Archives for posts with tag: Personal Development

ImageA friend is writing a magazine article about life goals and asked for my top tips for setting or reaching life goals, or whether I think that having goals is actually unhelpful. So I had a little think about what part goals have played in my life, and I’d love it if you could share your thoughts on the subject in the comments (as long as you’re willing for them to be used in the article).

When thinking about it, I realised that I don’t really set myself specific targets like “be earning £x by y age” or “reach x job title in y years’ time” or even non-work related “bucket list”-type goals like travelling to certain countries by a particular age or taking up a hobby or learning a skill.

For me, part of the pleasure of life is not knowing where it will take you. I was never one of those people who knew what career they wanted since they were knee high to a grasshopper; for me, my career has been shaped by grasping opportunities when they presented themselves to me. I have applied for and accepted roles that look interesting and challenging, rather than those that meet a predetermined career trajectory.

It’s a “strategy” (if it’s not too much of a stretch to call it that!) that has served me well so far. I’ve gained all sorts of valuable and varied experiences that I may not have done had I consciously followed a set path.  For example, it certainly wasn’t part of any plan to be made redundant (not that that’s something that many of us ever have control over or plan for), but had it not occurred, I would never have taken the steps myself to leave my former organisation and set up a business with my wife. But the opportunity presented itself, and we grabbed it, and set up the business and now get to spend a great deal of time together, working towards shared aims, which is fantastic.

Having said all that, I’d like to think that my life is not totally directionless, bumbling aimlessly from one event to the next, reacting with no real thought for where it might take me. Instead, I have a series of high level life goals, or perhaps they’re more accurately described as guiding principles, within which I try to live.

They are:
– To feel fulfilled, stretched and challenged at work
– To feel that I’m adding value at work
– To feel that I’m reaching – or working towards reaching – my full potential
– To constantly learn new things
– To always try to do the right thing, even when it is difficult (tough one!)
– To do some good (through work, volunteering, etc.)
– To build a happy life and home with my wife

No, they’re not SMART, and they don’t lead to a particular end goal (apart from happiness!), but they serve me well.

So, what about you? Do you agree or do you have monthly/quarterly/annual life goals and an end game in sight? Let me know what you think and be part of the magazine article.

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ImageFor today’s blog post, there’s going to be very little from me, and (I hope) much more from you! I’d like to start a discussion with you, as part of ProBlogger’s Group Writing Project. Please have a think and start hitting those comments with your thoughts, and I’ll give my answer in the comments too.

So here’s the topic I’d like to have a discussion with you about: if you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? Something related to your career, your personal life, your own skills and abilities, where you live, anything? If there were no limitations of time, money, effort, of anything, if I could wave that mythical magic wand. What would change?

Over to you.

ImageToday I had the opportunity to watch my wife at work. She was delivering a training course on project management to employees of a national charity. As we run our business together, obviously we have worked together and participated in meetings together quite a lot, but this was the first time that I was in effect an observer to her in full flight, doing one of the many things that she does best.

I loved it! It was great to see her building relationships with the participants and taking them through some key points, approaches and techniques to help them to be able to more effectively manage the myriad projects they have responsibility for. Her knowledge, confidence and ability to think on her feet to adapt to issues as they arose, tailoring her approach to the context of the organisation were fantastic, and made me feel very proud.

After taking participants through an exercise to plan a fictional project to decorate a room (which included such crucial activities as sourcing tea, coffee and biscuits and having plenty of breaks!) in order to demonstrate the techniques to them, she led them through applying these techniques to their own work. This meant that by the end of the day, they had the bare bones of a project plan that they will actually use in their day jobs. Putting learning into practice right from day 1 – I believe that’s the most effective use of training. That way, it can immediately be directly applied to the day job so that benefits are seen straight away, making it far more likely that the new approach will swiftly become embedded in participants’ working lives.

