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

 

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

 

 

Are you boring your friends?

 

It can be hard when you want to change career. You know you’re going to have to shake things up. Your routine, what you know, what lies ahead, is all going to change. And that can be a really scary thought. We all like safety, comfort, routine. It helps us feel safe and in control.

You’re on your own

So you’re dealing with all these thoughts and worries, all on your own, in your head. Maybe if you’re lucky you have friends and family who are good listeners. But still – you feel there’s only so often you can repeat the same worries, fears, dreams.

Should I leave my job? Can I really do that? What do you think about this? What would you do in my position?

Chances are your friends and family are lovely and patient and just want the best for you. But it can get to the point where you feel like a broken record and you’re starting to annoy yourself with your indecision and lack of direction.

It could also be that you don’t really want to talk to those close to you, you feel ashamed that you’re somehow failing if you don’t feel 100% happy and successful in your work. It’s embarrassing to admit that maybe you’re not on the right path. It could be there’s this thing you’d secretly much rather be doing, but it seems silly or unrealistic.

When you’re feeling like this, chances are you need some assurance. You need someone to talk things through with at length. Someone to listen to you without judgement and without getting irritated or bored. An opportunity to have someone listen to your fears and dreams and let you talk it out. You can get everything out there, out of your head.

Someone who can read between the lines, get to the crux of what’s holding you back.

Is it lack of confidence?

Difficulty in making decisions?

Suppressing a big dream due to fear?

Is it caring too much what your family and/or friends think?

Talking to someone who’s been there too, can help

Talking to a coach, especially someone who’s been there, who’s gone through something similar, can help.

They’ll listen and they’ll help you to focus on what needs to be done to make some changes.  You’ll have support and encouragement. You won’t need to worry about going on about yourself.

It’s all about you, and it’s all about moving your forwards towards what you want.

If you’d like to try coaching with me, we can talk things through and make an action plan together. Send me a message at: joaopoku@gmail.com.

 

Photo by Korney Violin on Unsplash

Is unlikeability a bad thing?

 

I’m trying to train myself to be a little more unlikeable. Or rather – I’m trying not to care so much about being ‘likeable’. I had a conversation with a friend today which reminded me that lots of women pay waaaay too much attention to how their actions are going to affect other people.

What about me?!

Rather than going by our own whims and desires, we make decisions based on what other people want. Someone invites me out because they want my company? I’d better go – I don’t really feel like it but they’re feeling a bit down and say they miss me. They need me.

Someone invites me for a coffee – I just want to go off on my own for a bit of a read – but how do I tell them this without offending them? Sorry, I’d rather be on my own…

There’s a big dinner, everyone’s going – why aren’t you going? You don’t feel like it? Why? don’t you like us? Don’t you like – people?

I read an article on likeability with this great quote:

“Think for a moment how much time you have spent in your life replaying conversations where maybe you said the wrong thing, or how you were maybe too curt with that person in the checkout line, or too forward with that dude you met on Tinder; how maybe you speak too much in meetings or make your views too known. How much time you have wasted fretting about whether other people like you? Just do a quick calculation: how much of your life, do you think, you have spent this way? An hour? A whole day? A week? Maybe entire years? What masterpieces could you have made by now if you directed your energy toward writing like a bad mother***ker instead?” Lacy M. Johnson

Even now as I write this, I’m worrying that I was a bit off with someone yesterday who wanted to chat just at the moment I received an important email and had to respond.

I know that I wasn’t actually off with him. I rarely (never?) am. I’ll have just been a bit flustered and apologetic. And here I am, 24 hours later, spending time worrying about whether he thinks I’m rude or will have changed his opinion of me.

Unapologetically herself

Along those lines, I saw a video from Stylist magazine this week about ‘what makes women strong’ – and one part bought tears to my eyes. It showed one young girl saying that a strong woman is unapologetically herself. ‘She wears what she wants, does what she wants, and says whatever the hell she wants’.

I actually had to rewind that section 3 times. Because I realised that sometimes I do feel apologetic for being myself. Apologetic when I want to be on my own. When I don’t feel like talking. If I want to leave a social event before everyone else. Apologetic that I choose to do my own thing.

I’ve written in the past about self-belief, confidence and imposter syndrome. It’s all linked. We’re doing ourselves a massive disservice fretting about being liked and being ‘the good girl’, rather than just getting on with it and doing what the hell we like.

I help people with career change and I also help people with their mindset. I particularly want to help with inspiring confidence in women – it’s an area we really seem to need help with. Knowing our own minds, being unapologetic.

Have a think about it, do you care too much about being likeable?

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

Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash