fear, life, Uncategorized, work

It’s your path to travel, with or without excuses

Starting a new job, is like the first day at school. There’s some nerves. A struggle to sleep the night before. Apprehension.

Will I fit in? Will I make friends? Will I be successful?

And then, joy.

Please let this be the reason for me to buy new stationary… Ok, maybe that’s me.

Last night I felt all this and more. This would be the first job in a while that hasn’t been a short term contract. It’s the first job in a while where I haven’t been brought in for a specific purpose, with a specific end. It’s all encompassing. It’s at the centre of the business. It’s in my happy place of my expertise with driven, clever people who make things happen. Could I hold my own being there?!

Bring on a new day

Today I woke up and shunned my nerves. I’ll be who I am and just see how things go.

As soon as I met my boss I realised the learning curve was about to start, all over again. I got told things about projects, politics and people; history, holidays and (mild) hysteria; I laughed with my team, chatted to new faces and figured out how to set up my laptop and phone. Essential things.

But there’s something I can’t articulate…

Tonight, as I ride the train home, I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am.

Have you ever had a moment of clarity where you just sit and think, thank fuck I did this? That’s me right now, on this train. Every risk I took in taking this role suddenly makes sense. I had to do it.

Everything feels right despite the list of reasons it shouldn’t:

  • I took a pay cut. In the charity sector I’m not going to make that up money anytime soon. And given the nature of the role, I’ll be working harder, for less
  • I walked away from a pending promotion – from a job I hated, but still, a promotion!
  • I mentally put on hold life goals, like buying a home
  • Did I mention the pay-cut?! Seriously, what was I thinking?

But none of this worries me, today.

What’s the narrative?

I had to choose a new path that could make me happy. And I did. It scared me, there were compromises, but I took the risk, even when I wasn’t sure, and did it.

It was so clear my company wasn’t right for me. But I started to kid myself it could be. If I could just…

  • Find someone to speak to, I’ll be ok
  • Take pleasure from not being challenged, this could be a sweet deal I have
  • Put up with bad leadership, demotivating managers and ridged bureaucracy, I could get that promotion
  • Accept that management wanted to keep me in a box and not stretch me, but pay me more money to do it, all would be just fine and dandy

Really? What a load of bull.

Let’s call out what these things are. Excuses, softeners maybe, a narrative I wanted to buy into to survive my day to day. But you know what? It didn’t work. I made that narrative and knew deep down I disbelieved it.

I knew because I felt terror in my tummy on the way to work, anxiety rising through my throat into my eyes every time I walked into a building where I felt trapped. Not physically maybe, but I started to believe I couldn’t get out, that I was better with the devil I knew than taking a risk playing with the devil I didn’t.

Choosing a path

My new job has made me realise that we often make excuses for staying on a path that we know, we’re not happy on. Maybe it’s too hard to challenge. Maybe we drown that whispered gut feeling with busyness. Or maybe we just kid ourselves into believing all will be fine, if we just do X, Y, Z. That will shut that little voice up at the back of my head. And my gut. And my friends.

But there is choice. There is always choice. Even when you think you’re trapped, you’re not. I urge you right now to reassess anything you feel trapped in. Assess the risk you might have to take to try a new way… and then… do it. Or at least, do something towards it.

Because you know what? No one else can do that for you. It’s your path for a reason. Make it count.

Mojo&Me xx

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mental health, Uncategorized, work

A note to you, my colleague. A note I’ll never send.

 There are days that I feel like crying at my desk.

There are days that I feel that no matter how hard I work, I’m not god enough.

There are days that I feel used, unappreciated, ignored and sidelined.

 Work used to be fun. Now I feel I am trapped – trying hard to escape but getting nowhere.

 Then you send me an email.

You say thank you for the work I put in.

You say that it’s because of me things are running smoothly, that things are happening, getting done, showing results.

You tell me that I’m more than good enough.

You have brought me cake to my desk when I can’t stand the day and am crying behind my screen.

You have hugged me as I’ve had a melt down over things.