She’s heading back to the organisation tomorrow for day 2 of the training course and this time I won’t be able to be there, which I’m really disappointed about. It was great to be able to step away today and just soak up the experience of watching someone (especially someone so important to me) do what they’re good at. I think that’s one of the main things I’ll take away from today (along with some brushing up on my project management skills, courtesy of my lovely wife!) – how helpful it is to step back every now and again and take on the role of spectator.

It’s so easy when you’re running your own business to feel too busy to not be proactively doing something, achieving something, ticking something off the to do list every moment of every day. But making time every now and again to sit back and learn something from observing someone else at work is definitely going on that precious to do list!

ImageToday I’ve decided to embark upon a new challenge – the Ultimate Blog Challenge! It basically entails blogging every day for the whole month of April. What lucky readers you are! A new blog post every single day! And sadly for you that’s not an April Fool!

I have to confess to feeling a little overawed by the thought of coming up with new content that is of interest to more people than just myself every single day, especially as such a new blogger. But I’ve decided that the fact that this challenge has come along while I am still a very new blogger is a blessing and I will take it as an opportunity to learn more about blogging and gain some feedback from bloggers far more experienced than I.

Forming new positive habits is one really helpful way to make a change for the better in your life. The more you do something, the more it becomes second nature. Think about the first time you did something that you now do often. Maybe it was baking a cake, for example. That first time, you probably read the recipe carefully, made sure you had all the ingredients in that you needed, got them all out so that they were all to hand before you started, and then followed the instructions step by step until you had created something that looked pretty close to the picture in the recipe book. Success!

Then maybe next time you were slightly more relaxed, getting ingredients out as and when you needed them rather than lining them all up on the counter like you were presenting a cooking item on a daytime television programme!

The time after that, perhaps you paid slightly less attention to the recipe, remembering in what order to combine the ingredients and the length of time the cake needed to be baked for and at what temperature.

Before you know it, you’re no longer looking at the recipe at all, combining the ingredients instinctively. Weighing scales? Pah! No need! You can now sense how much flour is needed just by looking at it! Perhaps you find that you’ve run out of one ingredient that you would usually use. Maybe by now you are so confident in what you’re doing that you’re even able to conjure up a suitable replacement from available supplies. (Out of butter? Chuck in a couple of bananas! Wrong type of sugar? Let’s try the type that’s in the cupboard!)

And now you get to enjoy a delicious, home baked cake without the previously high level of concentration and, in some cases, anxiety. And what could possibly be not to like about reaching that situation?

My point is that perhaps by the end of blogging every day for a month, it’ll be second nature to me and you’ll have the pleasure of more regular blogs from me than have been forthcoming to date. I hope that I will also have gained the by-product of some new friends from the blogging community along the way.

If there is something in your life that you’d like to get more competent at than you currently are, why not take the plunge and just start practising? Form that positive habit and change your approach. If the thing you’d like to improve is blogging, why not sign up to the challenge yourself?

It’s not too late to sign up – you can always do two blog posts on the 2nd and you’re all caught up and good to go for the rest of the month. Go to http://ultimateblogchallenge.com/ for more information and join in the fun! Now, all this talk of cake has made me hungry, so I’m off to find a midnight snack!

boomtown ratsFrom The Boomtown Rats (I Don’t Like Mondays) to The Bangles (Manic Monday), via the Mamas and the Papas (Monday Monday) and New Order (Blue Monday), countless bands have tapped into a seemingly universal theme that Mondays are best avoided.

Meanwhile, a trawl of my musical memories and numerous list-based websites don’t turn up much in the way of positive Monday themed songs. The possible exception of Monday Morning by Fleetwood Mac starts off so well with “Monday morning you sure look fine”, but turns out to be about a doomed relationship so, in hindsight, it sits firmly in the gloomy pile.

“Every other day of the week is fine, but whenever Monday comes you can find me crying all of the time”. Ring any bells? Do you get that familiar Sunday evening dread washing over you as time moves relentlessly towards the morning and that first alarm of the working week, signalling that your waking hours for the next five days no longer belong solely to you?

