Trouble Networking?

What do you do when you know you need to get out there – networking, contacting people, asking for help, meeting people – but you’re too scared? It can be a real issue when you’re trying to change career but are overwhelmed at the thought of all the people you’re going to have to contact.

Case study

I had a client who struggled with networking, Andrea. She didn’t have loads of friends, she found socialising tricky, and her confidence was low. She was well aware that her mindset could be quite negative.

Andrea’s dream was to work for a start-up, and write articles about entrepreneurship on the side. The thought of having to get in touch with people who she knew could help with her career change, was crippling her.

She’d have to apply for jobs. She could try to speak to people in the start-up industry who could give her some pointers or advise her about opportunities, maybe ask them for a phone chat or to meet for a coffee. In terms of the articles, she needed people to interview. She would have to make the first move in getting them involved.

Building up to it

Andrea knew that being more comfortable contacting people would be a massive step for her. It was important to her being able to move forwards.

So together we agreed that building up to networking was going to be challenging. But it would help both in progressing career wise and in building her confidence.

Breaking it down

But Andrea had lots of excuses! There was always a reason why she couldn’t do something, always a barrier. So we broke it down. What would doing each task actually look like, how could she prepare? Could she prepare questions, set a time limit on how long the call or coffee would be? Maybe it would help to create a list of contacts and tick them off one by one? We had a think about what was the worst that would happen, was it someone saying ‘no’? Could she cope with that?

Once we’d broken things down into small, easy steps, and prepared for the worst case scenario, Andrea felt calmer about networking. Slowly she followed the steps we’d set out, and things became easier for her. She realised how great it felt having a positive interaction, and saw that people responded well to her.

Do it your way

Andrea is coming on in leaps and bounds. She goes for things and doesn’t feel the same fear around contacting people for help. She made it into the start- up world by starting her own online travel advisory company on the side of her day-to-day job. She’s also completed various courses including and incubator training programme to learn more about the industry she’s interested in.

Networking doesn’t have to be roaming around ‘events’ desperately finding people to talk to. It can be about focusing on what you need, slowly and quietly doing things in your own way. And getting the results you need.

If you’d like to some coaching sessions with me, contact me at joaopoku@gmail.com or here on LinkedIn.

Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash

Real life career change case study – from London NGO to remote work in Paris.

Kate had reached a point where she was really unhappy with her work, her social life, her living set-up. Everything just felt wrong and not suited to her. She needed a career change.

She felt that she had no control over her life and had somehow ended up in a situation that wasn’t making her happy.

She’s a really big-hearted person, who wants to help with terrible things going on in the world. 

Office life

Kate had recently started working for an NGO and working with disadvantaged school kids on the side. She wasn’t sure about the NGO work. Part of the issue was the set-up, she really didn’t like the tiring commute, being in the office and at her desk all day, and sticking to formal 9-5 working hours.

Kate loved working with the kids, and wanted to do more, but there didn’t seem to be many opportunities for full-time decently paid work.

Dream life in Paris

She lived in someone else’s house in a nice part of London, but craved her own space and independence. She had dreamed of living in Paris for years, and spent her free time studying French and watching films.

Kate had some career change coaching sessions with me, and at the start she felt lost. She had a vague idea of what she wanted but it all seemed so out of reach and unlikely. She was overwhelmed by the task ahead. But she was intent on finding something that really sat with her values and her lifestyle. 

She got specific

Over the weeks we narrowed down what she really wanted; what kind of work, working environment, hours, working space, pay, non work stuff, living situation. We weighed up what was feasible, and felt good, felt exciting. And we worked out a plan that would get her there. She thought out each step, different things she could try, with me prompting or questioning her. 

She’d have to do some pretty tough things, like asking her boss for an honest conversation, applying for a job abroad, consider finding accommodation abroad and all the admin that comes with that…but she’d started to see that it was just a series of steps, which she was capable of completing.

Part-time in Paris

And a year on, she’s working for the NGO part-time, remotely, from her new home in Paris. She’s also working with French business students part-time, and loving it.

It’s amazing that what had once been such a faraway dream is now her reality.

If you’d like my help with your career change, email me at joaopoku@gmail.com or contact me via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/joannaopoku/.

Photo by Sebastian Brennes on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Nine Köpfer 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

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.