How Sell Yourself in a Job Interview

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When I went for my first job interview two years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. University hadn’t taught me interview etiquette and I had to make it up as I went along. I look back on my old blog: How to succeed in a graduate job interview and can admire how much I have grown. The girl who wrote that didn’t understand the importance of authenticity. It’s pointless going into an interview pretending to be someone that your not. A good interviewer/ panel will be able to see straight through this.

You should aim to be yourself, but on a really good day.

It’s important to remember that getting an interview is half the battle won. Employers read hundreds of application forms and only select a handful of people to interview. Your application has sparked their interest and you already meet the important elements of the job specification. The interview is your opportunity to put your skills into context. You need to take the interviewer on a journey; highlighting your achievements, challenges and commitment to personal development. I hope this blog will show you how easy it is to sell yourself in an interview.

Research the organisation 

How did you pick your university? I’m sure you skimmed their prospectus, attended an open day or even watched a video. You need to do the same research when applying to work for an organisation.

  • What is their mission statement, aims and values?
  • What is their strategic plan and how could you contribute towards this?
  • What are their recent achievements?
  • Are their opportunities for personal development?
  • What are the employee benefits?

In my opinion these things should be researched and considered before applying for the job. You should be sure that you want to work for the organisation.

If you choose to attend an interview you should know all of the above information. The interviewer is likely to ask you at least one question to find out your knowledge of their organisation. If their missions/aims/values are issues that you care about mention this. This gives the interviewer an early indication of what you are passionate about and what motivates you. You are more likely to be selected for a job if your experiences and knowledge are relevant to the organisations mission and strategy.

Be able to confidentially articulate your knowledge/skills/experiences 

Good communication skills are essential in all jobs. If you aren’t able to articulate your suitability for the job, how will the interviewer know that you can work in teams, with clients or present information in meetings? It’s normal to be nervous, interviews are uncomfortable situations. It’s good to smile and even laugh .

Everyone has funny experiences and you shouldn’t feel that you can’t talk about them in an interview.

When you are asked a question really think about what information is being asked Common questions are:

  • Tell me about a time when you successfully managed a difficult client?
  • Tell me about a time when a project didn’t go to plan?
  • What are your weaknesses and how did you manage/ overcome them?
  •  Why did you apply for this role?

The possible questions are endless. I think the most interesting one would be the question about weaknesses. When most people apply for a job they don’t consider the areas they may struggle with. For example, I am a student advisor and I have to make difficult decisions on a daily basis. One of my weaknesses is that I may become too emotionally involved in a case. In order to manage this, I may decide to work on the case with another advisor or hand it over completely. Being able to identify and manage your weaknesses shows the interviewer that you are able to problem solve and manage difficult situations.

Ask them questions

If you went to your university open day you will remember all of the questions you asked the student ambassadors. What was the night life like and were the tutors supportive? You spend most of your life at work so it’s important to be in an environment that enables growth and happiness. For me the organisation’s mission, company culture and personal development opportunities are important. You are given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of your interview. This can be the best part as you are putting the interviewer/ panel on the spot. They have to sell the organisation to you. Don’t think that these questions have to be insightful. Ask about the things that are important to you.

The job market is tough and it’s important to be able to sell yourself to employers. They want to recruit talented individuals who they can train and develop. The interview is your opportunity to show your potential.

Do you have any tips for selling yourself in a job interview? 

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Understanding Race Issues at Work

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I spent three years at a university where I was predominately surrounded by black people and black culture. Looking back it felt like being in a parallel world where everything was catered to my needs and tastes. When I started work it was a culture shock. It felt like stepping into a club that I wasn’t really welcome in. Most of my colleagues had a shared experience. They all came from remote parts of the UK, liked the same music and had the same interests. I struggled to join conversations about bands I had never heard of or topics that I skipped in the newspaper. I couldn’t explain how I was feeling so I isolated myself.

I was often the only black face in university meetings and found this uncomfortable. I would do ridiculous amounts of reading before each meeting to reassure myself. I didn’t want to be the person to ask a stupid question or make a comment that wasn’t relevant. It felt like one wrong move would be letting down the entire race. I felt like an imposter. Although I received amazing feedback from my managers I still couldn’t believe that I was meant to be there. It felt like my cover might be blown at any moment and they would realize that I didn’t belong there.

Six months ago I attended a women’s leadership course that changed my life. In a room of complete strangers I stood up and said that I had never felt like I deserved to be in my role. I started to discuss my feelings at work. I started to talk about race for the first time in my life. In this blog I will share some of the things I have learned.

