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Reinventing your career during a pandemic

The current pandemic has led many people to wonder about changing careers; an not surprisingly so. Here are a few simple principles to consider when deciding on career reinvention, that can guide aspiring career-changers through the process during these hard times.

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2020 Reflections – A year of paradox

A Reflective Space

This has certainly been a year of paradoxes. During those initial stages of hearing about the emergence of this virus, along with the other natural disasters that had occurred e.g. the Australian bush fires , the Indonesian flash floods, the volcano in the Philippians, the locusts in Asia-East-Africa-India-Middle East and the earthquakes that rocked China-India-Iran-Russia-Turkey-the Caribbean, left me feeling a little like a reprimanded child being sent to her room for an extended time out. Except, it felt like we were all being sent to our rooms by a really angry mother who was just done talking, when the virus hit.

I really likened the various levels of lockdown around the world to that.

I remember when raising my own children, I would talk and shout and yell and eventually my patience and sense of humour would fail and they would be sent to their rooms. Like all parents who has raised more than one child will attest; there is always one child who is more defiant and more stubborn and less compliant that the others. This is kind of how I have viewed what the world has experienced this 2020.

 

As with all families, big and small we have seen the varying levels of compliance and petulance [globally]. We have seen some come out of their rooms to resume life, only to fall back into miscreant behaviour and sent right back. We have seen the school yard bullies grab and  refocus  our attention for their own purposes, and we have headed the call for help from those less fortunate among us.

 

Frustration levels have inched up as fatigue sets in [doesn’t that sound a bit like the holiday season at your house]. We love our family but sometimes they leave us wondering if the same blood runs through their veins as does ours. Sometimes their thinking and attitude and behaviour gives us pause to wonder who these people are and how they can think the way they do?

 

So here we are! 2020 has rattled us all in ways we could never have imagined could happen. The foundation of our lives has been called into question and many of us have found ourselves reflecting on the things that are important to us and digging deep to find levels of resilience we were not sure existed.

 

For some of us this year has been filled with opportunity for others adversity. I think and really want to believe that either way we have all learnt lessons about ourselves and others that we would otherwise not have learnt. So, I would invite you to reflect on those lessons and not let them be in vain – we owe it to ourselves and to those who have gone before us.

As we prepare to bid farewell to this year I invite you to reflect with me on some of the lessons I have learnt and perhaps you had similar lessons.

My Reflections

We are not in charge: probably a lesson we all learn at some point in our life, and probably know intuitively, yet somehow we live our lives contrary to this. When mother nature loses her sense of humour and snarls and father time stands back and lets her – we the children of the universe need to take a minute to heed these parents.

 

None of our orientations matter when we face ourselves: Our money or lack thereof, sexuality, religion, political affiliations or any other differentiator we have come to believe separates us, means nothing when we face our own mortality. Death is the ultimate leveller, and it is a solo journey we must all travel.

 

Everything is about the perspective we have: If you were asked five years ago “where you thought you would be today” – I can guarantee you got it wrong; we all did. All our plans, hopes, dreams & aspirations for what this year would be like have all been upended. Reprioritization was the order of the day, and for some this was viewed through the lens of opportunity for a do-over and for others it was viewed through the lens of catastrophe and loss. Whichever lens you used to view the world, ultimately, some things will have changed for you and now the view you have is very different from what it was in January.

 

Gratitude keeps a positive attitude: Trials and tribulations we know are part of life. However, when our lives are thrown into disarray and we have no-one to lash out to or blame for the circumstances we find ourselves in. When those meaningless rants about whose fault it is, falls on deaf ears and we realise that no matter how many times we wag our finger at “those people” who brought this to our shores, we eventually stop and recognise that “we are were we are” and no about of ranting is going to change that. In these moments we learn that there are those who have lost so much more than we have, and still they smile and face their days with grace and gratitude – so what is our problem anyway?

 

Reflection keeps us real: For many of us, reflection is very difficult because through the humdrum of our busy lives we just never learnt how to do this in any meaningful way. No matter how you take time to reflect ,whether it is in the shower, on a run/walk, through journaling or any other space, take some undisturbed time to just think about you and your day that is either ahead of you or behind you. Reflect on the good moments and the moments of frustration. Reflect on what brought a smile to face or the contribution you made to someone less fortunate than yourself and remember how that felt. Then go and repeat that – for it is in those moments of service to humanity that we feel most alive and most valued.

 

Remember who you are: Being true to who we are and what we believe is often our greatest struggle. We get caught up in the priorities of life, work, raising a family, launching a career. Our lives hurtle by and we look at our children and wonder when they grew up. You know you were there but somehow the passing years have faded into a blur of activities. One day you stop and realise that those cuddly, sweet smelling little bundles are all grown up; and you are that many years older; and for the life of you, you cannot remember when or how it all happened.  Take time to ask those tough questions – Did I use my time wisely? What is stopping me from achieving my goals? What went well today? What did I learn today ? What did I teach today? Do I have negative emotions today – what are those and Why?

Truly think about these before you answer.

 

Learn and grow: I used to tell my students “We are always a student and sometimes a teacher” especially when they were feeling either despondent at not being able to grasp a skill I was teaching or when they were helping someone else practice a new skill. You see I have found that we should strive to learn 1 new thing everyday, no matter how random or arbitrary it may seem. Learning helps us to stretch our thinking and expand our curiosity and when we are curious we learn best. Wisdom is not reserved for the select few but rather is something we can all give ourselves by reflecting on doing things better, giving ourselves insight and learning how to be better and live more fulfilling lives.

 

Become who you needed: This was a tough one for me but incredibly valuable when I finally got it. We often spend many years agonising about relationships that did not go quite as we had hoped for. We lash out at parents or siblings or any other family members for what they did or did not do for us. We resent teachers who told us what we would or would not achieve. Then one day we realise that we are not that person anymore. We have achieved, we have the relationships we want, and the anger we harboured towards family members has dissolved, often into some form of tolerance or perhaps indifference. ON reflection we realise that we became the person we needed when we were growing up and we find we make very different decisions, which are often contrary to the ones we were raised on. Be proud of those changes because you are consciously making different decisions which serve you better. Self-awareness is a thing.

 

Leaking pipe or irrigation system: This was another incredibly illuminating moment for me. I always considered myself a fixer and proudly so. Always working from the premise that things are broken and therefore in need of fixing. Peoples’ thinking , their decision making, their capacity for progression. This was, for many years my job – to help people make informed decisions about their career and their future. I likened this to a water pipe and consistently felt as though I was fixing leaks along this pipe and I felt exhausted. I could no longer rally the emotional capacity to continue doing this. Then, one day, I was invited to consider an alternative view – I was invited to consider that perhaps this life was in fact not a water pipe that needed fixing but rather an irrigation pipe that needed to have the holes in it, to allow the water to drip/spray out. It took a minute to consider this and after a short time of consideration and recalibration I felt the relief. In that moment I realised that not all things need to be fixed and more importantly not all things that appear broken are broken.

2020 is rapidly coming to an end and as I reflect on the year that has past and share my lessons with you I wonder as I am sure you do too what 2021 holds in store for us.

I foresee a year of opportunity ahead for those who chose to see the opportunities, which for now may lie hidden. We have been given a chance to reflect and recalibrate and evaluate the things that are most important to us – our loved ones, the time we have to live, learn and serve humanity, the opportunity to be kind and generous to those who are in need of it. We have an opportunity to heal our world and repair the damage we (humans) have done to oceans, rivers, lakes, forests, air and all other areas of our environment. We have the chance to look into the mirror and realise that this world will flourish without us here, so maybe it’s time to dial back our arrogance and realise we are guests on this earth and start behaving as such.

Mother nature and Father time remain our loving universal parents BUT we have not been reprieved of our wrong doings.

What have you learnt from this year and what do you foresee the year ahead being for you?

mom & baby - working

How to reduce screen fatigue in 8 easy steps

mom  & baby - working
The truth about Working from Home

How to work from home – with breaks from the screen, exercises for the eyes and body, and tips for reducing the need for excessive online meetings.

Since COVID-19 arrived, record numbers of staff are working remotely have been inundated with web conferences, online meetings, and webinars using various online conferencing software such as Zoom, Google Meets, Google Hangouts, Facetime, Skype, Teams and many more. These excellent tools have helped us to keep in touch and adapt our ability to continue to keep large and small businesses and educational institutions operational to varying degrees during lockdown and quarantine.

For some the ability to work from home has been pure bliss and a dream come true for  others it has been  an absolute nightmare. Whichever end of the spectrum you are on, like it or loath it, the reality is that for the foreseeable future [at least] remote working is the current reality aka the new normal.

So how have you dealt with and managed with your remote working circumstance?

Have you established a routine for yourself and faced your remote working circumstances as if you were still going to the office OR have you taken a more relaxed approach?

Do you get up and get dressed and face your day the same as you would if you were going into an office or do you wonder around in your pj’s or other comfortable attire and only adorn a respectable business appropriate blouse or shirt when you know you have another online meeting to attend?

Have you created a dedicated workspace in your home or has your bed become your new office?

Have you started feeling less and less inclined to actively participate in online meetings or do you show up mindfully and purposefully because after all you still have deliverables and deadlines?

Have you begun to resent the alert that indicates you have yet another team meeting  to attend and WHY can’t they just send you an email?

Do you show up for your team meetings prepared to engage with your colleagues because even though you are working remotely you recognise the need to interact and stay connected to your team?

Have you found yourself glossing over emails and not purposefully engaging with the content and making mindful decisions based on those emails?

Is your energy levels and body language and facial expressions evident that you have lost the ability to engage and are operating on autopilot?

 

We know that too many online meetings and too many hours in front of the screen can be detrimental to our mental and physical health.

While we can not escape the seemingly endless list of online meetings and lectures, we can try to achieve a little bit of balance in our day-to-day work-life.

This article will cover: 
  • The symptoms of screen fatigue
  • Exercises for the eyes and body
  • Why online meetings are tiring and how to reduce them
The symptoms of screen fatigue

So much information is transmitted digitally, and when the brunt of your job is information processing on a screen, fatigue can certainly set in.

Screen fatigue is a medical diagnosis called asthenopia. Asthenopia occurs as a result of staring at a computer, tablet, or phone for extended periods of time. Screen fatigue has multiple symptoms including headaches, pain around the eyes, dry eye, blurry vision, tired or watery eyes, tiredness, difficulty keeping your eyes open or focused on the meeting, sensitivity to light, and even vertigo. Asthenopia has also been called digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome (CVS) and can be exacerbated by reading digital texts for extended periods, working in dim light, or excessive exposure to the kind of blue light emitted by screens. Some people even report an intense feeling of apathy and anxiety after excessive online meetings.

Like all medical conditions there are ways to minimize the effects and manage your health if you are beginning to feel the effects of CVS.

Here are a few that might just help you:

Glasses. Screen fatigue glasses are available so check with your optician or retail outlet if you think you could benefit from a pair.

Take a Break. If you were in the office you would get up and go to the bathroom or printer or have a quick chat to a colleague, perhaps even take a smoke or coffee break, go out for a quick lunch-time errand. So what is stopping you from doing the same while working from home? While you may not be able to walk over to chat to a colleague  you can still get up  and do something else for few minutes; grab a cup of coffee, maybe put on a load of laundry, perhaps a couple of quick laps of walking around the garden or up and down the driveway, maybe even do some gardening if that is your thing.

Reduce Glare. If you sit in a workspace that has constant glare from windows or lights, you may consider rearranging your workspace. If you can reduce external glare from the screen, your eyes will not have to readjust as often, while you are working. Antiglare screens are also available for this purpose.

Adjust Display. The brightness level of your computer screen can also factor into the fatigue your eyes experience. Go to the settings and find the brightness level. You can adjust it to a lower brightness, which will reduce the harsh light streaming from the screen.

Stay Hydrated. Proper water intake helps reduce eye strain, itchiness and irritation. Sometimes when we perform work that isn’t physically strenuous we easily forget the importance of drinking water. Get in the habit of keeping a bottle at your desk and refilling it as soon as it’s empty.

Exercise. Just to be clear, we want you to keep your job. We also want you to stay healthy and able to engage in this new environment, so take time each day to do some sort of physical activity for at least 30 minutes. Your physical and mental health is your priority.

Limit your screen time. Use the built-in features on your phone to report, monitor, and limit your screen time. Apple IOS and Android phones track which apps you use most frequently and how long you are on your screen. With those details, you can make changes to limit exposure and work more efficiently. Perhaps you are spending too long commenting and scrolling through LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, which can result in more on-screen hours than desired. If your phone does not have these features, there are plenty of apps that do. These apps are typically based on the Pomodoro technique and allows you to work in 20-minute intervals while blocking all websites, pop-ups, alerts, and messages across multiple browsers and prevents certain apps from working. You can focus on one task at a time so you can finish that to-do list and have plenty of time to incorporate off-screen activities into your day.

Practice the 20-20-20 rule.Try looking at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. Excessive time in front of a screen that is close to your face can cause screen fatigue. If you alternate looking at something up close and far away, you can help combat it (Marcin, 2017). Looking out the window or going for a quick walk can help.

Why online meetings are tiring 

Meetings are important to connect with teams, share knowledge, and build rapport. During these unprecedented times though, meetings are also a way to keep connected with our colleagues, as we learn to navigate our way into  a new and often very different world of work. We have all at some point in our work-life wished to just be able to work from home and avoid those horrid morning commutes through endless traffic and school runs which were just endless. If we remember why we wanted to that  when we could not have it a t that time; now might be a good opportunity to revisit those wishes and call to mind those reasons which seemed so far from reality at the time. What did working from home look like to you? What did you think it would be like? What was so appealing about working from home for you and has your opinion changed at all?

There is a lot of talk lately about cognitive load and for good reason. We are in the midst of a pandemic and as managers and leaders must be aware of the trauma employees continue to experience. Anxiety is high and many  people have or are  experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder in the past few months. Others struggle with the chaos of children and spouses at home. People have more on their mind and plate than ever before, and many are at their tipping point. Requiring staff to be online with cameras turned on multiple times a day is insensitive to the situation at hand. According to Sander & Bauman (2020), online meetings increase our cognitive load. We need to work harder to process non-verbal communication when working on-line and to try to concentrate, simultaneously hoping there are no home distractions (i.e. barking dogs, noisy lawnmowers, honking horns, screaming kids). At times our online virtual backgrounds fail, revealing a cluttered room on the screen.

There is no doubt that online meetings are here to stay. However, we can control the negative effects by reducing meeting frequency and what times they are scheduled.

Creating a shared, detailed agenda ahead of time using a Google doc can cut down on meeting length. Participants can comment or edit beforehand to make the meeting smoother and more efficient. Additionally, using a messaging platform can help reduce the need for meetings by allowing for team communication in real-time. Lastly, a quick touch-base phone call is often the best means to communicate. A call also reduces the stress of having to get dressed up, clear your calendar, and declutter your surroundings. The added benefit of being able to go for a walk and get away from the screen can make phone calls an appealing option. Zoom, Teams  and other online meeting platforms are great tools. But just because we have all these bells and whistles doesn’t mean we need to use them.

Trust your team, check in when needed, but do not require a cognitively burdened employee to be in back-to-back meetings all day.

lady mountaineer

Why Believing in Yourself Matters

lady mountaineer
I can do this

When facing a challenge, do you feel like you can rise up and accomplish your goal or do you give up in defeat? Are you like the famous little train engine from the classic children’s book (“I think I can, I think I can!), or do you doubt your own abilities to rise up and overcome the difficulties that life throws your way?

Part of becoming Resilient is learning to Believe in Yourself

What Is Self-Efficacy?

Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in a particular situation. Psychologist Albert Bandura described these beliefs as determinants of how people think, behave, and feel.1

Self-efficacy plays a role in both how you feel about yourself, as well as  whether or not you successfully achieve your goals in life. Self-efficacy is part of the self-system comprised of a person’s attitudes, abilities, and cognitive skills. This system plays a major role in how we perceive situations and how we behave in response to different situations.

Albert Bandura, suggests that self-efficacy is “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations and belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation.

Self-efficacy can have an impact on everything from psychological states to behaviour to motivation.

Why has self-efficacy become such an important topic of discussion. As Bandura and other researchers have demonstrated, our belief in our own ability to succeed plays a role in how we think, how we act, and how we feel about our place in the world.

Self-efficacy also determines what goals we choose to pursue, how we go about accomplishing those goals, and how we reflect upon our own performance.

Virtually all people can identify goals they want to accomplish, things they would like to change, and things they would like to achieve. However, most people also realize that putting these plans into action is not quite so simple.

An individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks, and challenges are approached.

People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:

  • Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate
  • Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities
  • Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments
  • View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered

People with a weak sense of self-efficacy:

  • Avoid challenging tasks
  • Believe that difficult tasks and situations are beyond their capabilities
  • Focus on personal failings and negative outcomes
  • Quickly lose confidence in personal abilities

How Does Self-Efficacy Develop?

We begin to form our sense of self-efficacy in early childhood through dealing with a wide variety of experiences, tasks, and situations. However, the growth of self-efficacy does not end during youth but continues to evolve throughout life as we acquire new skills, experiences, and understanding.

There are four major sources of self-efficacy:

Mastery Experiences

“The most effective way of developing a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences,” Bandura explained. Performing a task successfully strengthens our sense of self-efficacy. However, failing to adequately deal with a task or challenge can undermine and weaken self-efficacy.

Social Modeling

Witnessing other people successfully completing a task is another important source of self-efficacy. According to Bandura, “Seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort raises observers’ beliefs that they too possess the capabilities to master comparable activities to succeed.”

Social Persuasion

Bandura also asserted that people could be persuaded to believe that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed. Consider a time when someone said something positive and encouraging that helped you achieve a goal. Getting verbal encouragement from others helps people overcome self-doubt and instead focus on giving their best effort to the task at hand.1

Psychological Responses

Our own responses and emotional reactions to situations also play an important role in self-efficacy. Moods, emotional states, physical reactions, and stress levels can all impact how a person feels about their personal abilities in a particular situation. A person who becomes extremely nervous before speaking in public may develop a weak sense of self-efficacy in these situations.

By learning how to minimize stress and elevate mood when facing difficult or challenging tasks, we can improve our sense of self-efficacy.

Examples of High Self-Efficacy

So what exactly does high self-efficacy look like? You can probably think of some examples from your own life including areas where you feel a great deal of efficacy.

Some examples of strong self-efficacy include:

  • A man who is struggling to manage his chronic illness but feels confident that he can get back on track and improve his health by working hard and following his doctor’s recommendations.
  • A student who feels confident that she will be able to learn the information and do well on a test.
  • A woman who has just accepted a job position in a role she has never performed before but feels that she has the ability to learn and perform her job well.

Self-efficacy can play an important role in how people manage their health, nutrition, and illness. For example, having a strong sense of self-efficacy can help people who are trying to quit smoking stick to their goals.

Maintaining a weight loss plan, managing chronic pain, giving up alcohol, sticking to an exercise schedule, and following an eating plan can all be influenced by a person’s levels of self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy can benefit a person’s sense of well-being in a number of ways. For instance, remaining optimistic and confident in your abilities, even when things become difficult.

Individuals with high self-efficacy tend to look at difficulties as challenges rather than threats. They tend to be more intrinsically interested in the tasks they pursue. Difficulty and failure don’t mean defeat; instead, these individuals double their efforts and look for creative and innovative new ways to overcome.

Issues with Low Self-Efficacy

People who are low in self-efficacy tend to see difficult tasks as threats they should avoid. They also tend to avoid setting goals and have low levels of commitment to the ones they do make.

When setbacks happen, they tend to give up quickly. They don’t have much confidence in their ability to achieve and they are more likely to experience feelings of failure and depression. Stressful situations can also be very hard to deal with and those with low self-efficacy are less resilient and less likely to bounce back.

Evaluating your Self-Efficacy Strength

There are a number of different scales that are used to evaluate levels of self-efficacy.

For a quick, informal assessment of your own self-efficacy levels, consider the following questions:

  • Do you feel like you can handle problems if you are willing to work hard?
  • Are you confident in your ability to achieve your goals?
  • Do you feel like you can manage unexpected events that come up?
  • Are you able to bounce back fairly quickly after stressful events?
  • Do you feel like you can come up with solutions when you are facing a problem?
  • Do you keep trying even when things seem difficult?
  • Are you good at staying calm even in the face of chaos?
  • Do you perform well even under pressure?
  • Do you tend to focus on your progress rather than getting overwhelmed by all you still have to do?
  • Do you believe that hard work will eventually pay off?

If you can answer yes to many or most of these questions, then chances are good that you have a fairly strong sense of self-efficacy. If you feel like your self-efficacy could use a boost, consider some of the following strategies for improving your sense of efficacy.

Building Self-Efficacy

Fortunately, self-efficacy is a psychological skill that you can foster and strengthen. Start by looking for ways that you can incorporate these sources of self-efficacy into your own life.

Celebrate Your Success

Mastery experiences play a critical role in the establishment of self-efficacy. This is the single most effective way to create a strong sense of self-belief.

When you succeed at something, you are able to build a powerful belief in your ability. Failure, on the other hand, can undermine these feelings, particularly if you are still in the early phases of building a sense of personal efficacy. The ideal sorts of successes, however, are not necessarily those that come easily. If you experience a lot of easy success, you may find yourself giving up more readily when you finally do encounter failure. So work on setting goals that are achievable, but not necessarily easy. They will take work and perseverance, but you will emerge with a stronger belief in your own abilities once you achieve them.

Observe Others

Vicarious experiences obtained through peer modeling is another important means of establishing and strengthening self-efficacy. Seeing others putting in effort and succeeding, as a result, can increase your belief in your own ability to succeed. One factor that plays a key role in the effectiveness of this approach is how similar the model is to yourself. The more alike you feel you are, the more likely it is that your observations will increase your sense of self-efficacy.

Seek Positive Affirmations

Hearing positive feedback from others can also help improve your sense of self-efficacy. By that same token, try to avoid asking for feedback from people who you know are more likely to have a negative or critical view of your performance.

For example, your doctor telling you that you are doing a good job sticking to your diet plan can be encouraging. Feedback from friends, mentors, health practitioners, and people who you respect can help you feel greater confidence in your own abilities.

Positive social feedback can be helpful for strengthening your already existing sense of efficacy, but negative comments can often have a powerful undermining effect. Social feedback alone is not enough to build your self-belief, but it can be a useful tool when you need a little extra encouragement.

Pay Attention to Your Thoughts and Emotions

If you find yourself getting stressed out or nervous before a challenging event, you might feel less sure of your ability to cope with the task at hand.

Another way to boost your self-efficacy is to look for ways to manage your thoughts and emotions about what you are trying to accomplish.

Do you feel anxious? Looking for ways to ease your stress levels can help you feel more confident in your capabilities. Do you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts? Look for ways to replace negativity with positive self-talk that promotes self-belief.

Developing a strong sense of self-efficacy can play an important role in almost every aspect of your life. Life is full of challenges and high levels of self-efficacy can help you better deal with these difficulties more effectively. Your belief in your abilities can predict how motivated you feel, how you feel about yourself, and the amount of effort you put into achieving your goals.

If you want to know about how to build your own Self Efficacy pop over to the contact page here and book a free chat with me.

Is corona-virus a career wakeup call for you?

Has 20Plenty turned in to 20Empty for you?

Are you fatigued by a prolonged lockdown and feeling like “Can this be over now?!?” Have you started to relook at your career i.t.o potentially making some changes?

Clinical psychologists have suggested that this pandemic has caused an emotional tsunami for many. “Peoples’ feelings are exacerbated to the extremes at the moment, especially because of the uncertainty of what’s going to happen,” Suntosh Pillay. The toll this pandemic has taken on peoples’ mental health is leaving many in a perpetual state of stress.

While, for some, lockdown has afforded the opportunity to spend much needed time with family, which would not ordinarily have happened; for others lockdown has been a source of anxiety, hopelessness and disconnectedness. Financial stress, anxiety and panic has been cited by South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) as 3 of the major challenges South Africans are facing.

In addition to this, many people are being forced to re-evaluate their careers with many looking for ‘re-skilling’ opportunities to ensure they can adapt to the post lockdown world of work. Many people have found themselves retrenched or forced into unpaid leave and still others fear they could find themselves in the same situation and not have a position to go back to in the new year.

Has this pandemic caused you to consider pivoting or changing careers completely as you begin to prepare for life after lockdown?

Global research indicates that many people are attempting to upskill in the hope they will be able to be re-employed or be in a position to transition into a different sector.

Coronavirus has acted as a ‘wake-up’ call for many (Image: Getty)

Regrettable only 36% of polled employers has offered their employees support in improving their existing skillsets during this time. We know that without continuous improvements to skill-sets, existing members of staff are likely to become bored and demotivated because they are not being challenged or given the opportunity to grow. This is more important now than ever before. If staff are unfulfilled and unmotivated they will start to think about pursuing a career elsewhere when things settle down.

This in-turn is likely to mean businesses will need to invest huge sums of money in recruitment – with no guarantee they will be able to find anyone with the right attributes. So investing in continuous skills development with existing employees is the best way forward – and it’s also less costly.

For many this pandemic has been the wake-up call they were waiting for.The study found more than a third of those polled have reconsidered their chosen career since lockdown began.

Many workers fear they will not have a job to return to at the end of the crisis (Image: Getty)

In fact, one in 10 people are currently attempting to retrain for an entirely different job. However, 54 % of people surveyed fear they are too established in their current career to do something new; despite many feeling that they may not have a job to return to.

Business owners, have indicated that six out of  10 job applicants lack the skills employers are looking for and filling vacancies with workers who have the desired skillsets is one of their biggest challenges – even harder than retaining valued members of staff.

Recruitment is costly on a financial level, and there is a danger it could affect a business’ ability to grow because they can not find the right people for the job.

This is why continuous skills development is so important – it reduces the need for investing in recruitment because fewer members of staff want to leave as they are likely to be more fulfilled and stimulated. Furthermore, businesses can then grow with a workforce who has all the right skills for the business.

What plans do you have for continuous skills development as you prepare for life after lockdown?

What Does Covid-19 Mean For The Future Of Work?

Working from Home

There has been a lot of discussion around the impact technology and AI will have for the future of work. Many companies and countries have already adopted and adapted many of their offerings and services to be automated and or offered by some form of AI. South Africa launched its own journey into the Fourth Industrial evolution with the president committing to the country being an early adopter of this new way of being.

Then Covid-19 swept the globe, and the message about our future has become even clearer: what started as a few weeks of working from home has evolved into a catalyst for change regarding how we work and live.

 

Millions of people have transitioned to working from home globally and many South Africans have found they too have needed to join the fray. In addition, South Africans, like many others around the world, have also begun to stream online content for 8 hours or more each day.

 

It is safe to say that the traditional definition of office life has been put to rest, and now we are all left to wonder, what will replace it? Many employers have begun to ask whether it is necessary to return to the a pre-Covid world of Work and if not, what does this mean?

 

However, before we follow that rabbit hole  into the future, let’s get some context around the past that is so abruptly changing. Office spaces as we know them have really only existed since the 1930’s, with the birth of the cubicle occurring in the 1980’s. This style of work is not a long standing phenomenon, and even before Covid-19, it was already on its way out of style.  Employees were pushing for their freedom, with 80% of US workers reporting they would turn down a job if it didn’t offer flexible working arrangements. This requirement for job flexibility was a huge factor and had a huge impact on decision making especially when families were getting started. Employee demand pushed remote working opportunities to grow 44% since 2015.

So in essence Covid-19 has really only expedited what was already on the horizon anyway.

As a career expert and coach, I have found myself questioning how permanent these changes are? How will this affect employees in the workplace, especially those, whose careers have already taken a battering lately due to economic downturns.

One thing is certain though remote work is here to stay. This transition has already been set in motion with big tech companies like Facebook taking initiatives now by telling staff to work remotely for the remainder of the year, and in some instances, permanently.  Google has begun to rotate employees on site for a few days each week while ensuring facilities remain at only 10% occupancyTwitter has taken a somewhat different approach, where virtually all employees will work from home, permanently.

We have also seen our universities transition to blended learning approaches [some more quickly than others], with only a fraction of the student body and staff on campus at any given time. The rest are all on some form of rotation. Our schools have been forced to reinvent the way they teach while simultaneously attempting to salvage an academic year, and observe social distancing protocols. Rotation scenarios again being implemented across the vast majority of schools, colleges and universities. We have also seen parents getting progressively more involved in the children’s education rather than leaving this vital aspect of their childs’ development to the education sector exclusively.

Our very notion of work is changing – and not just from a geospatial perspective.  Workplaces are being reconfigured. Various industries have overhauled their spacing policies to observe social distancing protocols. The trend of less space per person has reversed into more space per person, allowing fewer people per building. We have seen online facilities been utilised with progressive proficiency, even for those who were once overwhelmed and intimidated by the prospect.

While remote work offers a slew of improvements for the workplace, a 25% reduction in employee turnover and 77% of employees reporting increased productivity, to name a few, it also brings unique changes and demands that companies may not be fully aware of, yet.

Between 2005 and 2019, the number of people working remotely across the world grew by a staggering 173 percent.

Working from home is no longer reserved for certain industries and professions – it is becoming the number one workplace benefit people are looking for in a job.  A recent survey by executive recruiter Jack Hammer revealed that remote working and flexitime are increasingly being implemented by South African companies as a means of enhancing employee engagement, wellness and productivity.

While there are signs pointing to a big spike in remote working over the next two years, South Africa still lags about four or five years behind the global working-from-home curve? WHY??

South Africa is a country that embraces ubuntu. We like being together. The attributes that make South African culture unique – our laughter, our humanity, our solidarity – may help in part to explain why we have been slower to embrace remote working than our global counterparts.

At the individual level, differences in personality types mean some people are simply better suited to remote working than others. Self-initiation and self-motivation are crucial traits, as are the means and ability to build systems that can support individuals to work effectively from home.

At an organisational level, the challenges are linked with leadership and teams. People feel disconnected from their teams and believe they do not perform as well when they are not physically in the same space. Executives report difficulty in leading effectively when teams and individuals are not physically present.  These are two conundrums we are going to have to figure out, because good leadership and agile teams are important aspects of future-ready organisations.

Many South Africans started working from home in March and now almost seven months down the line many continue to work from home. According to the study, more than nine out of 10 (94%) decision-makers responded that they regarded it as essential to allow parents more time with their children. Cisco South Africa country manager, Garsen Naidu, says they were fascinated to learn that working from home did not negatively impact productivity. “We were fascinated to learn that working from home did not significantly impact the output. Employees are still as productive as they were in the office, partly as a result of not spending time getting to the office and settling in. It suggests that an employee’s mental energy remains finite, within the context of traditional roles and tools,”

South African businesses are more willing to embrace remote working. Those that remain reluctant may find themselves pushed that way by necessity.

Additionally, with another 18 months to two years of continued rolling blackouts ahead of us, this may be the very thing that pushes South African businesses to take the leap and catch up with the rest of the world regarding remote working. Meanwhile, reliable internet connectivity plays a vital role as it has implications on stress levels of employees.

“Connectivity emerges as an important factor for success in remote working…, and illustrates that remote working only functions successfully with remote connectivity. Connectivity is the key to the digital office.” The digitalisation of the home office must take into account the personal circumstances of the employee,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx. Terry Bell says he believes that a large number of companies will adopt the practice of remote working after the lockdown because the benefits of working from home for employers are significant. He adds that with fewer cars on the road would mean reduced road fatalities and less pollution. “I certainly do see that working from home is going to become much more common. It’s a lot cheaper for employers because they don’t have to provide office space. From a worker’s point of view, they end up working as individuals, they will then end up being negotiated with as individuals.”

It’s extremely advantageous for employers, and productivity does not fall.

For a young country like South Africa these are important considerations. We have a growing population and we are one of the most rapidly urbanising places on the planet. When we reflect on a horizontal city like Johannesburg, with its sprawling footprint, or Cape Town with its gridlocked roads, and it is easy to see how asking people to travel further is just not realistic; working from home just makes sense.

Remote working should be standard practice post Covid-19. The lack of office space will necessitate it, social distancing will demand it and investments in advanced digital technologies, infrastructure and collaboration tools will facilitate it.

COVID-19, of course, is not the first attack on our jobs. The fourth industrial has already changed the job landscape. As it is, humans and machines are increasingly working together, bolstering efficiency and productivity. The workforce is becoming  increasingly more structured by project rather than job function, allowing tasks to be created and dismantled flexibly.

Many companies may opt for a reduction in workdays. Others will rethink their ratio of permanent employees to gig workers. Expect to see leaders pivoting towards business models that create new digital and online forms of value. Until now, the concept of unlocking the digital dividend has been largely elusive.

 

Are you guilty of Using these 14 phrases?

Don’t Patronise Me!!!
Phrases You might  Use That Unintentionally Minimize/Patronize Your Co-workers

Whether you are in charge of managing a team, head of a department or are in a role where you are required to participate frequently in meetings, responding to fellow coworker’s ideas and contributions in a way that is respectful is important.

Not only does it position you as a team player, it also shows you are collaborative and easy to work with – which is what we all strive to be at work, right?

“Well, think of the positive side.” “It can’t be as bad as all that.” “At least you have XYZ to be grateful for!”

Sometimes, the language we use can have consequences we didn’t intend for. Silver-lining types have probably had the occasion to learn this over the course of the pandemic — or at least, that’s been true for a friend of mine.

After a co-worker shared with her the toll COVID-19 had been taking on her mental health, my friend quickly went for her go-to response; attempting to cheer-up her co-worker by pointing out things to feel optimistic about. As well-meaning as this may be, her approach was not well received. Although her co-worker stayed silent at the time, she later wrote to her indicating that the response had felt dismissive and minimizing.

 

Often times you are not looking for a “fix” from the other person. You simply want to be heard.

Although COVID-19 has given us more opportunities to be unintentionally dismissive or patronizing , it is a type of language that most of us have, at some point, been guilty of using. Here are some phrases you may have used at work without realizing it was minimizing or even patronising to your co-workers.

 

  1. “I don’t think it’s that serious.”

If the other person is coming to you with a concern, this response essentially calls their concern invalid.  Try this alternative instead: “I see your point! Here’s how I’m thinking of it…”

 

  1. “Let’s just talk about it offline.” 

Context here counts. Sometimes, this age-old meeting line is totally appropriate, especially to keep meetings on track. There are time when some items will be worth separate conversations. However, if the way in which you use this phrase essentially silences the other party and ends the conversation, it is worth rethinking that response.

 

  1. “I’ll take care of it; it’s just easier if I do!” 

To indicate that working with the other person is more trouble than it’s worth; even if that happens to be true; this is  not  the best relationship-building tactic especially if you want to get collaboration and cooperation going.

 

  1. “It doesn’t matter to me.”

If your opinion is being sought, that is a compliment  and should be treated with the respect it deserves. While some people find it difficult to accept compliments ever those veiled in requests for input by way of voicing an opinion, showing interest in the person’s query, rather than brushing it aside will garner much more respect. Try this alternative “Lets talk about this a bit more shall we” or “If you want  my opinion then we can certainly discuss my view on this matter.”

 

  1. “You think you are busy? Wait until you hear what is on my plate…”

This one should be pretty self-explanatory. Any language that suggests you are one-upping the other person is worth avoiding.

 

  1. “I’m still not following you.”

Having trouble catching their meaning? Try this alternative: “Could you give an example?” or “Could you put that another way?”

 

  1. “You did not have to do all that.”

Maybe they did not have to, but at any rate, they did. Recognize and acknowledge the contribution and move on.

 

  1. “Sorry, that is not a priority for me right now.”

You should absolutely protect your time and to-do list. However rather than blatantly inferring that the other party isn’t or can’t be a priority, try simply going the route of: “This is great! The soonest I’m able to help with this is this date.”

 

  1. “You can do better than that.”

This phrase may seem harmless, but as Jerry Han, Chief Marketing Executive of PrizeRebel explains, it’s problematic for two reasons.

“First, it sounds like the kind of thing a parent tells their child,” he says. “Second, it invalidates and criticizes the other person’s work, idea, presentation, etc.”

Instead, Han suggests a more constructive alternative. “‘This looks great, but I think we can do even better. What do you think?’ This compliments the other person, shows you are on the same side (using ‘we’ instead of ‘I’) and gets them to suggest improvements.” It sends a more empowering message.

10. “Right… Now back to the matter at hand.”

On one hand, Han recognizes this phrase can be useful in meetings, as it can help teams stay on track and focus on the subject at hand. “On the other hand, saying it like this completely ignores and invalidates whatever was being said previously,” Han explains.

“Instead, write down the gist of what the other person is saying, then promise to get back to the subject later,” he suggests. “I like things like, ‘that is a great idea, but I think it falls outside the scope of this meeting. Why don’t we discuss this 1-on-1 later?’”

  1. “I actually like that idea.”

This is another tricky phrase that seems positive but is not. “This places the focus on you and away from the person who gave the idea,” says Edgar Arroyo, President of SJD Taxi.

“It can sound like a back-handed compliment, because it may give the impression that  generally you think the person does not give good ideas, so you are surprised that they have provided a good idea.”

Arroyo recommends simply using “That is a good idea” to express your approval.

  1. “Everyone knows that…”

Starting a sentence with this phrase can make others feel belittled. “Nobody really knows what another person knows  and saying that can make the other person feel dumb or that they are missing out if they did not know something.”

Arroyo suggests “Use ‘You may know that…’ as a more neutral way of acknowledging that you are talking about something that people may know about but does not make assumptions.”

  1.  “Good luck with that!”

“This phrase can come off as very condescending because it may indicate that you generally expect the other person to fail, but they may succeed if they have good luck,” Arroyo explains. “It can also indicate that the person does not have the skills or capability to generate results.”

Arroyo suggests a positive reframe. “You can say, ‘Feel free to let us know if you need any help,’ if you think the person is taking on a difficult task,” says .

  1. “You’re missing my point.”

“Someone who says this is implying that it is the other person’s fault for not understanding what has been said and that they are in fact being clear,” Arroyo explains. “However, the speaker could be at fault for not making their point clear enough or easy enough to understand for everyone.”

“It might be better to say, ‘Let me try to rephrase this to make my meaning clearer.’ This shows that you recognize that you also have a part to play in helping the other person understand you and that you are making an effort,” says Arroyo.

How many of these are yo guilty of using?

Share your list in the comments section below.

Resilience

Resilience – Super Glue of the Psyche

tree of hope

You know you are having one of those months when the crow’s feet have turned into vulture’s claws, when your sense of humour has completely failed you and you feel like you are stuck in some bizarre combination of the twilight zone and groundhog day.

You get times like that don’t you? My current blame du jour are the retrogrades, that those in the know predicted would throw all unfinished business and all that has been emotionally papered over, into deep fractures.

Change is one of life’s inevitabilities and as much as we are digging the vintage vibe or doing the ostrich thing to the stuff we can’t bear; change is the only constant.  We are all having to dig deep these days. Not just profoundly into our pockets but into our psyches too, to help mend and make do and get through in these volatile and uncertain times.

Redundancy, relationship crises, health issues and financial worries are becoming an increasing life burden for all of us. When the future is foggy, we struggle to find an anchor to keep us from feeling like we are drifting aimlessly and uncontrollably. We want black and white answers when those 50 rainbow shades offer an overwhelming and altogether unsexy prospect.

So, the buzzword to hold on to is Resilience.

Simply put, it is the ability to dig deep within ourselves to find that reserve of energy and resolve we need to help us through the tough times. Resilience is a skill and it can be practiced just like practicing to play a musical instrument or a sport.

Easier said than done for many, especially when you feel like jelly and you find yourself on shaky ground. Where is that strength you need to draw upon?

It is right there at the core of your being. You must have faith in your own instincts and abilities which will help guide you along the way. Digging deep into hitherto unknown reserves of self is what Japanese author Haruki Murakami writes about in his book on spirituality, philosophy and marathons What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

Keeping the goal in mind and consistently reminding yourself that things will get better; as you take baby steps each day towards it. Coaching is great for this. Ordinarily we seldom, if ever, need to dig that deep for our everyday lives. It is however, worth creating systems which you can turn to when you feel the ground shaking and your nerve is heading for the Exit with someone else’s coat.

Here are a few coaching tips to help consolidate Resilience.

  • Maintain good relationships with your family and friends. Accept their help in times of stress. Offer help to those who are less fortunate than you are – and YES there are always others in a worse situation than you are. Give generously and earnestly, especially when you feel you have little to give. We feel at our best when we are able to help those less able than ourselves. The smallest act of kindness done in earnest will open the door of abundance.
  • Try to look at the big picture of life and avoid viewing difficult times as insurmountable. Take small steps toward your goals and take one day at a time. Avoid the pitfall of trying to solve tomorrow’s problems today. Deal with what you can deal with today, do it well – tomorrow is not guaranteed. Stay focused on what you can manage today, right here, right now. Remember there are things you can control and there are things you cannot. So do what you can do, manage what you can manage and keep moving forward.
  • Accept that change is a part of life and acceptance of what is – is key. Keep working toward your goals every day, and keep asking yourself “What can I do today to move in the direction I need to go in? Small consistent acts in the right directly get results.
  • Maintain a positive view of life and visualize what you want. When we feel like our resolve is fading, often times our energy levels tend to wax and wane as well. It is critical at these points to take care of yourself. Eat well, sleep and exercise to keep yourself healthy – even if you only do a quarter of what you would normally do. This is especially important during times of stress. There will always be an obstacle or hurdle that we will need to navigate in our lives. Learn to navigate these hurdles with confidence in your own abilities is key. Fear and anxiety will always rear their heads – it’s perfectly okay to recognise that you are fearful or anxious. The trick however is to not allow it to paralyse you into inaction.
  • Make the Decision to Prevail. This too shall pass. As the Good times come and go so too, do the Bad times. Nothing is permanent – as sure as day follows night these periods of volatility and uncertainty will pass.

 

Being resilient does not mean that we do not experience difficulty or distress, emotional  pain or sadness. Resilience involves the behaviours, thoughts and actions that we can learn and develop to navigate the emotional distress. Learn and practice self-compassion and recognize that everyone suffers. Being gentle and kind to yourself is a much more effective road to healing. If your best friend were going through a rough time you would be kind and gentle with them; NOW go and do the same thing for yourself.

Another sure-fire way of developing some psyche superglue is to hire a coach. Book your 30-minute trial telephone session today by emailing me at renatafester@career-coach.co.za

 

 

Coaching Package to Choose From

During these unprecedented times we all need a little help. Here are a few packages which may tickle your fancy and provide some help along the way to redefining your normal.. If any of these sound like something you may be interested in doing click here to connect with me and we can schedule a FREE consultation session with no obligation.

If this is not what you are looking for let me know how I may be of Service and we can tailor make a packed to suite your unique needs.

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4-Week Coaching Packages
4-Week Coaching Packages

Coaching

Are you stuck in “Perfectionism” Trap

 

from perfection to passion

Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough. – Julia Cameron

Perfectionism… “To be, or not to be?” That is, the ultimate question! There are certainly arguments for and against it. Those who support perfectionism may tell you that it is a measure of attention to detail and thoroughness when getting tasks done. It’s all about achieving those higher standards that give them the edge in a competitive environment.

This view implies that perfectionism is a form of excellence where you strive to perform at the highest possible level.

Is it really about striving for excellence?

You will discover, that perfectionism is certainly not all it is cracked up to be. In fact, it can be as debilitating as it can be helpful; and when it is mismanaged it can potentially sabotage all your good intentions. Why? Because [as I discovered] perfectionism is something that is built upon fear, inflexible rules, and unreasonable standards that have absolutely no basis in reality.

Before breaking down these details, let us look at what perfectionism actually means.

To be a perfectionist means being overly concerned with personal achievement. Everything needs to be done perfectly or otherwise you simply can not move forward. This often stems from the notion of all-or-nothing thinking, where things are either perfect or things are  just not good enough.

When we step into this all-or-nothing space our life stagnates and we are unable to move forward as we need to because we have created in our mind a set of unreasonable and often lofty expectations.

Perfectionists persistently pressure themselves to reach these unachievable objectives, often to their own personal detriment, without ever realizing that perfectionism is in constant flux. It is based purely on interpretation. The reality is that what is perfect for one person is far from perfect for another person.  Additionally, what is perfect today will often be far from perfect tomorrow. The more we learn about something, the more we  realize how much we actually don’t know.

Therefore the question becomes does perfectionism actually exist? I have come to realise that it does not. It is a misnomer that we fool ourselves into believing more often than we may care to acknowledge. 🙂

You might be thinking that perfectionism is all about  going out there and doing your best in every situation. This is a valid argument – Doing our very best and trying to live up to the highest of standards can certainly be of tremendous value, however, there is a healthy and an unhealthy way to go about this.

Those who do their very best and strive for excellence do so from a place of empowerment. These people have a high level of self-worthself-esteem, and self-confidence in their own ability to get things done at the highest of levels. This behaviour is healthy because these people come from a place of yearning for growth and development. It is this behaviour that helps them perform at the highest level.

The flip side of this coin however, is the unhealthy form of perfectionism. People who succumb to this do so from a place of fear that often translates into procrastination. They engage in the act of perfectionism as a means of avoiding something they fear, and as a result, they succumb to bouts of anxiety or/ and procrastination.

This often manifests in inflexible thinking, self-criticismperformance anxiety, and guilt. The underlying factor here is, these people have very low levels of self-esteem. They just don’t believe they are good enough and therefore operate from a sense of failure, which impairs their personal growth, productivity, and performance.

In an attempt to make up for all these shortcomings, they set the highest possible standards for themselves thinking that striving for perfection will help ease their fears. This strategy almost never works because the underlying problem still exists.

A lack of self-esteem means that you are constantly comparing Yourself and your performance to others. From the outside this can seem competitive, but this competitive spirit often comes from a place of weakness and vulnerability. There is a consistent need for reassurance  and as a result, they are quite vulnerable to  criticism and rejection.

They become so engrossed in the act of doing things perfectly that “making progress” and “forward thinking” take a back-seat to the idea that “things are just not good enough”. As a result they don’t take any meaningful action towards the attainment of their goals and objectives, and they remain stuck. Unable to move forward and unable to break free, they engross themselves even further into a world of unrealistic expectations and unreasonable standards that can never be met. All this is a direct result of their inability to handle fear.

The Evolution of Perfectionism

Now that we understand how perfectionism manifests in our lives, let us  take a look at how it evolves over a lifetime. There are numerous influential forces that can make a person prone to falling victim to bouts of perfectionism. For starters, there is our temperament we are born which becomes less of a factor as we age and undergo social conditioning.

Growing up you might have received unusually high levels of praise from your parents, guardians and/or peers. As a result, you now have very high expectations of yourself and rather inflexible beliefs in certain areas of your life, which can manifest in perfectionistic behaviour. On the flip-side, there might have been an absence of praise while you were growing up in which case you would gravitate towards perfectionistic types of behaviour in an attempt to make-up for your perceived shortcomings. This is a way of proving to other people that you are deserving of higher praise.

Being overly punished for making mistakes while growing up can also trigger perfectionistic behaviour. As a result of these mistakes, you feel  you are just not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, etc. Today, you strive to avoid experiencing this pain by doing things perfectly to avoid punishment/pain that you still believe will result.

Being overly dependent upon receiving rewards from other people can also lead to perfectionistic behaviour. While growing up you might have consistently been rewarded for completing certain tasks and activities to a set of standards that your parents or others set for you. As a result, you have been conditioned to receive rewards when completing a task to the highest possible level. You now, indulge in perfectionism in order to keep receiving those rewards. Those rewards have probably changed quite significantly since you were a child, however, the expectation of getting something in return, even if it is just praise, is enough to keep your perfectionistic indulgence alive.

The Maintenance of Perfectionism

We can relate to these examples at some level however, what these examples do not explain is WHY, throughout our adult lives, we continue to indulge in perfectionism.

The underlying reasons why perfectionism might still be prevalent in your adult life, has to do with these three core factors: fearsunhelpful thoughts, and rules which work together to satisfy your hunger for perfectionism.

Fears

Your inability to deal with fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of making mistakes and even the fear of success can all lead you down the path towards perfectionism.

You indulge in perfectionism because fear breeds uncertainty and when things are uncertain this creates doubt. When there is doubt you procrastinate, instead of avoiding the task altogether, as most procrastinators tend to do, you try to trick yourself into believing that you are actually making progress. You do this by completely absorbing yourself into an easy part of the task that you feel comfortable with. You convince yourself that you cannot move onto the next part of the task unless this first part is done perfectly. This is, of course, a ploy you use to distract yourself from the fact that you just can not bear dealing with the fear that is waiting for you.

For example, let’s say that you have a presentation to do which you have been putting off for weeks. You convince yourself that you are not ready and spend all your time preparing for the presentation; making sure that everything is perfect. Of course, this is a ploy you use to avoid the FEAR you experience when you think about actually delivering this presentation. You are afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone and therefore indulge in perfectionism to help ease the tension and uneasiness you feel.

Unhelpful Thoughts

Your unhelpful thoughts that lead you astray. Your fears actually stem from these unhelpful thoughts you indulge in. These thoughts hinder how you view the events and circumstances of your life. As a result, you tend to make inaccurate assumptions about how things are and about how they could end up being, if you follow-through with a specific kind of action.

You might, assume that if you make a mistake while giving the presentation that people will judge you. This, of course, triggers the fear of failure or criticism. You now believe you need to do everything in your power to try and avoid this. This means that you will continue to plan and prepare your presentation in order to delay the inevitable moment for as long as possible.

These are only two examples of the types of unhealthy thought patterns that could be letting you down. There are of course others but you get the point.

Psychological Rules

Your inflexible rules. These rules are of course interlinked with your unhelpful thoughts and fears. In fact, there is very little separation as all these components work together to lead you down the path towards perfectionism.

When it comes down to the reluctance you feel about giving your presentation, your rules could be :

I can’t move forward unless I am able to find the right graphics for this presentation.

I must conduct thorough research for the topic in order to impress my boss.

I should spend more time on preparing myself in order to avoid making mistakes.

All of these rules that you have created for yourself keep you within a perfectionist cycle. It is a “cycle” because even if you find the right graphics for this presentation, there will be yet another excuse that will keep you stuck.

The Formation of Unreasonable Standards

The above three factors come together to form your personal standards and the expectations you bring to every situation. Your personal standards are guidelines you use to measure your success. These guiding principles of behaviour help direct what you focus on and how you end up focusing on things.

These affect the choices and decisions you make when it comes to indulging in perfectionistic behaviour. Take into consideration the personal standards you have set for yourself in an area of your life where you tend to indulge in perfectionism and ask yourself:

Are my personal standards in this situation 

 – realistic?

 – achievable?

 – flexible?

What problems tend to result from indulging in these high standards?

How does this affect

  • me?
  • the situation?
  • my life?

Answering these questions will hopefully begin to break down the walls that form the belief systems you have supporting this kind of behaviour.

Was this useful? Leave a comment and let me know how you have dealt with Perfectionism. Stay tuned for the next article which will cover How to Beat Perfectionism.