded me that I’ve been through ‘Day Two’ before, and I came out of it just fine.

The transition period

When I first left my job in advertising, I went through a 6-month period thinking “what am I doing?” At the time, reading a book called Working Identity by Herminia Ibarra helped me through. She describes her version of ‘Day Two’, “Allow yourself a transition period in which it is ok to oscillate between holding on and letting go.” She talks about experimenting and trying on ‘possible selves’ as a way to progress through career change, staying fluid and open to opportunities.

For example you’re thinking of leaving your job. You’re experimenting with a side project, or you’re studying or training in something new. Or perhaps you’ve left a job, and recently started a new one. You haven’t quite reached the next stage yet, where you feel like you’ve got a bit of an idea what you’re doing. You’re not sure if it’s going to work out, and it all feels very strange. You’re not sure where this will take you.

Reading Working Identity, it was a real comfort to know that this is a transition lots of other people go through, the feeling won’t last forever and it’s just part of the process. Herminia includes case studies on people who seem really accomplished and successful, and rather than this being intimidating, I found solace in the fact that they too struggled. It helps to realise this, and puts things into perspective.

My own transition

Throughout my transition period I tried out several different roles: translator, teaching assistant, tutor, and I completed a teaching qualification. I’d thought about which areas of work interested me – education, languages, literature, and found ways to sample working in these areas. These experiences helped me to shed the skin of my previous role, something I’ve come to realise can take a long time. It increased my awareness of what else is out there and different ways in which I could use my skills and experience. When I saw my current role advertised I was in a much more open state of mind, and ready to try something new. Read more here.

What I learned from listening to this podcast:

1. I’m not the only one going through a difficult transition period. Most people will experience something similar at some point, even those you consider to be mega-successful. It’s just a process and it won’t last forever.

2. Don’t always expect to move from A to B smoothly, easily, with no bumps in the road. Things will come up, but you’ll deal with them and move on.

3. Going through ‘Day Two’ is learning process, you will come out of it clearer on where you want to go or who you want to be, and even though it may take time, you will make it through.

As for my move to Spain, there were more bumps in the road, that’s life, but I’ve kept moving forward step by step, and it’s been totally worth it!

Pass it on

I hope this post helps anyone out there feeling like this today – remember it’s just a period of transition and this feeling will not last forever! Please share with someone you think might appreciate reading this.

If you’d like my help, book in a coaching session with me here: Contact Me

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