Thursday 10 March 2011

Stuck in a Massive Rut

Claire writes:

Hi there,

I feel like I’m stuck in a massive major rut at the moment and on and off I’ve been experiencing bouts of depression.

I’m unhappy in my job it’s not stimulating enough and the environment is wrong for me. I work in engineering and I am not the tiniest bit interested in this company or what it does. After an incident of sexual harassment that I reported last year this has just made things worse as the perpetrator still works here although I got him moved up the office away from me. I’ve had support from many colleagues as the incident was quite bad but none of the management seemed very sympathetic much to everyone’s disgust. Now this has happened I dread coming in to work every day. I’ve been at this company for just over two years because I can’t find anything else that matches the money and I’ve looked for other jobs but nothing’s come up. I find it hard to cope coming here every day and try to think positive thoughts to keep myself going but I keep thinking ‘what’s going to happen in the next weeks, few months, years – what if I’m still

What I have done is taken a positive step and started to study for my NVQ2 in beauty therapy, part time evening and I’m doing really well at this. My only concern is that I won’t be able to study for the next level up NVQ3 as the course doesn’t run part time anywhere. It’s my only hope of getting myself out of this unhappy situation.

Since we had half term from college I’ve started to feel deflated and de-motivated although I’ve done all of my homework and am always prepared for classes. I keep thinking – what if it doesn’t work out?

I feel like I’m sitting in an office job I can’t bear and something new is just around the corner but I don’t know how to get it? I don’t know whether to just go to beauty salons and ask advise as my course isn’t finished yet or what to do. Our tutor isn’t particularly helpful in giving advice either as the course is intense and she’s always rushed off her feet.

Can you please help give me some balance, motivation and hope?

Kind regards,

Hello Claire.

I'm sorry to hear about your difficulties.

Although the harassment incident was traumatic it seems to be in the past and that your main issue is the work rut, so I'll focus on that.

I'll start with your comment about not being able to find anything else that matches the money.

As I very often say, you can probably have anything you want, but you probably can't have everything you want. A cut in salary (perhaps only temporarily) may well be the price of unlocking the trap you're in.

Most of us manage our lives in such a way as to fully allocate all of our money at all times - no matter how much of it we have. This is the most common trap I see. "I can't leave work because I have a huge mortgage and three kids in private school". These people refuse to accept they're wealthy because they can't afford a Chinese take-out on a Friday night. Understandable, but it's not about being poor, it's about not liking the priorities you've set for your money.

I don't know if you're in that camp or not, but chance are you have the same symptoms, if not on that scale. The average income in the UK is £24,000 p.a. What I'm saying is that in order to make changes, some things have to change, and sometimes, you have to pay something to get something. Often in coaching, I am able to show clients their choices more clearly. There are always choices, but we reflex-reject most before seriously considering them because they involve some kind of a loss.

So I invite you to think about things on the scale of a lifetime, and then to ask yourself how much you need to earn to be OK, and to balance being OK financially in a job you despise against being less well-off but still OK in a job you love.

Another possibility is that - faced with little certainty about what you really want for your future, you're reluctant to invest the time and energy necessary to find some really great opportunities to meet your needs. Perhaps you feel deep-down it's all doomed. Irrational thinking like this is entirely normal - but it's entirely unhelpful too, so I often help clients to see straighter by asking central questions, and cross-checking with other things they've said. It's not about being unkind to them, it's about helping them to see things more clearly. With clearer vision, they can find a clearer vision (!) which can help a hell of a lot with motivation - which drives energy, creativity and stamina.

Another blockage I often see in clients is a reluctance to think big enough to "find the edges" of their situation. A possible example is your NVQ3 course. You say you can't find one part-time, and I wonder if you've considered either travelling further afield, or studying fulltime. Perhaps there are grants or loans available, or some other means of making this work. Maybe not - I don't know enough about you - but don't kick this into touch too hastily. See if you can bend it to fit your objectives.

