Get your goals for professional development in order by taking charge now, and being your own superhero.
Superhero status: make your goals for professional development happen
There was a time, not so long ago, when I was very unhappy at work. I felt ungrateful for having an attitude about it – I was respected, well paid, there was potential for progression, I had friends in the office and was working on an important national campaign.
However, the energy around me was low and my days lacked purpose. I’d lost sight of my goals for professional development and felt pretty down about it all. I’m a planning type of person!
I felt powerless and constantly worried. Regardless of the good points, I knew the sinking pit in my stomach told me the truth of the matter. I needed to either suck it up and get on without complaint, or to make a change.
As I came to this realisation, the business underwent a restructure and suddenly fresh opportunities emerged. I had my eye on one role that really suited my personality and skills. It felt like something I’d be passionate about. Could it be my time?
I hesitated on applying though – word in the corridors was that the role was tagged for another colleague.
I held on this for a good few weeks, while feeling disillusioned in my current position. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to put my hand up for the opportunity, but worried about competing with colleagues and how I would show up if I didn’t succeed. I had not been in this kind of spot before.
Somewhere along my life journey – early on, fortunately – I learnt to pursue the path of happiness. If I knew a situation was not right for me, I would make an often-uncomfortable short-term shift for the long-term good. Change is never easy and usually comes with associated risk, but I’ve always optimistically (possibly naively) just gone for it.
Armed with that attitude, I mustered the courage to speak to the manager hiring for the role, only to discover he had gone on leave that very day, for three weeks! ‘Maybe it’s a sign’, I thought, heading back to my desk feeling dejected.
About six weeks later, I heard a murmur that my colleague set to go for the job I was interested in, simply left – walked out one day, barely a goodbye was said. Thatwas my sign.
I launched out of my chair, invisible superhero cape dramatically blazing behind me, and marched straight up to the hiring manager to arrange a meeting.
I was nervous about the chat, figuring I’d have to explain my situation and that he would judge me. For what, I know not. As it turned out, he was very supportive and helped me see that it was absolutely fine to want a change.
I officially took the risk and applied for the job. Only one trusted colleague was privy to my plans, and I had to negotiate a special time (and reason) to get out of work to go and interview in the same building for two hours.
The situation was stressful, certainly, but it was more the stress you feel when taking a chance on something that’s worth trying for. As in, the very opposite of how I had been feeling. That’s when I realised, proudly, that I’d taken back my power.
Applying for that job was quite terrifying. I potentially faced humiliation, regret and ongoing awkwardness. That said, none of these things came close to how powerless I would have felt if I had carried on with things as they were. By some happy miracle, I got the job, and my instinct had been right – it was perfect for me.
I tell you this story now, because we’re coming to the end of the year, when inevitably we reflect on areas of life where we may want a superhero to step in and save the future.
We’re often asked what super power we would choose, like invisibility or the ability to fly.
I’m into this though: the power to make myself happy; the power to make my own decisions and the power to shape my own goals for professional development.
Muster a little determination and the willingness to see things differently, and you too – cape or not – can save your world.
If you can’t see it (or importantly, feel it) then how do you know ‘it’ when it shows up?
I’m often asked about the processes I implement coming into a new year. Recently I’ve developed a suite of tools and tips that have proven to be helpful for friends trying to either set themselves up for the months ahead, or recover (faster) from bad news and tough times.
While we do have the opportunity at any time of the year to begin fresh; even any time of the month, week or day (and God knows I’ve been practising that recently), January is a nice time to try to set yourself up for a positive start.
I’d like to share what works for me, and what I’m doing now to prepare for the new year.
Personally this year has had definite high points, however it ended up a bit rocky. But that’s ok – it’s life, right? As Anne [of Green Gables] says, each day is a chance to start fresh.
How I’m preparing for a new year
I seek positive, helpful books for reading during the holidays
I plan to use the holiday break to get stuck into a few good reads intended to motivate and inspire me.
My go-to authors are people like Gabby Bernstein and Rebecca Campbell who write about life, business, spirituality and strategies on how to make space in your life for the important stuff, as well as how to move through difficult times faster.
Of course, your go-to books might be about goal setting, fitness, healthy eating, mindfulness or on a subject you aim to know more about in 2017 like learning a language. It’s all good!
