I mentioned the wonderful Susan Ritchie in my previous blog ‘Is it me? Over 20 tips to help you..’ and she has kindly written a guest blog for me this week which I hope you will find useful. As the title suggests its about rediscovering your strengths and who you are in times of pressure. This could be whilst looking for a new job or trying to rebuild momentum and energy in your current role. I do hope you find it useful and I would love to hear your thoughts. Take it away Susan…
“Recently I’ve had a few emails asking my advice about the future. No, I haven’t suddenly turned into Mystic Meg – but it does seem that there’s a stage in our careers where the future looks a lot less mapped out than we thought it might do 20 years ago.
Family demands, health concerns, financial necessity and changed personal priorities can all conspire to leave us being less certain – of ourselves, our purpose, the direction of travel and our role and place in it. That lack of certainty can unseat us and cause us to question who we are at a personal and professional level. We feel lost.
If doubt about your future is undermining you and causing you to wonder which way to turn, then here are some tips and techniques for re-gaining your sense of self; this will help you to make informed choices about the way forward.
- Reconnect with your strengths
There’s a body of research, collated by Values in Action, that demonstrates that we are happier, more confident, more able to manage stress and have better relationships when we understand our character strengths and use them on a regular basis. We’re referring here to traits such as kindness and empathy rather than workplace skills such a leading meetings or creating spreadsheets.
There are several ways to do this. One way is to simply ask the people that you know – ask them what they consider to be your greatest character strengths or traits. Collect the answers, make a note of them and then spend some time reflecting on them. If you keep a journal, so much the better.
Can you identify any common themes? How do you embody those strengths in your everyday life? When and where do you use them? How can you play to them more regularly? How far do your current circumstances allow you to make the most of them? What changes might you need to make to help you ‘live’ your strengths more fully?
Another way to do this, is to visit the Values in Action website, where you can take a free online test to determine your character strengths. Ask yourself the same type of questions.
- What really matter to you?
Understand what’s really important you can help you to set about creating a life that is built around those things. Our personal values can change over the years, without us being aware of them. What mattered in our early twenties often seems unimportant in our late thirties and early forties. The realisation that ‘this doesn’t matter anymore’ is quite liberating.
Knowing our personal values helps shed light on this – living a life that doesn’t reflect those core values results in unhappiness and a sense of disconnect.
Sit down and ask yourself who or what really matter to you. Three of my core values are freedom, flexibility and creativity – understanding these was key to me when I set up my business five years ago. And when I have one of ‘those’ moments, reminding myself of them helps me to stay on course and motivate myself to overcome challenges.
If you’d like to try my Core Values Exercise, email me at email@example.com and a copy will wing its way over to you.
- What do you love?
Who or what or where do you love? What do you have a passion for? Where do you have a passion for? What don’t you love?
Long held routines can de-sensitise us to our passions. And a lack of courage and confidence can hinder us from following those passions.
Sit down and be honest with yourself. Make a list of everything you love and don’t judge it as you do so. People, places, activities; what makes you feel alive? Uncovering these drivers can fuel us towards a future we may not have previously considered. Consider what energises you and what drains you – compare this what you spend most of your life doing.
What do you notice?
- Who are you at your best?
Using all the above answers and knowledge that you’ve gained, sit down, reflect on the answers and write a paragraph that sums up your best self – this is you at your most energised, engaged, content, happy, fulfilled, effective and whole.
On a scale of 1-10, how are you showing up as your best self now?
What needs to change in order for you to be your best self more often?
Where will you start?”
Susan Ritchie is a leadership coach and writer who specialises in helping professional women to land their next role and establish themselves as a leader, by teaching them how to develop their Leadership Presence. Susan can be found at www.susanritchie.co.uk and on twitter @susanjritchie