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.

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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

Being the good girl vs. risk taking

I’ve always been the good girl. At school I was the perfect student, never getting into any trouble. I think I got told off for talking just the once, and that was because a friend had asked me something. That’s it. That’s as bad as it gets. No acting up, no risk taking.

I didn’t have a rebellious streak. As a typical moody adolescent the worst that happened was me coming home later than expected – from my best friend’s house down the road. All very innocent. I think that happened just the once. Really. 

School, university, early jobs, I always did what was expected, completed things on time, got on with everyone. I was reliable, studious, I did what I was told. 

Choose yourself

As I’ve gotten older I’ve developed more of a rebellious streak. I think it started with leaving a job I’d had for 10 years. After years of doing my best, complying to the job, fitting myself in, I’d had enough. Of being the perfect employee, moving up the ranks, playing the game, working in an environment that didn’t suit me. 

I know how it feels to feel trapped, like an imposter, frustrated with yourself and with your life. Doing a job you once loved, and that now just doesn’t feel good.    

I now know what it takes to choose yourself, to let out your rebellious side. To take risks. To go with your heart.

Take a risk

At one point during my years of moaning about wanting to leave that job, my cousin said to me,  “just leave”. What?! Impossible. You can’t just leave a job like that. And I don’t know what I really want to do! Where would I go? 

But she was right. It’s a choice to stay stuck in a job you hate. It’s a choice. You can stay or you can go. The easy option is to stay, as much as you dislike it, because it’s what you know. It’s familiar. Those feelings of frustration and powerlessness become normal. Despairing at your life – happens every day.

However, to make that choice, and choose yourself and what you really want to do? Now that’s an amazing feeling. To decide what’s best for you, and you only. To finally bring out your rebellious side, and go against the norm. 

Yes have a back up. Make sure you have savings. Have a plan B. Maybe don’t quit your job without having another lined up like I did. But do realise that you can take a risk.

It’s exciting – life – it’s a game. You don’t have to do what’s expected of you.

***

If you’d like to have a coaching session with me, I’ve recently launched 1-hour Get Unstuck! calls. Designed to get you taking action straight away. And breaking through whatever’s stopping you from getting where you want to be. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com to arrange.

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Does your dream feel impossible?

The problem

A former client from my advertising days wrote to me recently, wondering how I’d made the leap from advertising to what I do now. She explained that she’s unhappy with the situation she’s in at the moment, still working in advertising. She’d moved to Madrid 3 years ago with a sparkly new job. But it isn’t working out the way she wanted. What she really wants now is to return to her native Italy, to Rome, with a good job.

But as far as she’s concerned, that’s an impossible dream. 

I found it interesting that she describes her dream as impossible. From my point of view it’s a relatively straightforward wish. Find a new job, hand in your notice, book flights, find somewhere new to live…

If we look into it a bit more closely: there’s no visa issue or reason she can’t physically return to her country. Flights aren’t expensive and it’s not a great distance to have to travel. So nothing is stopping her from giving notice on her flat and job, packing up her stuff, and getting on a flight. Finding a new place to rent (or buy) can be a faff but there’s always a solution, even if it’s temporary until you’re more settled.

So what else needs to be seriously considered? Work.

Is it likely she’ll find a job in Rome, or a way of working from there? I’m not too sure what the job market’s like but with her intelligence and experience, getting a job is surely possible. Will it be exactly what she wants, right from the start? Not necessarily, it may be a case of finding something to pay the bills and then making a switch when a new opportunity arises.

She’ll have a big network of contacts by now who could be invaluable in helping her find something. Even if the job market in Rome is limited, could getting a job with a company based in Milan and working remotely be a possibility, being close enough to visit when necessary? Could she do her current job remotely from Rome, or side step into a role that would allow it? All within the realm of possibility.

The reality

There’s a saying by Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t-you’re right.”

If you believe that something is impossible, it probably will be impossible, because you won’t even try to do it. 

You’ll spend your time torturing yourself, wishing for something with all your heart but take absolutely no action to try and do it. Because you believe it won’t happen.

Many people feel as though their dream is impossible. The reality is probably that it would take time, effort, logistics, mindset, guts, focus, determination and maybe a bit of luck.

However, if you can accept this, and start working towards your goal nonetheless, it should be possible. It might take more time than you’d like. It might require a lot of effort and persistence. But if it’s really want you want, more than anything, surely it’s worth it?

The solution

The number one stumbling block is going to be your mindset, and that needs to be dealt with. Working hard to rid yourself of the belief that your dream can’t happen. And doing everything to persuade yourself it’s possible.

You need to find other people who have done the same or similar (erm – hello?). Search online, ask your network of contacts. Surely someone out there has moved from one big city to another, maybe even from Madrid to Rome, and found a decent job in the process. If they’ve done it, so can you. You might have different circumstances, but it’s possible. 

Sometimes you have to let go of expectations, and be willing to be open and put in the work. It sounds cheesy, but I think you have to work to make your dream happen. It can be done.

Got a big dream that seems impossible? What’s the first small step you can take to make it seem more real?

If you’d like to chat with me about coaching (and maybe make a plan to get out of that job you’re really not loving), get in touch at joaopoku@gmail.com.

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