The key to happiness in your career

WhaBusinesspeople Running Towards Finish Linet is your current job role doing to you as a person, to your mind, character and relationships? Are you someone who always finds other people’s careers interesting compared to yours?  Have you assessed how you are doing lately? If not, why not?  Our career aspirations can change throughout life depending on experiences from our past, maturity into adulthood, and requirements to survive our chosen lifestyle.

Recently my 14 year old daughter has had to think about her career and future and to choose her GCSE options. Who actually knew what they wanted to do at that age?  It seems more of a minefield than it was when I was younger, particularly as the current government seems to keep changing the goal posts and schools seem also to be left in the dark, however, that’s a topic for another time.

Parenthood brings many challenges at different stages of a child growing up and as a parent I have always been conscious to keep happiness at the forefront of their minds and an “anything is possible” attitude to life.  In helping my daughter make her choices I have tried as much as possible to give her enough information so that she ultimately makes the decisions for herself. Her dream (at the moment) is to perform in the West End Musical theatre in London and perhaps eventually go to Broadway.  Whilst, many parents flippantly would say, “oh no, that could never happen for you”. I say “why not? Someone has to, why not you?” Sure, you will come across rejection, disappointment and failure along the way but by learning from these pitfalls and making the necessary tweaks this can enable you to adjust the path and change direction as you go.  After all, the yellow brick road was not straight and Dorothy learnt many lessons along her journey whilst experiencing the twists and turns of the land of Oz.

We have looked into course brochures and her school offered the children a career workshop that has educated them about what lifestyle they wish to have and how much money they would need in order to live it. All of these resources are important in making such decisions but deep down my feeling is as long as you follow what makes you happy everything will fall into place and if it doesn’t, I hear you ask, then you need to keep checking back by asking yourself some unearthing questions about your career.

So if any of you who are reading this are wishing they had had some insight into their future career before they got there and feel it is too late to change direction. Think again.

There are five dimensions of meaning to one’s career.

  1. Earning money
  2. Achieving status
  3. Making a difference
  4. Following your passions (interests)
  5. Using your talents (skills)

These five dimensions can be prioritised in various order depending on your own experiences, influencing factors (family) and perception of the world.

Earning money

Look at this in a broader perspective rather than going for a career that pays the best. How much income do you want/need? Are you setting your own monetary goals or complying with someone else’s? What is a comfortable living, and what careers might fulfill that? What career fields might suit you in other ways from which you could also earn a reasonable (from your perspective) salary?

Achieving status

As with the perception of money, your definition of status may be different to the next person’s. Take some time to determine your proudest moments at work and in life. That may give you some perspective of what constitutes “status” to you. Does your current position provide you with the sense of pride and status you desire? What in your current job do you take pride in?

Making a difference

Now without thinking I’ve gone all tree hugger on you, making a difference isn’t always about saving the whales or other voluntary projects; you can also make a difference at work. Think about a teacher who makes a difference every day to a pupil but the results aren’t always seen immediately. What about helping someone learn to cope with their debilitating anxiety or fear of public speaking? What does “making a difference” mean to you?  Are you perhaps underplaying the difference you make in your current job or would a different job provide more fulfillment for you in this area? Is making a difference important to you or do other factors trump this desire? Only you can decide.

Following your passions and interests

This is the area in which I have focused on with my daughter and her subject choices. What subjects do you love to learn about as these tend to be the subjects you do well in.  There is no doubt, if you love the job you are in you will love getting up in the morning and springing onto that commuter train and whistling as you go, however, it is not quite as simple as that to achieve this, there are compromises and creative solutions along the path to doing what we love.

Take a few minutes and ask yourself if you have found your right livelihood.  Are you pursuing what you love or have you found the love in what you do?  Because it might be that doing a less-than-ideal job that puts food on your family’s table and offers you the chance to travel on holidays to sunnier climates is one aspect of the love you can find in it.

Understanding talents, skills & passion

You need to have the right mix of talent and skill. You don’t actually need passion but if you want to get into what you love to do, it helps. Skill is something that you can learn. Talent is something that you naturally have. List down in three columns: all of your skills, talents and passion. When you are at your all-time best, what are you doing? And how can you find a job that lets you do more of that?

I have always been fascinated with the mind and how people behave.  Armed with my interpersonal skills and my talents of leading, motivating and inspiring people I have managed to re-carve a new career in the world of Behavioural Change.  Sure, I needed to do some extra training and education to get me here but the underlying skills, talent and passion have always been there. I just simply got the qualification to fill in the gaps. The skills and experience from my last career have all been transferable in one respect or another.

