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

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Breathe

It’s mindfulness week at the coworking space I use. Every day a coach is holding short sessions on meditation, nutrition and time management amongst other things. Yesterday I went to the first session, where the coach asked us to do a simple thing: breathe.

A small group of us sat there in a circle, a little awkward, expectant.

After explaining to us what our brains are up to when we feel stressed, the coach put on some calming music and asked us to close our eyes.

She told us to breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 2, breathe out for a count of 6.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath in and a deep breath out.

I realised how tense my back and neck felt. How my mind had been buzzing. It felt as though I’d been holding my breathe. I felt anything but calm and relaxed.

I also realised that I was on the verge of tears.

Gradually I relaxed into it, and it felt so calming to listen the music, quietly sit and concentrate on something as simple as breathing.

Looking back over the morning, I saw that I’d been running on auto-pilot.

I’d been in a state of high-alert, rushing to write an email before the session, and stressed by all things Monday. I’d been off to the gym first thing, rushing back to shower and change, then rushing to work. All the emails and work for the week crashing down on top of me.

I’d even had a brief chat about the busyness of Monday mornings to a friend in the kitchen about an hour beforehand – but hadn’t thought to step back and actually take a break, sit for a few minutes and breath and close my eyes.

As the coach said, we feel as though we need to be go go go to be productive, but it’s not the case. The more breaks we take the more productive we can be.

I know this. I know that I need breaks. But I’m aware that my breaks usually consist of ‘doing’. Switching to read an interesting article, or something in Spanish, or to check messages. Once in a while listening to a podcast or walking round the block.

But sometimes what I really need is to find a quiet space, close my eyes, breath in and out. Really switch off.

It’s fine and even great to have periods of hyper-productivity, firing on all cylinders, getting stuff done. But when you’ve had a whole day of buzzing – that sounds a little like living off stress to me. When you can’t slow done, you jump from one thing to another, the adrenalin’s pumping. Frantic.

It’s not sustainable and at some point you’re probably going to crash. And that’s really not productive.

So if you’re reading this, do yourself a favour. Close your eyes. Breathe in slowly for a count of 4, hold for a count of 2, breath out for a count of 6. Repeat. Notice how your body feels. Notice how your mind feels. Better?

To book a coaching session with me, focusing on mindset and making positive changes in your life or career, email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Lee Jeffs on Unsplash

Why you shouldn’t use a life coach

If you are thinking about working with a life coach but aren’t sure if it’s what you need, or if this is the right time, this is for you.

I spoke to someone recently about coaching. She was considering whether or not coaching would be a good idea.

She had left a really good job working for a big corporation around 6 or 7 years ago, pregnant with her first child, and ready to stay at home to look after her baby.

Since then, having had two children in total, the youngest has now started school, and she’s seriously considering what to do next. She wants to do something, she’s just not sure what. She’s totally overwhelmed, totally blocked, and feeling stuck. She’s lost her confidence, and she feels lost.

We decided that working together wasn’t the right thing for her, for now. Why?

Because coaching isn’t what she needs right now. 

She has issues with self-esteem, of self-worth. She’s not yet ready to move forward. She knows that there are things from her past that have affected her, that are holding her back. Things that have been lying dormant for years. Things she has to deal with.

What she needs is counselling or therapy. Uncovering things from her past to find a way to move forward in the future. 

Coaching is about looking forwards.

And coaching is not about looking back, working out why something happened and why it affected you. It’s not about events that took place during your childhood or adolescence.

It’s also not about someone giving you all the answers, telling you what to do, giving you a fool-proof step-by-step guide to sorting out your life.

Coaching is about looking forwards, planning and taking action. And the ideas all come from YOU. A coach helps you to unearth ideas, passions, opportunities and the next step that’s right for you.

You’re ready.

You’re ready to work with a life coach when you’re determined and excited to make changes. Maybe you feel nervous, apprehensive, scared. You might be stressed, burnt out, worried. You might not be sure exactly in which direction you want to head.

But you know that you have to do something to help yourself move forwards. Maybe there’s a little glimpse of excitement when you dare to imagine yourself in a different situation.

And you are ready to do the work. 

You are ready to ask for help, to share what’s going on, and to be open to new ideas. You’re ready to really examine what you want from life, and how you can go about getting there. You need support and someone to push you along.

You’re willing to move out of your comfort zone, knowing that in doing so you’ll make big leaps towards something new

You’ve got to be all in, ready to put lots into it and take action.

Are you ready? Sounds like you? Contact me at joaopoku@gmail.com and we’ll have a chat about coaching and what you hope to achieve.

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.

Photo by Victor on Unsplash

Progress not perfection

I’ve learned a new mantra which has become a guiding light recently. Progress not perfection.

The focus is on making progress, taking action, taking the next small step…and totally forgetting about doing things perfectly. Adequate, fine, done. I love it.

Even if your end result isn’t perfect – you’ve got yourself past that horrible stage of wondering, procrastinating, staying stuck. When you wait until you’re 100% sure what you’re doing or what the outcome will be. If you get stuck in this way of thinking, you never make any progress.

Let go of perfection.

However, if you let go of perfection, you give yourself space. Even if what you do is a bit crappy, you’ve broken through.

If you’ve always tried to do things perfectly, or you set yourself really high standards, it can seem counter intuitive.

But you’ve got to remember what’s more important, just getting it done, or not doing it at all.

You can let out your rebellious, slacker side. It’s not perfect, but it’s done. Next.

Trying to do everything.

The thing is, when you try and do everything in your life perfectly, you create a huge amount of stress. I see it in myself, I see it in my friends, I see it in my clients.

Trying to do everything perfectly is setting yourself up to fail or burnout. Having the perfect job. Doing your work perfectly, being the perfect partner. Being the perfect friend, trying to look perfect. Always putting other people first.

From my experience (I know there will be exceptions), the guys I know don’t seem to carry this perfectionism around with them so much. I feel they don’t worry about being the perfect friend, they just see their friends when they can. Remembering other people’s birthdays or anniversaries and buying the perfect card and present are not up there on the to-do list. Writing the beautiful thank-you card doesn’t happen.

I know that’s a big generalisation. But my main point is, I think it’s something to be admired. So I try to adopt more of this mentality. Progress not perfection. Letting some things happen imperfectly. Letting some stuff slip.

In short, focus on the important stuff, and just get it done. What do you think? Are you stuck, always trying to do things perfectly? Where can you cut yourself some slack?

If you’d like to try a life coaching session with me, email me at: joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Andreas Dress on Unsplash