We all have the occasional bad day at work but what do you do if the bad days increasingly outnumber the good ones? If the pendulum has swung too far to the ‘bad’ side, when is it time to throw in the towel and look for a better job?
First of all, don’t ignore your instincts. We all have an inner gut feeling and sometimes that’s the best thing to act on. Ask yourself how much you really dislike your job. If you only hate it sometimes, perhaps there is a way to solve the problem without having to leave. Can you address the issue with your line manager in an effort to improve your happiness at work? However, if you know that you’re deeply unhappy in your current post and have been for a while, there’s no question that you should look for alternative employment.
Here are 7 signs that definitely point towards the exit route.
1 – You dread going to work every day.
Do you wake up every morning and wish you didn’t have to go in, or that the workday was already over? Perhaps you’re tempted to call in sick simply because you can’t face another day at the office? While it’s normal to be worried or frustrated on occasion, if you really dread going to work every day and it’s causing you undue stress, it’s time to hand in your notice.
2 – You routinely complain about work to your friends or family.
Does every conversation you have somehow end up with you letting off steam about your job? Do you complain about your boss, your colleagues, the company ethos or the ways it is (badly) run? If all your job ever evokes is a negative reaction, without anything positive to make up for it, maybe now is a good time to review your options.
3 – There’s no opportunity for career progression.
If you’re stuck in a dead end job without any opportunity for growth or development in your chosen field, or you feel you’re overqualified, you’re wasting your time there. If you feel you’ve get everything you’re ever going to get out of you current job in terms of training, skills and experience, invest your energy into finding another employer: a company that is committed to supporting you in your career development.
4 – The company culture isn’t a good fit.
If you’re stuck in a traditional 9-5 job and have repeatedly tried but failed to negotiate more flexible working arrangements to fit around your lifestyle, personal commitments or family demands, this could be a deal breaker. Better to look for an employer who is more sympathetic to accommodate your preferences and give you the work/life balance you need.
5 – There’s a consistently negative atmosphere at work.
A negative vibe at work can zap morale and kill any passion for the job. If you have a toxic boss, or colleagues who never seem to stop moaning, and there’s no in-house awareness that this situation needs addressing urgently, it’s not surprising that there’s no motivation or enthusiasm to do a good job, and no respect for the company that’s employing you. You may even doubt your career choice. Time to leave.
6 – Your opinion is not wanted or heard.
If you feel that any thoughts, ideas or suggestions you choose to put forward at work are not valued, are routinely ignored or actively disrespected, this creates an unsupportive environment that can quickly take a toll on your self esteem. You should feel comfortable to voice your opinions at the office in the full expectation that your input is recognised and appreciated.
7 – Your mental and/or physical health is starting to suffer.
If you’re unhappy at work to the extent that it’s making you ill, get out as soon as you can. Are you working such long hours that there’s no time for relaxation, healthy eating, exercise or proper sleep? Do you drink excessively to get over a bad day at the office? Are you taking as many sick days as you can get away with? Are you being bullied at work? No job is worth sacrificing your wellbeing for, so start looking around.
If you feel you would benefit from talking to a qualified career coach or a trained psychotherapist to help you deal with your unhappy job situation, please give KlearMinds a call on 0333 772 0256. Our experienced team uses a unique approach focusing on empowering you to fully understand the blocks to your success and how to overcome them.
We all love a bit of retail therapy now and again, but when you get a buzz from the act of spending itself rather than from what you’ve actually bought, and particularly if you’re regularly spending more than you can afford, you might want to stop and think about what this might mean.
Put bluntly, emotional spending has nothing to do with shopping for things you need. Instead, you turn to spending money because of how you are feeling, such as in the following situations:
You’re feeling happy about something and you celebrate by going shopping.
You’re feeling unhappy with yourself and cheer yourself up by going shopping.
You’re feeling stressed about something and going shopping is a welcome distraction.
You’re feeling less than someone else and use shopping as a way to keep up with them.
A recent study showed that 19 million UK shoppers did so for emotional reasons. Emotional spending in 2017 led to a total of £26.5 billion in credit card debt – that’s a huge problem.
So, how do you know if you’re an emotional shopper? Well, ask yourself the following questions and see if one or several of them strike a chord:
Are you routinely trying to justify your purchases to yourself or to others?
Do you often feel worried or anxious after a shopping spree?
Do you make a habit out of hiding receipt, tags, shopping bags or any other shopping evidence?
Do you own lots of things you haven’t used or worn, or in fact forgotten that you had them?
If you’re affected by emotional spending, the trick is to understand what’s going on inside you, so that you can tackle the bad money behaviour. Here are 5 emotional motivations that can cause a disconnect between you and your financial decisions.
Once you’ve decided to put an end to your poor financial behaviour, there are some practical steps and techniques you can implement straight away to avoid emotional spending. These include:
Unsubscribe from mailing lists, so you are less likely to be seduced. The same goes for store cards – cut them up and close the account.
Never save your card details on shopping sites. The temptation to shop with just one click is far too great.
When shopping online, ask yourself whether you intended to buy the item when you first entered the website, how much you need it and how you would justify the purchase to someone else.
When you go shopping, set yourself a firm budget and take the money with you in cash, leaving cards at home.
Identify your triggers and devise alternative strategies to deal with the emotion that doesn’t involve spending.
As a last ditch resort, use the 24 hour rule: Wait for a full day and see whether you still really want to buy the item before making a purchase.
If you feel that it would be beneficial to speak to an experience and sympathetic counsellor about your emotional spending habits, please call the team at KlearMinds in confidence or email email@example.com. Our expert psychoanalysts, life coaches and counsellors are powerfully equipped to give you the best opportunity for positive results and help you achieve fast, lasting change.
If you regularly have trouble falling asleep, keep waking up in the night or suffer from insomnia, there may be a hundred reasons why this is happening. Perhaps an underlying medical condition, such as chronic pain, an overactive thyroid or kidney infection is causing you to sleep badly. Sleep deprivation can also be a symptom of stress, anxiety, depression and a host of other issues.
Whatever the cause, if it’s interfering with your quality of life or stopping you from performing your daily tasks, something must be done. Obviously, your first port of call should be your GP who can investigate (and hopefully eliminate) any physical health problems that might contribute to your poor sleeping.
If you think the cause may be related to your mental health, counselling or psychotherapy may help. Here at KlearMinds, we have a highly skilled team who have worked with many different people, and therapies that are designed to help you achieve positive, lasting change.
Meanwhile, back at home, there are some practical steps you can take to create the best possible sleep environment for yourself.
It all starts with having the right mattress. If your body is not optimally supported, you won’t sleep well. Too soft, too hard – everyone has their own preferences, but do get professional advice on the type of mattress that’s best for your body shape and weight. Do you sleep on your front, back or side? Suffer from chronic pain? Try out different mattresses in the showroom and look out for manufacturers offering trial periods (typically around 100 days) with a money-back option if the mattress doesn’t pass the home test.
Tech free zone
Your bedroom should be a place for rest. By all means watch a film, answer emails or catch up with social media in the evening, but keep it out of the bedroom. In fact, it’s a good idea to ban all gadgets and gizmos – TVs, laptops, tablets, smartphones etc – from the bedroom altogether. Not only do they have the effect of stimulating the brain when you want it to switch into sleep mode, any lights and noises emanating from the devices can disrupt your precious sleep.
Relaxing bedtime routine
Make it a priority to view your bedroom as your personal sanctuary. If necessary, use the next weekend to declutter and decorate to create a calming, restful vibe. A nightly wind-down routine is a great way to prepare your body and mind for bedtime. There are many tried and tested techniques you can try including a warm bath, a hot cocoa or herbal tea (no caffeine or alcohol!), relaxing essential oils (lavender pillow, roll-on aromatherapy blends, yoga or breathing exercises, ½ hour’s journal writing or reading in bed.
Ideal room temperature
A cool bedroom (6-18°C) will aid your sleep, while a hot room (24°C+) will make you toss and turn. Make sure you have a choice of winter and summer bedding at your disposal and use it wisely. During the warmer month, airing the room before in the evening will maximise cool air circulation (but do close the window if there’s a draught). In the winter, have a hot water bottle or fluffy bedsocks ready for extra snugliness that will help you drift off.
The importance of darkness
Our body’s circadian rhythm responds to light and darkness – we are biologically programmed to sleep when it’s dark and wake up when it’s light. Work with your body by keeping your sleep environment as dark as you can, eg by fitting blackout blinds, having a ‘no light at night’ house rule, wearing an eye mask and keeping phones and computers out of the bedroom – the blue light emanating from LED screens actually suppresses the release of melatonin, which our bodies need to relax and fall asleep.