That’s the key to successful career transitioning: you take a job, figure out what you like best, and then look for a job that lets you do more of that.   Or you take a look at your skills, talents and passions and see what positions could work in line with those.

In my career path, my strength was Sales. I have always been told that I have good inter personal skills and these skills helped me to build rapport with my customers who I sold to and eventually through the years I was promoted up the ranks into a Senior role managing teams within the Financial Industry, earning a shed load of money.  However, the dis-loyal, cut-throat nature of the Corporate world did not sit well with me and I found it soul destroying, extremely stressful and at times unethical. One day the money was just not the priority and my happiness and health took precedence. I still had my good interpersonal skills and had picked up many other skills along the way in the Business world from training, coaching, mentoring and leadership so I re-trained and stepped into a new industry that I remain in today.  Ironically, coaching business men like my “old-self” who have been sucked in by the Corporate life, bigged up, and spat out the other side feeling hit by a train with the look of shock as to what to do next.

A poignant example that springs to mind where I have made a difference in someone’s life which touched me emotionally was when I coached a West end actor to overcome his performance nerves prior to starring in his first West End show. My client had achieved his “status” by being chosen by Andrew Lloyd Webber, whom he held in the highest regard in the Musical Theatre World but unfortunately, his nerves did not care about this, his body was struggling to calm down in such a highly charged situation. After teaching him some techniques and exercises along with visualisation he managed to overcome his fear and the show was a West End hit.  My moment of “making a difference” became apparent when I went with my family to watch him. I was so proud of his achievement that it brought tears to my eyes. How many people can say that about their job?

Now you have examined these dimensions. Which is most important? Which is least? How much of each is “enough” in your work? So going back to the original question, “What is your current job role doing to you as a person, to your mind, character and relationships?” Would making changes in these five dimensions change your life for the better? Is one area neglected at the expense of another? How can you fix that?  By doing this career MOT every so often it helps you keep on the right track and is the key to happiness in your career.

Be Social and Healthy during the Festive Season

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Can you be Social & Healthy at Christmas?

At this time of the year it seems an uphill battle to a healthy diet when there is so much temptation around. Christmas is a time of pure self-indulgence and most of us justify our actions by celebrating it to the max. After all Christmas comes but once a year, however, healthy eating shouldn’t, it should be a lifestyle change with occasional treats along the way when a special occasion arises.

Many women around the UK put in an extra effort to watch what they eat leading up to Christmas to get into that little black party dress so it seems a great shame to let it all go after the event just because you feel guilty about the binge eating and drinking over the festive season. After all, what are new year’s resolutions for anyway?

Accept that you may slide a little over Christmas and New Year but come 1st January you have the chance to get back on track and start a fresh for the New Year ahead. Don’t beat yourself up about the past and draw a line under it and move on.

During the festive season there will be many occasions from family gatherings to office parties which will divert your attention from “being good” to enjoying yourself. Eating out usually means that we have little control over how the food is prepared or how large the portion is. Also, foods eaten out tend to be higher in fat and research has shown that those who eat out regularly generally have higher intakes of fat, salt and calories.

Unfortunately, eating with friends can tempt us to overeat and drink. Meals with multiple courses eaten over longer periods and with alcohol are all associated with overindulgence. Endless canapé trays at the office party are also laden with foods containing high saturated fat.

As you have no point of nutritional reference with foods bought from cafes and restaurants there is no way of knowing exactly what is contained in that food and  opting for the healthiest option might not always be obvious, or easy. However, with some knowledge and thought, eating out can be enjoyable and healthy!

The Eight Steps to eating out healthily

  1. If you are going out to a drinks or cocktail party, eat something substantial and healthy before you go, this will reduce the chance of gorging on canapés or finger food at the party.
  2. Always ask the waitress if you do not know what is in the food being served. If they don’t know the chef certainly will.
  3. Don’t be polite when it comes to pudding. Opt for a hot mint tea to be sociable but not calorific. Or if on the menu a small fruit sorbet or fruit dish. Avoid dairy based desserts that contain fat.
  4. Think about sharing a course with a companion if the portions look large.
  5. Don’t be afraid to be high maintenance. Losing weight is high maintenance and by asking your waitress to hold the mayonnaise or put the dressing on the side is perfectly acceptable and an easy way to remove these fat laden additions from your healthy salad.
  6. Opt for dishes which are grilled, baked, steamed, poached or cooked in own juice rather than fried.
  7. Order sides of vegetables or green salad to fill up on rather than chips.
  8. If you are drinking alcohol, try opting for spritzers instead or alternating between sparkling water and wine. It will reduce your calorie intake, as let’s face it alcohol is “liquid sugar”. It will also reduce the effects of the hangover the next morning.

So there you have it, a quick eight step guide to surviving a healthy social season. In the meantime, have a wonderful festive season from all of us at the Life Practice and Life Practice Nutrition

If you think you would benefit from a Life Coaching or Nutritional Medicine consultation contact us on 01462 431112 for your free 20 minute consultation.

Tired all the time? Perhaps you are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue

Are you tired and struggle to get out of bed in the morning even after a good nights sleep?
If you are, you may be suffering from a condition known as Adrenal Fatigue.

Woman Stretching in Bed with a Man Sleeping Beside Her

Many people every day say that they are stressed. It is a loose emotional term used to describe their current busy-ness of life. However, to some people, stress is a real and very problematic condition that can affect your relationships at work and home and your general well-being and functionality.
Although, a little stress in life is needed to function, a relentless non-stop amount can accumulate within the body to stimulate the organs, known as the adrenal glands, to pump out hormones on a constant basis. Should this constant output continue over a long period of time this can create a condition known as Adrenal Fatigue.
If you think back to when the caveman lived he woke up every day with the job of survival. He hunted for wild boar, which in itself was a life threatening event and therefore did not happen on a regular basis. When faced with this stressful situation his adrenals would excrete adrenaline and nor adrenaline and enter into the “Fight or flight” response. His heart rate would increase, pupils dilate, his blood would be transported away from the digestive system (taking his
mind off hunger) and into the muscles in the arms and legs to help him run faster. He would become alert and his blood pressure would rise. At this point the caveman would either “fight” the wild boar or run for the hills “flight”. After this experience he would either return to his cave with a successful meal or empty handed, either way he would have a restful period whereby to regain equilibrium.

Going forward to today’s modern world with its consistency of accountability, increased output, greed and constant communication and our stress episodes are lining up one after the other. There does not seem to be enough restful opportunities between each episode either which is when the problems start.

The three stages of stress:

  1. Alarm Reaction: This is when the adrenal glands are healthy and you can function normally whenever the need arises.
  2. Resistance Stage: Stress continues and the adrenal glands enlarge but you can still respond normally and handle situations.
  3. Exhaustion Stage: The adrenal glands fail to meet the demands required of them. You could become fatigued, dizzy and faint. You would have trouble getting out of bed. Anxiety can set in.

Over stimulation of the adrenals can cause a decrease in immune function as stressful episodes use up very quickly the nutrients in our bodies, therefore, stressed people tend to catch colds more regularly. As blood clotting is increased when the body is stressed, prolonged stress can cause a build-up of plaque in the arteries and lead to heart disease. During stress the blood is shunted from the digestive organs to the muscles which can lead to indigestion and irritable bowel disease.

There are different forms of stress:

  • Emotional stress which is the most well-known form usually associated with separation, divorce, death of a loved one, job loss, financial worries, exam nerves etc.
  • Thermal stress which comes from being exposed to extreme temperatures.
  • Physical stress from obesity, excess physical work, sleeplessness, skeletal and muscular pain.
  • Chemical stress from consuming sugar, alcohol, food additives, exposure to pollutants.

All of these different types of stress affect the body in the same way; the adrenals do not distinguish between them.
Obviously, it is impossible to control all stressful situations but it is possible to control some of them and you can certainly do this in a few ways as mentioned below:

Diet

This is one area that you can control by eating frequent meals utilising protein and complex carbohydrates together. For example tuna (protein) and whole-wheat pasta (carbohydrate). By using complex carbohydrates i.e. foods made using the whole grain rather than processing, bleaching and adding to it, the carbohydrate offers the energy that you need to function and the protein allows it to burn slowly so that you maintain a steady blood sugar level.
By avoiding sugar this reduces the sharp peaks in blood sugar which give you a burst of energy but are always followed with a low trough leaving you exhausted and craving for the sugar again. Avoiding stimulants like tea, coffee, smoking, and alcohol as these all affect your sleep patterns and blood sugar levels.  Lack of sleep can further stress your body so using alternatives to caffeine can help immensely.
Many people suffering with stress complain that they do not have time to eat or prepare food and so skip meals. This has a dramatic effectof dropping your blood sugar level which can result in exhaustion and fatigue. By looking at planning meals that take minutes or organising your meals by batch cooking so that all they need is to be heated up can save time. Food that does not require cooking such as, salads and crudités, fruit and nuts are great ideas for lunches on the run. By
taking control of your diet you can start to regain momentum to return to your normal functionality.