I find investing just twenty minutes a day in reading something positive, interesting and helpful can shift your energy and perception.
If you’re too tired to read, try finding a podcast or listen to audio books as an alternative.
I subscribe to regular free broadcasts
We’ve all heard of YouTube, but did you know you can utilise it for much more than getting the odd laugh out of dog and cat clips?
If you sign up for an account (and here’s why you should do that) you can subscribe to inspiring broadcasters you find on the platform.
Some YouTubers now have more influence than most people on television, and no matter what you’re into, there’s a daily or weekly vlogger who can supply you with a dose of inspiration and motivation each week.
About a year ago I got into watching Doreen Virtue‘s weekly oracle card readings. She’s cute and quirky but quite possibly not for everyone (obviously, angel cards and tarot isn’t for everyone, anyway!).
However, every Monday morning first thing I take a look at her ten to fifteen minute broadcast for the week (I’ve come to love her). She reads three cards that she pulls from a deck and quite surprisingly I find her readings to be accurate.
BUT I should stress that I’m not actually looking at this to view my ‘fortune’ for the week.
I watch it for the messages I can take away to apply to situations in my life, whether they be challenging work or personal problems that I’m looking for a fresh perspective on, or words of wisdom I can share as advice with friends.
These resources are free and at our fingertips, and finding something to engage with on a regular basis that encourages a positive perspective shift – whatever you need – is a healthy way to pass the time, I think.
It’s something I’ll focus on with any spare time this holiday season, and a habit I’ll continue into next year. I hope you choose to take advantage of this type of resource too.
I’ve engaged advice from a coach
An opportunity to work with a life and business coach popped up in my sphere very recently.
I’ve engaged in this type of activity before but for a slightly different purpose (back then I had the intention of gaining a new perspective on building my own business).
This time around, I’m aiming to see things differently in my life and career and to learn new strategies for dealing with situations that are unfamiliar to me.
I find I’m very happy to help and mentor others and am proud to have achieved a level of success in doing so.
But when it comes to getting yourself out of a rut sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes – and someone who is trained in this art is even better!
In our first session I outlined issues that I could simply not see a way out of, and left the session with a set of action points that really gave me my power back and made me feel so so much better and in control.
I realised that engaging in this activity before the new year is preferable to starting after January 1 has ticked over (although obviously any time is a good time to begin).
When I talk about ‘coaching’ though, for you this could mean in the fitness, health, Yoga, meditation, business, personal or spiritual sense.
I think we can all do with guidance, and you definitely need the help of the right person, but if you’re on the lookout for them, I believe you’ll know and feel it when they appear.
And of course, if you’re serious about making real change (eg. getting fit, quitting smoking) make a call and set up an appointment with an expert now, and maybe even invite a friend along too so you can keep each other accountable.
I get serious about gratitude
There’s no faster way to make yourself feel better or to attract positive things than to mindfully consider all the things and people you’re grateful for.
Big, small, unexpected or the constants in your life – begin it now and I guarantee in under 60 seconds you’ll feel better about yourself and the world.
Using kindness and gratitude as a tool moving into the new year, set the intention to remember these things; recall them, revisit the list, add to it and send a little love back to those people on it to remind them about the good in the world.
This isn’t about forgetting the atrocities that go on around us; on the contrary, it puts things into perspective and is a reminder to help out where we can.
Also, by giving more energy to the drama the television news generates, we’re perpetuating that negativity and it’s not helpful!
There are just as many like-minded souls such as you and I who are doing our best to bring the light – we can never have or contribute too much of that!
On that note, I really enjoyed this story by Bernadette Russell in Balance Magazine (December 2016) on being kind at Christmastime and how often the nicest thing we can offer anyone is our time.
I write things down
Using a good old notebook or an app like Evernote or OneNote, when preparing for a new year, write down the things you want!
I have several years worth of experience writing ideas, wishes, dreams, plans down (funnily enough, often done during long flights); I’ve written down what I want to see happen, that I intend or that I want… I have later come across these lists and am so surprised to see what has actually manifested!
The power of putting it on paper is proclaimed by so many motivational speakers, coaches, authors, successful entrepreneurs… you name it.
I don’t know what the magic behind it is (although I know a bit about the Law of Attraction and believe it to be true from personal experience); but write it down because wow, I’ve seen it work first hand – even before I knew about any of the things I talk and write about today.
A tip: try not to be too manipulative when it comes to specifics around working in a certain business or seeking a particular person as your new romantic partner; a neat trick to try is writing down how you want to feel.
In other words, what you want or what is for the greater good might not come in the exact form you imagine, but it will come, and it will be better. Write it down.
In one of my favourite Gabby Bernstein lectures (via podcast on iTunes) she talks about how to develop what she calls a ‘desire statement‘.
The process is made up of three parts:
Write down a list of what you want right now in your life;
Then make another list about how these things will make you feel;
Following this activity free write (that is, simply write whatever comes to mind, no editing) for two to ten minutes after pondering these things you want to receive in your life right now.
When you’re done, go back and underline any significant words or phrases that particularly resonate with you.
From there write and edit your ‘desire statement’ into a clean, succinct, positively worded paragraph that you should then read and reflect on day and night. Use language like, “I want to be abundantly rewarded for a job I love and in a workplace where I’m valued…” rather than, “I don’t want to have trouble paying my bills and I don’t want a job where I’m not respected.” (note the difference in language used).
Surround yourself with your new intention, read it aloud consistently, and watch it come to life.
This manifestation technique has worked for me and friends so I personally vouch for the process. All it takes to work is your time commitment.
If you want an example of one of these or would like input on your own for the new year, drop me a line in the comments.
Christmas can be indulgent – who cares, just go with it.
But be aware of balancing some healthy activity for your body, mind and soul.
After a tough few months I’ve become very aware of the fact that I don’t want to be someone who moans or ‘carries on’.
Yes, life is filled with hard times, difficult characters, sickness, sadness, challenges both personal and professional, but without those things we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good. Nor would we be able to lean on faith and positive, nurturing activities that we can take responsibility for on our own (like the ideas I have outlined above)!
If I can help just one with something in here, then I’ve done my job.
Drop me a line in the comments if an idea here has sparked inspiration in you, or if you have other tips to add then we’re always grateful to hear from you.
I now have loads of law of attraction success stories, which I feel fortunate about. But there was a time when this was all new. Recently, I experienced a really really terrible week. That was followed by several weeks prior that weren’t much better.
Appreciating the journey: my law of attraction success stories
I’d been faced with countless deadlines and challenging situations in all of life’s fundamental areas. Top it off with a seriously ill loved-one and me feeling generally unsupported. I hit one of those awful places in time where I was finding it difficult to get up in the morning. Inevitably something had to give, and it’s where one of my big law of attraction success stories begins.
I was stuck on where to start and how to ask for help to see things differently.
My mood matched that of the now-wintry grey English skies.
As one to usually be able to drag myself out of feeling miserable, I found myself in a place where I didn’t know what to do next. I was depressed, teary and withdrawn.
I waited for the clock to tick down at work each day. I felt utterly awful, and even more down because usually I’m happy there. I enjoy my days and make a point of trying to make someone else’s day a bit brighter too.
Ironically, someone I turn to for genuine and useful advice was also having a terrible week. While I appreciated the odd bit of sympathy gained here and there, I basically felt really alone.
Getting out of a hard place
Seems to be the way when down times hit. I’m sure you know the feeling well – we’ve all been to this place.
There’s a difference between feeling a bit down and being depressed, and my mind wasn’t in a great place. I was depressed.
Thanks to the tools I now carry with me though – those law of attraction success stories – I knew it was up to me to crawl out of it, no matter how hopeless I felt.
Engaging with the law of attraction: small changes
I still insisted on hiding under my warm quilt covers instead of going to the gym in the mornings. But despite feeling like I was easily set-off at every tiny little thing that could be perceived to be going wrong each day, during my morning commute I endeavoured to try to lift my own spirits.
Friends know I’m a huge fan of author and speaker, Gabrielle Bernstein, and her new book, The Universe Has Your Back, had been sitting on my Kindle for a few weeks.
I felt like it might be time to open it up.
On the bus each morning, I read just a few pages at a time, absorbing one small idea a day and taking it with me into work.
The one thing that struck me in the opening pages of the book was Gabrielle’s discussion about how we are the dreamers of our dream; we are responsible for what we see.
I knew that I was feeling sad and disappointed, and that there were reasons which had led me to that place. I have learnt that it’s ok to feel down about things sometimes, for a little while.
