Steve Preston

Jan 042020
 

What have you done this decade to make you feel proud?

It only seems like a blink of an eye and not only have we seen the end of 2019 and the start of a new year but 2020 is also the start of a new decade.

Thinking about the new decade prompted some interesting family conversations and reflection about the last 10 years. There was much reminiscing, pondering over key highlights and then discussions around choosing our top 3 highlights.

Thinking back over the last ten years isn’t easy is it? However, it was interesting that we all focused on travel and our various adventures and that work-related highlights were all about achieving specific goals and passions, that were previously unattainable, were significant challenges or came about as a result of being opportunistic.

I suppose there is nothing new in this, as to achieve anything significant in life usually means getting out of your comfort zone. Also, as I repeatedly say to people…

“Success goes where your positive energy flows”!

My top 3 career and personal highlights that immediately sprung to mind were:

  • Becoming a published Author of 3 internationally acclaimed Career & Personal Development books and 2 audio books, resulting in numerous media features, radio and podcast guest interviews in different countries and speaking engagements
  • Planning and having many exciting holidays and extended travel adventures with my wife and friends, especially in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and various USA road trips to National Parks and places of scenic or historic interest
  • Last but not least, continuing to make a difference and helping to transform the lives and careers of 1000’s of people. This was especially so when my company partnered with a provider who had won major government funded project to help executives and professionals successfully transition back into work, following redundancy. It was a privilege and hugely rewarding for myself and my team who provided around 3000 people with career transition support, over a couple of years. We took great pride in our delivery and were proud of the results we helped to achieve along with exceptional feedback

Now it’s your turn. Think about your top 3 highlights of this past decade, then consider… what do you want to achieve more of in this new decade and why? Your ‘why’ is important, as it is your ‘driver’ and call to action.

How to make it happen

As with any goal, set your intent by writing down what you want to achieve or save it on your phone and constantly monitor and measure your progress. I would love to hear yours and remember “Success goes where your positive energy flows”!

Wishing you a healthy, happy and successful new decade, in whatever success means to you  🙂

Steve Preston is known as The Career Catalyst ®. A leading Career Coach to executives and professionals, the Career Coach’s Coach, MD of specialist Consultancy SMP Solutions (Career & People Development) Ltdmotivational speaker and Internationally acclaimed Author of Career and Personal Development books and products, including Portfolio Careers – How to Work for Passion, Pleasure & Profit, Winning through Career Change and Winning Through Redundancy

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Aug 222019
 

Monday Moan Day!

Now the main holiday season is almost over and it’s back to work, it begs the question; do you love or loathe Mondays? Is it Monday moan day?

Does the thought of Monday fill you a sense of ‘sadness’?

Is this because your weekend is over and that you now have to work for another five days until you get your next two days off?  Typically, this Monday ‘moan day’ feeling hits many people within the working population, across the globe. For some it’s almost an innate fear of what you have to face as Monday morning dawns. It’s the realisation that, you; like so many others, actually dread going to work because you are unsatisfied and unfulfilled in the job you do.  Does this sound like you?

Twenty Top Moans

  1. Having to work in great weather
  2. Getting a phone call just as you are about to leave the office
  3. Slow or constantly crashing computers
  4. General IT issues
  5. Office is too hot/cold
  6. Printers keep jamming
  7. No aircon/ freezing cold aircon
  8. People not replying to emails
  9. Being copied into emails that aren’t of any importance to you
  10. Not being informed about things that are important to you
  11. Meetings for the sake of meetings
  12. People pretending to be sick
  13. Difficult colleagues
  14. Colleagues who talk incessantly
  15. Colleagues who constantly complain about being busy
  16. Colleagues sucking up to the boss
  17. The ‘toxic’ boss /work environment
  18. Being micro managed
  19. People not saying ‘thank you’
  20. Your commute

Have you fallen into the ‘funnel of life’?

Think about it. A funnel is broad at the top, its sole purpose being to collect as much as possible. As you move down a funnel it gradually becomes narrower and narrower. Now take a look at the ‘funnel of your life’ in relation to the work that you do. What do you see?

Is your funnel filling up with ‘everything’ but ‘nothing’ in reality? Is the work that you are doing just ‘clogging up’ your funnel? Does it stop your funnel being filled with a working lifestyle that is fulfilling and satisfying?

Are you ready to reverse your Monday moan day feeling?

You do realise that you have the power to do this, don’t you? You can change the way you fill your funnel. Why? Because you have access to an incredible portfolio of skills, talents and knowledge you have learned, developed and refined throughout your working life, some that you enjoy, and others not so. You will no doubt also have other talents, passions, interests and knowledge outside of your work that ultimately could help to unlock your true potential!

One of the first questions to ask yourself is: “Is there only one job to suit me?”

When you think about what you are good at and what you enjoy, you can take steps to redefine how you can work, in effect, how you can ‘specialise’ in different things.

Choice will play a key role in helping you change your mind set

Redefine how you want to work and then set about choosing how to develop greater knowledge in the different areas you are passionate about. This will help you focus on more of what you want to fill you funnel with.

As you begin to consider your new funnel of life, you will allow yourself an opportunity to free your mind from thoughts around only doing one type of job or work. From variety comes choice. The choice that can give you the flexibility and control of how you spread what you do over days in your own ‘working week’. Think about it.

Stretch your thinking and challenge yourself to create a working life that suits you, it provides you with an income, and that from it you derive purpose, fulfilment and happiness.

Fill your funnel of life with what you do want and banish your Monday moan day and learn to love Mondays as much as Fridays!

Steve Preston is known as The Career Catalyst ®. A leading Career Coach to executives and professionals, the Career Coach’s Coach, MD of specialist Consultancy SMP Solutions (Career & People Development) Ltdmotivational speaker and Internationally acclaimed Author of Career and Personal Development books and products, including Portfolio Careers – How to Work for Passion, Pleasure & Profit, Winning through Career Change and Winning Through Redundancy

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Aug 212019
 

Are you holding yourself back by not ‘letting go’ of conditioned thinking?

“There were two monks walking along, an older monk and a young monk. They came to a shallow river, and there was a lady there who demanded that one of them should carry her across the river. So the older monk carried her across, and the two monks continued walking.

At the end of the day they decided to rest for the night. While they sat by their fire, the young monk said indignantly to the older monk, “I can’t believe you carried that lady across the river! She was perfectly capable of walking across, and she was so rude! She did not even thank you! I really don’t understand why you did it!”

The old monk smiled at the young monk and said, “I set her down hours ago; why are you still carrying her?”

Conditioned thinking is what this story tells us. The message is crystal clear. It’s about what you hold onto and how you relive the way things should or shouldn’t be. This is a burden you alone choose to carry. Nobody makes you do this. However, due to what you are conditioned to believe and think, and what you perceive other’s expect of you, you take on the challenge of carrying around unnecessary weight.

Cast your mind back to your childhood, your education and your youth. What transpired during those years? You would have been largely and directly influenced by your parents, your teachers and society. The conditioning you received became ingrained in your mind, your thoughts and your actions, as a result.

Are you keen to challenge your own conditioned thinking?

During my work with individuals who are in career or life transition, as a result of redundancy (lay off) or of their own choice, the concept of conditioning plays a significant role. It regularly rears its head as people  work through the 6 Steps of my career navigation process. Conditioning often gets in the way and can stifle your progress, but only when you let it, especially when not paying enough attention to Step 1 “letting go and looking forward”.

What is the impact of not changing the way you think, especially when you know you need to?

A good example is a client of mine who has experienced quite a journey since leaving employment. Having investigated a few similar alternative options, he decided that these are not suitable. Why? Because the realisation dawned that he would just be going back into ‘jobs’ he was trying to get away from. Unsure of where the process was heading, there have been emotional ups and downs. He realised that going through the process is a positive means to move forward, to help change his perspective and look at what he can do through a different ‘lens’. However, he has been holding on to the need to look for a ‘job’ to earn a regular income with the belief this will allow him to feel more settled. Will it though?

My client’s feelings and emotions are perfectly natural and he is right that working through my proven Career Navigation Cycle process will help him move on but he must learn to ‘let go and look forward’. Just as important is for him to remain true to himself and not to go for what he believes to be ‘the easy option’ i.e. getting another similar job, as this will more than likely only increase his frustration and anxiety.

Take a leap of faith and ‘uncondition’ your thinking

Another example is a client who is exploring alternative opportunities away from the conditioned thinking around the ‘need to get another job’. Working a few days per week on business development for an old contact, she sees this as one way to start to build a variety of income streams, to give her the chance to develop a Portfolio Career and what I call a ‘blended working lifestyle’, of her choice.

When you think about what you can do, from an exciting new perspective, with your array of skills, talents, interests and passions you possess, you will give yourself permission to challenge your thoughts and ideas and banish your conditioned thinking from the past. Imagine your own personal realisation when you discover that it is OK not to have to have a ‘traditional job’! Perhaps you can research some new ideas, gain clarity on the paid work you wish to pursue and let the rest evolve?

No longer limit yourself, instead discover what can be

 Release your conditioned thinking. Instead, choose to focus on reaching your own true potential. Getting another ‘similar job’ says this: “I’ll stick with the known, believe what others had told me is the right thing to do (conditioning), and remain as part of the ‘big herd’!”  In the infamous words of the late Henry Ford…

Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right  

The choice is yours!

Steve Preston is known as The Career Catalyst ®. A leading Career Coach to executives and professionals, the Career Coach’s Coach, MD of specialist Consultancy SMP Solutions (Career & People Development) Ltdmotivational speaker and Internationally acclaimed Author of Career and Personal Development books and products, including Portfolio Careers – How to Work for Passion, Pleasure & Profit, Winning through Career Change and Winning Through Redundancy.

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Aug 082019
 

Are you living on ‘Someday Island’?

For many people it’s vacation time. That time of year when you pack up and head out for a week or 2 to forget about work and enjoy yourself. It might be your annual much anticipated family holiday, a week or two just chilling out or time for a real adventure.

I Don’t Like Monday’s!

After a much-needed break, you come back feeling refreshed but unfortunately, memories of that wonderful holiday quickly evaporate once you are back into your daily grind. Instead these are often replaced by the familiar feelings of dread when it’s Monday morning again!

It is a known fact that many people immediately look forward to their next vacation, having just returned from their latest one and escape from their daily grind. After all, we all like something positive to look forward to, don’t we? But what if instead you escape to that fantasy island where everything is just fine. Yes, I’m sure you know the one don’t you… ‘Someday Island’!

This is the magical, mythical island where all your dreams can come true, like the one we all know from our childhood… “Someday my prince will come!”

Maybe uppermost in your mind from your recent vacation…

  • Someday I will find a job where I’m not disturbed by phone calls or emails from my boss or colleagues while on my vacation
  • Someday I will find a job where I won’t need my awful commute
  • Someday my boss will leave and everything will be fine
  • Someday I will get the promotion I deserve
  • Someday I will find a fulfilling job or career I really enjoy  
  • Someday I will start my own business and be my own boss
  • Someday I will write that book I promised myself
  • Someday I will make time to travel more often or for that real holiday adventure of a lifetime
  • Someday I will start to look after my health and general well-being

What if ‘Someday Island’ wasn’t just a mythical, magical place where dreams come true?

What if ‘Someday Island’ really does exist? How cool would that be? After all dreams can come true anyway, can’t they?

So, here’s the thing, ‘Someday Island’ isn’t a place. ‘Someday Island‘ is not even a day of the week, Someday Island’ is a mindset…your mindset!

Success Goes Where Your Energy Flows

The good news is that you have the power to change how you think, feel, behave and the results you achieve in your career and life!  

I still marvel at, how once people have chosen to take the leap of faith and leave ‘Someday Island’ for ‘Today Island’, by taking positive action and investing in a coaching programme to achieve career and life goals, ‘magical things’ start to happen. By ‘investment’, I’m not just talking about financial cost. Although cost is obviously important, equally when you make such a commitment in time, effort and energy and learn to take the right positive actions, then almost anything is possible.

Success goes where your energy flows and it’s like you have started creating ripples in the universe!

Banish Your Fears

What holds most people back from making positive change, progression or achieving your true potential, is your fears. Working with a great career coach will help you overcome barriers to your progression, banish your fears and magically you will start to see things from a different perspective, where new opportunity abounds!

Break Free from Your Comfort Zone

It’s true that you achieve very little worthwhile in your life, unless you get out of your comfort zone. So, why spend your life dreaming about ‘Someday Island’ when you have the power to make your dreams become reality by breaking free of your comfort zone.

Today Island’ is where all the positive action is. Take the leap of faith by investing in yourself and make your ‘somedays’ come true 😊

Steve Preston is a leading Career Coach to executives and professionals, MD of specialist Consultancy SMP Solutions (Career & People development) Ltdmotivational speaker and Internationally acclaimed author Author of Career and Personal Development books and products, including Portfolio Careers – How to Work for Passion, Pleasure & Profit! and Winning through Career Change.

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Mar 132019
 

What is the Velvet Rut?

If you have never heard this expression before, I’m sure you are not alone. I hadn’t until one of my clients coined the phrase, several years ago.

Maybe, like you, I was intrigued and sought a definition. So, let’s now look at the fascinating conundrum of the ‘Velvet Rut‘. My client used the ‘Velvet Rut’ as a wonderful metaphor to exemplify how they were feeling in relation to their highly paid job, career and general lifestyle.

