Motivational Pick-Me-Ups

The last two months have been pretty big for me in my little world.

I handed my notice in at work AND, I stopped writing my blog for a period of time. 

Lets start with the latter, stopping the blog. 

The Blog

Until two weeks ago, I fell off the face of social media. Normally, I post ferociously on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and attempt Pinterest (although I really hate Pinterest...it takes forever to do the pins, and I don't quite understand the functionality or what I'm doing). However, until a couple of weeks ago, I stopped social media, and writing new content for the blog. 

Embarrassingly, I gave up on my blog. I've been writing this personal finance and career blog for 8 months now. Sometimes I find it difficult to carve out time to write it. Sometimes I find it difficult to get the inspiration to write the blogs. Sometimes I can't be bothered. Sometimes I'm embarrassed at my spelling mistakes. Sometimes I'm too tired to write.

Sometimes there are so many excuses to make stopping happen for me. 

So, I went back to what was easy. I went back to what I knew already and I quit. I wanted success for my writing but I wasn't willing to put in the hard work. I did what was easy, and I gave up. Interestingly, at the same time one of my colleagues sent me this motivational video, with the following wording:

If you do what is easy, your life will be hard. If you give up on your dreams, hopes and on living the life you want, you will be unhappy. Your life will be hard because you will be unhappy. Anybody can do that. If you do what is hard; keep coming back again and again and again, take life on, keep saying yes to challenges, keep being willing to face the noise, and be willing for people to laugh at you, then you will succeed. If you do what is hard, and what is necessary, and do it over and over and over again, your life will be easy. 

So, I am back to my blog. I need to re-find my routine for the blog as the mornings are not working for me any more right now. 

Handing My Notice In

At the same time as coming back to my blog, I handed my notice in at work. This is where you wait for me to type what my next job is.

I don't have one.

Why did I hand my notice in? Because my life became easy in the hard way (as discussed above). I gave up on my dreams. I want to run my own company. I have ideas, and I don't action them because working for someone else's dream is easier and that's where my default lay.

On the job front, or the "what's next front" after this job, I'm going to give my ideas legs and motion to get going and to push forward. I have a couple ideas and thoughts around how to execute them. I'm doing contract work for a couple of days a week to keep money coming in, while spending the remainder of the week building my dream and vision. 

Could I not have done all this at work? Possibly, but I want to contribute to making things happen in my life. I'm naturally lazy and I'll just keep doing my job and decide I can't make it. I need a shock factor. I need to wake up and drive forward again. 

As I wrote this post, I thought there wasn't a huge amount to it. I would talk about my fears for what's next, and spilling it onto paper would be cathartic. However, this process has taught me a lot around motivation and fear. Here are some of my learnings for career changers, and deciding what is next:

The brick wall: if you drive a car, or ride a bike, you'll know that sometimes you see a pothole coming. If you keep looking at the pothole, despite your best intentions, you end up driving into the pothole. The same it true with the brain. Sometimes you hit a brick wall, and that's ok. You need to concentrate on the path that goes around, under or over the brick wall otherwise you'll constantly mentally hit the brick wall without a way around it.  

Action: whatever you do, take action. The first step is to make a decision. Think about it. A year from now or 5 years from now, what do you wish you had done today? Who do you want to be. My favourite phrase of all time is:

"overcome the negative thoughts with lots of positive action"

Quiet consistent steps: success is not one big speech or one big piece of action. Success is lots of quiet little steps. Consistency is core. Turn up every day and do what you need to do. Even if it seems like a huge leap, just keep doing the necessary quiet set of daily tasks. The process itself will feed the fire.

No one else is going to make you successful: its got to come from you. Most people will try and deter you, including your own mind, and family. The feeling of success is wonderful, but it does not arrive overnight; success is consistently placing one foot in front of the other. 

Keep Learning: one of the main starting points when I decided to hand my notice in was to perform a retrospective on my career to date to help determine where I was going. I was inspired by the CFO of Revolut, Peter O'Higgins to do this; he talks about it in his interview with me here.

Retrospective

If you haven't heard of retrospectives, you are missing out. I first heard of the term retrospective at my previous company. It wasn't until I sat in the retrospectives for my current company that I began to understand how powerful a retrospective is. 

A retrospective involves looking back over a past activity, process and situation. The process of doing this allows you to derive insight into why things have worked well and why thing haven't worked, consider what can be learnt from the situation, and using this information either to form a series of outcomes to consider in your next activity, or push forward in your next steps. For a more concise definition, check out this website.

The process of doing a retrospective involves taking the situation, activity or process and breaking it down into three parts being:

  1. Review and think about the historical situation, activity or process, 
  2. Gather data (i.e reflect on the situation), noting down good and bad things, and
  3. Discuss (if in a group) and gather actions.

Retrospectives tend to take different agenda's or themes. This website here has a brilliant array of retrospectives for you to peruse at your own time. 

I performed one on my career; I used a structure one of the software developers in my company had used in a retrospective he had run with his team. He divided the white board into 5 parts being:

  • Like
  • Love
  • Hate
  • Angry, and 
  • Shocked

For the social media savvy, those are the emotions Facebook offer when commenting on status's and posts on the Facebook wall. He asked the engineering team to look at the last two weeks, and assess what had they liked, loved, hated, made them angry and made them shocked. 

I loved this retrospective as it used a huge range of emotions. So, looking at my career to date, I performed this retrospective and found some interesting outcomes. Below is a summarised, high level view under each of the titles:

  • Liked: 
    • having a respected profession
    • having a strong knowledge of company (and personal) finance
  • Shocked:
    • at the gender gap (in pay, in management, in respect, in value)
  • Loved:
    • how much I have learnt, and how much I can continue to learn
    • working for entrepreneurial companies, and meeting phenomenal individuals with insane minds, pushing the boundaries of what's possible
  • Hate:
    • (AGAIN) how few women there are in positions of accountability and responsibility, and still how accepted this is in certain companies
    • tasks that I cannot derive a sense of "flow" from
  • Angry:
    • the number of companies that are so poorly run, financially
    • by people who just turn up for a pay cheque and don't fundamentally care about the underlying company performance

From this, I can start to draw out themes, and parallels between what I align with and what I feel passionate about.

  • I know I get a lot of my energy and passion from people who are driven and entrepreneurial.
  • I know I enjoy working in finance and love being at the helm of the financial purse strings.
  • I know I want to be a voice for women in the workplace, for women to get to the top.

I also derived a lot of outcomes that are personal to me, and that create a high level of motivation and work output for me. These outcomes help shape my "what's next" and allow me to look at problems that I know I will derive a lot of value from. 

This post is very much a "watch this space". I would love to hear from anyone on their motivational pick me ups.