Finally, make sure your sleep is not disturbed by noise, either from outside (traffic, dogs barking etc) or inside (night owl teenage kids, snoring partner, household appliances etc). Sometimes, earplugs are the only way to get some peace and quiet! That said, while loud, sudden noises will wake you up, soothing continuous sounds can be helpful to fall asleep to. Why not try one of the many ‘white noise’ apps available, or one that plays soothing nature sounds?
Ancient Greece may not be the first place you think of when considering the concept of resilience, which is basically the ability to bounce back from negative situations, but it is the home of Stoicism.
Stoicism was founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in early 3rd century BC and teaches us that we cannot control external events, only our mental and emotional responses to them. It explores how negative self-talk can intensify and prolong our suffering.
As the saying goes: ‘Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional’.
Psychology Today neatly sums up this approach: “By adjusting our thinking, and how we think about our thinking, we can change our emotional responses, the extent to which we suffer (or not), our level of tension and stress, and in turn, our experience of pain.”
But the Stoics are often misunderstood and equated with being unemotional and indifferent to physical suffering.
In fact, the Stoics did not recoil from feeling grief, anger or pain any other emotion. Instead they focused on cultivating a level of detachment and observing their own thoughts. They thought that human happiness could be found only in accepting the present moment, rather than by being controlled by the pursuit of pleasure or the desperation to avoid pain.
The stoics preached working collaboratively and treating other people fairly and with empathy. They stressed the benefits of logic, self control and inner calm, something most of us could do with a large dose of.
The philosophy contends that the way to be happy is to live a virtuous life and that you should judge somebody based on their actions much more than their words.
The Daily Stoic has this to say about Stoicism: “Stoicism doesn’t concern itself with complicated theories about the world, but with helping us overcome destructive emotions and act on what can be acted upon. It’s built for action, not endless debate.”
Modern self-help books talk about resilience and mindfulness colouring books fly off the shelves, but they are both really based on Stoicism.
One of the most famous Stoics was Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 160 to 180AD, and some of his quotes are inspirational reminders about living an ethical, self-disciplined and humble life and treating fellow humans with kindness and compassion.
Meditations, his only major work, contains some profoundly moving statements and exhortations to live the most virtuous lives we can.
Inspirational quotes from Marcus Aurelius
Many of his thoughts focus on the impossibility of mastering outside events and accepting them with grace instead.
“The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have.”
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.”
“How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life.”
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
On acceptance and action: “Objective judgement, now, at this very moment. Unselfish action, now, at this very moment. Willing acceptance, now, at this very moment – of all external events. That’s all you need.”
On wisdom: “You’re subject to sorrow, fear, jealousy, anger and inconsistency. That’s the real reason you should admit that you are not wise.”
Back in the days of Seneca, Epictetus and Aurelius (all good Stoics) philosophy was about finding practical ways to live life, it was not as a theoretical construct removed from the reality of people’s lives, as it is sometimes today.
The benefits of mindfulness have been receiving much attention over recent years, with many companies introducing ‘mindfulness at work’ initiatives to benefit their staff, including giant corporations such as Google, Nike and Procter & Gamble. But how can this practice make any difference?
The concept of mindfulness is defined as the process of bringing one’s attention to what is occurring in the present moment, and without judgement. The aim is to be fully aware of your thoughts, feelings and actions but without getting caught up in them.
Rooted in Eastern philosophies, the practice is based on meditation and has the following benefits for the regular mindfulness student:
Reduces stress and mental health issues
Scientific studies have shown that mindfulness has the power to change the structure of our brains to allow us to respond to stress in a healthier way. It does this by lowering the production of cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’). Mindfulness can be particularly effective in lowering the negative effect of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, when used together with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and medication.
Improves focus and concentration
With regular practice, mindfulness can train your brain to stay fully focused on the present, meaning you are able to devote your full attention to what you are doing now, while minimising the impact of any distractions. Your mind will retain the information for longer, and the ability to approach each task calmly is likely to boost both your self-confidence and performance at work.
Teaches greater resilience
A mindful approach to the present can help us learn to appreciate the purely ‘experiential self’ rather than the learned narrative that we tell ourselves about who we think we are/should be. This can be helpful in the face of change and/or adversity brought about by, say, an unexpected life event, sudden job loss or major career change.
Helps to develop better relationships
Strong self-awareness, the ability to empathise and desire to behave with altruistic intent are important cornerstones for developing meaningful relationships. Mindfulness helps us to respond more authentically to people, which in turn builds trust and understanding – key ingredients for resilient workplace connections and collaborations.
