Freedom

Isn’t it funny the smallest things we are all missing right now – quarantined in our homes due to the coronavirus. Now that most of our freedom has been whisked away from us.

I’m sure a lot of people are thinking of what amazing trip they are going to take when things are back to normal (or as close to normal is it’s going to get). 

But so many people are simply dreaming of having a great coffee in a cosy cafe. A beer in the sun. A trip to the hairdresser. Meandering in the supermarket buying whatever they want, browsing in a bookshop, a walk with loved ones. 

It’s helping us to focus on the small delights we all usually have in our day to day lives, that sometimes we appreciate, and sometimes we don’t, and take for granted. 

I’ve never before realised just how much freedom I have in my normal life.

Small delights

There’s nothing like having to stay inside my flat for going on 3 weeks (with only trips to the supermarket allowed), to marvel at the fact that in normal life I live 5 minutes from the most incredible park, and that I can go there WHENEVER I WANT TO. To walk, to run, to picnic, to people-watch, to play, to think, to slow down.

I’m free to get up and go anywhere I want – to the park, to a cafe, to the shops, to another city, to another country. 

My body is healthy and able – I can literally do any movement I want. Any sport, any dance, any walk, whenever, wherever.

I have so many friends nearby who would be delighted to meet me for a coffee, a chat, a walk, to do nothing, to try something new. Friends who know and love me, and who I love spending time with.

I have so many friends back in the UK and around the world, who care for me, who think of me, who cheer me up, who I know so so well. Before, I had the freedom to go and visit them whenever I wanted. 

My family may live in another country, but in normal life I can go and visit them ANY TIME. Just book a flight and go. I’ll always be welcomed, there will also be a bed for me and one of my Dad’s meals. Hugs and laughter and love.

Normal life

In my normal life I’m free to go to the beach. To get in a car and whizz off to visit a new town or do a hike. Free to see a beautiful exhibition. To go to the cinema. Free to eat out anywhere in town. Browse in a bookshop and treat myself to something new. Free to invite friends over for dinner.

As the ability to do such humdrum things as going to the supermarket or going for a long walk have become limited or prohibited, now in retrospect they seem so carefree, such a treat.

My life is made up of so many small and big delights. Reading back over this, I have an immense appreciation for my normal life. I have such freedom. 

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Career change – what happened before the leap?

I thought I’d write a little bit about my own career change and what the situation was before I made the leap into something new.

It feels strange trying to carry on as usual with the world in turmoil. People may still want to change career – but it probably feels as though it has to be put on hold, everyone’s panicking, no one is hiring. Even if this isn’t 100% the case.

People looking to change career, as always, and maybe more than ever, still need inspiration, advice, ideas, comfort; perhaps above all, comfort. To know that things will get better, and possibly even better than before.

Before the leap

So here’s a little insight into my own career change, what I was going through before deciding to take a leap. Maybe you’ll recognise some of what I’m saying, how I was feeling. Perhaps you can relate to it. Even just knowing someone else felt like you do right now, can help

Beginnings

When I started working for my previous company as an advertising assistant, I was happy. Unpacking magazines, writing letters to clients, emailing or calling our international teams around the world, being organised. Looking through our magazines to see if clients’ had been featured. Dealing with art copy that came in. 

That was enough for me. I enjoyed it. Sorting out the magazine cupboard. Looking at magazines all day. I was part of a nice small team of 4, a small office space. It was fun.

But as time wore on, eventually I ‘had’ to move into sales (if I wanted to progress at all), and takeovers were agreed, redundancies made.

I moved into a big open-plan office, with a bigger team, a noisy boss. Part of a much bigger company. That wasn’t for me. That wasn’t what I’d signed up for.

Things changed, teams changed, I gained more responsibility. Bigger clients, bigger magazines brands, bigger budgets, bigger targets. And I developed less interest.

But you’re so lucky!

I’d tell myself I was lucky, this is great, you get to go out and meet fashion clients, take them to lunch in swanky restaurants, speak to international contacts, win a deal.

But behind all that was a feeling of being a fraud. I felt that I didn’t really know what I was talking about, I didn’t really know the industry that well. The talk always seemed superficial; I wasn’t speaking from the heart. 