‘Black’ and ‘White are not bad words

I don’t know when black and white became bad words. It must have been since slavery- all I know it that most people are terrified to say them. It highlights difference and no one likes to be different. When I first started working I immediately assumed that there was something wrong with me. Now I know better, I am just different from my colleagues. I have been raised differently, eat different food and enjoy different music. As a black woman I am aware of my non-white surname when I apply for jobs. This isn’t something that my white colleagues have to think about- this is white privileged. Recognise the differences and let them empower you.

Sometimes you are a stereotypical black person (and that’s ok) 

Stereotypes are based on reality. People assume that girls from Essex are uneducated Barbies who all work in a tanning salons. Some of them do but the majority don’t. Black people get angry when white people stereotype them. It’s normal to make assumptions about people who you don’t associate with. At times I am a walking stereotype- the black girl who loves to twerk to bashment and eat chicken. I also enjoy listening to pop music and my ideal day would be exploring an ancient castle. How is anyone meant to know that if I don’t tell them? I have enjoyed being my ‘whole’ self at work.

The next time someone makes a comment you don’t like or makes you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself a question. Are they being disrespectful or do they need to be educated?

Your space isn’t a default, you have to create it

The reason I felt so uncomfortable at work was because not many black people had come before me. I didn’t have any role models. In recent months I have seen this as an opportunity to create my own space. I challenge the norm and continually work for a more inclusive work environment. This could be anything from questioning the amount of black staff employed to hosting an urban work social (coming soon). I enjoy working in an environment where I can influence change. Some black people are uncomfortable with being known as ‘race champions’ or ‘equality experts’ but this doesn’t bother me. White people don’t understand my experiences so it’s my job to try and help them to. Everyone is different and some of my suggestions might not work for everyone. The main thing to remember is you need to create an authentic space that you are comfortable in.

I have been meaning to write this blog for nearly a year but something always stopped me. I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable and I didn’t want to trivialise the issue of race at work. I wrote this blog for the black professional who needs to create their place. The black professional who might be uncomfortable at work but might not understand why. This is for you.

I am really interested in people’s thoughts/comments on this blog.

Are you a black professional experiencing any of the issues I have raised?  

If you are a white professional, did you know that these issues may exist in your place of work? 

Are you on the right life path?

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New graduates will be stressing about getting a job and moving out of their childhood bedroom. The more established graduate knows better (and has redecorated their childhood bedroom) because they know that ultimate fulfillment can never be achieved in a job. It’s a combination of job, relationships, health and personal development. You will only feel truly fulfilled when your life is balanced. But how exactly do you get there?

Universities are good for many things but creating a life isn’t one of them.

It’s likely that your job won’t be related to your degree and you will end up with a job title that you have never heard of. That’s fine. The most important thing is making sure that you are on the right path. What do I mean by this? You need to think about the sort of life you want. The following questions might help you:

1. Is making a lot of money important to me?

2 Do I live for others?

3 Do I have entrepreneurial spirit?

These questions should help you understand your life a bit better. Some of the answers might not be what you would like (most of us tend to live for other people) but that doesn’t mean you can’t change that. The following points should help you create a custom life path made just for you.

    Live according to your life vision and values

A life vision is an inspiring story or sentence about what your life will be. I see this as an internal map that guides me when I have difficult decisions to make. My life vision is simple:

To live a life without limits

To me this means constantly challenging myself in all areas of my life. I want to help people, write, love, travel and have fun. These aims are all attached to my life vision and say a lot about my values. I care about others and i’m a risk taker. I could never work in an organisation that didn’t value people or personal development.

Take a few minutes to think about what your life could be. Make it ambitious, make it exciting but most of all make sure that you are being true to yourself. Your life vision isn’t something that you have to share with anyone. It’s your internal map. If you know where you are going, it will be easier to make difficult life decisions and cope with challenges.

Stop Living For Others 

We are all influenced by someone or something. For most 20somethings it’s living a life that looks good on social media. The most important thing is to create a life that feels good on the inside. When I speak to older people their single biggest regret is living for others. It’s good to be selfish. You should consider your wants and needs before others. Negative relationships and unhappy jobs are draining. They stop you from focusing on your goals and ultimately achieving your life vision.

There is no such thing as a perfect life vision, it varies depending on the person. The most important thing is that you live a life that you love. This holistic life view will help you become better at making decisions and over time become happier. The only competition you have is you.

Are you struggling to find the right life path for you? Comment below 🙂 

From Intern to Fashion Professional: A London Graduate shares her story

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  1. What degree did you do?