Encourages creative thinking
Practising mindfulness on a regular basis stimulates divergent thinking, which can be hugely beneficial for creative brainstorming and ideation sessions, helping to produce innovative ideas and solutions for all kinds of business problems.
How to get started in your mindfulness practice
In order to gain the most benefit from mindfulness, regular practice is essential. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither should you underestimate the time it takes to ‘learn’ to become mindful. Here are 5 steps you can take to practise being in the here and now.
1 – Meditate daily
Find somewhere quiet and comfortable where you can sit in an upright but relaxed position. Pay attention to your breathing and listen to the sound of your breath as you feel your chest rise and fall. Do this for at least 1 minute and don’t worry if you get distracted – you will learn to notice your thoughts and let them pass, like clouds in the sky, bringing your attention back to your breath. If you feel that you need guidance, there are plenty of meditation apps and guided meditations you could try.
2 – Observe the world around you
With digital technology and the demands of a hectic 24/7 world all around us, it can be hard to get off the treadmill and just be. Mindfulness teaches us to focus on the here and now, on what is right in front of you right now, cutting through the din. Can you hear birdsong outside? Feel the sunshine on your skin? See children playing in the street? Smell the rain? Make a point of paying attention to the world in 3D. Whether on the daily commute, at the office or at home, really observe and sense the environment that is all around.
3 – Make it a habit to slow down
Rather than rushing through the day to try and get as much done as possible, slow down! Concentrate on completing one task at a time calmly and to the best of your abilities. Multitasking can be overrated – sometimes the pace and sheer volume of demands on our time can mean that quality of our work suffers. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and overhurried, refocus and gently direct your attention to the task at hand until it’s done to your satisfaction.
4 – Appreciate routine tasks
Rather than treating routine tasks as pesky chores that get in the way of ‘real work’, reframe the way you think about these jobs. Whether it’s filling in your timesheet, filing paperwork or restocking the drinks machine, release your inner resistance to the task and simply pay attention to the detail of the activity in front of you. Feel the warm water on your hands, or the paper between your fingers while you carry out this routine task without judgement, worry or undue pressure.
5 – Accept your feelings
An important part of being mindful is to not judge your thoughts and feelings as being either right or wrong – whatever it is, they’re just thoughts or feelings that will pass. On their own, the don’t define you, and they only have the power over you that you give them. Rather than letting a particular thought or feeling negatively affect your self-esteem, you can choose to let it pass.
We all deserve to feel safe, loved and happy in a romantic relationship but sometimes it’s not as straightforward as all that. But how can you tell whether your relationship is a healthy one or whether it’s time to say goodbye?
Most of the time, this is not a clear cut issue. Relationships are complex webs of human interaction and problems may develop slowly, over many months or years, possibly without you or your partner even realising. However, once the feeling sets in that ‘something isn’t right’, that’s when an experienced relationship therapist may be invaluable to help you understand what’s going on.
Do any of the following scenarios sound familiar?
Fighting too much
It’s normal to have arguments but as you get to know each other, you would expect there to be a progression towards better understanding and communication. If you keep going round in circles arguing with each other, possibly over the same thing, there may be a problem. Poor communication that never improves is toxic, stopping the relationship from moving forward.
Walking on eggshells
Is your partner dominating or controlling? This doesn’t necessarily have to involve threats of violence. It could be that you’re nervous and afraid of your partner’s emotional reactions, and change your views or behaviour to make sure s/he doesn’t get upset. Or perhaps your partner chooses what you wear, how you spend money or who your friends are? Manipulative behaviour is not the sign of a healthy relationship.
Wishing your were home alone
Do you find yourself wishing that your partner wasn’t around? Do you have more fun on your own? If you prefer spending the evening home alone while encouraging him to go to the pub, or you increasingly socialise independent of each other, all may not be well at home. With tensions building while you’re together, you may start to realise that life would be happier on your own.
Constant power games
In a good relationship, the balance of power is evenly distributed; there’s plenty of give and take so that both parties feel that their voice is heard. However, if one partner feels powerless or disenfranchised, they may try to redress the balance by inadvertently upsetting the proverbial apple cart. Suddenly, the relationship feels on edge, destabilised and uprooted, upsetting both partners.
Positive communication is key in any relationship – you need to be able to talk about important issues to move your relationship forward. But what if your partner refuses to talk about the big stuff such as moving home, getting married, having a baby? Blocking the possibility of talking about the future means the relationship is stuck in the present, which could be a toxic situation.
