This will change your world. Period.

One day, when I was living in Paris, a friend and I made a discovery. It turned out we both had one day every single month when we would feel sad and cry for no apparent reason. We figured out that it was always the day before our period. It was quite the revelation. This ‘sad day’ wasn’t out of the blue, it was regular as clockwork. And it was all due to hormones.

But somehow I managed to forget all about this discovery. Every month would come round. I’d have a day or two feeling really sad, blue, wondering what was wrong with me. And then the next day I’d get the answer, oh yes, I was due my period.

I loosely kept track of when my period should come. I’d note in my diary a star on the first day of my period and a question mark on the day 25 days late. Even so, I would without fail forget about the ‘sad day’.

A hormone tracker changed her world

The first time I properly considered how my menstrual cycle affects me was only a year or two ago when I read an article. The journalist had just discovered a free hormone app tracker, and it changed her world.

A very brief summary is that we have four stages of our menstrual cycle. Our hormones are doing different things during each stage. These hormones affect our mood, appetite, energy levels, desire for socialising (along with other things going on in our lives, of course).

Rising oestrogen in week one (the first day of your period and the days following) gives you a surge of positivity and good feelings (having felt fairly crap during week 4). Week 2, as oestrogen continues to rise, you’re likely to feel more upbeat, confident and resilient. Week 3 you’ll probably be feeling quite mellow and sleepy (due to rising progesterone), and week 4 it’s likely you’ll feel irritated, a bit blue, generally p*ssed off at the world as oestrogen is now dropping. (I’d advise you to read up on this, I’m no scientist).

It was amazing to finally understand why some weeks I feel confident, full of energy and good vibes, wanting to socialise every night. Then other weeks I can’t bear to be around too many other people, wanting to cancel all social engagements and just lie on the sofa watching tv.

Amongst other things it also affects productivity; some weeks I’m super motivated and on a roll, others my pep is limited.

We should cut ourselves some slack

The reason I’m sharing this is so that you can learn to cut yourself some slack. We women are good at giving ourselves a hard time. Those days when there is lots to do. Your to-do list is infinite, but you’re low on energy. You just want to sleep, you’re irritated, you’re crabby, you’re uninspired – there’s a reason. It’s probably because your hormones are doing their thing (and let’s not forget diet, sleep, exercise, personal issues etc etc all play a part too).

Give yourself a break. Sooner or later the week of your cycle will come around where you’re positive, full of energy, a can-do attitude and great ideas.

If you’re going through a career change or looking to make changes in other areas of your life, it can be tough to stay motivated and focused. There are lots of emotional issues going on. There’s quite possibly a lot of negative chatter, your brain’s way of keeping you safe and within your comfort zone. And then on top of that your mood, confidence and energy are all affected by your hormones.

Plan ahead

My advice is to read up a little on hormones, or download one of the many free hormone tracker apps out there. Build your awareness. You’ll start to figure out which week’s great for networking, contacting people, charging ahead with your plans. And which week is a good time for reflection and slowing down. You can start to make plans with this knowledge in mind.

Even with what I’ve learned, I still have to remind myself all this on a weekly or even daily basis. It’s easy to forget. Sometimes you’re feeling the way you feel, simply because of…hormones.

If you’d like to try life coaching with me, send me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Jealous Weekends on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

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

 

Yes, things can change

I wanted to write a post to help anyone out there feeling as though nothing about their situation is ever going to change. You’re wondering if this is it, if this is the best you can do. You feel as though you’re stuck in a rut. You can’t imagine achieving all those things you want to, they feel too big, too far away.

I felt like that for a long time. For years everything was ok, pretty good even overall all things considered. But there were some areas of my life I was really quite unhappy with. And the feeling of being stuck, paralysed, scared, grew and grew.

I just found a post in my journal from three years ago. Here are some of my big 5-year goals from that year.

5 -Year Goals
  • Publish a book about living in Spain, and do a talk/interview about it
  • Complete a life coaching qualification
  • Set up a coaching business
  • Meet a foreign boyfriend
  • Do art as a hobby, maybe illustration
  • Dance often – learn to salsa well
  • Live in a beautiful, sunny apartment
  • Be close to my nieces and family
  • Save money each month
  • Have a great social life – meals out, cinema, dancing
  • Blog about coaching related things
  • Blog about life in Spain
  • Move to Spain
  • Take a road trip in the US
And you know how many of those things I’ve achieved?