Fashion journalism BA (Hons)

What was your university experience like?

I went to University for the Creative Arts in Epsom Surrey so didn’t experience much of the ‘crazy’ university lifestyle and night life. I also worked 20 hours a week so couldn’t really do the whole bumming around thing. I had to work really hard to get my degree and come across some real challenges along the way which tested me as a person. Looking back I’m glad I chose to go to uni.  All the stress and sleepless dissertation nights seem a long long way away now and seem to have paid off!

3. What is your current job and how did you get into the fashion industry?

I’m currently Press Assistant at Ted Baker.

I got into the fashion industry mainly by interning during and after uni with numerous fashion companies from small niche start-ups to huge retailers such as New Look. I always knew I wanted a career in PR so tried to get as much experience as I could before I started applying for jobs.

4. What’s the best part about your job? 

One of the best parts is seeing amazing coverage in one of my favourite publications and thinking ‘I did that!’. There’s a lot of work behind it which goes beyond just sending out a sample.

5. What advice would you give to graduates who would like a career in fashion?

At the start of your career never turn down a role within your desired industry because you think it’s below you or the salary is too low. In fashion you have to start from the very bottom in most cases but quickly work your way up if you show your determined and hard working.  Also have a thick skin and believe in yourself!

5 Things University Doesn’t Teach You

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This summer thousands of students will walk the stage at their graduation ceremony to receive their degree. It’s a life defining moment. After the years of hard work, stress and uncertainty you have made it. During the ceremony a keynote speaker will praise graduates for completing their education. There is talk of successful careers, and making your mark on the world. I heard a speech like this at my ceremony. The one thing the speaker didn’t mention was the importance of being a life long learner. The work place that these distinguish speakers entered decades ago has changed beyond recognition. Companies recruit talent over qualifications and career progression as we understand it know longer exists.

University encourages you to read pointless books and attend lectures that you won’t remember. The most valuable part of university is the social experience. Getting drunk, doing ridiculous things and having short intense relationships. The interpersonal skills that you develop doing these things are valuable in the work place. That drunken conversation makes a much more interesting story then what you learned in your literature seminar. If your looking for jobs you should concentrate on your unique selling point. People have now become branded.

This blog will explore 5 important things that university didn’t teach you.

How to manage relationships

Roosevelt said that in order to be successful you must know how to get along with people. This couldn’t be more true. People like to be around someone who is easy to get on with. This is something that recruiters consider before offering someone a job. Are you going to fit into the company culture? Maintaining positive relationships with colleagues is like being in a polygamy marriage. You have to get to know everyone on a personal and professional level. You need to be aware of their history, talents, dislikes and most importantly how they like to work. For example, my manager likes detail but my deputy chief executive likes to hear the bare essentials. If you are pitching an idea you need to know how to communicate it to different people. Like all relationships sometimes they decline. You will disagree and in extreme cases stop talking to each other. The main thing to remember is that relationships can always be rescued.

How to manage your career

The modern career consists of two things: your day job and your personal projects. It can be hard to feel fulfilled in a job, especially when you might be in a role that doesn’t suit you. When you first start working everything is exciting- having a telephone with my name on it excited me. As time passes your role may start to change or you might become bored. This is usually a sign that you need to move on. This could be going for a promotion or trying a different sector/role. You shouldn’t stay in the same role forever. You need to keep developing your skills and challenging yourself. That’s the best way to keep work exciting. You should’t be afraid to ask you manager for additional duties (although it’s unlikely you will be paid) or advice on moving on. A good manager will want to develop talent and help you get to where they want to be.

Jobs are constantly under threat. This could be due to organisational restructure, redundancy or you could be sacked (unlikely but still possible) so you need to develop your personal interests and talents. I am passionate about writing and personal development so I continue to develop this outside of work. Working for yourself can bring a sense of fulfilment and happiness. It also allows you to develop skills that you can write about on job application forms. Any future career change will also be easier for you. Most companies want potential candidates to be proactive and show creativity. By pursuing your personal interests you are showing employers that you are dynamic and have the potential to progress.

How to deal with change

Change is inevitable but most people don’t deal with it very well. That’s because it’s not a natural state, humans enjoy habit. We tend to do the same things on a daily basis. This doesn’t reflect what is happening in society. The quality of life that most people have is often dictated by the government. Over the last few years graduate unemployment has continued to rise and it’s becoming harder to find a job. You need to show employers that you can deal with life’s challenges without falling to pieces. At work things often don’t go according to plan. You need to be able to think quickly and find solutions to problems that you haven’t anticipated. In life you might experience family problems or relationship breakdowns. These are horrible things and you should deal with them. The important thing to remember is that you mustn’t allow these things to distract you from your true purpose. Sometimes a dream is all you have. Hold on to that when things get hard.

The importance of personal development

During your years as a student education was supposed to make you a better person. Getting a degree was meant to give you better career prospects and prepare you for life. This is a good start but you need to keep working. When I left university, I realised that I wanted to continue learning. I always think that there is room of self-improvement and continually strive to be a better person. When you start work your self confidence will take a knock. There will be lots of things that you need to learn and your likely to think that your not up to the job. This is normal. Once you become comfortable you might identify areas that you need to work on. Don’t ignore this, ask your manager for additional training. This could be in the form of one to one session, training courses or coaching. You should have an awareness of your personal strengths and weaknesses. Always try to use your strengths at work, you will be more successful and less stressed. Minimize doing work that involves your weaknesses. You don’t have to be good at everything.

At work I take advantage of all of the personal development opportunities. I have attended courses on coaching and leadership. These are good things to put on my cv and develop those much needed communication skills. Remember, the key to success is being able to get on with people. On a personal level, I practice mindfulness and meditation. This helps me to stay calm, focused and motivated. The internet is full of personal development tools so have a look. Being your best self is going to make you a successful person at work and in life.

The benefits of coaching or support groups

I discovered coaching about a year ago. I attended a course with work and we learned about the benefits of coaching. This includes better problem solving and active listening skills and conflict resolution. You can coach someone or you can be coached. If you are being coached the coach will ask you open questions to help you explore an issue that is bothering you. This proactive process will help you find your own solution and decide on a plan of action. This is a good tool to use at work. Alternatively, attending a support group can be beneficial. The years after graduation can be difficult and it’s hard dealing with constant uncertainty. Being in a group of people who have similar goals or worries can really help. I have just started a life club for people who actively pursue their goals. This will help inspire and motivate people to achieve their goals. The best thing about education is having a group that you can always call on with questions or concerns. In order to cope with life, it’s essential that you have a supportive group that can offer advice and hold you accountable to your goals.

Life after university can be a struggle. The hardest thing to deal with is uncertainty. I wish that someone would have told me about the realities of life after university. It’s never easy but I hope these tips can help you navigate the post uni world with more confidence

If you have found this blog useful please like and share with your friends

Useful Links/ Books

Tiny Budda– This website covers topics such as dealing with change, careers and developing positive habits http://tinybuddha.com/ 

Elite Daily– This website claims to be the voice of Generation Y. You will find interesting articles on love and life. http://elitedaily.com/

How to win friends and influence people- This is a great read for those who want to know more about how get along with people.  How to win friends and influence people

The Happiness Project– This book explores how small changes can increase your happiness and change your life. The happiness project

How to Live a Limitless Life

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What is happiness and how do we get there? This is something that generation Y seems to be obsessed with. Happiness is defined by the individual who seeks it. In my life happiness has meant different things at different times. I thought that graduating would make me happy and it did for a while. Then it was getting a good job. I didn’t realise that all of these life goals weren’t mine, they belonged to society. We are expected to live a standard life, work, pay bills and complain about the government. Live for the weekends and hate Monday mornings. Then eventually die with regrets, wishing that we had worked less and lived more. What would happen if we decided to live now?

A life without limits can only be achieved when you are living according to your beliefs and values. We shouldn’t allow the media, the government or our family’s to distract us from living our most authentic life. What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? These aren’t easy questions to answer. One thing life has taught me is that our direction constantly changes. The destination isn’t important, making the most of journey is. This blog will explore my ideas around living without limits and making the most of the journey.

Making the right decisions

Most people think that living a life without limits means being completely spontaneous. I don’t think that’s true. We all have to make big decisions about our lives every now and then. It’s easy to ignore them, I often do. When i’m faced with a big decision I try and get as many opinions as possible. This hasn’t been helpful and usually means I am further away from where I want to be. I have been desperate to move out of my parent’s house for the last 2 years. I really believed that living at home was stunting my personal growth. I became fixated on it. Then my life changed. My long term relationship ended and I wasn’t sure what direction my life was going  in. Suddenly moving out didn’t seem so attractive. I wanted to live with minimal responsibility and still have the company and support of my parents. Does this make me any less of an adult? This is one of the first decisions I have made by myself and it feels right.

Making decisions are always going to be hard because there are so many factors to consider. Although we would all like to pretend to be selfish, we do care about what other people think of our decisions. It’s normal to ask for advice but the final decision should always be yours. Now when I make decisions I ask myself; does this decision take me closer to where I want to be?

Creating Opportunities

I have always been told that I should take opportunities. Since leaving university opportunities have been harder to find. I think this is because I have become distracted by life’s challenges. A few weeks ago I stopped being busy and started to think about my life. I was in a job that had suddenly become tedious and I didn’t feel fulfilled. My one true love has always been writing and I have decided to pursue this. I have signed up for an 8 week introduction to journalism course. This is an expensive venture in terms of money and time. Despite this I know it’s time to chance the dream.

We are often made to think that opportunities are given by others. Sometimes they are but they are also created. This requires effort. You might have to spend hours on Google, talk to friends or follow up distant contacts. When something feels difficult the first thing we want to do is give up, most people do. Feel the discomfort and keep pushing for what you want.

Cutting the Cost

I have always been spoilt, so much so that one of my friend’s nicknamed me princess. I have expensive tastes and I like the best of everything. I felt like a rich girl born into a working class family. I had an inherent sense of privilege and this affected where I shopped and the people I would mix with. I was a snob without the money. I didn’t realise that I was missing out on great experiences just because they didn’t come with 5 star treatment. Recently I have decided to spend less and do more. This new attitude took me to Gambia in March 2015. The hotel wasn’t luxurious and we didn’t have lots of spending money. This didn’t matter because we were determined to experience a new culture. It wasn’t the best holiday I have ever been on but I returned to London with a new found gratitude for my life.

Living in the digital age isn’t easy and we are surrounded by images that we try to imitate. We have all had Instagram envy, that person we follow who always seems to be on luxurious holidays or buying designer clothes.That is someone else’s life and we will never know what they had to sacrifice to get where they are. You shouldn’t limit your life experiences because you can’t experience them in the way you would like. Like they say in fresher’s week, give it a go. You might like it.

Happiness is expensive. You will need time, energy and self-belief. You will need to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone, say yes when you really want to say no. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wishing that it could be different, neither should you. You have all of the tools to live a limitless life. You just have to trust yourself enough to use them.

What do you think is needed to live a life without limits? Please comment below.

Follow @graduate21quotes for regular inspiring quotes

The Second Adolescence: Why your 20s is the opportunity to find yourself all over again.

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I have spent the last 18 months living like a ”proper adult”. Working the 9-5, hating Monday mornings and smoking cigarettes to take the edge of my stressful but mundane existence.  Although I have recently quit my 5 a day habit, I still worry about my wobbly middle and when I will be able to afford to leave my parent’s house. I have gone through depression, manic positivity and back again. I was so preoccupied with what I felt my life should be that I have refused to live it. I would constantly make excuses about why I couldn’t do something. How could I go out when I should be saving? I knew that I was wasting my 20 something years.

Then suddenly something changed. I was looking back at my university albums on Facebook and I saw a girl I didn’t recognise. That girl loved to dress up, party and have fun. I could have a great night with just £20 but now I refused to go out unless I had £100. I wanted to feel like that again. I wanted to experience new things, travel the world and feel carefree. Don’t get me wrong my university years weren’t perfect but I did have some great experiences. To be honest I wasn’t sure where to start when it came to being carefree again.  Then I discovered the best book I have ever read:

”The defining decade: Why your 20s matter and how to make the most of them now

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A no nonsense psychologist use’s her experience of the 20 something state to provide guidance on mental health, relationships and careers.  Dr Meg said that most people see their 20s as an extended adolescence but it wasn’t. This is the one thing that I disagreed with. I think the 20 something years are actually a second adolescence. Do you remember what it was like to be 15? Raging hormones and loving and hating with equal measure. Most of all fiercely sticking to your beliefs. Well this time around it could be even better. As adults we tend to conform to the belief’s of our families, friends and society in general. Does this make you happy? This is your last chance to create an authentic life. A life filled with your passions, values and vision.

Find your vocation

When I left university I was determined to find a job that I loved. I always assumed it would be working in a Publishing House but my path took me to the Student Movement. As a student advisor I am responsible for providing academic advice. I also offer relationships advice, tissues and great hugs. My job allows me to use the skills that come naturally to me. I leave my office every night knowing that I have made a difference to someone’s life. My job isn’t glamorous and it wont make me rich but I love it. What do you love?

 Ever heard the saying “find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life?” it’s true. I am always sorting out family disputes, relationship breakdowns and the problems of my friends- without payment I might add. I actually get paid to help people now, it can’t get better then that. Do you enjoy your job? If the answer is no then you need to find something better. You are too young to settle for a job that your not passionate about. This the time when we have minimal responsibilities. Find the career you want before you have real commitments like a mortgage or children.