But, I knew the way I was feeling was not how I wanted to continue feeling. I didn’t want to be taking it with me everywhere and I sure as hell didn’t want to be projecting it into the world. I’m well aware that what I put out will come back in larger doses.
I wasn’t even sure where or how to ask for help and didn’t have any idea how I’d be able to shift what I was seeing in front of me.
I highlighted in Gabby’s book:
“You don’t have to be a world leader to have a radical shift in perception. Sometimes it can be as simple as choosing to perceive your job with more gratitude or your family with more love.”
I practised this in my head and in writing, and it helped a bit.
I knew if nothing else, just trying would raise my energy (and therefore what I was attracting) just a notch.
How to ask for help and to see things differently
I was still in a horrible place and this didn’t help me move through to anywhere significantly better. I felt particularly low that I was lost and without an idea of what to do moving forward.
Which is why this next part of Gabby’s law of attraction success stories and advice was very helpful and as always, timely. It’s why I feel compelled to write a few words about it.
You see, I’ve realised in recent years that we don’t have to have the answers all the time. We don’t necessarily need to worry about figuring out what to do. (This coming from someone who feels very uneasy without a plan!)
All we need to do is ask for help.
“I need help. I want to see things differently.”
I am completely aware of this strategy but typical of being in a hopeless funk, we often forget to follow the advice we give to others.
I’ve used this strategy previously when I’ve been at the end of my options (or seemingly so). I’ve called on my law of attraction success stories and experience when I have wanted to make a difference to loved ones having a hard time.
I stop and ask for help – a miracle even. And, I must say, I’ve seen it work each time.
The part about seeking a different perspective is reasonably new to me – or at least, specifically seeking a new perspective as a strategy is novel.
But how would it work?
I wasn’t sure, but it seemed straightforward and something that I could call on even when I was feeling hopeless.
I went about making this my daily mantra – asking to see things differently.
I fumbled my way through the week still feeling like a right old miserable mess, and half feeling like my crazy self-help strategies were failing me.
But being the believer that I am, I persisted.
“Help me see things differently”.
And then it happened, out of literally nowhere, some news that changed the way I would view a scenario that was getting me down the most.
Something that had felt hugely disappointing turned out to be hopeful.
Then the next day, additional information came my way that lifted a veil of uncertainty over another upsetting situation that I’ve been holding space for.
I’d asked to see things differently. I had no idea how any of it would go, after all, that’s part of the reason I was feeling so depressed – I couldn’t see my way out of problems I was perceiving.
I kept asking to see things differently. Low and behold, that’s what happened in a relatively short amount of time from when I started asking for help!
Apparently the universe does have my back, and I’m glad to have had the chance to witness it.
Usually I’d get onto this whole goal setting and personal development year-in-review exercise much earlier, but the last part of 2015 has been fraught with distraction and even a little bit of devastation.
It’s New Year’s Eve, however, and so this morning I pulled from my bag a printed, crumpled sheet that I’ve been carrying around for a few weeks – Suzy Greaves’ annual review questions. Suzy is a life coach and editor of one of my very favourite magazines, Psychologies UK, and she’s full of wisdom. Join her mailing list for more at suzygreaves.com.
Rather than emphasising that we choose one big goal and set to work on ‘achieving it’, Suzy reminds me that reflection on what’s gone by, and intentions for the new year are much more important than setting major milestones that we may or may not reach (that’s not to say we shouldn’t strive for our best). I do think this is a healthier exercise, and it’s one that can be done at any time of the year, not just December/January.
On my personal reflection I realised that although this past year has had some major challenges, it’s come with lots of laughs too. Both Cooper and I had the absolute pleasure of spending time with our parents who visited the UK all the way from Australia – that’s very special, and we enjoyed many times where we laughed uncontrollably over shared stories, jokes and London survival strategies (stay to the right on the escalator!!).
And on the family front, we’ve got an aunty, uncle and cousin in Queensland who we offer eternal gratitude to, for loving and caring for our dog (and fur baby) in his golden years. While the end to that story is too difficult to write about still, I’ve been shown tremendous examples of kindness that the only way to repay is to pay forward, and I will.