Controlling your Emotions

Try not to focus on relationship problems that cannot be solved. For instance, if you find your boss is unappreciative of your work and never seems to recognise your efforts, focus instead on the fact you have a job. Many people do even have that these days.
Emotional health can be controlled to a certain extent mentally by accepting that a certain situation is happening but that you are unable to change it therefore worrying about it only causes you further upset. Take control by accepting the situation for what it is and move on to more positive things that can be changed or enjoyed.

Physical Activity

Obviously, there are some situations that really do test people, for instance caring for an elderly or sick family member can cause an immense amount of stress and emotional guilt. By looking into support for yourself and time away from these situations can be immensely beneficial to your wellbeing. By having the time to go for a gentle walk or swim, or just meeting a trusted friend to talk to this can be a great stress reliever.
Meditation, yoga and pilates are also great stress relievers as they offer gentle physical activity, rather than vigorous exercise which can cause further stress on the body. Obviously, doing the gentler types of exercise is not going to change your situation but it can change the way your internal body perceives the stressful event and change its
response to it.
Whatever stress you have in your life, you can put in place a programme to cope with it. Life is not always going to be easy and there will certainly be times where you find more on your plate than you would like but there are strategies to help you cope. By addressing the above areas in your life now and taking control of them you will at least be in a position to face whatever life throws at you in the future.

Finally, click on our video to learn about a technique that can be used immediately to help release stress.

To find out more about this article or adrenal fatigue you are welcome contact our Nutritional Therapist Karen Shields at The Life Practice Nutrition clinic . Tel: 01462 431112

Is your boss bad for your health?

Mark Shields Takes a Closer Look

As we progress on through the worse economic crisis since the 1930s many relationships are suffering under the stress and pressure of it all. One of the most important relationships affecting many of us is the relationship we have with our boss.

This relationship can always be a difficult one, however tighter budgets, higher demands, increasing attrition rates and with the competition for jobs increasing, the boss / subordinate relationship is under as much pressure as it’s ever been.

A recent study looking into the impact of a manager’s behaviour on his direct reports initiated the following

Study Results

Source = Swedish psychologist, Anna Nyberg, Karolinska Institute in Stockholm 2008, reported that

  1. Workers saddled for four years with managers who were inconsiderate and uncommunicative, were about 60 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or other life-threatening cardiac condition.
  2. Bad Bosses have a greater negative effect than if the employee smoked, didn’t get enough exercise or was overweight, or had high cholesterol. .
  3. There is an “undisputed” relationship between a manager’s leadership style and workers’ productivity and mental health.

Obviously all bosses are different and some are very competent however the results below suggest, often it’s the things we would naturally assume bosses would do and know that cause relationship problems with their member of staff.

 Survey Results Top 3 General

 Moving the Goal Posts          52%

Impossible deadlines            17%

Unachievable targets           31%

Survey Results Top 3 Behaviour

 No Staff Development          40%

Lack of support                   30%

Poor Communication            30%

How much Stress can be caused by the Boss?

 75% of bosses misunderstand their employees on some level and cause some form of stress

50% have staff with long term stress issues or long term sick

15% of staff are forced to change their job due to stress at work.

Most staff working within a tense relationship with their boss feel constantly de-motivated, uninspired, and constantly stressed.

Why do Bosses behave in this Way?

 Inexperience leads them to Micro Manage as they can’t delegate.

Lack of Proper training and ongoing development

Understand the principle not the practical

No personal motivation

More all round pressure being put on Bosses. The Everest effect. Pass it on down the line to the employees.

 The Key Big 5 Solutions to Help.

 1       Update your CV

 Make sure this is really good if an opportunity reveals itself to you. By engaging in this task, it will confirm to you of your skills and successes and certainly remind you how good you really are. Great for a major confidence boost.

2       Self evaluation

Have a good look at your own behavior.

The first solution is an honest analysis of your actions and behavior. How have you been handling yourself in your job?

3       Try Talking to your boss.

Compile a list of bad boss behaviors Make a list of all the things that your boss does that drive you nuts. Next, rank the list from most annoying to least annoying.

