Thursday 27 September 2018

Embracing the season of transformation

The autumn is here, and after an unusually hot summer, it’s easy to see the transformation that the changes of season impose on the nature around us. The leaves change colour, the nights draw in and we find more reasons to be indoors, rather than outside.

Transformation is a natural part of life and, much like the nature that surrounds us, humans are predisposed to want to reinvent themselves along with the seasons, as our needs and behaviours change. One of the areas that we often look to change, once the summer has bid us farewell, is our work or profession.

Autumn and the start of each New Year are the two times in the year when people are most likely to look to move on from their jobs. If you're not getting any joy from your job, read our previous blog post.

For some people, looking for transformation within their current job is a better option than looking for something completely new. But how easy is it to evolve and change in a job that you already hold? And how easy is it to grow beyond your current position into a role that gives you the fulfilment and joy that you seek?

Invest your time in learning a new skill

When you're already in employment, transformation will require time and effort – most probably on top of your day job. That given, you need to think carefully about where you direct your efforts. Start with identifying just one new skill that you’d like to master and tell your colleagues and manager what you're doing. It’s important that the people around you know about your plans - it could be that there are opportunities for you to develop these skills as part of your current job. And check out any resources that may be available to you – there are often free online resources that you can use to help you on your development journey.

Do your research and start networking

If you want people to see you differently in the future, now is the time to start strengthening your network. Use online tools and communities – such as LinkedIn – to join groups and conduct research into your professional area of interest. Follow leaders in the field and reach out to people already doing the job that you aspire to. Brand yourself for the job you want, rather than the role you currently have. Start networking with people in other industries and professions, people are usually all too happy to chat about their own career journey, so pick their brains and use the intelligence you gain to inform your own development. Whileat work, identifying and spending time with a mentor can be a really valuable tool in your transformation journey - read our previous blog post on finding a mentor.

Transforming yourself in an existing role is often much harder than finding a new job – people can pigeon hole you into a role and you may also feel constrained by your existing role - but that doesn't mean it's impossible. Just remember, every new skill you learn increases your value as an employee, so share your new-found knowledge and insight with your managers and co-workers so that they can make full use of your talents and learn to see you in a new light.

Thursday 13 September 2018

Workplace positivity – why it’s good for us

It’s positive thinking day today and while most people will appreciate the role that positivity has on our own mental wellbeing and performance at work, it’s also true that it can impact our physical health too.

What is positive thinking in the workplace?

Nobody is immune to the ups and downs of life – and in the workplace you can guarantee that we will be faced with things that challenge us every day. Positive thinking is not about ignoring all of the negative events that happen to us and those around us – it’s about the constructive ways in which we approach all situations we find ourselves faced with.

Positive thinking in the workplace means approaching negative events with a productive mindset - looking for solutions and holding close the belief that most things are temporary and can be overcome. When you convince yourself that the best is going to happen, not the worst, you will find that you are often right. How we think influences how we perceive the outcome.

Positive thinking starts within. We alone have the power to frame our thoughts so that they take on a positive or negative spin. Take a look around your office at your co-workers. The people with pessimistic outlooks on life will often find that the predominant thought patterns in their head are negative. Optimists adopt a cheerier outlook and approach to their work.

Research into the links between positive thinking and physical well-being are ongoing, however it’s fair to say that a positive outlook can deliver the following health benefits:

Blood pressure
A study involving postmenopausal women found that participants with a positive outlook experienced reduced blood pressure compared to those who were pessimistic about their condition.

Heart disease
Positive thinkers are less likely to experience heart disease compared to people with a tendency towards pessimism. Our hearts are sensitive to stress, which a positive outlook can help us manage.

Negative thought patterns dampen our immune system and leave us more likely to pick up common ailments, such as colds and infections like the flu. Positive thinkers have also been found to recover more quickly from surgery, and be better able to manage diseases like AIDS and cancer. 

The reasons why this is the case remain unclear. It is likely that the benefits positivity has on our mental wellbeing help us to reduce the harmful health effects that stressors can have on our bodies.

There is much we can do to boost our positive thinking in the workplace, such as practising gratitude and engaging in mindfulness exercises. It’s all about training our brains to pay attention to the positive things in our everyday lives, rather than dwelling on the negatives.

Negativity comes about when we over think things or issues are left to fester. When we deal with challenges head on, we don’t give them the opportunity to negatively impact on our thinking. If you're dealing with an issue that lies outside your control, make sure you share the burden – report it to your manager or your HR department. Complaining lies at the heart of negative thought patterns so deal with issues head-on so they don’t impact on your optimism and look for solutions that will work well for everyone.

If you're looking for ways to boost your own positive thinking, have a read of this Psychology Today blog post.

For more advice on how to manage your stress levels at work, read our blog post here > 

Ways to strike the right balance between work and family

Work can be pretty all consuming at times. Whether you love your job or do it for the money alone, work can have a nasty habit of creeping up on you so that you find yourself working at home and even answering work emails from your bed. While some people find it helpful to stay in contact with work when they have days / time off, it is not helpful to be permanently switched on for work so that you don't ever fully relax. Read our tips to how you can recalibrate the balance between your working and home life.

Stop the work nag

If you find that your mind is always running over your to-do list or worrying about work, sit down and try to isolate your thoughts. What thoughts are you having - give them names - I'm angry that my team is being put under pressure; I'm worried that I'll be found out for not doing a good job on that report; I'm scared I'll lose my job for not being good enough; I'm worried that if I don't agree to stay late, I'll be passed over for promotion, etc. Write them down and then let them go. Begin and end the process with focused breathing and imagine yourself floating away from work and those thoughts.

Take time to notice life outside of work

Take some time to focus on the details of life. What sounds do you hear on your way to work? Are there new buildings that you've never noticed because you're thinking about your day? Do you like them? What shape are they? Look at the other people you see - do they look happy, sad? How do you feel? Are you hot, cold, happy, sad? Take yourself out of your work related thoughts and try to focus on the immediate present. It's a good way of freeing your mind and allowing it time to process and relax.

Introduce a behaviour that separates work from home

If you struggle to switch off when you get home, try to do something symbolic that helps your mind adjust to the change. Leave your phone in the hall; don't switch on your home computer or tablet; perhaps get changed into more casual clothes;  or have an 'arriving home' healthy snack to celebrate the end of your day. Little things can be really helpful in getting your mind into a more relaxed place.