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Taking control of your career

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I had a cake and coffee date with a colleague today (well, it ended up being lunch and cake, but I really liked my swan from this morning, so here you go). They’d asked for a meeting a while ago for a conversation about my career break experience, coaching, and opportunities in general within the organisation. As it turned out, it was all quite serendipitous – we’re looking, they’re interested. It feels like there’s chemistry, so we’ll see what happens next.

When you’re seeking out new career opportunities, how active are you in your search? Do you rely quite passively on job boards and agencies, or do you like a much more active handle on things, for example with networking, informational interviews etc.?

Are you taking your career by the horns or letting it happen to you?

Do you love the life you’re living?

I was messaging one of my best friends last week and he asked me what my purpose in life was. I thought for a little while, and then I wrote: “Making life a little better for every person I come into contact with, whether it’s for a moment or for the long haul. Helping people to believe in themselves. This life has got to be about something bigger than yourself – working towards a greater purpose. Maybe that sounds a little worthy? I feel very strongly about it though.”

I’ve been thinking about that today as I reflect on the past few weeks. Why do you do the work that you do? Do you love the life you’re living?

What is your driving purpose – that particular thread that pulls everything together for you? Some people want to make a difference through the execution of their vision for a better world – social change, environmental work etc. None of that floats my boat much. My driver is wanting to touch people’s hearts and build them up at an individual level.

Some people are perfectly happy just being – in some ways that is the ultimate goal, finding perfect happiness in this moment. But that needn’t detract from searching for what it is that will give this life meaning and fulfilment.

If you’re searching, then you need to understand your values and how to turn those into something worth pursuing. You also need to understand your motivated strengths: the things you’re not only good at, but actually like doing.

While continual introspection without action is pointless, action without understanding why can be counter-productive. How do you expect to end up where you want to be if you don’t know where you need to be heading?

Those of you who have attended some of my workshops or have been coached by me will know that I love using cards as a coaching resource – used well they can really facilitate discovery of key strengths, skills, values etc., and they also make a great self-coaching tool.
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These are from Barefoot Coaching Cards (the Coaching Cards for Every Day pack, which I’ve been sorting through today while chatting with a dear friend about purpose and direction). Perhaps one or more of these questions will find impact with you this week.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

Resilience and balance

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These past few weeks have been all about resilience. Things have been incredibly stressful and both physically and emotionally draining, and I’ve had to marshal all my resources to stay focused and to flex with the challenges.

That’s what resilience is: being able to adapt in the face of adversity. It’s all about steering your way constructively through difficulty and taking learning from your experience.

It’s not about ‘bouncing back’ – a popular characterisation that has the unfortunate suggestion that you’re meant to instantaneously recover from a crisis. It’s natural and ok to be reeling for a while. Take the time you need. Reflect. Learn. Grow. And then realise that you’re not back in the same place – you’re further down the road, wiser, and often stronger.

When things get tough, think 4S*. What skills can you draw on to help you in this situation? What strategies can you develop to keep you moving? What pieces of sagacity can give you comfort? And which supports – friends and family – can help to keep you upright?

Whatever life is throwing at you, you’ll get through it. Have faith.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

(*4S taken from Carole Pemberton, Resilience: A Practical Guide for Coaches)

Self-acceptance

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Carl Jung said: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

It’s a universal truth that not everyone will love you or what you do. Seeking approval is the surest way to disappointment, because loving yourself as long as you live up to a certain way of being isn’t self-love. It’s the path to self-destruction.

The key difference between self-acceptance and self-esteem is this: whereas self-esteem plots your worth in conditional and external terms, self-acceptance is no strings attached. If you allow your worth to rise and fall depending on other people’s approval, how you look in comparison to others, or how many followers you have on Instagram, you will never be happy.

Remember this today: You are entirely acceptable and worthy of love, exactly the way you are, and regardless of what other people think.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

Managing negative emotions

How’s your week going? My life feels a little like this right now – constant motion and somewhat sick-inducing. (Coaches are human too; we don’t have it all sorted all of the time!)

It’s important to recognise that negative emotions are a natural part of life. But that doesn’t mean you have to let yourself get swept away by it all. You may not be able to control all the situations you find yourself in, but you can absolutely control the way you think about those situations. And the way you think affects the way you feel.

If you’re finding negative thoughts and emotions a challenge, it doesn’t have to be this way. Get in touch and let’s talk about changing that.

Letting go

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Hello, 3am. I’ve been sleeping like a baby these past few weeks – waking up every two hours, that is. There’s a lot that’s been going on in one of the places that I work which is having a considerable impact on me and my team.

Many of you won’t share my faith (I’m a practising Catholic). Goodness knows I’ve been neglecting it myself. But it’s part and parcel of my blueprint, at 3am as much as it is any other time.

So I’m thinking about a few things that I talked about yesterday with a friend of mine. We find meaning in hindsight, even if we don’t like or completely understand what we’re going through in the present. I’m reminded of what I often discuss with coaching clients – finding the locus of what we can control and doing what we can with that, and realising that what we can’t control, we need to learn to respond to in a way that is constructive. My anxiety about things at 3am helps no one. I’m keeping in mind the saying “let go and let God”. We can’t always see the bigger picture. Pre-living potential futures through worrying what might happen is unhelpful. Do the best you can, and leave the rest to unfold as it will. Respond by making the best choices you can in the present. That is all any of us can do.

Whatever you find most helpful for you – prayer, meditation, running, yoga, getting outdoors – I hope that it will give you some peace this weekend. Take care of yourselves.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

Other people’s opinions about you are none of your business

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I love the texture of this concrete. I also think that this is a good reminder before we plunge into the next working week. Honestly, stop worrying about what other people are thinking. Do what you think should be done. Take the risk. Follow your dreams. Wear the bikini. You’ll look back on this day and realise that this was the day you took hold of your power and stopped letting other people (and yourself!) get in the way of your living this one precious life.

Coaching for introverts

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A bit of light-hearted relief as we head towards the end of the working week – this is for all you grumpy introverts. There appear to be rather a lot of you out there – hello!

Now, I do appreciate the irony in this, but if you’re feeling like this and if you’re fed up with your work – well, I’d love to talk to you. Coaching can be hugely helpful in managing communication, relationships, performance under pressure, and career transitions. I’ll even stick my neck out to promise you’ll feel better after talking to me.

Drop me a message, and feel free to share this flowchart!

Hindsight is always 20:20

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I think we all need a reminder of this every so often. I was chatting with one of my best friends a few weeks ago about choices we’d made as teenagers and we got to musing about different life paths.

Ok, stop right there.

You see, a lot of the choices we make in life are made with the best information that we have at that point in time. Vision in hindsight is always 20:20. There is nothing – nothing – to guarantee that, had you made a different decision back then, you would be in a happier or more successful place right now. Don’t forget too that everything in our past has shaped us in ways that we can’t see.

Ruminating and speculating on ‘what-ifs’ are rarely helpful things to do. We are shaped by all that has passed, but the past is gone – learn from it by all means, but what matters is what you do with what you have in this moment. That’s yours for the taking.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd