Smiling at strangers. Why should we get out of our comfort zone?

Smiling at strangers. It’s sometimes used as an initiation exercise to practise getting out of your comfort zone. 

Walking along, randomly smiling at strangers. Potentially looking like a bit of a weirdo.

It’s the first step in doing something that might make you feel uncomfortable, nervous, out of your depth. 

Getting out of your comfort zone

It’s widely considered that ‘getting out of your comfort zone’ is one of the best ways to grow as a person.

If you keep on doing what you know, things that are easy and feel safe and certain, then you aren’t taking risks, and opening yourself up to new experiences. Therefore, you’re not going to do much growing.

You aren’t building your confidence by succeeding in doing things you’ve never done before, or never dreamed you could do. 

You aren’t proactively looking to change yourself for the better.

It’s daunting and cringey

Back to smiling at strangers. Some people would really struggle with it, and would find it daunting and cringey. Why would you smile at a stranger? Won’t they think I’m a bit mad? Or want something from them? Or – shock horror – about to talk to them?! Even worse, what if they then strike up a conversation?

Have a focus

It’s really hard to force yourself to do something you don’t particularly want to do. But – if you can see the benefit, and where this action might lead you, it makes it easier. You now have a focus.

You’re not just doing it for the sake of it, you’re doing it because you know you need to change. You need to shake things up a bit. You can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing, as you’re not happy with the result.

It could be that long-term you want to be better at networking. Maybe you wish you didn’t care so much what other people think.

Stand-up comedy?

I find smiling at strangers easy, I do it all the time. I’m a smiley person. But for me, being out of my comfort zone looks like public speaking, live TV, performing. Stand-up comedy? Not in a million years. 

I actually have no desire to be on TV or perform. But I’d like to not have that irrational fear of public speaking, the few times I need to do it. And I’d like to care less what other people think.

So – I sometimes have to present to groups of people, which pushes me back out of my comfort zone. I regularly give webinars, which sometimes still makes me anxious.

Caring less what others think

And I’m currently more active on social media, (well, LinkedIn), and experimenting with writing posts and video. Partly as a way to connect with more people about my coaching business and the things that are important to me. Partly as a way to care less what others think, to worry less about expressing my own opinion in public.

How about you? What do you find tricky that you know will help you long-term if you can get more comfortable doing it? What would be pushing you out of your comfort zone?

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

Photo by Jonathan Daniels on Unsplash

12 Things I wish I’d known about career change

Over many years, I learned all of these things and it led me to a brilliant career change. If I’d known them before, maybe I wouldn’t have spent years making the change. Perhaps these career change tips will help you with your career change.

1. So many other people are going through the same thing or have gone through it. You’re not the only one, and you’re not a loser or a failure if things aren’t working out. 

2. Working in sales can be really different company to company, and it doesn’t always have to be about cold-calling and the hard sell. It can be more consultative. 

Also, in sales, you have to believe in the product and care about helping the clients. Otherwise it’s always going to feel inauthentic.

Learn from others

3. You can learn from those who have gone through it. Try what they tried. Refine what appeals to you and what doesn’t. Speak to people, find examples online and in books. Remind yourself that if they can do it, so can you.

4. Go to talks about career change or simply about interesting people doing interesting things. It will inspire you to do interesting things with your life. 

5. Recruitment consultants will most likely try to put you in exactly the same role in another company. They probably don’t care about whether or not your values align with that of the company. It’s up to you to work out what sort of company you want to work for.

And that means looking at what sort of environment you want to be in, what sort of people you want for colleagues, what’s the culture, what’s important to the company? Are you interested in what they are aiming for? Does it sit well with you?

Get to know yourself

6. You really need to take time to get to know yourself, assess where you are right now in your life. Find activities online or in books to help you with this.

What are you most interested in, how do you actually like to spend your time at work? Identify what you enjoy in your day-to-day and what you don’t. How do you like to work, always on the go or slow and peaceful? What do you want to feel proud of doing? 

7. Remember that you can change industry or company, and do something different. Your skills are transferable. There are way more opportunities out there for you than you realise. You have to seek them out, speak to people, stay open.

Separate from your current ‘work identity’

8. A job title, status, working for a well-known company, aren’t the most important things, for you. Separate yourself from your current ‘work identity’. You’ll still be you doing something else.

9. There will be a transition period. You’ll enjoy the freedom. 

10. Career change can be really exciting. You’ll feel rebellious, free, so pleased that you are taking control rather than following everyone else and suffering. 

11. Change can be really, really good, and lead to other great things.

12. Getting out of your comfort zone is scary but also can be thrilling and confidence building.

If you’d like some coaching sessions with me, check out my LinkedIn profile and message me there: www.linkedin.com/in/joannaopoku. Or email me at joaopou@gmail.com.

Photo by Georgie Cobbs 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.

2 Ways to Build Confidence for Career Change

 

It’s been said that the three major things to hinder career change are time, money and confidence.

Today I’m going to focus on confidence. A big one.

My story

Prior to my own career change, my confidence levels were not high.

I’d lost confidence in my abilities at work. I would see other people in the office on the phone, or in client meetings, chatting so confidently and seemingly at ease. Whilst I was a bundle of nerves.

It affected my mindset. I didn’t enjoy the work, I was intimidated by it, and I had no real desire to do it. There was this mixture of apathy and fear. Not a good combination.