You remind me that nothing is worth getting upset over – especially not this.

 So although I will never send this note, I just want to say thank you.

Your words have pulled me back from the edge without you knowing and shone kindness in what often feels like a thankless place to work where I feel cadged to continue working and giving till I break.

 But I won’t break, not over this. As you say – it’s just not worth it.

 Mojo&Me xx

 

Balance, mindfulness, Uncategorized, work

Mindfulness: Awareness isn’t the same as practice

I’m officially working. And knee deep into it. After a stint of travel and a period of praying for work, it came to me. Now what do I do? I can’t fall into being the same way I was – working till I cry, deprioritising myself over anything with a deadline.

Today was a wake up call on how to stay sane and be different in the work place. You know, that task that is consuming my everyday at work rather than work itself.

I thought the awareness of wanting to be different would alone keep me true to my promise of finding balance.

The reality is though, that work is busy. Like crazy-six-weeks-before-a-launch busy. And I have no direct team.

So, in the realisation that sometimes I will need to do more, today I did more. With a consciousness that I was doing it. A mindfulness, some may call it.

My neck ached. My head hurt. But I felt them both.

I took a short lunch break. I worked late. But I realised.

I got on a train that was more busy. I read Time Out to inspire me.

In all of this I was conscious of my habits. Well, until the Time Out bit. That I did because I was standing on a busy train.  But the rest I was aware of.

As I got off the train I realised I hadn’t once looked up. I had missed the sunset from the train window – yes, I may not have been able to see it, but I could’ve if I looked at my journey as a moment rather than an interim post to my destination.

And that is my learning. Today I have missed a sunset. The sunset which gives my eyes a treat at the end of a day, when I sit and look at how the world continues, no matter what type of day I’ve had.

When life gets busy, it’s too easy to default and look down, to simply get to where you need to without appreciating the journey. To hark back to habits that keep you in the routine you’re trying to break doesn’t do you any favours. The thing abut behavior and mind change is that it takes an effort to be different, not just a hope that it will be.

While most the time you can make this effort, when thing get tough, a single-mindedness can take over, leaving you going back to who you were, not who you want to be.

I’ll start tomorrow with this in mind. I must find ways to take moments and to continue to make the effort to change, even when I’m up against it.

Awareness is one thing, but doing something with it is the next stage of my journey. My life one – not my day to day one.

Mojo&Me xx

balence, career break, travel, work

Working 9-5: Dolly’s song and what this means to me

I feel like Dolly was on to something when she sang Working 9-5

Workin’ 9 to 5
What a way to make livin’
Barely gettin’ by
It’s all takin’ and no givin’…
It’s enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it

Hands up if you sang this in your head!

Anyhow, after a long career break having got married and traveled the world, it’s been a while since I worked. When I first came home I remember thinking how strange it was that I could only see my friends after work or the weekend. And because they have more than one friend, this often took ninja organisation skills to book in advance.

It was like being slapped in the face with a diary. You know, like those Filofax or planners you’d see Samatha with in Sex in the City – the one that showed how important she was because, well, she was busy. And people needed to know this.

In the digital world, the Filofax has been replaced with whatsapp groups or those online things where everyone needs to vote to see when is the best time for the most people to meet. Granted, I don’t have such big friendship groups that I need the latter and quite frankly would loose my will to live if I was an organiser in any group. I quite like spontaneity but realise that between work, family and hobbies, this isn’t always possible.

Fair to say, I am the one who wants to see people, but I also have small networks so usually meeting them isn’t too difficult. Well, that’s what I used to think before I went travelling.

Now I’m back I realise that this thing called work dictates when I’m free. It’s the overbearing five day long appointment that becomes the thing to organise everything around. Between about 6:30am – 7pm, I belong to work. Either getting ready for it, doing it, or getting home after it. That leaves me mornings (I wouldn’t inflict morning me on anyone), evenings (feed me and I’m yours) and of course the precious weekend.

As much as I love what I do, I am suddenly begrudging how much of my life it takes up. How much of my friends’ lives it takes up. How much head space I used to dedicate to it – even out of hours.

