Dreams

I’d be lying if I said I was looking forward to going back to work tomorrow.

I’m not.

But, I’m not sitting around dreading it either.

I’ve never had a dream job. Even as a kid, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Whilst I was at school, trying to decide whether to go to university or not, I didn’t know what course I wanted to do, because I had no idea what I might want to do in the future. By the time I left university, I still had no idea.

It’s taken 35 years for me to start figuring out what i’d really like to do.

Although, looking back, there were times when I toyed with the idea, I just didn’t know how to get there.

I guess part of me has always thought that a dream job, was just that. A dream. Not achievable for those of us who are just ‘ordinary’ people.

But why should it stay as a dream? Why not chase after it?

Whilst I was walking along one of the Algarve’s many beaches last week, it struck me that I finally know what I would like to do.

It may not happen over night. It may even come under a slightly different guise.

But what I do know, is that it feels right to chase after it. To throw (almost) everything into trying to achieve it.

It’s not going to be easy, as I still need to earn a wage while I’m chasing my dream. There will be some multi tasking, hard work and lot’s of juggling involved. But I need to make sure I dedicate some time to focus on my plan for the future.

However hard it might be to chase my dreams, everything seems to be pointing me in this direction. And the difference this time, is that I really do feel ready to work hard for it. I want to do something that gives my life more meaning. To wake up each morning looking forward to going to work. To look forward to going back to work after a week off.

So you may be asking yourself why I’m not dreading work tomorrow? And the answer? I have a plan. Which is ironic. Because I’m rubbish at planning anything outside of my occasional social life. I am slowly but surely, creating a plan, and starting to work towards achieving my dream.

And that makes going back to work tomorrow, all the more bearable.

Wobbles, Living Alone and Holidays

I don’t think I’ve ever been more grateful for the weekend to arrive!

I had a bit of a wobbly moment midweek where I felt incredibly overwhelmed by the amount of work I need to do between now and the summer. Within the industry I work, everything seems to come at once. Deadlines galore, lot’s of meetings, visits, processes to review, assessments to pass. Lot’s of plates to keep spinning.

Thankfully I have an incredibly supportive boss. On Wednesday when I looked at my diary for the next 6 months and started to get that overwhelming feeling, I spoke to my boss about my concerns and let him know how I was feeling. I wouldn’t ordinarily have done this. I don’t like to panic until there is an actual problem. But something in me knew I had to be open and honest. And I’m so glad I told him. Straightaway a plan was formed to take some of the burden off me and to share it out amongst the team. Do I still have work to do? Absolutely. But is it going to be easier shared? 100%. I still feel worried about the tasks that are coming up, but I feel so much better for sharing my concerns early, rather than waiting for them to get out of hand. I have avoided a battle with the dreaded imposter syndrome (for now).

This week has also been the first week living on my own, albeit with my extremely fluffy four legged friend. As much as I have loved the thought of living on my own, I didn’t really know how I would find it. I didn’t know if I would feel lonely, scared, nervous, bored even. But I’ve felt none of those so far. It helps having my cat here with me. At least I can talk to her even if she doesn’t say an awful lot back. I think I’ve actually slept the best I have in ages. My eating habits are improving, as I’m making smaller, healthier meals. And I’m spending more time doing things I want to do, such as catching up with reading, watching my favourite movies, seeing friends, and on the odd evening, catching up on work without feeling guilty (and without interuptions). I also strangely like the fact that when I come home from work grumpy and tired, I no longer need to worry about snapping at anyone. If I want to be grumpy I can, without being worried about offending/upsetting anyone else, or worse, causing an argument.

Despite sleeping better, eating better, and doing more exercise, I feel exhausted. I am aware that some of this will be a delayed reaction to the emotional rollercoaster I have been on over the last few months. I need to make some time this weekend for some much needed self-care and some rest, before another busy week at work begins again on Monday.

I am so grateful that I have a holiday on the horizon too. I am normally so last minute with booking holidays, but having booked this one over Christmas, it really is stopping me from getting the January blues, and is giving me something to look forward to. Even though Portugal may not be at its warmest in February, there’s a lot more chance of seeing the sunshine than staying in London. I simply cannot wait to feel the sun on my skin and to feel the sand between my toes.

art beach beautiful clouds
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

To Plan or Not to Plan?

I’ve never been very good at making plans.

Ok, so that’s not entirely true. I think I’m actually pretty decent at making plans, and usually stick to them. That’s if you take social plans, holiday plans, day to day plans into consideration.

Why is it then that I find it ridiculously difficult to make life plans and career plans?

I guess first of all we should unpick what I mean by life plans.

What I mean by this is, and I’ll refer to one of my dearest friends, who has always known what she wanted from life. All she ever dreamt of was finding a husband, buying a house, getting married and having children. And she’s achieved that.

I got as far as buying a house once. With my ex. We broke up. He brought me out. And I no longer own a house.

I’m actually quite comfortable with not having achieved the things my friend has achieved. What’s right for her, isn’t going to be right for everyone. But I guess my point is, she had life goals. She knew what she wanted, when she wanted to achieve each of these goals, and she’s just cracked on and done it. Job done.

My current life plans go as far as supporting my boyfriend through the visa process. But after that? Who knows! You could say its hard to make plans when we don’t know what’s going to happen later this month with his visa application. But the realistic part of me knows that this would just be an excuse. In reality, I am confident I wouldn’t have a plan regardless of the circumstances.

I have no plans to get married yet, and as you may’ve read in my previous blog ‘Kids’ I’m not desperate to have those either.

However, I don’t just bumble around aimlessly either. I like to visit new places, try new things, meet new people. I’m just not very good at planning these things. And maybe that’s ok.