The ‘Velvet Rut’ is where you find yourself trapped in an unfulfilling job in which you are not learning anything new, not using the full extent of your skills and are just bored stiff. You probably disconnected several months ago and are now just going through the motions. The work is no longer stretching. You can do most of it with your eyes closed so you are unlikely to get fired for poor performance. Your level of competence and familiarity with the job means that, while it is not exciting, it isn’t scary either. You are pretty much marking time. Guaranteed, your values are also out of sync with your job, career and the organisation. Therefore, you are not being true to yourself either!

What is the difference between the ‘Velvet Rut’ and any other career rut?

The significant difference is, like my client, if you are commanding a top salary/reward package (she was a London City Trader), you can get stuck in this awful metaphorical tug of war. On one hand, you have a high salary and fantastic bonuses but on the other, you may absolutely loathe what you do. You couldn’t get the same amount of money for such an easy life anywhere else. Essentially, the trappings and the lifestyle are what keep you there. It becomes a hard wrench to leave them behind, especially if you like to ‘keep up with the Jones’ or even get one up on them. Maybe this is what is driving you?

You are being pulled towards the tempting thought of a career change. Wouldn’t it be great doing fulfilling work, to release yourself from your mind-numbing misery? But you are also being pulled away from jumping ship and leaving all your material trappings behind. Heaven forbid, you might even have to take a pay cut! This all seems a bridge too far. But where will it all end?

The longer you stay, the more comfortable the environment becomes because you know the organisation inside out and can therefore work the system. You thus minimise the risk of anything unexpected happening or of being faced with difficult situations.

Seniority and good relationships leave you well placed politically, so the pay rises and good bonuses keep coming. In theory you are also too expensive to make redundant because of your long service, although this would be a welcome blessing. You might feel as if your brain is shrinking and sometimes want to scream at the tedium and banality of it all but, in the final analysis, they are paying you way too much for you to pack it in and do something else. You are living a life of ultimate compromise.

In the private sector and commercial world, Investment banks, large Financial, Technology and Consulting organisations often have lots of people stuck in the ‘Velvet Rut’. They pay people large amounts of money but many stay because they have effectively priced themselves out of the market. The reality is they will be doing exactly the ‘same old’ stuff next year and the year after. Likewise, the public sector is also rife with people who are paid way over the odds for what they do, who are ‘treading water’.

If you get really bored, you can compensate for the lack of stimulation at work by finding it in in your spare time. It is no coincidence that many people who are stuck it the ‘Velvet Rut’ are also the community activists, charity organisers, residents’ association committee members and hobby-club newsletter writers that the rest of us rely upon so much. Even the ‘Velvet Rut’, it seems, has some social benefits. However, this certainly isn’t always the case, as many people in the ‘Velvet Rut‘ lose interest in life outside of work too, becoming lethargic and generally apathetic.

Are you in the ‘Velvet Rut‘ and how do you get out of one?

The ‘Velvet Rut’ is extremely difficult to get out of, which is exactly why it has been named this! It will either take something dramatic to suddenly awaken your senses or it can be a from a gradual drip feed, over time, eventually becoming totally unbearable. Therefore, it could be months or even years, before you finally realise there is more to life than money and this isn’t the way you want to live your life. If you’re lucky, you could be affected by redundancy and benefit from a big pay-off. Unfortunately, more often than not, it is health problems, that is the wake-up call. Whatever the reason, if it makes you sit up, take stock and take positive action, then this is a big step forward.

The best way to break out of your ‘Velvet Rut’ is to invest in a Career Coach. They will help you bring about a new self-awareness of what you really want in your career and life and why, especially your career and life values. Only then can you channel your energy into finding a fulfilling job or career that you really want!

If this blog resonates with you, like the image at the top of the page, which door will you open? Will you continue with ‘same old’ and ‘compromise’ or will it be ‘new choices‘ and breaking out to ‘unlock your true potential’?

If you now recognise yourself as stuck in the ‘Velvet Rut’, then take my simple Career Health Check, as the start point to taking positive action. Working together we can then beat the trappings to transform your career and life!

Steve Preston is a leading Career Coach to executives and professionals, MD of specialist Consultancy SMP Solutions (Career & People development) Ltd, motivational speaker and Internationally acclaimed author Author of Career and Personal Development books and products, including Portfolio Careers – How to Work for Passion, Pleasure & Profit! and Winning through Career Change.

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