Funemployed let me get life admin done when everyone else was at work. Dentist and doctors appointments no longer needed negation with the boss. Banks are open at times outside of luchtime when ques reach the doors. Hair, waxing, eyebrows and all those lady like things that eat into weekends, evenings and lunch breaks were done when everyone else was in meetings, at their desks or dreaming about home time.

And that’s not including all the fun things. Museums, eateries, parks, tourist attractions – all had a low level humm to them during the week, conserving energy for the rush that will ensue at the weekend.

But alas, I realise now, I can’t have it all. I must work and want to for my mental sanity, the challenge and satisfaction it gives me. But I need to stay true to somethings:

  1. Work cannot take over my life. With sooooo much of your life spent at work, I don’t want to be someone who gives it even more. Even if I do work for good causes and this in itself motivates me to give every part of me and then some.
  2. In the long term, I must find a way to make a living that earns me money, makes me happy and has flexibility

I’ve changed since coming back from my travels. I know I have a dedication to the work I do, but I now have a dedication to my life. To growing it, to making it richer – not in money but in experience – and to giving it more variety and fun.

I’m putting this out to the world as my intention. I must stay strong to it, even as I complete my first week at work and am terrified everyday that I could fail.

But hey, isn’t there that old saying: If it scares you, do it. 

Only good can come of this. And I’m determined to give it a go. Dolly’s 9-5 didn’t seem that fun anyway. Not unless you were singing it.

Mojo&Me xx

balence, career break, travel, work

Same, same, but different

I start a new job next week. Yes! After a soul destroying four month search having come back from traveling for almost a year, I have a job. But there’s been a strange feeling rising in me. I feel the same, but different. Slightly, “same, same but different” – as they say in South East Asia.  

Anyhow, I wrote the below two days before we got back and it’s all I keep thinking about before I start my career again. Will I be the same doing the job I love?  Only time will tell.

_______________________________

3rd October 2016

I’m sitting in Port Elizabeth airport, in South Africa. We’ve spent the last week road tripping the Garden Route. It’s been a blast. I’m waiting for my penultimate flight before I head back to London following a year long honeymoon across 11 different countries. It’s almost over and I’m already thinking about life back home and what it can be. 

Next to me is a lady who’s in my sort of industry by the sounds of things. She’s on the phone talking  about ‘change requests’ to ‘incorporate the newest client requirements’. What they’re doing will improve the customer experience and will increase functionality. All the words are so familiar. But there’s something jarring me. 

It’s not because I haven’t worked in months, or that I’m not curious about the project. Believe me, I eavesdropped long enough to try and find out what the project was or who the client was! No, it’s something else that’s making me feel strange. 

It’s the urgency in her. A familiar urgency. An all consuming urgency. An urgency that makes my heart  beat faster, gets my adrenaline pumping and fires up my passion. 

The only thing is, I realised what it’s like to be outside of the all consuming work bubble which I loved. I realise, as I sit and hear the familiar tone of stress, the fast paced conversations and the urgency of it all, that this project is a big deal. But only really to the people involved. To anyone outside, the world has continued to move in the way it always has. 

I now understand an old boss’s advice. I’m not a heart surgeon and if things go wrong, no one will die. It will all be fine. I want to tell this woman  that. I want to tell her to stop and breath. But deep down I know this woman so well, that I even know the reaction I would get. 

“You don’t get it. You don’t care enough. Well excuse me for wanting to do my best.”

I’m sitting here wondering how I’m going to be when I go home and get back to the career I love. Will that urgent women be the voice in my head, a reminder of all I don’t want to be again? Or will I simply go back to being my version of her. 

I want balance when I’m home. I want to love what I do, without putting so much pressure on myself that I kneel over. I want a life and a career. I want to be kinder to myself and celebrate what I achieve and enjoy the ride. Not just focus on the bits I couldn’t do and what’s next. 

I think I know what my heart is saying, my biggest goal now is making it happen.

Wish me luck.

Mojo&Me xx