Enjoy what you have, not what you think you should have!

My memories of primary school and high school have been repressed, not because I didn’t make great friends (eventually I did), but because I hated the whole routine of going from class to class, having to spend time reading countless books that bore no interest to what I actually wanted to do in life. I realise now I was suffering from anxiety at the prospect of change and trying out new things – something which isn’t taught in school. I never knew what I wanted to be in life and would draw a blank when asked in lessons. There was a huge amount of emphasis put on what career you were going to do, however because I didn’t know, I felt I had no aim or direction and was just studying for the sake of it.

As soon as I was able to study something I was interested in, I did so, via my degree at an agricultural college. I got my degree but didn’t sail through it like I thought I would. Again this was down to the set routine of how information is taught. It’s like drill work, sit in a classroom, listen, contribute, go home and study more, come back and sit your exams. It wasn’t how I liked to do things and as soon as I got out of that routine I started to develop my own career ambitions.

Seeking a new direction

An opportunity arose and I decided to relocate and forge my way onto a new path by joining the media industry. I was working for a magazine that related to my degree and developed new skills in writing through this avenue. I then progressed to write more serious content, which was in the interest of the public, before moving to the charity sector. I’m currently waiting to start a new role, again in the public sector, which is something that pushed my skills to the limit, but was highly rewarding. I feel I’ve bounced from job to job, with gaps of freelance work in the middle and was starting to get down about not finding one job that I was committed to for the rest of my life.

Losing my way

Throughout all the moves I’ve always felt under intense pressure to succeed and push myself to new heights. By thinking like this I have never said no at work, always taken on more tasks than I should and put too much thought into trying to progress on to the next ring of the ladder. However, what I’ve failed to notice is how happy I’ve been in the roles I have had. I don’t always have to seek out a promotion; sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. I’m now working with a new mind set and realising that it doesn’t matter if someone gains a promotion before me, what matters is whether I’m happy with my work, life balance.

The word promotion isn’t just about exceeding in work, it also relates to your personal life. We base so much on our careers, probably down to what we’re taught in school, but ultimately we’ve got to enjoy our life outside of work just as much, if not more. That’s the whole reason why we work. Isn’t it supposed to be we work to live, not we live to work?

Doing nothing isn’t always a bad thing

I’m now starting to enjoy the freedom I have, without thinking it’s wasted time, while I wait to start my new role. It doesn’t matter if someone is gaining more experience than me right now, I’m happy where I am and will start to re-engage my brain when I head in for my first day. Right now I’m enjoying the time I have to explore and relax.

Be more dog

We can learn so much from dogs, I can’t think of one thing a dog does that isn’t filled with love or care towards anyone it meets. What about aggressive dogs I hear you cry, or those who don’t listen and do what they want? But think about it; were they like this when they were born? No, any behaviour you see, good or bad, is directly influenced by their owner and some breeds have an unfair reputation because of this.

I have a Rottweiler cross Staffordshire bull terrier, which if you believed what you read in the papers, would make him sound like one of the most aggressive dog combinations in the world. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, he’s the biggest wimp and doesn’t even hurt flies – he likes following them round the room but doesn’t know what to do when one lands in front of him on the floor. Staffies were originally bred as nanny dogs to look after children, which explains why my one is so good around children and adapts his behaviour so well. Nothing like the image that’s portrayed online or in the news – brought about from a particular type of person who has previously acquired and adorned them with spiked collars to make them look menacing.

Why do we judge anything based on what we read in an article? Dogs don’t read so why do we base so much of our lives on what other people are doing? Be more dog – live your own life!

Dogs are awesome

Altruism is a word I would never put in the same sentence with the word human – I just don’t think it’s possible for a person to be truly altruistic. There will always be a reason why they are helping someone else, whether it’s to make the local paper for a bit of fame, or to make themselves feel good. However, dogs are the definition of altruism. They would do anything for anyone and can sense so much that us mere humans can’t, from fear to cancer – they are amazing. Be more dog, think of others!

When anyone arrives at the house my dog greets them with open arms, regardless of their age, looks, nationality, previous history – he doesn’t judge and accepts anyone. There’s just one simple rule to this statement and that is the person has to show just a bit of kindness to him. Something that us humans so easily forget about, but is one of the best things in the world to do. Be more dog – be kind.

Let it go

People are very good at holding on to grudges and resenting those around them who have caused them to make them feel like that. Think about what a dog does if someone shouts at them or pushes them to the side. They go straight back to how they were and don’t take offence in any way. They let it swoop over their heads as they don’t understand how to hold a grudge. My dog had a bad start to life, but we were lucky enough to rehome home him after he was rescued by a local charity. He should mistrust and hate humans but he doesn’t. Plus life’s way too short! Be more dog – forgive often.

Appreciating the small things in life

Right now the world seems to be more frantic than ever, and life can pass you by so quickly you’ll wonder what happened. Reading online stories and watching the headlines every morning is something of a ritual for many people, however what would happen if you didn’t do this every day and instead concentrated on your own life and surroundings?

I was getting wrapped up in all the political negativity and uncertainty surrounding Britain and failed to notice what was directly in front of me. The other day I was paying for a parking ticket but was getting annoyed when I realised I didn’t have enough change. A woman was stood waiting behind me and not only offered me what I said I was short by, but checked to make sure I didn’t need anything else. That simple act of kindness started the ball rolling on expanding my faith in humanity.

The next day someone commented on how well I’d trained my dog and said that if I ever needed a new home for him she would take him in a heartbeat. She didn’t need to say anything nice to me or even talk to me in the first place, but she took the time out of her day to interact and again my spirits were lifted.

Faith in humanity

Next time you see an ambulance, police car or fire engine drive down the road with its sirens blaring, watch how many drivers automatically make room for it to pass and continue on its way to saving someone’s life. Yes, you could argue that it’s the law to move and we’re all taught that in our driving lessons, but still not everyone abides by the law and yet I have never seen anyone intentionally hold up an emergency services vehicle. How great is that? In comparison, I recently travelled to India and the police had to wait in line until others had driven down the road, there was no making way for them, so it really made me appreciate how we are in this country.

One reason why I think we forget to appreciate the little things is because of our ever increasing standards. We expect more and more and forget no one really has to do anything for us. When you walk in to a shop the staff don’t have to greet you, but many do, so we expect that everywhere. When you’re carrying heavy bags and someone helps you, remember they don’t have to do that. Those bags are your responsibility not theirs so be grateful someone has given you some of their own time.

Give someone your own time

Ask yourself, when was the last time you offered to help, or just started talking to someone because you’re genuinely interested in how they are? During the 40 days of lent why not set yourself a challenge – try and do one nice thing a day that you wouldn’t normally do. Ask someone how they are, buy someone a coffee just because you thought of them or send someone a hand written letter. Lent isn’t just about giving something up, it’s also about thinking of others, and right now our society needs that more than ever.

Dealing with rejection

Last week I applied for a job that matched the experience I possessed and was in an industry I felt passionately about working in. I prepared for the interview more so than I would have for other jobs and even gained the help of my previous colleagues who were still working within that industry. The day of the interview arrived and I was on time, spoke clearly and efficiently and answered the questions well. Or so I thought…

Waiting for the call

Four days later I had my phone charged and the volume cranked up to loud so as not to miss a call while it was glued to my hand all morning. I opened my email account to find a new message stating that unfortunately I had not been the highest scoring candidate at interview. However what made it worse was directly below this the next sentence down stated that ‘I clearly have the necessary knowledge and skills’ and because of this my application is officially on hold. This means that if the exact same position becomes available in the next six months I will be the first in line to get it.

Once the disappointment had passed at not being offered the role, my feelings soon turned to annoyance and frustration. A number of questions kept popping into my head – If I was that good a candidate why had I not been offered the job? Why should I wait around until they decide to offer me a role when it suits them? What did I do wrong in the interview to warrant not getting the job? Was I really that bad a candidate?

Think positively

I realised I was just confused, as my initial thoughts after leaving the interview had been positive, so to have these flipped on their head was difficult. However, I soon rationalised those thoughts and came to more positive conclusions:

  • Everything happens for a reason
  • The job role obviously wasn’t right for me
  • When one door closes another one opens
  • Don’t take it personally as this isn’t an attack on your own ability to do something it’s just the way interviews are scored

This rejection has also given me the opportunity to step back and evaluate what I really want in life. I love writing and conducting research into making a good story and I enjoy the variety each day brings while doing this.

Do what makes you feel good

After looking online at more roles I’ve found a recently published one that sounds right up my street. So don’t wallow in self-pity for too long as the next positive step could be waiting right around the corner.

Where’s life’s pause button?

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Spend more time doing what you love

I recently moved house and with it started working part-time during the interim period of looking for a more permanent full-time job. I thought I’d have loads more time for doing the things I want and relaxing without rushing about with life admin.

How wrong was I?

I’ve found myself working during the morning and then not sitting down again until I’m settling down for my evening meal at about 7pm. I feel busier than when I had a full-time job and am left wondering how on earth I fitted everything in while also working a 37-hour week. Over the last few days I’ve been trying to find an answer to this conundrum. Yes, I’ve signed myself up to more yoga classes, but these are mainly during the evening. I’m also able to take the dog out on longer walks throughout the day and I’ve been able to spend more time writing blog posts. However that doesn’t explain how I was losing so much time. Then it hit me, the answer to all those lost hours throughout the day was social media!

The time I’ve spent looking on Facebook, Instagram and The Daily Mail website is increasing every day. I wouldn’t mind but I don’t even like the way the Mail stories are written and believe very little of what I read on there. The scrolling through Instagram and Facebook is pointless too as I feel a huge sense of under achievement once I tear my eyes away from the screen an hour or two later.

Adding more hours to your day

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Put a stop to spending hours looking at social media

So, I’ve made the decision to limit my time on these websites. I’ll only visit them once a day for a maximum of half an hour, plenty of time to catch up on what’s been going on in the world. I’ve also put myself on a ban from The Daily Mail and already feel better in myself having not read about the trials and tribulations of celebrities.

One thing I went through a phase of doing is not watching television throughout the weekend. If you can do this it really makes a difference. I found I had more time than ever to just chill out and really relax my mind and thoughts. When you sit down in front of the TV your mind doesn’t switch off so it’s not as relaxing as you think. Without it you’re able to concentrate on the simpler things in life and feel as though the world isn’t going past you like a bolt of lightning.

I highly recommend switching off and reconnecting with the things that really matter, you’ll feel the benefits and wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Life is short enough already, so don’t waste it on reading about other people’s lives.

Concentrate on the one that matters…your own.

Family is where life begins

I’ve been living away from the county I grew up in for over 10 years, but recently I made the move back due to a job change. One of the things I realised when I arrived back was how out of touch I was with the people living in the area. Even though it’s somewhere I grew up and all the external buildings and streets are familiar, I felt like I was walking on unfamiliar territory with my friends and family who I’d lost touch with. Being so far away means you miss out on the little things that happen on a daily basis and I’d forgotten to stay in regular contact with those I’d previously been so close to. The expression out of touch, out of mind never felt so real.

The realisation hit me at my cousin’s wedding where I saw many relatives who I hadn’t spoken to in years. I left the next day feeling great after having caught up on their lives but also sad I had missed out on many moments with them.

I was determined to change this.

Making time in an active life

I’m a busy person so making time for every member of my extended family was nigh on impossible so I thought I’d start off with just one. After moving house I was closer to them, which made it easier to arrange a visit. One weekend I travelled over to see them and it was great to visit the house I’d been to many times as a young child. There were no awkward moments like you sometimes experience when meeting an old friend, no questions asked about why you hadn’t stayed in touch and most importantly I felt happy and relaxed to be around them.

I think as you grow older you realise it’s more important to have a handful of really close friends rather than hundreds of distant ones who you just say hi to on the street.

Family is one of the most important things in your life and we should treasure those we are lucky enough to have in our lives. I’m so glad I made the move to reconnect and will continue to do this when I have the chance.

Lives go fast so don’t forget those who help move and drive you along to be your best self.