So as much as I wanted to make a change and find work that really spoke to me, I couldn’t see clearly what I had to offer. I’d been at that job for so long that it was hard to recognise my abilities out of that context.

As I associated my abilities with that specific role, I didn’t really want to think about them. Sales, negotiating – I’d had enough and it was like I’d hit a brick wall.

But I spoke to a coach who helped me to see things objectively, not an easy task when you are feeling so emotional. However she helped me distinguish between whether or not I enjoyed using those skills in that context, and whether or not I was actually in possession of those skills and could apply them elsewhere.

Tip 1 – rethink what you’re good at

If you’re struggling with your confidence,  I’d recommend doing this with a coach, a good friend or someone in your family. Sit together and come up with a list of all the skills you use in your work. Do you have to communicate clearly, negotiate, give presentations, write concisely?

Also add a list of the things you feel you are good at, whether in or out of work. Are you super organised, brilliant at coming up with ideas, able to connect with other people easily?

Then objectively, together, evaluate these skills. Score yourself out of 10. Particularly pinpoint those you don’t feel confident about, or that you’re sick of. Take out the emotion. As much as you may not enjoy it – you probably actually use this skill really effectively, and have a huge amount of experience in using it. Try to back your score up with examples. Maybe imagine how you’d view the situation if it were a colleague in your place.

You might surprise yourself.

The main aim here is to realise that you have many skills and talents that can be put to excellent use elsewhere.

Tip 2 – read about inspiring people

Prior to, during, and after my career change, I also read a lot of books that I picked directly to help me with my confidence levels, such as Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. Over time, these books reinforced the message that I could do whatever it was that I wanted. I just had to get started.

I read so many books and articles from impressive women who had done brilliant things. They said that the only difference between them and anyone else was that they chose to go ahead and get on with things. These women weren’t necessarily more talented, creative or intelligent. They all had the distinguishing feature of just getting their heads down and step-by-step working towards accomplishing what they wanted.

Find inspiration

I found articles and blogposts about other women who had gone through a career change. There were stories similar to my own. Seeing that these women had moved on and were now doing work that they enjoyed or even loved, inspired me.

Gradually it helped change my mindset. I realised that I do have loads to offer, and actually more opportunities than most; I was just getting in the way of moving myself on, by giving in to fear.

Bit by bit I developed a more positive, brave, explorative mindset. I learned about putting yourself out of your comfort zone, how it can be excruciating but the more you do it, the more you develop resilience. So often I felt uncomfortable, unsure and awkward. I accepted that part of the process to moving on is to feel this way.

Bonus – read these books
Here are some of the books that helped with developing confidence and made me excited to find my own path. Maybe they will inspire you too:
  • Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
  • You’re a Badass by Jen Sincero
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
  • Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
  • Be Your Own Life Coach by Fiona Harrold
  • Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas
  • Are We There Yet? by Sarah Alderson
  • This Year Will Be Different – Monika Kanokova

I hope you find these tips useful if you’re letting confidence hold you back. You can build it back up.

If you’d like to try a coaching session with me, working on building your confidence, send me an email at: joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

 

Is this really failure?

 

I listened to someone talking about career change yesterday and she mentioned that up until recently it was considered by some as failing.

In my own personal experience, there’s some truth there.

You got the job or started the career, it’s a good job, decent money, nice colleagues, a few benefits.

And then a few years down the line you realise it’s really not for you.

You believe you’re not good at the job. It feels as though you’re not doing well. You don’t have any passion or even any interest in it anymore. Of course that’s a failure. You’re failing. You’re no longer achieving.

I felt like that. I did feel an element of failure, wanting to leave my job of 10 years, the job I’d so loved at the start. If everyone else is happy getting on with it and doing well, why can’t I?

But the thing is of course, staying in a job you don’t like (were you do have the option of leaving) is the failing part. Failing to listen to yourself, failing to be bold enough to live the life you know you really want.

Which is most likely doing a job you enjoy, a job which means something to you.

Listening to others and sticking out a job you dislike for fear of what other people think is failing.

Letting yourself stay miserable and unfulfilled and desperate out of fear of making a change is failing.

The notion of a job for life is on its way out

Things are changing, the notion of staying in a job for life is quite rare now. Lots of people successfully change careers not just once, but two, three times or more. Some of us out there have a ‘multi-hyphenate’ career – combining a mixture of jobs/side projects/collaborations – whatever we need to do to stay fulfilled and bring in some money.

If you want to change career but you’re looking at it as a failure of some sort, I’d say rethink things. What’s the real failure. Can you imagine yourself doing your job in another 1, 5, 10 years? Would you like to do your manager’s job, or director’s job, or CEO’s job? Do you even want to stay in your industry in the future?

If the answer to these questions is ‘no’, maybe it’s time to be true to yourself, and start the process of moving on.

Start by figuring out a few areas of work that interest you, that make you come alive when you allow yourself to dream. Find out more – research, talk to people in that world.

Start making a plan to find a way to test out this new area, step-by-step. Set aside 20 minutes a week to write if you want to be a writer, to translate if you want to be a translator. Take a half-day of leave and job shadow someone. One Saturday morning a week work for free to test out another area.

Look at changing jobs as exploring, experimenting, leading an adventurous life

It doesn’t have to be drastic, it doesn’t have to put you in danger of losing your home and stability. Look at it as learning about yourself, and improving your life. About being brave and bold.

If you’d like to try life coaching with me, to help work out your next steps and start taking action to improve your life, send me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash