Values card sorting

 

rsz_img_8432At a coaching session on Monday morning we made use of this card sorting activity. It’s an enjoyable hands-on exercise that can often help bring clarity to the values that are important for you to have in your work.

It’s been years since I did this exercise myself, so I thought I’d see what had changed in the interim. It was very affirming to discover how much my work at the moment aligns with everything that is very important to me.

Life is short. Do what you love. And if your work isn’t currently bringing you satisfaction, drop me a line.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

Returning to work after a career break

International Women's Day 2018

In a week encompassing International Women’s Day and Mothering Sunday, I’ve been thinking about women’s careers in the context of gender inequality – glass ceilings, the gender pay gap, harassment, societal expectations and conditioned expectations of self. I don’t want to get too political today though, so maybe gender inequality is a topic for some other time. What I did want to write about was my perspective on the impact that motherhood has on your career, particularly with your first child or when you’ve taken an extended career break to raise your family (still a disproportionately female endeavour, but yes, politics…).

In the course of my coaching career, as well as in previous management roles, I’ve worked a great deal with women who have taken time out of the office for family reasons. One thing is clear, whether you’ve had nine months of maternity leave with your first child, or a fifteen-year career break to raise three children, returning to the world of work can be hugely daunting, both in the prospect of return and in the actual transition.   

The challenges vary from person to person, of course, but I think there is nonetheless a great deal of commonality in the experience. If you’re returning from maternity leave, fatigue and overload are often front and centre – quite apart from horrific sleep deprivation (and the concomitant caffeine dependency) if you’ve been battling with a child who clearly hasn’t read the sleep manuals, you might still be coming to terms with a new physical and psychological identity in which the person you once knew has gone AWOL, replaced by someone who’s mostly forgotten how to have a proper adult conversation and whose life for most of the past year has mainly consisted of attempting to get out of the house before you’re due back home and trying to drink a cup of tea that hasn’t been microwaved at least twice (although you do now have new skills that include being able to switch off lights with your toes and work a variety of household gadgets with your elbow).

And when you return, everything is simultaneously familiar and foreign (all the more  so if, like me, you decided to get a new job while you were on leave – you know, because you are slightly masochistic). Your sleep deprivation is magnified from the exhaustion of being back in the work environment and absorbing new information in addition to re-learning all the things you forgot while you were away. Plus you’ve still got all your responsibilities at home, juggling kids’ schedules alongside keeping the household ticking over and in a vaguely clean, fed and organised state, and bearing the mental load of remembering everything on that burgeoning task list. You think you’re failing at everything because you still expect yourself to be able to perform the way you did before life changed and now you are neither a good employee (because you can no longer work all hours) nor a good mother (having left the baby wailing at nursery), or indeed a good wife/partner (because you are almost exclusively a mother and have somewhat forgotten how to be yourself). And then when you’re finally up to speed at work again – maybe, just maybe, you find yourself fretting about no longer having the focus or ambition you once had.

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a matter of years rather than months, lack of confidence and the issue of identity can feel like even more of an insurmountable barrier. The gap in your work history can feel like an ending, and your professional self a distant memory. Because you’re firmly rooted in a different world, going back is about something larger than a ‘return’ – it necessitates a re-invention. Perhaps you don’t want to go back to your previous sector or industry, or discover you’re going to need further education and retraining to get anywhere. Then the big questions start. Who are you now? Who do you want to be? What are you interested in (that will pay you)? What do you actually want out of a career? Where do you start? How do you get from now to where you want to be? Are you even going to be able to get a job? Do you have any currently marketable skills? Are you going to fall flat on your face?

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been away for; the time will have changed you. Your priorities, values, interests and skillsets are likely to have shifted, and with them possibly also what you might want from your career. Sometimes a career change isn’t what you want, but is nonetheless going to be enforced due to childcare issues or the lack of a sufficiently supportive or flexible work environment. More often than not, however, many women come to a realisation that they themselves want to make a change that will fit their new circumstances or desires more closely. But this doesn’t mean that your career has no future. Take note: your career doesn’t have to stop because you’re now a parent and might want to move to part-time or flexible hours, or to a job that fits more easily around family.  

Where do you go from here? There are a few things worth reflecting on, I think.

The first is that you probably have more going for you than you might realise even if you’ve been out of the work world for years. Coordinating three children and a household? Administration, organisation and budgeting, not to mention creativity and the ability to pull things out of a hat at the last minute (World Book Day, I’m looking at you). Volunteering with the PTA? Tact, teamwork and negotiation. You get the idea. I don’t say this to be flippant; the important point here is about recognising transferable skills and being able to present them in a way that’s relevant to potential employers.

The second is giving yourself time and permission to ease back in, because it often takes at least 3-6 months to properly get to grips with the big change in your routine and to start feeling like you know what you’re doing. In any job the learning curve can last for a year or more. Don’t expect, after just two weeks on the job, to be back at the level you were. Be kind to yourself.

Thirdly, I think there are always compromises. Can you have it all? Personally, I think that every choice you make about how to spend your time means a choice to not focus on something else. But that also means that you don’t need to feel guilty if you’re not keeping all the balls in the air 100% of the time. Some things will give. And that’s ok.

And the final point? You don’t need to do it alone. If you’re currently planning a return from maternity leave or a long career break and this article has struck a chord with you, get in touch to see how return to work coaching can help you make the transition back into the working world with confidence. Take a look too at the upcoming Career Reinvention Day for a perfect kickstart.

To your success.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

Career Reinvention Day

Career Reinvention Day instagram advert (grey)

Take some time out this April to invest in yourself! This special career reinvention day is for you if you’ve been feeling a little (or more than a little!) disillusioned or dissatisfied with your career. Maybe you’re in a job you hate or in a career rut, but you don’t know what else you could do or what you really want. You’d like to take action, but you feel stuck.

This reinvention day is also for you if you’re someone who’s looking to return to work after a long career break. Maybe you’ve been dealing with illness, or perhaps you took time out to raise your family. You’d like to get back into the working world but you don’t know what you would be suited to and you’ve lost some confidence.

Bookings and full details at www.quietspacecoaching.co.uk/events. Come join us!

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

Now is the time!

Clocks

NOW is the time. Whatever time zone you’re in (you’re allowed to wake up first if you’re currently asleep 😉). The longer you play the waiting game, the longer you will have NO results. As one of my favourite authors says, you don’t want to be in the waiting place, for people just waiting. Waiting around for a yes or a no, for the fish to bite, for Friday night, a Better Break, for Another Chance. That is NOT for you.

No! You’re going to be the person who this year ditches the New Year Resolutions that are forgotten about after January, and instead makes the choice to get some lasting results this year. With bunting or with no bunting (although I always recommend bunting, because in every day there is a cause for celebration).

I’m really excited about the new career reinvention programme that Quiet Space is going to be launching in the next few weeks! I’ll be looking for people who’re fed up of waiting or making excuses and want to say YES to finally making some deep and lasting changes in their lives and getting a job they love in 2018.

The venue for the workshops has yet to be confirmed but they’ll be held in the Coventry and Warwickshire area. If you want to get an advance preview of some of the programme content before it’s ready for launch, drop me an email at natalie@quietspacecoaching.co.uk and I’ll get in touch!

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

New year, new career resolutions

New year, new career resolution

What was 2017 like for your career?

“I’m unhappy but I don’t know how to change things.”
“I feel like I’m in a career rut.”
“I want to look for a new job but I don’t know where to start.”
“I’m applying for jobs but I’m not getting any interviews!”
“How do I get a job like the one she has?”

Does any of that resonate with you? Do you want some answers? I can help. Get in touch if you want to:

1) Find out what your career identity is and what your career options are.

2) Discover what you value in a career and what motivates and drives you.

3) Build confidence through gaining greater awareness of your key strengths and skills as well as your self-limiting beliefs and assumptions.

4) Work out your career goals in the short, medium and longer term and whip up an action plan.

5) Get networking tips, polish your CV, learn about the hidden job market and land your dream job in 2018!

Even better, get 20% off till the end of December! http://www.quietspacecoaching/services/career-health-check. Email me for a no-obligation chat.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

What’s stopping you?

in brute reality there is no road that is right entirely
One question that often prompts a very enlightening discussion during my coaching sessions is “what’s stopping you?”

A great number of the barriers that hold us back from achieving our goals and dreams are in fact self-constructed.

Perhaps you don’t know where or how to start. You can’t see the woods for the trees, and become overwhelmed by how daunting everything looks. Perhaps you worry about making the wrong decision. Is this what I really want? What if it isn’t the right thing to do? What if I hate it? Perhaps you then over-analyse, exhaustively weighing pros and cons, and end up paralysed by all your options. Perhaps you’re scared of moving out of your comfort zone, and everything looks like a reason not to. It’s not the right time. It’s too risky. Maybe when I win the lottery.

The truth is, there isn’t one right road. There will always be reasons not to. And waiting for everything to fall into place can end up being a very long wait indeed.

You may have heard the saying ‘there’s no such thing as a wrong decision’. You see, how a decision pans out is dependent on a whole range of factors that aren’t necessarily within your control. Selecting the ‘right’ road or taking the ‘correct’ action doesn’t guarantee success. And the converse is also true – making the ‘wrong’ choice doesn’t mean that you’ve set yourself on the path to disappointment. Your action now does not dictate the rest of your life. It’s what you do after you set yourself on any particular path that matters.

If you place too much weight on making the ‘right’ choice, it’s very easy to end up becoming overwhelmed, getting decision paralysis, and stopping before you even start, waiting for something to change your life.

On the other hand, you can take control. Tune into your heart and gut to discover what motivates you and the things that really make you tick. Big goals can be difficult to digest, so think about micro-resolutions – any kind of definitive action, no matter how small. Start moving. Your dream isn’t going to come to you fully formed; it’s going to grow and evolve with every new experience that you have, because it’s your journey that shapes the destination.

Decisions are just decisions. Stop worrying about making the right decision and focus instead on how you’re going to make a decision the right one for you.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

Coaching on the Run

This is me and my running buddy, Maria, on one of our favourite routes. We started running together in January 2016 and have since shared rather a lot of miles, not to mention laughs, tears, and confidences. We’ve compared bruises; talked about kung fu and rugby, religion, politics, relationships and much more; and supported each other through a mental health crisis, relationship problems and work woes. She is an amazing woman and mother whom I am very fortunate to be able to call a friend.

These photos were taken today on a gorgeous run, during which we talked about Gavin and Stacey and British Bake-Off, David Tennant’s red silk pants in Don Juan in Soho, Adrian Scarborough and Noel Fielding (although no one could actually remember his name), and also had a couple of rather exhilarating sprints.

Running’s been there in the times when things weren’t quite as jolly, too. Logging the miles, along with the supportive companionship, helped me stay sane and get the necessary headspace to deal with what life was throwing my way.

This is why I like to take my coaching clients outdoors for some of our sessions. Quiet Space’s Coaching on the Run programme brings a different dimension to the coaching process. The natural environment, distance from the stress of home or the workplace, physical exertion, more headspace – the combination can have a cathartic effect that can be a real kickstarter for coaching. Drop me an email at enquiries@quietspacecoaching.co.uk to find out more.

You don’t need to think of yourself as a ‘runner’ to reap the benefits that the outdoors can have for mental health and wellbeing – you can do any combination of walking, jogging or running and it doesn’t matter how slow or fast you go. A mile is a mile, and you’ve got this.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

Change: Choice and commitment

A boat is safe in the harbour. But this is not the purpose of a boat.
One of the things about changes that you actually want in your life and your career is that in the main, they don’t happen unless you make a choice to do things differently. That often requires a foray into the unknown.

Sometimes it’s a leap of faith. Taking a chance doesn’t need to be terrifying, though. Careful evaluation of the situation and your options, while remaining open to unexpected opportunities, can be a great start. Coaching can help you to make the change you’ve been wanting to see, focusing first on awareness and understanding, followed by an openness to learning, a call to action, and then commitment to making it happen.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

Coaching for confidence, focus and resilience

Piano played by the Beatles
Earlier this year I had the wonderful opportunity to play the iconic piano used by the Beatles in Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios.

Negotiating with my 9 year-old recently about his piano practice I was reminded of this photograph – well-worn keys reflecting a lifetime of dedication.

I’m finding that it can be difficult to help children to learn that things worth having are worth working hard for, and how to bounce back from disappointment or failure when things don’t go your way.

Grit and resilience is something we need to work on as adults, too. Perhaps you’re struggling with confidence or motivation, or life has just become too overwhelming. Coaching can give you a greater awareness and appreciation of all that you are capable of; a renewed focus, structure and purpose; and the tools and support to reach your goals.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

Perspective

Exhibit on the moon
I took this at the Museum of the Moon exhibit at the Birmingham Thinktank this summer. It makes me smile – the tiny 4 year-old contemplating the magic of the full moon.

It also makes me think of perspective and our place in the world. We let issues that are inconsequential in the larger scheme of things get to us, when often we need simply to let them go. We can’t always change the world, but we can certainly change our response to it, which can make all the difference to our happiness.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd