Articles

Starting Over…Again!

In two weeks time I will be starting a new job.  Yes, that’s right folks, another one.  In fact, this will be the fourth job I have had this year.  I think when I look back on 2018, the archives will be full of memories of being interviewed.

The last few weeks have been strange and strained.  I have felt unable to get into it here, because without knowing what was next, it seemed like self-indulgent whining.  Since the summer, I have started, and finished, two new roles.  For the record, neither of these positions were supposed to be temporary.

As much as I have tried to reassure myself that these things happen and everyone is allowed to have a run of bad luck sometimes, I couldn’t prevent my confidence from being severely dented.  The last job ended after only 8 weeks, when my boss told me he didn’t think I was the right person for the job.  I wasn’t being fired, as such, but there was a clear invitation to resign.

As I sat across that board room table, trying to remain composed, all I could think was “he is right.”  All these years I have been playing a part and now finally I am exposed as the fraud I always knew I was.  At least that is what I thought on that fateful Wednesday.

In the weeks since then, there has been a lot of soul searching and no small amount of tears.  I honestly did not know if I had what it would take to dust off the CV and try to sell myself again.  My shame and my sadness were so raw, I felt sure that it would be obvious to anyone who met me.

Luckily, there’s no better decision making tool than not having a choice.  Although I wasn’t in immediate danger of ending up on the bread line, I knew I needed to get back to work in short order.  A month or two of unemployment was realistically all I could afford.

Of course, I fantasized about walking away from corporate life and immersing myself into my writing, Zumba and the Podcast.  As appealing as that sounds, it isn’t a viable option right now.  I am not ruling it out completely, but it’s more of a long term proposition.

I realised that I needed to build myself back up again.  I had to restore my resilience and my energy, and get ready to hear all the nos that inevitably come with job seeking.  I had given myself the deadline of the New Year to try to get something in place.  As many of you who know me will understand, I am not good as sitting still.  I am prone to depression and lounging around in a dressing gown will surely set me on that course.  It was important for me to stay busy.

I needed a new project, something to take my mind off my current situation and keep my brain engaged.  Just then, something amazing happened.  A friend on Facebook (to this day I am still unsure how we are even connected) put up a post looking for someone to help him.  He needed a writer for his MMA blog.  I answered his call, even though I know very little about MMA or any sport for that matter.  For some reason he decided to let me try out.

This project turned out to be exactly what I needed.  It is a challenge for sure.  I am learning a lot, which I always love and I am getting to meet so many interesting people.  Under my editor’s guidance I am producing work that I am incredibly proud of.  I am doing things like driving 220km to attend MMA fights on my own, which I never would have imagined myself doing.

All of this started to have an affect on me.  My confidence began to return.  I started to feel less useless.  Furthermore, I figured out that as humans, our capability to reinvent ourselves is infinite.  If I can step into the role of MMA reporter, what else can I do?  We are only limited by our imagination.  It made me feel a lot better about having to sell myself in the job market, that’s for sure.

I know it is a cliché, but I do believe that sometimes when it feels like everything is falling apart, it is actually falling into place.  If I had not had such a bad run of employment luck this year, I never would have had these few weeks off to rest and reevaluate.  I experienced what was probably my greatest professional fear coming to pass, and I lived to tell the tale.  That fear won’t have as great a hold over me in the future.

I also would not have had the opportunity to try something new and the pick up some new skills.  I have interviewed some people for the site and it has lead me to think about interviewing people for the Podcast, which I don’t know if I would have felt equipped to do before.  I have shown myself that even at the ripe old age of 37, I can still learn.  I can still have adventures.  I can still surprise myself.

I am proud of myself for walking away from a bad situation.  The Arwen of old would have gritted her teeth and tried to make it work.  I am no longer prepared to sacrifice my self-worth for a pay cheque and that is huge.