Well, I’ve yet to take the US road trip and it’s still very much on the list. I decided to concentrate on the coaching side of blogging rather than writing about life in Spain. I haven’t yet published a book. But everything else on that list, I achieved. There’s been a lot of change.

When I wrote this list, this was all a total dream. I was in a transition period, I’d recently left a decade long career and started a new job, and was still restless. This wasn’t where I wanted to be. Living in London, not content with my social life, my love life, my finances. I’d started wondering if living in Spain could be a reality.

Three years on I can’t believe how simple it seems, in retrospect, to get what you want. However, as you go through it it doesn’t feel simple at all. There are lots of ups and downs, lots of firsts, lots of getting out of your comfort zone and wondering what the hell you are doing.

But really, it’s a matter of writing down what you want, being honest with yourself, listening to your heart (or gut). Then doing everything you can to get there.

I had to inspire myself, motivate myself, and take action.

Once you clarify what you want – staying absolutely true to yourself and forgetting about what other people think or want for you – then it’s a matter of holding onto your dream, staying excited and taking one small step at a time.

I formulated a plan for moving to Spain – read here.

I built up to starting a coaching business – read here.

I focussed on what I really wanted – read here.

Time and time again I put myself out of my comfort zone – read here.

All one step at a time, over a three year period. It takes time but it’s worth it.

If you’d like to speak to me about my life coaching sessions, email me here: joaopoku@gmail.com

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

When one big decision leads to the next

 

I listened to a podcast the other day (Mary Portas’s ‘Work Like a Woman’, interviewing Elizabeth Day) where at one point they talked about how making a decision and taking a big risk can lead to realising your own strength, growing resilience and therefore being more willing to take more risks.

The conversation resonated with me. It’s so true.

It took a huge amount of nerve to leave my corporate job a few years back. I seemed to be going against common knowledge or advice, leaving a good, well paid job, with plenty of benefits like swanky lunches with clients and insider invites to fashion sales.

But I went with my gut, did what I knew was right for me, and left.

It was a big risk. I spent the next few months veering between terror and liberation. One minute nervous about money and what I’d do next. The next super excited at being able to choose the direction I wanted my life to move in.

I was consciously deciding to take control. That felt amazing, like a superpower. I realised I could actually make decisions for myself, about my life, rather than just go along some conveyor belt of ‘what you’re supposed to do’. It was a revelation.

And it was a feeling I didn’t forget. After a few months of taking on a new job which I loved and which allowed me to work remotely, I realised I still felt unsettled. There was a nagging feeling that something didn’t feel right.

That was when I acknowledged the secret desire I’d been keeping pushed down for years, that I wanted to live abroad again.

I saw my opportunity. I was working from wherever I wanted, home, my parents’ house, a cafe…surely I could do the same job from another country, as long as I had wifi and could travel back from time to time?

It was a really scary thought – leaving my flat, my family and friends, my city, my routine…for the unknown. But deep down I knew that I wanted it. And as I’d already recently made one big scary life changing decision, I just knew that I could do it again, and do it successfully.

Because I’d survived the unknown before. I’d prepared myself sufficiently and it had worked out really well. Again I prepared myself for the worst that could happen. The worst would be that it all went terribly wrong in Spain, and I’d come back to the UK and live with my parents until I sorted myself out again.

Way back when I was thinking about leaving my previous job, I’d started on a journey of designing the kind of life I wanted to live. I knew that sometimes you have to follow your heart, follow the excitement, be prepared for risks and discomfort. This was the next step. And I was flexing my big decision making muscle once again.

***

Got a big decision to make? What next small step can you take to help make that decision? Is it writing a list? Talking to someone? Doing some research?

If you need help in planning your next steps in making a big life changing decision (or in making less dramatic, more low-key changes) contact me for some coaching sessions. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com. I would love to help.

Photo by Lubo Minar on Unsplash

Not feeling motivated?

 

It’s really difficult when you want to leave your place of work, but you don’t feel motivated to search for something new.

You’re not happy there, you don’t enjoy it, it doesn’t feel like a good fit. Perhaps the company has different values to you, or you don’t like the atmosphere or energy there. It may be that the role isn’t what you expected,  it’s less interesting or varied than you thought it would be. You feel your skills aren’t being used, you feel the work isn’t of value. You’re not helping anyone.

