Friday 30 July 2021

Stop defining success and start living

Setting goals can be a great motivator and can ignite a passion within us but when it starts affecting our mental health negatively, it’s time for a rethink. What’s important to you? What will this imagined success bring you that something else can’t? Do you strive for more money and material items to bring you status or admiration?

Some people measure success by wealth and the size of their home, while for others, a loving relationship, physical health or having children are more important. An article that featured in the Harvard Business Review, showed that success can be measured subjectively and objectively. While one might be seen from a status perspective, the other comes from an emotional outlook.

Often we set our goals based on what others expect of us or how we want to appear to everyone else. But by continually denying ourselves the things that bring us true happiness, we could start to experience negative emotions. Perhaps you spend all your time focused on work because you only see the end goal and forget that the journey to success should be equally as rewarding. If you neglect your wellbeing for too long, it can cause stress and poor quality of sleep which can lead to burnout.

All the time you spend striving to be successful, means that you’re missing out on other things that make you truly happy. Perhaps you love to go out with your friends or take weekend breaks but they’re being pushed to one side in order for you to continue on the road to success. If you keep neglecting the small pleasures that bring you joy, you’ll find yourself feeling anxious, stressed and maybe even depressed.

Ways to put yourself first

  • When we’re so focused on a goal, we often lose sight of who we are so it’s important to remind yourself of your unique qualities. Make a list of all the things you love about yourself that aren’t related to an achievement of some kind.
  • Often we define success by what other people deem important but this can sometimes set us on the wrong path and blur our own personal definition of success. Write down what you believe to be successful without being influenced by anyone else. You might find that your ideas are very different to what you first thought.
  • By regularly practising self-love you’ll remind yourself of all your positive qualities. Positive affirmations are a great way to do this, and they can also help you appreciate all the great aspects of your life.
  • Avoid spending too much time with people who impose high expectations on you. It’s easy to be drawn into other people’s ways of thinking but if it isn’t making you happy, then you perhaps need to let go. 

Although striving for success can give us purpose, if the journey is not fulfilling your needs, you need to start doing the things that make YOU happy. Make time for all the things that bring you joy whether that’s spending more time outdoors, doing something creative or enjoying a hobby.

It’s so important to put your mental wellbeing first so if you find yourself becoming out of sorts and unhappy, you might be forcing yourself onto a path that isn’t meant for you. By focusing on something that combines your true passion and strengths, the journey to YOUR success will become much more meaningful and rewarding.

Wednesday 21 July 2021

How women can succeed in a male-dominated work environment

Although we have seen gender equality in the workplace evolve throughout the centuries, unfortunately there are some male-dominated fields where women still struggle to succeed. Cornell University undertook a study to evaluate the kinds of issues women face in male-dominated careers. The results showed that women faced several challenges, including:

Being made to feel incompetent

  • A lack of emotional and financial support
  • Their voices not being heard
  • Various types of mistreatments

These sorts of challenges can have a negative impact on mental health. You might find yourself suffering from a lack of self-confidence, anxiety, or loneliness, so it’s vital to take measures that will boost your mood and lower the risk of more serious emotional distress.

Ways to succeed and keep your mental health intact

If you find yourself in a male-dominated work environment, make sure you spend time with strong women. Perhaps you can create a group at work with other women where you can support each other both emotionally and with work issues. If this isn’t possible, join a female networking group so you can spend time with other like-minded professionals. This is a great way to improve your confidence and learn how to communicate openly.

It can be extremely lonely being in a male-dominated workplace but by seeking out a female role model or someone who has experienced similar challenges, you are less likely to feel alone. There are lots of great articles and books that can inspire you to stay emotionally strong and achieve your goals regardless of the barriers that might be put in your way.

Just because you might work in a male-dominated sector, it doesn’t mean that all the men will discriminate against you. Try to seek out the men who are willing to be your allies, support you, and help your voice be heard.

There may be times when you are afraid to speak up or share your opinions for fear that you’ll be ignored or, worse still, ridiculed, but it’s really important to continue speaking up. Let male colleagues or managers see that you value your own worth and don’t apologise for voicing your opinions.

Practice the art of confidence when you’re at home alone. Be assertive without being rude, speak authoritatively and work on positive body language. Try not to be a people pleaser and make sure you’re knowledgeable in your field of work. You might even want to take some training so that your male colleagues are more likely to respect your skills, especially if they are skills that your colleagues are lacking.

If you face conflict at work, try not to engage in it and remain professional at all times. It might be tempting to respond in the heat of the moment but even if your emotions are running high, resist making personal replies. This approach will make your colleagues respect you more, but they are also less likely to persist with any future conflicts.

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Mastering collaboration as an introvert

For an introvert, the mere thought of teamwork can be their worst nightmare. According to psychologist Carl Jung, introverts turn to their internal thoughts to restore their mental wellbeing. But there are many personality traits and characteristics that an introvert might possess, such as:

  • Focusing on their inner thoughts
  • Dislike of large groups of people
  • Reflective
  • Prefer peace and quiet to concentrate
  • Feeling drained and tired after spending time with groups of people
  • Like spending time alone
  • Being shy around other people

It can be extremely daunting for an introvert working in an environment where there are lots of people and their job requires them to collaborate and attend meetings. These kinds of social situations can create negative emotions, including nervousness, a sense of failure, overwhelm, and fear, which can lead to anxiety, stress and depression in the long term.

So how can introverts overcome the daily challenges of a bustling work environment where regular meetings are structured for collaboration and extroverts?

  1. Spend time reading through papers or meeting agendas prior to the event and brainstorm while you’re alone. This will take some of the pressure off when you’re in a group of people and you’re suddenly expected to come up with ideas. Doing the legwork beforehand and planning in advance can ease some of the pressure. 
  2. Practise speaking up in groups of people and over time it will get easier. Maybe write a few points down before the meeting and aim to communicate at least one of the points. Gradually increase the number of points you raise. This is a great way to become more confident in your communication.
  3. Ask your manager if you can have some time following back-to-back or lengthy meetings so that you are able to spend time alone and recharge your batteries.
  4. Whenever possible, request one-on-one meetings or smaller team sessions with only those colleagues that are absolutely needed.
  5. Flexible and remote working is more widely accepted now so if your job allows, work from home and collaborate online instead. 
  6. Request that larger group meetings operate a round robin system so that everyone gets their chance to speak, this means you won’t have to try and talk over people to be heard.

Finally, remember that we all have different personality types and although introverts might struggle more with communicating in large groups, they have other skills that are equally as important when it comes to collaboration. According to a study published by Harvard Business Review, introverts very often make great leaders because of their ability to listen, build positive relationships and empathise deeply. These skills should be cherished because they could help introverts become highly successful in their field.