Friday, 23 December 2011

End of the year - Re-framing, Re-evaluating, Relaxing

I found myself in Waitrose today realising this would be my best opportunity to get everything that I needed for our Christmas dinner.  About 100 other people shared this same thought.  On reflection there were several things I could have done to make this an easier task.  I could have arrived when the shop opened at 8:30 am; I could have made a more detailed list; or I could have ordered on line.  Alas none of these things happened and so I found myself dodging the throngs of harried shoppers down various aisles as people made lunges for the last bag of grapes or thoughtlessly stopped in the middle of it all to consult their list. I could feel my frustration growing.  Why is  there still this desperate post-war-like mentality to stock pile food from the shops before Christmas?  It's no  longer  like it was when I first moved to the UK 18 years ago when shops were actually closed the week between Christmas and New Years and if you didn't plan ahead it could be a challenge.  These days my nearest Tesco is closed on Christmas and Boxing Day - but the Tesco Express is open on the 26th so really it is just one day that I  wouldn't be able to pop to the shops.  Back to my current situation and I certainly wasn't feeling in the Christmas spirit when it suddenly struck me - that although I couldn't change the situation I could change how I was reacting to it.  So I started humming Christmas carols and that made me feel better.  I took off my coat so I wasn't too warm,  When I found the end of the very long queue to pay,  I started chatting with the other people in the queue and talked about our Christmas preparations, why they weren't playing music in the store and before long suggested we sing some Christmas carols ourselves which we did a bit. It certainly got the  checkout staff to smile and when I left I felt tired but no longer drained and actually a bit brighter in general.  Consider how you are experiencing Christmas this year and re-frame it as you'd like it to be.

New Year's Eve is another time of year I find challenging - looking back at the resolutions I didn't keep and figuring out which ones I should be making this year.  I wanted to share some links with you that help me feel  more focused.  Michael Bungay Stanier at Box of Crayons  has a great newsletter called Outside the Lines and a program called Kick start 2012.  For ideas on how to pick your theme for 2012, check out  For ways to plan your time effectively in the year ahead, look at For ways to add structure, consider using materials from

Re-evaluating  -  Managing your Career – the 5 key Questions
Corinne Mills,MD of Personal Career Management, the leading career coaching company ( shares some questions to ask yourself if your are re-evaluating your career in the new year.  Corinne is the author of the UK’s best-selling CV book “You’re Hired! How to write a brilliant CV” and her new book “Career Coach. Your personal workbook for a better career is a must-have for anyone serious about managing their career.
Most people, at some point in their career, will wonder whether they are in the right job and what else they could be doing.  If you are thinking about your next move, then consider the following career questions before making your decision. 

  1. What have you got to offer?

Identify what you have to sell in the job market which will be of value to an employer.  This may include skills, experience, knowledge, but it can also include other factors such as access to potential customers or your network contacts. 

2.    What is your personal work-style?

Understanding your personality at work will help you determine the roles and environments in which you will work best.  For instance, if you are energised by working with people then a stand-alone role is unlikely to bring out the best in you.  However, if you like to work independently then you could find it cumbersome to work in a strong team culture.  Think about how you like to work and get things done.

3.    What do you want?

Write down what you want to be different as well as those things you want to remain the same.  This may include practical things like pay or more intangible elements such as being valued by your boss. Knowing what is important to you will help keep you focused on what is right for you.

4.    What are your options?

Think creatively about your options.  These could include staying where you are, moving jobs, starting your own business or even reinventing your career.  Thoroughly research each option by looking at job adverts, talking to recruiters and people who work in the field.  Choose the option which most closely fits with what you want and which is realistic for you.

5.    What action can you take to achieve your career goals?

Make a list of what you need to do to help you to achieve your career aims eg updating your CV, networking, taking a course etc.    Schedule each task in your diary, set a deadline and do them!    

Your answers to these questions will quickly surface the areas which need more thought and attention.  Take especial notice of any answers which seem incomplete, superficial or seem to raise more questions for you.  These are likely to need more research, decision-making or perhaps talking through with someone else like a career coach.


And finally, I wanted to end on a note about taking time out this busy holiday season. There is an excellent column written by David Baddiel in the January issue of Psychologies magazine.  In it he says the best thing about Christmas is  "the absolute insistence that, over this period, we're simply not able to do anything, "  We actually all take a break from our hectic 24/7 lives - there is no other choice.  What a relief!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and fun and adventure in 2012,