You’re desperate to leave, to find something exciting and of value and better paid.

You just can’t seem to feel motivated enough to take action and move on.

You feel depleted. Lacking in energy, tired, stressed, overwhelmed, miserable. The last thing you want to do  in your free time is search through depressing job ads, work on your cv, write cover letters that won’t get a response.

All you really want to do is sit on your sofa in comfy clothes, with comfort food (preferably cheesy or chocolatey) and zone out.

You want to forget about your day, forget about the mundanity and the disappointment. You want relief, you want comfort, you want entertainment. And for a brief moment your attention is taken, you’ve forgotten.

But then you wake up the next day, and you repeat the cycle. You drag yourself to work feeling miserable, beating yourself up for being in this situation you don’t seem able to get out of. Why are you wasting your days like this? What are you doing with your life? Is this is it? Are you stuck forever? Why can’t you get out? Why are you sabotaging your progress?

Because it’s easy

I’ll tell you why, it’s because that’s the easy option. Not doing anything is easy. Wallowing in self pity is easy. Ignoring the problem is easy. Carrying on in the safety of your little bubble, miserable as it is, is easy. Meeting friends for a drink and moaning about your job or your boss or your team is easy. It’s comforting. It’s cathartic. But it’s not helping you.

1. So what can I do?

You have to get motivated. This means summoning up the energy take the next step. Finding a way to focus on what you want, and how great that’s going to feel when you get it.

It helps to visualise what you want, where you see yourself. You can dream. Try imagining how things could be better. You have to find a way to reframe your perspective so that you start seeing things in a positive light.

Because if you’re down in the dumps, miserable, seeing everything in your life as rubbish, you won’t be able to see opportunities and act on them. Everything will seem too much and pointless. Nothing will seem worth the effort. Everything will seem too hard.

If you can start to view things positively, your energy changes. No your situation isn’t perfect, yes you’re feeling crap. But, this CAN change. Change is on the horizon. There are opportunities. There is another way you could be feeling. You can and will get there.

2. And then the crucial part

You have to take action. Consistently. You have to break down this enormous, scary, hideous obstacle that is finding a new job.

You have to make it easy for yourself. By getting all options and possibilities down on a piece of paper. Really thinking hard about what you want.

  • Big or small company, or freelance or creating something yourself. What values will the company stand for? And what values will the employees hold dear?
  • What kind of people do you want to work with? How big would you want your team to be? Do you want to work on your own? What kind of work space, office, studio, outdoors? How close to home?
  • How much money do you want? What are the limits?
  • What do you actually want to be doing? At a computer or out at meetings? Out in the world meeting people? Presenting? Talking? Observing? Creating? Travelling? How would you like to spend the majority of your day?
  • Is it sat at your desk, with a peaceful environment, radio on, a few colleagues around, drinking tea as you work. Would you prefer running around town meeting people, forming relationships? Do you dream of getting your head down distraction free?
I think the key is to be as specific as you can about what you want, so you’ve got a clear idea, but then try to remain flexible about what’s actually out there.

It could be that you find something that has only a few of the key elements your looking for, and that’s enough. Something that you never might have imagined could actually fit the bill.

Once you’re clearer on what you want, and you can summon up some excitement about how your life could be, looking for something new becomes more manageable.

When I was in this position I found it really helpful to talk to friends, or friends of friends, who seemed to enjoy their jobs. What was it they enjoyed? What was it about their company or role that was great?  It opened up my eyes to the fact that there are so many jobs and companies out there. It is possible to like your job, you can switch and do something slightly different. There are opportunities out there.

It gave me hope. And hope is something you need right now. You have to believe you’ll move on. You never know what conversation you’ll have when someone will make a suggestion: speak to this person, check out this website, have you heard about x? And that sets you off on a different path. You realise there is interesting stuff going on out there. Stuff you could be involved with.

You really never know what’s round the corner. And the most important thing is getting yourself out of that helpless mindset, into a mindset that is open, curious, ready to take action.

What next step are you going to take? Pick something super small and achievable. Do it. Then plan the next step.

If you’d like to book a coaching session with me to help you in taking action, email me here: joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash