Thursday 12 September 2013

Prone to Procrastination? Tips to help you move forward

If you’re experiencing ambivalence about returning to work, one of the effects might be procrastination.  ‘I don’t have to call my old colleague today’, ‘I’ll sort out my CV after I’ve taken the dog for a walk’ are the kinds of thoughts we can have.  The problem with these thoughts is that without some sort of focus or sense of purpose, we somehow never get around to calling that old colleague or working on our CV.

Sense of purpose
So how do we gain a sense of purpose?  For most of us this comes from having some clarity about what we want to do next and why.  In the absence of this clarity, none of the things we could possibly do (make a call, write our CV, do research, work out how to tell our story) seem urgent or even relevant.  If you are feeling unclear about your next role and you are perhaps struggling with too few choices or too many, taking a look at our previous posts could help.  If you are not yet ready to return or embark on a search for a role, you can start to gain a sense of purpose by thinking about the question of what you might like to do next.

Feeling Overwhelmed
Sometimes we procrastinate when we feel overwhelmed by the scale of the task ahead and this prevents us from taking a first step.  So, even when you’ve decided that you want to go back to work and have some clarity about the kind of role you want, you can still be daunted and make little progress. Professor Richard Wiseman's research into the psychology of change has found that simply knowing our end objective, and imagining how great life will be if we reach it, does not motivate us - we need to clearly plan the steps we will take to achieve the goal. So the solution lies in subdividing your end goal into individual smaller stages.  Each time you are able to complete an action you will be moving towards your overall goal and you will gradually build momentum and confidence.  Wiseman suggests that you can further increase your motivation by 1) telling other people about your goals 2) recording your progress (in a journal or on a chart) and 3) rewarding yourself for each sub-goal you achieve.

Finally, procrastination can result from the way we order our priorities.  When there are a myriad of tasks to do and demands on our time, we can find it easy to relegate the tasks that will move us forward in our career thinking to the end of the list.  It is almost as if we need permission to put ourselves higher up the priority list, particularly if we have spent recent years in a caring role.  Who is going to give us permission to focus on ourselves and not feel selfish

If you've been able to answer that, what is the first thing you will do with your new sense of purpose?  We would love to hear from you.

Posted by Katerina

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Shall I return to work or not? Ambivalence and transitions

Back to school and back to blogging... During the last few weeks of the summer holidays I've felt a real pull between wanting to enjoy the good weather and to spend relaxed time with my teenage children, and the desire to get my mind focused on work again. It reminded me of the conflicting feelings I experienced when I was moving back into work after my career break. I knew that I wanted to start a new career, but I was worried about the complications and possible stresses of being a working mother. 

For many women returners, this uncertainty can keep us awake at 4am, inwardly debating pros and cons and never coming to a clear-cut conclusion. Because we feel ambivalent, we question whether it is the right decision. As one of my coaching clients asked me recently: "I keep having nagging worries about going back to work, so does that means it's not the right thing to do?" 

Coping with ambivalence and transition

William Bridges, who has been researching life transitions since the 1970's, reassures us that few changes are universally positive, "letting go [of our old life] is at best an ambiguous experience". So just because you feel confused and unsettled, it doesn't mean that you are making the wrong choice. Bridges explains that when we make a change in our lives we go through a transition period of psychological readjustment, when up-and-down emotions are completely natural. If we anticipate this unsettled period, we are less likely to retreat back to our comfort zone without even exploring the alternatives.

Be both rational and intuitive

If you're stuck endlessly debating rational pros & cons of returning to work, it can help to use your more intuitive side. Imagine yourself at 70, looking back on yourself today. Is your 70 year old self sympathetic or impatient with your current indecisiveness? What advice would your future self give you? Would she encourage you to make a change and relaunch into the workplace now or to wait a while longer or maybe to make other changes to your life? 

Has anyone felt 100% certain that going back to work was the right decision?

Posted by Julianne