I am going into this new role full of excitement and hopeful that it will be a good fit.  If it doesn’t work out I might have to try lion taming!  At the risk of sounding ambivalent, if it isn’t a good fit, it won’t be the end of the world.  I now know I am capable of dusting myself off and trying again.  I will keep you posted.  Be well xxx

 

Articles

Everybody Fails!

Three months ago, I started a new job.  I was full of excitement and eagerly anticipated the challenge.  Last week, I handed in my notice.  The role wasn’t what I expected it to be, and the practices were hitting off my triggers.  For lots of other reasons, which are too dull to go in to, I decided it wasn’t for me.  This was an impossibly difficult decision to make.  I hate walking away from anything, especially when I don’t feel like I have given it a proper try.  Even though I know it’s irrational, and though I am fairly sure I am doing the right thing, I still feel like I have failed.

In all honestly, the last 12 months or so have been pretty disastrous work wise.  It started going down hill this time last year, when a promotion I was promised fell through.  The promotion involved spending a lot of time in the UK, so getting mentally geared up for it had been tough.  But once it was decided on, I was committed to giving it my all.  When it didn’t work out, I felt completely heartbroken.  It was as though the rug had been pulled out from underneath me.  I knew that the change of plan was just that, a business decision which had nothing to do with me personally.  Nor was it a reflection of my work or my ability.  Still the experience left me destabilised and unsettled.  A change was needed.

The thing was, I didn’t hate my job.  In fact, I quite liked it.  I had genuine affection for my colleagues, so I wasn’t going to take just any old job.  It had to be the “right move.”  After a fairly drawn out job hunt, I found a position which seemed to tick all the boxes.  It was a step up, more money, not too much of a commute and in a growing company so there would be plenty to challenge me and hold my interest.  Sounds perfect, right?  I thought so.  I was wrong.

So what?  I tried something, it didn’t work out and I moved on.  No big deal.  I have a new job lined up and having been completely honest with them about the reasons this one hasn’t worked out, I am hopeful not to experience the same issues.  This job is even closer to home.  I will have the shortest travel time I have ever had, which in itself is a reason to be happy.  The role has a lot going for it and I know I should be ecstatic.  99% of me is, in fact, delighted.  But the other 1% is loud, obnoxious and impossible to ignore.

It keeps reminding me that I thought I was making the right move before and I was DEAD WRONG.  It whispers to me that I FAILED.  It prompts me to wonder if this career path is really for me.  It waits in the dark to ask me “what if the problem isn’t them, what if it’s YOUR FAULT?”  No amount of rational thinking, meditation or mindfulness can quieten these fears.  The inconvenient truth is that the experiences of the last year have left me doubting my own instincts.  I have spent so long not knowing what to do, that it has become the default.  I can’t stop thinking, what if I start in the new job and it’s even worse?  Is it a case of better the devil you know?

I recognise that uncertainty and anxiety are completely normal during times of change.  I understand that even though they might not admit it, everyone experiences the same range of emotions.  I also know that everybody fails.  The reality is, if you have never failed, you haven’t tried hard enough.  If you always stay within your comfort zone and never stretch yourself, you eliminate the risk of failure.  But, you also eliminate the potential for growth.

Fail_Chart_1800x

So, once more into the breach I go.  Come Monday I will be taking another step into the unknown.  Scared as I am, I will try my hardest to walk in there with an open mind and an open heart.  To do anything less is to cheat myself.  It is the same when we start a new relationship, make a new friend, or start trying to lose weight for what feels like the 219th time.  Letting go of past “failures” is the most important, and often most difficult, first step to take.

I cannot tell you how excited and nervous I am.  Even as I write this, I am painfully aware of how flaky and changeable I must seem.  I desperately want this to work out.  I need to feel settled again.  So much of my identity and self worth is tied up with my professional life.  It is the corner piece of my jigsaw, without it being in place I find myself unable to work on anything else.  Routine is vitally important to me and in its absence it I struggle to keep my fitness, nutrition or pretty much anything else on track.  Wish me luck, and be well xxx

 

Articles

Work to Live?

The last few days, have been some of the most challenging of my professional life.  Without going into too much detail (it’s a long and boring story) I was faced with huge disappointment.  A promise, which had been made to me, was broken and I felt utterly bereft.  In the hours and days which followed, I found myself questioning everything.  Was it my fault somehow?  Did I deserve to be treated this way, after all I had been waiting for the other shoe to drop!  Was it “normal” to feel like this, or had I simply over invested in this opportunity?  Had I put too much of my heart on the line?

You see, that’s the trouble with me.  When I commit to something, I go all in.  Whether I am crunching numbers, teaching a cookery class or coaching nutrition clients, I put my all into the work.  In the words of the great Kahlil Gibran, “Work is love made visible.”  I have always believed this, and so I take my work extremely personally.

A few months back, I had had a particularly arduous day.  I had spent the day making a presentation to a nutrition group, and taking back to back appointments with one to one clients.  The evening was spent teaching a cookery class.  By the time I got home, my head was spinning and my body exhausted.  Tired and wired, I collapsed into bed for what would prove to be a sleepless night.  I remember talking to a good friend about it and saying “I wish I could do these things, without putting so much of myself in to it.”  Of course, he and I both knew this was not the truth.  I simply don’t have the ability to phone it in, or go through the motions.  With me, it is all or nothing.

I received the disappointing news when I was parked in front of the gym.  Immediately the tears began to flow.  Like a tidal wave, there was no controlling it.  I sat there, red faced and soggy, desperately trying to resist the urge to ask strangers for a hug.  I was frantically texting everyone who knew about the situation, looking for comfort and advice.  I am so thankful to everyone who was there for me in that moment.  Most especially, I am grateful for the text which just said “go train.”

So, that is exactly what I did.  I dried my eyes, kinda, and went and did a workout.  I had no plan, and I would probably struggle to tell you what I actually did.  I just kept doing rep after rep, set after set until the tears stopped threatening.  By the time I was finished training, I was numb, depleted and really ready for a glass of wine!  I spent a lot of time over the weekend reflecting, and comfort eating.  I gave myself licence to lick my metaphorical wounds.  My sister had suggested dipping cookie dough into peanut butter, while sitting in my “depressing gown,” but I thought that was a bridge too far!

As many of the great philosophers say, we are not judged by what happens to us in life, but by how we respond to it.  My initial response, and one which I am still drawn to, was a desire to curl up in a little ball and cry about how unfair it all is.  My secondary impulse was to say “screw them,” and adopt a work to rule policy.  You know, do what is required of me, no more, no less and leave on time every night!  The irony is, that enticing as these action plans are, neither of them would serve me very well.

I have decided instead to be the bigger man.  I will continue to do my job as well as I am able, and conduct myself in a way I can be proud of.   I realise that in a few months, this situation will not seem as big or as important as it does now.  It might even turn out to be a blessing in disguise, who knows.  Another important thing for me to try to remember, is that I am not a victim, powerless to withstand the corporate machine.  I am not trapped.  I have choices and that is extremely empowering.  Even if my choice is to do nothing, to let the dust settle and the emotion die down before rushing to judgement, I am still doing that on my own terms.

Every one of us is unfortunately going to experience set backs in life.  Whether they are career related or not.  Being upset and disappointed by them is not a sign of weakness, it merely means you were invested and you trusted.  Curve balls will be thrown at us in our relationships and with our health as well, and learning to adapt to them, without compromising yourself, is a difficult lesson indeed.  As Rudyard Kipling counsels “If you can meet both triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same.”  Events in life don’t happen to us, they just happen!  It is up to us to decide whether to let them bolster us or break us.

As for me, I am very much in wait and see mode.  A naturally emotive person, this is a struggle for me.  However, if I act in haste, I am sure to repent at my leisure.  Watch this space.  Be well xxx