The deflation you speak about is probably a combination of (a) not liking where you are (b) not really believing you're going to be able to dig yourself out. Did I mention I'm a life coach? :o)

Claire, I can't give you motivation directly, but I can work with you to remove the obstacles which prevent you form giving it to yourself. I hope these ideas are helpful, but if not, do feel free to come back for another bite. This is your life we're talking about - the only one you'll ever have - so it's worth taking some time to sort out.

Take care,

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Wednesday 9 March 2011

Juggling Your Time

'A' Writes:

Here's my current situation and queries.

I am an experienced writer, but suffered redundancy last year from my main job as a careers advisor after nine years of service. I have a new part-time job, but I am currently also setting up a freelance writing business.

My main problem is trying to split my time equally between my paid job, the new business and looking after my home and three children as a single parent (oh, I sing in a band as well!).

I easily find myself running round like a headless chicken trying to do everything and be everything and having lots of unfinished jobs. If I take time out to be creative, which can take a lot of hours, I find that everything else quickly unravels and takes a long time to catch up on.

How can I achieve a balance that works?

Confidence is also a secondary issue after suffering redundancy, divorce and debt (left by my alcoholic ex husband)-all last year-so any tips on this would be gratefully received.

Many thanks
I replied:
Hello A and thanks for your email (which I've posted with permission).

Redundancy is a biggie. The loss of income alone is serious enough, but a job can be so much more than a way to pay the mortgage. It can provide recognition of value and for contribution, a sense of place and of self. A reason to get up, and a sense of stability. The loss of these things, coupled with the sense of rejection which being made redundant often confers will probably be major contributors to your loss of confidence.

Dividing time according to your priorities is notoriously difficult. A good place to start is to list the competitors for your time, and then to allocate priorities. Real-world pragmatics aside, which are most important?

You have listed: Paid Job, Building New Business, Domestic chores, Parenting thee children, Being in a band.

One technique to help with prioritizing it do do the old balloon test - you're in a sinking hot air balloon, and you need to lose weight or crash - what do you throw out first? (Even that's not usually easy - so think about the overall impact on your whole life of losing each thing. When coaching clients, I have a raft of other techniques which I apply depending on how the client behaves. I can't really cover that here, but anyway - the first thing out is your lowest priority).

Now keep throwing stuff out until one one thing is left. Now you have your prioritized list. Don't try to be too scientific - it's not possible to do this entirely analytically. Be content with a rough-cut answer.

Let's imagine you've prioritized them like this:

1. Parenting three children
2. Paid job
3. Being in a band
4. Building a new business
5. Domestic chores

You'll need to remember that you also need to sleep, eat, and so on, and you'll only be productive for maybe 70% of your up-time.

Now allocate a time budget to each item. The paid job may not be negotiable - you just have to be there, so in a sense that one's easy. Parenting - block out the must-dos (school run, child sitting). How much time to get traction on building a new business?

Again, these questions can be impossible to answer off the bat, but I can help. For example, to answer the business one - come at it from the other end. How would you feel if the new business was not earning penny one in a year? Six months? What is the final objective of the business? Keep testing your internal thinking by posing it questions.

Anyway, when you complete this exercise, you'll have some kind of answer. But you may well HATE it!

In which case, you just learned something powerful. They say you can have anything you want, but you probably can't have everything you want. So face it. Horse trade. Be ready to let go of stuff you don't want to, at least for now. You can perhaps work smarter (automate, delegate or decimate) but you can't change the hours in the day or the laws of physics.

Now you have your time budget in theory but the world will wash it away in a trice unless you do stuff to make it stick. Run a diary. Book appointments with yourself and honour them as though they were meetings with your bank manager. That means saying "no" to lunch with a friend if you've got a meeting with yourself to push the business forward. This is where the tough get going, and the rest of us fail.

And that takes me to the last element of the framework: YOU. Your motivation, your stamina and your belief. Find ways to re-engage your actual life with your dream. Use Talismans (see my website). Stay fit. Sleep well. Hire a coach, dammit! :o)

Making big changes in our lives is intrinsically difficult, A, but these ideas should give you a huge leg up and I wish you well with them.

To your success!


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