I’d be so nervous before meetings. ‘What will I say? How will they be, will they ask me about something and I won’t have the answer? Am I saying the right things? Am I actually trying to get the business?’

Day out in London

I once spent the day with a lovely French colleague, over to meet with clients and talk about the magazine she represented. We had a nice time, she did all the talking, we got to go to lovely hotels and restaurants to meet clients. We travelled all over London by taxi, she’d bought me a present from Paris.

As I closed the taxi door and waved her off in Kensington, I turned to walk to the tube and tears came pouring out. I felt exhausted. What was wrong with me? I’d had a good day with a lovely colleague, full of little luxuries, and I was upset?

But my nerves, feelings of inauthenticity, of stress, were all coming out. This was not how I wanted to spend my days. And what made it worse was that I knew I was totally spoiled and ungrateful. Work’s work right? And this would be a ridiculously luxurious day for so many people.

But feeling like a fake, meeting with and speaking to lots of new people, rushing around having meetings all day, being out and about in busy old London wasn’t for me. What suits me better is hiding behind a computer, with a couple of nice colleagues around.

Work out what’s right for you now

It took time, but I realised that I didn’t want to work for some big corporation, in a big open plan office. The world of media and advertising and fashion and magazines wasn’t for me anymore. I didn’t want to have to try to convince clients to advertise in our magazines. I didn’t care. It felt inauthentic because I truly didn’t care. I hated the briefs, which all felt the same, and valueless. I didn’t understand the language. It sounded like BS.

And, importantly, I realised that I didn’t have to. The job you’ve had for the past 2, 5, or 10 years doesn’t have to be your job for life, not anymore. It takes time, it takes work figuring out what you want.

So if any of this rings a bell or resonates with you, remember it’s ok to realise your career isn’t right for you. You’re not going to do your best work if it’s not in an environment that suits you, for a company that has different values to you. It’s ok to realise a few years in that things have changed and that you want out. It may on paper be a great job, for a great company. But it’s not great for you.

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

Photo by Nong Vang 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?

***

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

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.

Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

Add joy to your life

For a few years now I’ve been deliberating whether or not to buy fairy lights to brighten up my flat in the winter time, to bring joy and make it a little festive. I’ve never bought a Christmas tree, I’ve never been that fussed about having my own one. Christmas is always with my parents or sister and I’m happy to enjoy other peoples’ decorations.

But until recently I had a little strip of starry fairy lights I’d got free from a Scandinavian magazine. Each year come November I’d set them along one length of the sitting room. They’d bring a beautiful cosy glow to the room. One day they stopped working, and I never replaced them.

Each following year I’d deliberate, is it worth it, is it an environmentally friendly choice, do I really need them…(ever played this fun game?!). And each year I’d decide: no. Then this year, in a new flat in Spain, I suddenly realised it seemed so sad without a little pep to the long dark evenings. I LOVE feeling cosy (who doesn’t?), especially at this time of year when I just want to hibernate. Surely I can treat myself to a little joy in a very simple way?

So I did it.

I bought one set of lights with little stars, and one classic. I’ve draped them over a high cabinet on one side of my flat, and my bookshelf on the other. And they’ve bought a little bit of magic to my home. Suddenly it’s cosy and sparkly, and festive. I actually woke up this morning EXCITED to turn them on. And I know that when I get home tonight it will be with a thrill that I turn them on. Then I’ll settle down to some TV, lighting candles for extra hygge good measure. 

My message to you is: what simple thing can you treat yourself to, to add a little bit of joy to your life? It doesn’t have to be expensive or cost anything.

Is it a week of trying out delicious warming recipes from a beautiful cookbook? (Jamie Oliver Veg and Anna Jones A Modern Way to Eat are my current faves).

Is it changing your morning routine slightly so that you have time to read in bed first thing with a cup of tea or coffee? I think one of the joys of dark rainy mornings and evenings is the excuse to sit in bed for a bit and read. (Click here to download my free morning routine guide). 

Whatever it is, do something that feels like a little present to yourself, to light up your days and the dark nights.

You might also like this post I wrote: Delight.

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

Photo by Evelin Horvath on Unsplash