People change and the secret of a long-term relationship is to keep adapting to each other and still make it work. If you find yourself thinking that ‘this isn’t how it used to be’, ‘this doesn’t feel good anymore’ or ‘this isn’t what I signed up for’, then perhaps what was once a good relationship has turned bad. Can you bring the good times back?
If you’re tired of feeling stuck, lonely or unhappy in your current relationship, seeing a relationship counsellor may help. At KlearMinds, we can show you simple steps you can take to improve your relationship difficulties, giving you plenty of advice and active strategies to help you achieve the improvements you want. Contact KlearMinds today on 0333 772 0256 for a confidential chat to see how we can help.
OCD is a psychological problem characterised by repeated unwanted thought and/or actions. There’s no easy test to tell if someone has the condition; often the behaviour in question is nothing more than a personality quirk.
However, in some cases, the obsessive compulsive behaviour may point to a more serious disorder. If you are suffering from OCD, counselling and psychotherapy can help you regain control over the thoughts and rituals that are affecting your life – and the sooner you seek treatment, the better the prognosis.
Nearly 30% of OCD sufferers feel the need to check and check again that, say, the front door has been locked or the oven has been turned off. While it’s normal to double check now and again, if it becomes a ritual that you cannot do without, it could be a sign of OCD.
Order and symmetry
Being neat and organised on your desk, in your wardrobe or your home is one thing, but when you feel the need to ensure that everything is perfectly ordered and symmetrical all the time, it’s driven by compulsion rather than personal preference.
Regularly washing your hands is an important way to avoid spreading germs and getting sick. But if you’re thinking about germs even after washing your hands, worry that you’re not scrubbing well enough, or wash your hands 5 or 6 times, your behaviour may be obsessive compulsive.
Similar to hand washing, compulsive cleaning is another way to try to beat a fear of germs or feelings of impurity. While spending hours cleaning your home may not necessarily be a sign of OCD, feeling anxious and fearful as a result of not cleaning may be.
Obsessing over the tiniest offhand comment someone made, or the smallest detail of a personal relationship with friends, partners, family or co-workers can be a sign of excessive self-doubt or difficulty accepting uncertainty.
We all value our friends’ and family’s opinion and use them as a sounding board on occasion, but if you repeatedly ask the same question in an effort to seek reassurance, it may be a sign of obsessive compulsive behaviour.
Counting can be a good aide memoire to remember chores or errands, or a distraction for instance to help you climb stairs. However, if you cannot get the numbers out of your head, or you have to perform certain rituals to numeric patterns, your behaviour be me driven by compulsion.
Fears of violence
We all have the occasional thought regarding our personal safety including dark thoughts of what might happen if we’re not careful. But if the fear of getting mugged makes you avoid going to the park, or you need to call your daughter several times a day to make sure no harm has come to her, it’s time to seek help.
Did you know that it takes 30 days to form a new habit, or break an old one? If you’ve been wanting to make a change in your life – large or small – why not embrace the idea of a 30-day-challenge to see if you can make a positive impact?
If you need a bit of help or a large dose of inspiration, we recommend watching the short Ted Talk above, given by Matt Cutts 5 years ago.
Committing to a 30-day challenge can make a huge difference in your life in so many ways. By setting aside just a small amount of time every day for a month to devote to whatever challenge you’ve set yourself, you can gain more self confidence, feel empowered, more adventurous or simply happier with yourself.
Rather than trying to overhaul all your bad habits at once or make a drastic change to your routine which will be hard to sustain, you’ll be making tiny, almost imperceptible but progressive changes one day at a time, building upon your successes day by day.
Here are just some ideas of the sorts of 30-day-challenges you might like to consider.
Tackle an unhealthy habit
Whether you bite your nails, eat too much chocolate or don’t get enough sleep, use the 30-day-challenge to help you get on top of your unhealthy habit. Take it one day at a time and promise yourself a meaningful reward at the end of the month for having stuck to the challenge. If you need to, tell yourself that it’s only for 30 days – you can always go back to your old habits if you really want to. At the end of the period, check in with yourself and see what you want to do.
Spend more time outdoors
Are you spending the majority of your days inside, either at work or at home, and possibly spending too much time in front of a computer screen? Fresh air and exercise can do wonders for your mental and physical wellbeing. Why not challenge yourself to get outside at least once every day? Whether you simply sit outside and fill your lungs with fresh air, go for a walk around the block or resolve to walk to work instead of taking the car, even small amounts of outside time will help you feel calmer and more centred.