We’ve got gorgeous family of all generations; true friends where distance and time do not matter; and an abundance of good things in all directions. Gratitude gratitude gratitude. If you care to consider it…
I had a good think about situations that got me down at work and in life, but then realised some proud moments where I made a move to change these for the better. Through my own practices of goal setting and personal development, I know now that I’m happiest and at my best when I can bring light to those who need it most; when I can be creative and travel and inspire the one person who really wants and needs to hear what I have to say at any given point in time. I’m proud that I have encouraged people to get out of their comfort zones and travel. Some have, or are on the way for a visit soon!
The TBEX gathering was a highlight, not only for its ongoing creative, entrepreneurial and fun energy, but because I reconnected with a person I’d previously worked with who will be a life-long friend now. Plus, there’s always Spain – the backdrop of our favourite conference this year. Yep, I could live there one day.
Back to reflection though, an important aspect of my year has been attending other goal setting and personal development workshops and seminars, like Hayhouse’s I Can Do It, as well as Rebecca Campbell and Robyn Silverton’s wonderful Spirited Urban Retreat. I strongly recommend you take advantage of any type of workshop or conference you can get your hands on in 2016 because aside from any helpful, practical tools you can take away from the sessions at such events, it’s the positive energy you’re immersed in that really makes the difference. Spending dedicated time with like-minded people who want to implement positive change (despite wide and varied obstacles) does make a significant impact, and truly worked for me this year. My advice is don’t underestimate it – go with an open mind, ready heart and choose to let a day like this make a difference. I can’t wait to attend Gabrielle Bernstein‘s upcoming workshop in London!
While I’m reasonably good at identifying larger situations in career or life that I need to make changes on, I’m not so good at managing the smaller aspects that can get me down – that is, I consistently fret about not having enough time – for work, friends, phone calls home, blogging, upkeep of this site, social media, networking, travel, downtime… the list goes on. But, my reflection this morning has reminded me that I know that when I intend for there to be time, there is. Daily meditation and being consistent at taking twenty minutes a day to write, going to the gym with Cooper; and weekly yoga and creative outlets are my lifestyle aims for the coming year.
Suzy asks, ‘what is the moral of your story in 2015?’ I think one for me is that just when I think I’ve got it all in hand, something shows up to challenge my understanding and comfortable space. I realise now that life isn’t about getting to a particular point (financial, career, family or otherwise); it’s about the journey, lessons learned, adapting and thriving. I think in the end, it’s about an unapologetic pursuit of happiness and freedom to be yourself (that will obviously mean different things for different people).
One thing I know for sure is that this past year I’ve helped people, and I like it! It might only have been a handful of souls, and in the only ways I know (chatting, writing), but I’ve made a difference, just like others have done for me. One small step at a time – but this year I learned that sending that energy into the world is a far stronger force than pushing out fear (or upset, worry, obsession over all the bad things that are going on). I believe this. I liken it to the adorable film Monsters, Inc when they realised that rather than scaring kids and gathering energy from fear, they did far better by generating the vast reservoir of energy garnered from happiness, laughter and love.
I think if I can look back on the moments of a year or period in time and recognise how I was challenged, how I dealt with it, what I learned and what I could have done differently (or will do in the future), then that’s an achievement for me. That’s success, and living. What do you think?
Goal setting and personal development – in a word
My mate, Madonna Williams, shared a wonderful post this morning, encouraging her friends and yoga clients to consider the one word that they might use to describe the year gone by, and the one they will use for the year ahead.
I’ve chosen ‘allowance‘ for the past year because it represents what I kept coming back to during scary, difficult, upsetting and even exciting times brimming with opportunity. Letting go and allowing – a very big thing for me. Next year I’ll go with ‘abundance‘, because I want to attract more creative endeavours, travel, adventure and even a few more dollars into my world. And dogs, lots and lots of dogs.
What are your descriptive words, or your stories from the year gone by? Drop me a line in the comments.
And if you would like to take a look at Suzy Greaves’ questions, she’s kindly linked them here.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper: we know life's short, and we're here to encourage you to make the most of it! We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for many years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. Our hottest content topics here are pet friendly travel, house + pet sitting, and designing a life as expats or digital nomads wherever in the world you want to be. Join our community of over 11,000 like-minded adventurers - find out more by signing up for the mailing list and our Facebook Group. Find us on YouTube too. NEW podcast now live: search 'Freedom and Four Paws' on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your fave podcast service provider.