My working life is similar. I have never had the desire to be a career person. All I ever wanted was enough money to live and enjoy the odd holiday.

Even as far back as my school days, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and which direction to go in. Up until 6 months before my A Level results, I had no desire to go to university. But I didn’t know what job I wanted to do either. So I decided that maybe I would go to university as that might help me to decide. Choosing the subjects to study was easy. I loved Human Geography and I had an interest in Africa.

So a few months later, I found myself standing at the entrance to the University of Northampton (or the University College of Northampton – UCN – as it was known back then) registering for a BA Course in Geography and Third World Development. I loved everything about my University experience. I developed an even greater love for Geography and the Third World, but I knew that my career choices in these fields were limited. It was either continue to study and become a teacher, go and work for the local council (who were making hundreds of job cuts at the time), or go and work for a third world charity. None of which set my world on fire.

Whilst at University, I had a part time job working for a gift card shop in the town centre. I loved my time there, but there was little money in it (not that I was money orientated. I’m still not today, but there were things I couldn’t do if I didn’t look for something that was a bit better paid). I increased my hours slightly after Uni, and also gained further responsibility moving up from Supervisor to Assistant Manager. Whilst there, I saw an advert in my local newspaper for a job in sport. I applied, interviewed and was called back within half an hour to say I had got the job!

I stayed with the company for 9 years, before I made the move to London. Even that move wasn’t planned. I had been comfortable in my job, but there was little opportunity for growth or promotion. So when I was effectively head hunted for the London opportunity, I grasped it with both hands.

I worked with some great people in that 9 year period. I remember one lady saying to me that if I got too comfortable there, I would never leave. I was comfortable there. 9 years comfortable.

I get a weird sense of enjoyment out of proving people wrong though.

Although I don’t have a career plan, what I do have is a burning ambition to do well in all that I do. I am constantly seeking ways to improve myself. Whether it was when I had my first ever part-time job in a supermarket, my part-time job in the card shop, or my job in sport, I have always pushed myself to learn as much as I can, so I can do the best possible job in the role I am in.

I guess my next question is, do you really need a plan to be successful?

I don’t have the answer to this question, but I would love to get your thoughts on this.

What I do know, is that for someone who had/has no plan, I seem to be doing alright at this career malarkey.

Working From Home and Prioritisation

After a crazy week, I’m grateful to have a day at home to relax today.

With a full on working week last week, a trip to the solicitors on Friday and a lovely day walking around London with mum yesterday, my body and mind are in need of some R&R today.

For the first time in 3 years, work is starting to feel relatively settled. Our company has been through a lot of change over the last 3 years, and on top of that, around a year ago, I was asked to start managing a side of the business I knew very little about. It’s been a tough ride. But finally after a year battling to understand the role, and getting myself into a position where I could competently manage the team around me, I feel like good progress has been made.

On top of that, I have been working with the team to get through an external assessment for this area of the business. Not too much pressure then! Last week saw us meeting with the assessors and submitting our final pieces of evidence. We won’t know until next week how we have done in the assessment, but through a lot of hard work and determination I am confident that this area of the business is in a much better place than it was, and my management of this area of the business has improved tenfold.

It has been hard putting other areas of my work on the back burner whilst I focused on the assessment. One of the most important things I have learnt over recent months, has been how to prioritise my workload better. For me it’s simply being more aware that it’s ok to say no to some things. And those things I can’t say no to? I say yes, but I am learning to give more realistic timescales in order to get the work done.

In addition to learning to prioritise, the other thing that has changed my day recently, is the ability to work from home more often. Under new leadership, we are taking the time to understand how we can help and improve staff wellbeing, whilst still getting the job done. Working from home once a week has changed my working life, which in turn has changed my home life for the better too. Our office can be like a whirlwind at times, with the phones ringing non stop, constant queries from the team, in addition to meetings. This can make it incredibly difficult to get the day job done. There have been times over the last 3 years where I have ended up working 12 hour + days, as well as working at weekends, just to stop myself from drowning. But working from home has changed all that. Having that one day a week to work from home means that I get at least one full admin day per week. It is often broken up with phone calls, conference calls and still the odd emergency to deal with, but because I have no other distractions when I am at home, I can manage these situations a lot better and still catch up with my administration or to work on projects.

Working at home also gives me that much needed reflection time. One of the early sessions I had with Beth  we discussed the importance of finding time to reflect. This was also reinforced at the Level 3 Award in Leadership and Management course I completed recently. When I am working out of the office, whether I’m at home working in silence or with the radio on in the background, or in a coffee shop with the day to day hustle and bustle going on around me, I get far more opportunities to be present and to reflect on the work I am doing and how things are making me feel.

Working from home also gives me the time and space to plan. This may seem quite a simple process to some people, but when you work in an open plan office constant distractions, with few quiet spaces leading to a lack of opportunity to move away from the chaos of the office in order to plan effectively, it makes planning extremely difficult. This of course then has a knock on effect to the rest of my work. I find that planning on my day at home enables me to have a lot more focus during the week, which in turn is helping the rest of my team. By being much more organised and less fraught, I can already see the difference in my team who have themselves reacted positively to these changes. They too are benefiting from more opportunities to work from home, and are a lot more productive as a result.

Despite only having the opportunity to work from home for a couple of months, I can already feel the difference this is making to my wellbeing.

All of this combined, is helping the team (as well as us managers) improve our work life balance. I acknowledge that my job is never going to be solely something I can do from Monday-Friday 9-5, however, I am no longer working 12 hour days or weekends which quite frankly, is bliss.