Take a digital detox
From smartphones and tablets to social media, TV and computers, it’s easy to become used to the digital world. Make a conscious effort to reconnect with the real world by restricting your access to digital technology for 30 days. Try to use your smartphone for phone calls only, don’t watch TV and keep the computer switched off outside of work. You’ll be surprised at home much time is suddenly available for real life activities, hobbies, meeting friends and generally being more present in the moment.
Carry out acts of kindness
Making other people feel good is a sure fire way to put a smile on your face too. Spend 30 days doing a good deed every day, completing a random act of kindness or giving someone a compliment. If you’re not sure how to do this, take inspiration from the Pay It Forward Foundation or the Random Act of Kindness Foundation, both of which are dedicated to spreading kindness throughout the world to change people’s perceptions and experience and make the world a happier place.
Take more exercise
We should all take more exercise but often life (and lack of motivation) gets in the way. Setting yourself a specific, measurable goal for only 30 days may be the perfect way to break through the mental barrier and get moving. Whether you commit to 30 Days of Yoga, take the 30-day abs challenge, or simply add 30 minutes of exercise into your daily schedule, you will feel more energised and positive at the end of the month.
Declutter for 30 days
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of ‘stuff’ you’ve accumulated but feel unable to gain control, a 30-day-challenge may be just the thing you need. Resolve to get rid of one item every day – either sell it, give it away or throw it away. Start the process of freeing up space in your home and marvel at the difference a little bit of decluttering can make after only a month. You may feel so liberated that you decide to keep going!
Keep a gratitude journal
If you feel that your life is in a rut and nothing great ever happens, it’s a good idea to count your blessings. A genius way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal. The idea is to think of at least one good thing that happened to you every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny thing (‘a nice sunny day’) or a big deal (‘got a pay rise’) – what’s important is to refocus your mind to see and appreciate all the good things that do invariably happen. Write it down in a journal and review all your positive experiences after 30 days.
Whatever you feel may need attention in your life, KlearMinds have a team of expert counsellors that have helped many people overcome a wide range of concerns, empowering them with the skills to maintain happier and more fulfilled lives. For a confidential chat or to book an appointment, please contact us.
If you’re at the midpoint of your life and your first career is leaving your bored, empty or worn out, it may be time to find a new path. But how? And to do what? Are you itching to make a mark on the world by starting your own business or write a novel? Do you feel the need to give back to society, or simply slow down and do something more ‘meaningful’ with your life? Perhaps you’re just not sure?
Not only are these big questions to deal with, the implications of what you decide to do (or not do) will affect the rest of your life. That’s why it is important to resist the urge to find a quick solution and take your time to really do your homework.
Whether you call it soul searching or navel gazing, you need to be clear about who you are and what you want out of life. What makes you happy? What excites you and fills you with passion?
There are lots of tools you can use, tests you can take and questionnaires you can fill in to help you get closer to the answer. Some are free, some are self-assessment, some can be found online – but the most valuable ones will be guided by an experienced counsellor or coach to help you assess your skills, interests, values and personality traits so that you can make sense of the results.
Mine your own back story for clues
If you’re struggling to define the road map to your future, start by going back to your past. There’s no need to write your autobiography (though it’s an interesting exercise if you’re that way inclined) but do try to identify and write down critical events, significant achievements and influential relationships that have shaped your life.
As a result of this task, you may be surprised to find obvious answers to questions such as ‘What do I want more or less of in my life?’ or ‘What gives me most energy and pride in my job?’ or ‘What do I need to be happy?’
Don’t shy away from professional help
Misplaced pride or shyness have no place in your plans for a major life and career transition – you should use all the help you can find. Expert career coaches and counsellors are experienced in dealing with exactly your type of situation and can help you identify skills, set goals and draw up action plans, while providing emotional support throughout the process.
Financial planners are useful allies to help you crunch numbers and see whether your chosen new career or activity is affordable, how to optimise your funds and secure your retirement.
Put your toe in the water first
Research has shown that midlife adults have more success with experientially based rather than analytically based transitions. Often, it’s a case of trying out new ideas and seeing what works for you.
Take a business course and work in a small company to see if you’ve got what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Volunteer for an animal charity, work in a care home or become a teaching assistant to see if you’re cut out for a caring profession. Get qualifications on a part-time basis in your chosen field, be it stockbroking or publishing, gardening or yoga.
Dipping your toe in the water in this way allows you to gain hands-on experience, while minimising the risk, before you commit fully.
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