Stop worrying and just do it 

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In January I booked a holiday to Gambia with my best friend.  Why? Because it was cheap, cultured and hot. Simple. Would I have done something like this last year? No. I was too busy worrying about saving for my imaginary flat, my old age and anything else that my mother suggested. I pay a monthly pension (because old age will happen) and my bills. Everything else is there for what I like to call ”enjoy my life fund”. I am only here once and I want to experience as much of life as I can. Things change and there might be a time where I can’t be so spontaneous with my time or money but I can right now. What could you be doing right now?

I think we can hold ourselves back because we feel like we should be living like an adult. Are you parent’s happy with their lives? Some might be but most of them aren’t. The biggest regret I hear from older people is not doing more when they were younger. A holiday could give you a new perspective on life. Doing something different usually brings new opportunities. If you allow fear and worry to hold you back, your life will never be fun or exciting.

What does this all mean? 

I came up with this blog when I was watching my favourite show called Absolutely Fabulous. The show is centred around two middle class alcoholics who live for the moment. For me it’s not about the drug taking or the chain smoking. It’s about two women who live according to their own rules. I think it’s important to make the most of our 20 something years. This might mean drinking until you pass out, travelling the world or just making time for hobbies. The important thing is to make the most of your time, your passions, and your loved ones.

New Year New You? Give yourself a break

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As I welcomed the new year from my front room, I couldn’t help but feel anxious about the month ahead. The media was going to spend 31 days telling me how fat I am and my mother was going to start questioning my portion size ‘ I thought you said you wanted to cut down?’ For the past 10 years I have made new years resolutions that I didn’t start until January 5th (I needed to cram in all the left over Christmas junk) and I would have given up by the 15th. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of failure. This year was supposed to be different wasn’t it?

For the first time ever I have given up my new years resolutions. I smoked, drank and overate for most of last year, so I doubt that January was going to be any different. Then the most extraordinary thing happened. I haven’t smoked in two weeks ( yes I stopped in 2014) and I have been to the gym twice in the same week. I have managed to avoid the work cafe and I don’t want to kill anyone because of my chocolate cravings- I don’t have any. I have wanted to adopt a healthy lifestyle for years and it’s finally happening because I’m not overt-thinking  it. It’s time to give yourself a break and actually allow yourself to live.

It’s ok to be yourself

It’s natural to want to make changes at the beginning of the new year. However, it’s not ok to mentally beat yourself to a pulp. The nasty things that people say and do to themselves in January is harmful. Like a drink? then why participate in ‘dry January’? It’s only going to make you crave it more. Drinking a glass of wine does not make you an alcoholic, the same as eating a bar of chocolate doesn’t make you fat. Everything in moderation.

Despite looking to celebrities for help, look within yourself. No one knows you better then you do. I have an obsessive personality which means I can take the smallest things to the extreme. I knew if I started a diet I would be starving myself by the end of the week. Instead I have decided to cook more regularly which means I have more control of what I am eating. This means I will eat out less. Happy purse and looser jeans! You need to think about what is realistic for you. You might find that January isn’t the time to make any life changes. That’s fine, you are fine as you are.

Don’t set any goals

At work they stress the importance of setting time specific goals. It’s the key to getting things done. It doesn’t work that way in real life. Last year I said that I wanted to write 2 blog posts a week. I never did this. The reason is simple- my blogs come to me through life experience. They practically write themselves. I can’t schedule this into a neat time slots. It’s the same with many things. As a self confessed personal development addict, I love nothing better then trying to improve different areas of my life. I am always looking for something better. This means that I spend a lot of time thinking about the future and trying to rush the present. Do you do that? Wishing away the hours, days and minutes so that you can get to that place and achieve that goal?

Putting pressure on yourself never gets results. Make this the year that you really live. Don’t be afraid to try new things because you could spend that time working on your goals. If it feels right go with it. I feel like we have all become addicted to self improvement because we are told we are not good enough. Yes you are.

Make the most of each month

Do you know anyone with a 5 year plan? I have encountered those superhumans who have a great plan for their life. I remember a guy at university knew what type of wife he wanted- someone who would look good on his arm during those business meetings. Considering we only graduated 1.5 years ago, I doubt he is in a senior management position. This is an example of how people set themselves up for failure. I was the same for a long time. I had an idea of how my life was supposed to be and it definitely wasn’t this one. Although I love my job it’s not glamorous and I don’t earn enough to live on my own. We can spend so much time trying to create the perfect life that we waste time. I am realizing that the years pass quickly and I want to make the most of them. This means planning exciting/enjoyable things every month. I’m not going to wait for certain things to happen before I start to live. Life is far to short for that.

I was inspired to write this blog when I picked up Closer magazine. As much as I complain about the media I love it. The only change is i’m not allowing it to have a negative effect on me and dictate my life. You are the ruler of your own destiny. You have the freedom to make your own decisions. Always remember that.

I wish you all a liberating 2015 x

Discover the Freeing Power of “Yes”

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I remember a time where I spent most of my life living in my comfort zone. That meant saying “no” to new experiences and “no” to change. I was stuck in the familiar. I noticed that this attitude was affecting me in another important area of my life- my relationship. I wanted things to stay the same and didn’t know what to do when they started changing. I don’t know when the turning point came. Maybe it was when I realized I would soon be single if things didn’t change. This was just the beginning.

I hadn’t realized that constantly saying “no” had turned me into a selfish person. I was unwilling to share new experiences with family and friends because it made me feel uncomfortable. I was forcing people to participate in my activities, my thoughts and my hobbies without trying theirs.  Saying “no” wasn’t only limiting my experiences but also the experiences of others. I wanted to become a better person and open myself up to opportunity. I had always thought of myself as someone who dealt with change well, but I didn’t . As we all know, without change we prevent personal growth. Change is going to happen anyway, you will be forced along life’s journey whether you like it or not.  It’s better to choose the direction of your life rather then just accepting what you are given.

I have learned the freeing power of “yes”. Relationships can be transformed and the mundane becomes exciting. In this blog I will explore how saying “yes” will set you free and change your life.

Say “Yes” to a limitless career

When I first started working I was determined to keep my personal and professional life separate. After a long year of trial and error, I realized that this was impossible. The connections you make at work can be the most valuable part of the job. Your staff team is diverse with a range of cultures, opinions and personalities. I found this really hard to deal with at first but I have learnt that “making friends” isn’t important. Your colleagues  don’t have to love you- just appreciate you.  You should establish yourself as a valuable member of your team through a strong work ethic and personality. The moment I stopped obsessing over maintaining a work/life divide everything got better. It’s important to for colleagues to know you on a personal and professional level. How much you want to share is up to you.

As I have grown into my role (student advisor) I see myself as part of a movement rather then just doing a job. I want to know more about the issues facing students in higher education and I am always reading. I am the first to volunteer for conferences, seminars and to attend meetings. I am gaining a picture of the student movement and my role within it, rather then just sitting behind my desk. If you want to develop a successful career you have to be prepared to go above and beyond your job role. I don’t like job titles much, I think they limit potential. If you have an idea that is outside of your area, take it to your manager. You could run a project outside of your area. Anything is possible.

Say “Yes” to amazing relationships

I am a emotional person and relationships are very important to me. In last few years my friendships have changed a lot and I was becoming quite negative about them. I couldn’t understand why things couldn’t be the same. I started distancing myself from friends because I was so unhappy. I would avoid social events and focus on the things they did to upset me. My relationship with my fiancee was also going through a rough patch and I didn’t know how to make it better. After some thought I realized my communication skills were poor.

It’s amazing how most of use pride ourselves on our communication skills on CV’s but struggle with the people closet to us. I decided to open myself up again. This hasn’t been easy and I still struggle. The main difference can be seen in my attitude. I have decided to stop dwelling on past issues and move on. This is allowing me to become fully present in all my relationships and communication is improving daily. The first step in creating amazing relationships is believing that you deserve them.

Say “yes” to new opportunities

How many of you are scared of change? We are all guilty, it’s fear of the unknown. I used to battle with change and did my best to keep everything the same. As a writer I constantly compare myself to others. This was making me feel inadequate and I refused to acknowledge my ideas . I was scared of failure. We have all experienced failure many times. It’s a part of life. I decided that I wasn’t going to let fear stop be from developing my writing and my ideas.

Opportunities come in many forms and not all of them are life changing. The point I am trying to make is you should always pursue your passions. What is important to you? That’s the best way to decide if an opportunity is  worth taking or not.

I am committed to my personal development and getting others to recognize their potential. We are all a lot more powerful then we realize but chose to ignore it. We should stop allowing others to define us. What does freedom mean to you?

Use your Vision to Create a Life

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Don’t we all wish we had complete freedom? To live a life without boundaries. Imagine earning a living doing what you loved, making your own decisions and embracing new opportunities. To most people this may sound like a dream, for others a working progress. I fall into the latter category. I am a dreamer and an idealist. I believe that anything is possible once you have a vision. I never had a vision until recently. I always knew that I wanted to be successful. I found this unspecific goal stressful. I didn’t have my own definition of success so used Instagram and Facebook as benchmarks. Not a very good idea. I have spent the last year going through different phases. The workaholic, the money obsessed and my least favourite -the depressed. I even visited a psychologist- guided self- help did little to restore me.  I was destroying my closest relationships and all I wanted to do was sleep. I don’t know what happened but I decided that I had had enough.

I was making myself miserable.I was focusing on the way my life should have been instead of accepting how it was. I knew I had to start living the life I had been given. Day by day I started engaging with people again. I become spontaneous, I laughed a lot and began reading regularly. I stopped the diet and started losing weight. Subconsciously I had stopped goal setting and started living. I had created a vision. I lived according to what I wanted to do and how I wanted to feel. I believe that anyone can make these changes, find a vision and create the life that they want.

Get Writing and start Reading

We can never escape our thoughts- good or bad. I believe that our thoughts create reality, so it’s important to have a safe place to record them. Thoughts can be irrational, insightful or just plain negative. They are all valuable and help us shape who we are. I use my diary to record my thoughts or discuss difficult ideas. I say discuss because I literally have a written discussion with myself. Writing is the best way to quiet the mind. It’s also a good way to record personal thoughts that could be difficult sharing with others. A diary is also a good way to chart your personal development. You will be amazed at how much you change on a daily basis.

If you can read a book then you can change your life. There are so many different genre’s to explore- my favourite is history. I believe that there is so much to learn from the past. Why are people in WW2 Britain so resilient despite so much uncertainty? Through books I draw on the strength of people from generations past- It makes everything that comes my way much more bearable. What are you interested in and what vision do you have for your life? Start reading around that topic. When life gets hectic it’s always nice to no that you can lose yourself in another world, another person’s life or an idea.

I believe that reading and writing are crucial habits to develop when creating a vision.

Embrace Change and Opportunity 

I have always dealt fairly well with change but sometimes it can be a shock. Especially if you can’t see it coming. These days I always see change as creating an opportunity. At this time in my life I am noticing constant change in my career. I think the worst thing anyone can do is become too comfortable in a job or in an organisation. Things can change overnight and your expected to change with them. If you are in a job that no longer serves your purpose you need to leave. You should never worry about making a living. There is always another job but you only have one life. Similarly, if you have the opportunity of promotion take it. Don’t allow a job specification or salary put you off applying. Only you know your capabilities.

Another major change that we experience is in relationships. This includes romantic, family and friendships. We tend to cling to relationships because they are familiar. They shelter us from the world and life seems unbearable without them or if they change. I have learned to expect them to change. Relationships only work if both people give and take in equal amounts. When someone begins to take more then you have to offer, it’s time to distance yourself. When creating a vision for your life, the people you surround yourself with is very important. They need to be loving, supportive and driven. They will bring out the best in you.

Dealing with change will never be easy but you can make it bearable. Think of the positives and allow change to inspire you. A vision is constantly changing.

Connect with the People you love

Technology makes it harder to make real connections with people. We have become used to instant interaction. These conversations usually lack depth or feeling. This can leave us feeling isolated and lacking passion in other area’s of our lives. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t use WhatApp or Facebook- they can keep relationships going. However, they can’t replace a phone call, dinner date or shopping trip. We need to make real life connections, these are the most meaningful. When you have strong relationships in your life you are a better person. You feel more secure, confident and are able to make good decisions. When creating a vision always imagine the people you love with you. No matter how crazy life get’s don’t forget the importance of connecting with the ones you love.

Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

I am not a healthy eating expert or fitness guru but I can honestly say I have found the key to wellness. Eating good foods and moving often really helps my physical and mental health. When I ate a lot of junk food I felt demotivated and tired. It was impossible to make the changes I needed when I didn’t have the energy. Our lives are made up of different sections, when one isn’t right the others don’t work aswell. It’s important to be aware of how you are treating your body and what results this is giving you. I don’t support diets because I believe most of them are restrictive and unhealthy. Instead I encourage you to find balance. It’s not easy but when you find this, your body and mind will become exactly how they need to be.

My experience has made me dislike goals. They are so final- when I don’t achieve them I feel like a failure. On the other hand, a vision is fluid, ever changing, just like you. What feels right today might be different tomorrow. There is room for change. It’s about taking consistent positive actions, bit by bit your life will change in line with your vision. You will create the life you have always wanted.