Monthly archives "February 2015"

It’s about the journey

It's about the journeyIt’s been a week since I officially released my book ‘Coping with the Horroffice‘. When I look back at my life, this will most definitely be one of the significant points in it. A defining point maybe, because I now genuinely feel I am a Writer’ and even an ‘Author’.

One of the most endearing habits we’ve had in our family for a while is that on our birthdays, or at Christmas or Diwali or a particularly significant event, we take a look back at what we’ve learned, and then we look forwards to what we’re going to do next. I love this habit.

So I’d like to share it here with you too. (In fact, I’m actually sharing it with you first).

Looking Back…

About this time last year, I left a contract I had been in for about six months, and which at various points had befuddled me, reduced me to tears, or left me silently raging. I wondered what I’d done to deserve such a tough contract. I hadn’t planned to leave, so I didn’t have any savings so my decision had a huge impact on my finances. But I felt I’d rather deal with the stress of no cash than the stress of that role.

I’m so glad I didn’t know then what I know now. Why? Because maybe I wouldn’t have seen the problems with the same eyes, I would just have been wishing away the time, knowing what was coming. I wouldn’t have learned the lessons I’d learned, I’d just have skimmed the surface. I wouldn’t have felt the way I did.  And the idea for the book might never have come about.

So I think that’s lesson number one (even though I’d like to say I’ve got this sussed, I think I may have to keep reminding myself of it now and again) – ‘This too shall pass’.

I still have the post-it note with the title – I’d stuck it on my wall in March, and I finally started writing the book in April. And then all sorts of serendipitous circumstances started to line up. An invitation to a 30 day Challenge in June, meeting my fabulous business coach during the challenge, being introduced to my wonderful editor through my coach.

Something else happened too. I’d always thought I was pretty laid back, and slightly lazy at heart. But I found that every day, day after day, no matter how tired I was from a stressful day job, or how frozen and stressed I was feeling because I didn’t have any job at all, I kept working on the book. Writing, editing, formatting, blogging, tweeting, posting about it. And here we are, a year later – it’s out there, it’s actually published! So lesson number two – ‘Just Keep Going’.

And looking forward?

Well, I’ve learnt that (even though I’d quite enjoy it), it’s highly unlikely that people will simply discover the book, sitting out there in Amazon’s cyberspace bookshop. I will need to keep working to promote it, to market it, to remind people it’s here and it might just help. And I’m also going to be working on the second book. And although I’m exhausted from getting to this stage, it’s not enough. Publishing the book was a huge goal, and I still can’t quite believe I’ve achieved it. But it’s not the end. It’s just a pit stop. I’ve changed so much, in so many immeasurable ways. I’ve found some peace and acceptance of myself, of who I am at my core, and I know I want to keep on with this adventure. I have no idea where it’s going to lead me, I just know it’s going to be somewhere good, and probably somewhere I wouldn’t expect to be.

So I think lesson three, for me, is that it’s not just about the goal – it’s about the journey. It’s not the goal that defines you, it’s the journey you take to get there, the challenges you face, the changes you make, the person you become.

Thank you for being a significant part of my journey.

Here’s to our next adventure together!

Book Release Day!

“Coping with the Horroffice” Book Release Day – it’s been a long time coming and it’s finally here!

What a journey it’s been…

I didn’t realise until this week that it’s actually been almost a year to the day that I left the Horroffice that inspired me to write the book.  Over that time I’ve had some awesome days (the ones where the words and ideas flowed) and some awful ones (my laptop crashing and me losing the final copy of the book was one – luckily I had sent it to someone else, who sent it back to me).


Release Day!


But I digress – mainly because now it’s finally time to launch, I’m a little bit nervous.  I think the book is packed full of useful tips and techniques, I think people will relate to the stories in there and feel a little comforted in the knowledge they are not alone.  But only time (and feedback from readers) will tell.

So…thank you for all the comments and support – I read every single comment you take the time to write, and I really appreciate all the feedback – please, please keep it coming.

So – here it is – for the link to Amazon click here.

Buy it, read it, use it, share it, tell me what you think about it!



Happy Self Love Day!

Happy Self Love DayI know, I know – it’s Valentine’s Day, and lurve is all around. So it’s not surprising that The Independent ran this story on office romances a couple of days ago.
Which got me thinking about workplace romances.  And I was all set to write about workplace romances (and I will, in another blog, at another time).

But then something else came up yesterday that got me thinking about love in general, and more specifically about how much love we allow ourselves.

Most people I know (and yes, there are exceptions, but not many) are kind, and nurturing, and forgiving and loving towards their family, their loved ones, their friends, their pets, even their colleagues.  So why are we all so damn awful to ourselves?  Why do we rarely show ourselves the kind of love we give out so freely to everyone else?  Do we think there is only a finite amount, and we’re being selfless?  Do we just feel that we don’t deserve love for ourself?  Are we holding out to enjoy it when we’re fitter, or slimmer, or wiser or have more time?

I don’t know.  I don’t know what your reasons might be.  I can only share my own minor epiphany, in the hope that it will help you and me make better choices in the future.

I was that person, the one that gave out love, but couldn’t really receive it.  For a start, it took me a long time to realise that love comes in a multitude of ways – a compliment, a hug, an offer of help, a shoulder to cry on, the lending of a book, the cooking of a meal, sharing a link to something that’ll make you smile,a random text to ask if you’re alright.  I was great at offering help, at giving compliments, and hugs.  I was terrible at receiving any of those things.   Mostly because I didn’t feel good enough or worthy enough.  If someone saw something good in me, I’d feel embarrassed and shy away from whatever lovely thing was on offer.

Because I was seeing ‘me’ with my extra strength fault-finding eyes.  I wasn’t seeing the ‘me’ my friends and family were seeing.  I wasn’t seeing the funny me, the happy me, the great me.  I was only ever seeing the miserable, insecure, just-not-good-enough me.  And then berating myself for being that way.  Not a great way to live, even though I think we all do it to a greater or lesser degree.

There wasn’t one huge moment of thundering clarity that made me change.  Much as I might wish it to be, my life is not quite Hollywood Blockbuster level yet.  So the changes were small to begin with – I read somewhere that it’s more gracious to say ‘Thank You’ when someone compliments you, rather than batting it away.  I read a few self-development books, went on some courses, grew a lot older and a little wiser.  And I got stuck.  So stuck that I had to ask for help.  And when that help came, I had to accept it, because I had no other choice.

I’m still not there, but I’m much further along the self-acceptance and self-love road. It means sometimes putting myself at the front of the queue of demands, and it means not just accepting, but asking for help from family and friends when I need it. I had no idea at the time that accepting help from the people who wanted to help me was also a way of accepting love.  Or that asking for help might be a form of self-love.  I know that now, and although it still doesn’t come easily, it happens more often than it used to. It means allowing myself to be a little bit more vulnerable, but paradoxically, that makes me feel stronger too.

So today let yourself be loved, and know that you deserve it all and more.

Happy self-love day!




Efficient Ellie vs Placid Pat

EFFICIENT ELLIEThere was a bit of a hoohaa at work the other day.  One of my colleagues (let’s call her Efficient Ellie) was trying to get something done, on an urgent and really tight deadline, and needed input from a few other team members.  She’d emailed everyone beforehand to advise them of the imminent deadline, of what she needed to complete and of what information she would need from them, and when.  She asked everyone to email back if they thought there were likely to be any issues with providing the info.  She heard nothing from anyone.  She assumed all was well.

Imagine her surprise then when she found out that actually, none of the deadlines she’d given had been met.  She took a breath, walked over and I could hear her explaining exactly what she needed, why it was urgent and how it was affecting her work because they hadn’t delivered theirs.

We would all expect a few excuses to come our way at that point.  What shocked all of us in the vicinity at the time though was the explosion of  expletives that suddenly burst forth from one of our normally placid, warm and friendly workmates (let’s call her Placid Pat).  It was all very unexpected – and felt like a huge amount of steam being released in one sharp and excruciatingly painful burst.  From the non-expletive words we heard, we gathered it had been bubbling away under the surface for a while.

Now Efficient Ellie is a contractor, and was brought in to help manage the workload but also bring in some improvements and efficiencies – aka …change things.

Placid Pat is permanent and has been at the company for quite a while.  She’s always done things the way she’s always done things.  She’s a lovely person, she’s good at her job, and has a huge amount of knowledge.  But Placid Pat doesn’t like being pushed to think about change, she just wants to come in, do her job well, in the way she’s always done it, and then go home.  She’s not great at coping with pressure either, so pushing her to do something will push her buttons.  Pushing her to do it quickly when she’s got lots on will push even more buttons.  And I guess the final straw was asking her questions about why it wasn’t being done a different, more efficient way – that pushed the release button on the steam and the expletives.

As an observer, I can empathise with both sides.  Placid Pat has built herself a lovely comfortable role, and is happy with the way things are (even when she complains about them, it’s more for appearance sake, as she hasn’t changed any of the things that are in her power to change).  And that’s ok, if it’s all working well.  But the company has grown exponentially.  So what was ok a few years ago isn’t really ok now.

That’s where Efficient Ellie comes in.  She’s bright, sharp and a fast thinker.  She thrives on getting things done, on improving processes and …well, making efficiencies.  The problem is Efficient Ellie can come across as a bit of a tornado.  She kind of whirls in from nowhere, demands things, asks uncomfortable questions and can leave people feeling a bit dishevelled.  I don’t think Efficient Ellie realises quite the effect she has.

And so I guess the storm last week was inevitable.  I think there’s a third way though.  It take a little more time, and much more effort.  But I’ve used it myself and I’ve seen it work.  It’s about being a little more collaborative, about communicating much earlier, about taking smaller steps towards the bigger goal and then allowing the anti-change contingent to adjust their ideas.

What do you think?  Are you firmly in one camp or the other?  Have you seen this in action at your workplace?  Comment below if you have, I’d love to hear your stories.


Your opinion is not my reality

HARK!For a long time I thought I was a terrible accountant.  I had passed my exams, gained experience and a qualification, but I felt it wasn’t good enough.  Why? Because the audit manager I was working for at the time had said something to that effect.

And for even longer I thought I wasn’t a good enough cook.  Why?  Because an uncle had commented on my lack of knowledge of a particular common Indian dish – he’d wanted it, my mum asked me to make it, and I needed her to tell me how to do that.  His daughter made it all the time, and never had to ask her mum.

Both instances, although offhand comments, made me question how ‘other people’ saw me.  I was in my early twenties and what other people thought of me was hugely important.  My self-confidence took a pretty big battering when I realised some of the ‘other people’ thought I was lacking in something, whether it was my accountancy credentials or my cooking skills.

That set off a bit of a chain reaction.  If other people thought I wasn’t good at these things, maybe they thought I wasn’t good at other things either – they just hadn’t said so out loud.  Maybe I was pretty rubbish at a lot of things?  And of course the self-doubt kicked in, and helped me make those thoughts a reality.  I didn’t feel good enough, and the self-protection mode I used to cope was to join the ‘I don’t care, I didn’t want to be good at that anyway’ club.  So for years I avoided cooking Indian food, saying I didn’t like it so why bother learning how to cook it.  And at work I told anyone who listened that I wasn’t really bothered about promotion or moving up.

I’m not sure when things started to change – it was a gradual process.  It was partly through self-development courses, and books and ideas, and partly through the wisdom that can only come with experience.  I just stopped caring what other people thought of me.  So what if I didn’t remember one particular recipe for one dish at one time?  Isn’t that what Google is for?  And so what if I was a Certified Accountant and not a Chartered Accountant?  I was still going out to clients, completing audits, earning the firm money.  I was still an Accountant.

This week I was doing the work of a junior accounts payable clerk.  One of the other girls said she felt bad that they didn’t have anything more meaningful for me to do.  Did it dent my confidence?  Did it heck!  I don’t care if my colleagues think it’s beneath me.  It doesn’t make me feel inferior.  (In fact, I was quite enjoying doing something so basic and straightforward.  It left my brain free to mull over this post!)  I’m comfortable enough in myself and my vision for my future.  I know this contract is just temporary – it’s not a statement about me.  My colleague might see me in a particular way, but that does not mean I am that way.  Someone else’s opinion is not my reality.  Don’t let it be yours either.

Snooze your way to success

Snooze Your Way to SuccessIt’s a short blog post today, but I really wanted to share this with you.

I read a great article from the Boston Globe, via Huffington post.  It talks about something that we all know is true, and yet somehow none of us (myself included) take action and do it often enough.

What is it?  Getting enough sleep.  We think we can manage on the minimum possible.  I know that when I’m busy, or have had a long day at work, what I’ve tended to do is tell myself that I can cut out an hour of sleep and manage on six (and sometimes on five).  And I do manage.  But I’m grumpy, exhausted and just about skating through the day when I do that.

What I should be doing is looking at what I can cut down in the evening – even though it feels counterproductive and a little joyless.  Cutting down an hour of activity means I get to go to bed on time, get the sleep and rest I need and actually feel fresh, focused and fired up the next day.  (I know this because I put it to the test this week – it really works folks).

So take a look at the article – it gives you some great details on why going to bed on time is so important, as well as some great tips for how to manage it – snooze your way to success.

Good night, and sleep tight. 🙂