If so, is it inevitable that the rest of your working life will be defined by a dislike of at least one day of every single week? I say, no, it doesn’t have to be this way. Bob Geldof pleads for someone to “tell me why I don’t like Mondays”, so why not give it some thought for yourself? Perhaps you feel that your current job doesn’t make the most of your skills, or that there is no room at your organisation for your career potential to be fulfilled, or your boss simply doesn’t appreciate you.

I have certainly had all of these negative feelings – and many more! – at least briefly during my career and I know just how soul sapping it can be when you are unable to see a way out of that situation. That inevitable curtain of gloom descending gradually over you as time ticks down towards Sunday evening seems to be unstoppable at times. But it just doesn’t have to stay that way. There are lots of things that you can do to help reclaim a positive Monday morning feeling.

Some things can be done for yourself relatively straightforwardly. For example, if you have reached the realisation that your current job simply isn’t for you anymore, it is entirely within your control to start the process of seeking a new one. But it can be difficult to reach this point alone, or to identify things that you can do to improve the situation within your current role. Sometimes talking things through with a friend or family member can be invaluable. A third party is very often able to bring a new perspective to a situation that seemed to you – from your position underneath that gloomy curtain – to be irresolvable.

Sometimes, though, that friend or family member may be too close to the situation to feel able to help or indeed for you to want to ‘dump’ all of your woes onto. So what else could you try? One potential solution is coaching. Some people think that coaching is something that is only useful for those right at the top of the tree, but that is no longer the case. More and more organisations are introducing coaching programmes to support staff at all levels because they recognise the value that it can bring to everyone.

Spending time with an independent party focused solely on you might be the edge you need to take you from The Boomtown Rats to Happy Mondays. So why not invest some time in yourself and your Mondays? Just don’t go twisting my melon, man.

For more information about the services provided by Miller & Miller Consulting Ltd please visit our website at http://www.millerandmillerconsulting.co.uk

ImageIn recent years, there has been a tendency for people to assume that, because there has been so much positive progression in the UK since the days of suffrage, there is no longer a need to focus on supporting women in reaching their full career potential.

Women can have any job they want – surgeon, pilot, soldier, lawyer – nothing is off the table.

Women can have a career break to have children, receive maternity pay while they do so, and return to their job with full protection.

Women (and men) are protected within law from being discriminated against at work based on their gender (and age, pregnancy and maternity status, marital/civil partnership status, race, religion or belief, disability, sexual orientation or gender reassignment).

So what’s the problem? Why the continued discussion of positive discrimination, enforced ratios of women in certain roles or at certain levels, etc.?

Well, to start with, although women can now enter as many fields as men, their average pay remains 19.7% lower than men’s average pay. I hope it goes without saying that until average salaries are not distinguishable based on gender, there is still work to be done.

Secondly, it is still the case that there are far fewer women in senior roles in most industries than there should be. As women make up approximately 50% of the population, they should make up around 50% of the work force at any given level, right?

Currently, the gender make up of far too many organisations in far too many sectors shows that the vast majority of the lower paid roles are women, and as you go up the organisation this ratio reverses until in the top tiers the vast majority are men. The so called “glass ceiling” is still well and truly in place, preventing many women from progressing as far as their equally qualified male colleagues.

For example, there are only a handful of female Chief Executives of local authorities in the UK and only 2 female Chief Executives of FTSE 100 companies. Across the 200 or so world states, there are just 12 female heads of state (excluding the world’s 3 female monarchs).

Unsurprisingly, then, I feel passionate that more should be done to encourage and support women to reach their full career potential. And it’s for this reason that Miller & Miller are working with the Wilderness Foundation UK to deliver a leadership development programme for young women. The programme aims to support participants not just in developing tangible leadership skills, but – just as crucially – in developing their expectations of themselves in the workplace. For this reason, there will be as much emphasis on coaching and mentoring the participants as there will be on delivering taught content.

We look forward to carrying out more programmes of this sort, working with more young women and other underrepresented groups within leadership. Let’s smash through that glass ceiling and see that the sky is truly the limit.

For more information about the services provided by Miller & Miller Consulting Ltd please visit our website at http://www.millerandmillerconsulting.co.uk