Once you feel comfortable that your suggestions are positive and helpful, consider scheduling a meeting with your boss to discuss. Perhaps suggest meeting outside the office for breakfast or lunch.

Leave your emotions at the door, but be prepared for your boss to have an emotional reaction. It’s possible that your boss is unaware of his/her actions, and this meeting could be very positive for all involved

4      Find a mentor with the company

If you love the company but hate the boss, another solution is to develop a mentoring relationship with a boss/supervisor in another part of the company. Mentoring is a fantastic strategy that you should consider even if you have a good boss because a mentor is someone who can help you in many ways, from offering advice to suggesting you for a promotion.

5       Embark on Stress Management Program.

Regular exercise and a healthy diet help combat stress. Exercise produces the body’s natural opiates endorphins which directly combat stress hormones

Mark Shields

Managing Director Life Practice Group

Coach, Author, National Media Coach

Tel: 01462 451473

info@lifepractice.co.uk

http://www.lifepractice.co.uk

Sunday Night Syndrome

It is Sunday night and you should be relaxing, but instead of enjoying a warm cosy Sunday evening with the family your mind is somewhere else. Somewhere it shouldn’t be, you are thinking and worrying about work tomorrow.

 Even though you understand how important balance is in your life, do you find yourself worrying about that Monday morning client as you tuck into Sunday lunch with your family.  If so, you may be joining the millions who find themselves suffering with The Secret Sunday Night Syndrome.

For as long as I can remember Sunday evenings have always seemed dull and an evening of preparation for the looming Monday mornings. As a child, a bath and an early night is something we can all recall. “It’s Sunday night you have school in the morning, you need an early night”. Does that sound familiar? So, from as long ago as our school days we have been programming ourselves that Sunday is the day before tomorrow, the day before school, or in adult life the day before going back to work.

What is Sunday Night Syndrome?

A neurological pathway is created through habit and repetition. If we do or think something enough times, direct associations are made and a connection is formed. Therefore many of us will have formed firm views about Sundays from early childhood and still connect them in the same way to Monday mornings; the first day of school or the first day of work.

With things getting tougher in the workplace a leading psychiatrist was recently quoted as saying he was seeing three times as many workers with work related stress and depression than he was a year before.

Sunday Night Syndrome is a name I have given to a common set of feelings normally associated with the outset of stress or worry before returning to work on a Monday morning. Similar to the famous Monday morning blues but more unique as it seems quite natural to feel a little low on a Monday morning.

Symptoms

Symptoms are very common, and include agitation, insomnia, anxiety, and a feeling of unexplained nervousness or worry.

Some people can begin to feel low, and can lack motivation and energy on a Sunday, with thoughts constantly focused on work, or work related worries and problems.

Top NLP Solutions to help you beat Sunday Night Syndrome

  • It is common to believe the job has changed when in fact the people directly around you such as your boss, clients or a member of staff are the ones that may have changed. Once you realise this the problem immediately appears to reduce in size, as a relationship is far easier to put right than the whole business.
  • Measure your success by what you learn at work rather than what you achieve. Unconsciously this puts you as the benefactor of being at work rather than the company.
  • Stress affects our levels of confidence and self-esteem. A way of combating this is to ensure you have appropriate goals and strategies in place to further your own personal development and knowledge
  • Mentally start your weekends early. Think of Thursday night as the beginning of the weekend and ensure you go out or do something different.
  • Don’t lose sight of the fact that Sunday Night Syndrome is simply a slow build up of stress, so ensure you implement a stress program with regular exercise and a balanced diet.
  • Stress is a feeling of being out of control or overwhelmed. Once you have a strategy to overcome your feelings of stress you are halfway there. Having a strategy and plan gives you back control and puts you in charge.
  • Try a great strategy that I have used in the past which is known as “The Red Book Plan”. As part of your strategy write down what your ideas are and who you need to contact and what you need to do to bring your business alive. Make progress entries everyday. Record conversations and plans. Remember you can’t achieve everything all at once, as long as you are making progress this will give you momentum and ultimately help you succeed.
  • Do not be afraid to employ your own coach or mentor to help you with your own stress and challenges.

Summary

Never lose sight of the fact that Sunday Night Syndrome is simply a slow build up of stress and worry. Recognise the symptoms and implement the plan.

Remember symptoms of stress and anxiety are directly linked to feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Once you have a plan and strategy you are automatically taking back control and working within parameters appropriate for you.

Never forget at the end of the day, you can only do your best, focus on the important things in life and ensure you have some fun along the way.