Tag Archives: happy at work

When are you happiest at work?

Article by Belinda Fuller

When are you happiest at workFollowing on from last month’s article which suggested some resources to help mature age workers succeed in our ever changing working environment, recent research from recruitment firm, Robert Half, provides some insight into the impact our age can have on our happiness at work.

According to a recent survey conducted of 2000 workers, employees aged over 55 are happiest and those aged in their 20s and 30s are among the least happy in the Australian workforce today. Statistics aren’t everything, however anecdotally many of our consultants working with clients on a day-to-day basis would agree.

While people in their 20s and 30s can be just starting out in their careers, they’re often looking for excitement, challenge and fulfilment that is hard to find. On the other hand, older workers are more likely to have found what they’re looking for, or managed to achieve the work-life balance they desire.

Here are some interesting statistics from the Robert Half survey:

What age group is happiest at work?

  • Workers over the age of 55 are the happiest employees with a score of 70 on a scale from 0 to 100
  • Employees aged 35-54 are the least happy in the Australian workplace with a score of 67
  • This was closely followed by employees aged 18-34 with a score of 68

What age group has the highest professional fulfilment levels?

  • 82% of employees over the age of 55 found their work worthwhile
  • That percentage dropped significantly to around 66% for workers aged 18 to 34
  • 70% of workers aged 35-54 found their work fulfilling

What age group has the highest stress levels?

  • One in three employees aged 18-34 said they found their job stressful
  • 29% of those aged 35-54 reported stress
  • For employees aged 55 and over, 26% reported that their job was stressful

Who is satisfied with their work-life balance?

  • 67% of Australian employees aged over 55
  • 59% of employees aged 35-54
  • 57% of employees aged 18-34

Who finds their work interesting?

  • 75% of employees aged over 55
  • 66% of employees aged 35 to 54
  • 62% of employees aged 18-34

In recent years, it has become huge business to try to discover the secret to employee satisfaction, as companies recognise the benefits of achieving a positive workplace with happy employees. If you are not happy at work, make some plans to change things. Here are some articles to help you on your way.

Are you happy at work? Would you be interested in obtaining some career counselling to help you decide on a new career path or course to improve your happiness at work? If so, please see our Career Coaching services.

12 ways to amp up your activity levels at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

12 ways to amp up your activity levels at work

The National Heart Foundation of Australia, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and many other leading global health organisations recommend we take 10,000 steps a day to ensure good health. Research certainly indicates the importance of incorporating movement into our day – even small amounts of activity helps us to counteract long periods of sitting, which is linked to all sorts of increased health risks. 

While this is all great in theory – if you’re in a job that’s primarily sedentary or desk based – incorporating movement into your day can be challenging. But with long periods of sitting now proven to increase our risk of all sorts of nasties like heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer – we need to make every effort to move our butts throughout the day!

Here are some simple ways to get more active at work:

  1. Walk or ride to work – or part of the way if this isn’t a realistic option. Walking, riding, or even running to work is a great way to get your activity done as part of your regular day. If you catch public transport, you could try getting off a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, and if you drive, simply park a little further away. It might mean setting your alarm a little earlier, but the small amount of lost sleep will be worth it.
  2. Get up regularly throughout the day – take a small water bottle to work or use a glass and aim to consume a certain amount every day. Getting up to fill your bottle every time it’s empty is a great way to incorporate a little incidental exercise. It also gives your eyes a rest if you’re sitting at a computer and is a great mental boost. Pick the water cooler that’s farthest away from your desk too – not the one that’s closest.
  3. Have standing or walking meetings – we all have to sit through any number of meetings in any given day or week which sometimes stretch on longer than really necessary. Try organising a walking or standing meeting which research has proven can be a great way to increase your efficiency, making sure they don’t drag on unnecessarily, as well as getting you out of your chair. For smaller groups or one-on-ones, a walking meeting can be a great way to get things done while achieving some physical activity. The change of scenery can also encourage increased creativity.
  4. Track your activity – activity trackers are the latest craze in the fitness world – and with good reason. They can be a great incentive to get moving. Wear one and you’ll see how few steps you actually take each day unless you make the effort. Wearing a tracker and then incorporating even just small amounts of walking – around the building or the block a few times a day can do wonders in helping you meet your daily goals. Simply aim to increase your steps or distance a little bit each week.
  5. Dress comfortably – so that you’ll be more likely to be active. Walking to work in heels isn’t an option so put on your walking shoes, and take your dress shoes in a backpack or bag. Better still, leave them at your desk if you can. Likewise, if you have some flats or comfy shoes you quickly change into while at work, you might be keener to take the stairs instead of the lift.
  6. Try a standing desk – many workplaces are offering these desks as an option now and they can be great for improving back pain and posture problems. Research indicates that you use many more muscles and burn more calories standing up than sitting down – so it’s a great option if you can manage it. Don’t think you have to do it all day either – incorporating some periods of working while standing is going to be beneficial.
  7. Stretch – try standing up every 30 minutes or so and stretching your chest and extending your spine to reverse the effects of siting hunched over a desk. I have a stretch band by my desk which I can hook around the door handle and do simple exercises to reverse the issues that hunching over a desk day in and day out causes. But even just interlacing your fingers behind your back and stretching out your chest is helpful.
  8. Visit colleagues instead of emailing – how many times do you email someone with a question or request then wait for their response? If they are in the same office as you, consider walking to their desk and resolving the issue there and then. Not only is the movement good but the social interaction is great for mental well-being.
  9. Take a lunch break and use it to move – it’s important just to have a break with many studies now showing that Australians are not good at taking a break for lunch. It’s beneficial for your creativity and gives you a boost in productivity for the afternoon. However, it’s also a good opportunity to get moving. Instead of eating at your desk or sitting in a common area chatting, take a walk outside for at least part of the time. Even better, grab some co-workers and join a gym, go for a run, or climb some nearby stairs.
  10. Schedule in mini-breaks – a few times a day, put 10-15 minutes into your calendar to take a break. It’s great to do this mid-morning and mid-afternoon, in addition to your lunch break. During these times, try to get away from your desk – if possible take the stairs and get outside – even just for five minutes. Again, the physical benefits are obvious, but the mental and clarity of mind benefits are also there.
  11. Don’t wait idly – turn it into an opportunity to move. If you’re waiting for a meeting to start, the coffee machine, photocopier, or even the bathroom – use it to do some exercises like lunges, squats or calf raises – or simply take a quick walk.
  12. Involve others – getting co-workers involved is also a great motivation. Either formally or informally – organising a small office challenge is a great way, or training for an upcoming fun run or walk event. You could do something as simple as tracking your steps and monitoring who does the most in a day, organising walking groups at lunchtime, or setting an alarm and getting up each hour to have a stretch and a walk. Get an office team together – it’s easier to be more active if you’re doing it as a group. The support will make it more fun and social, while motivating you to actually get up and do it.

Whether you choose to incorporate one, a few or all of our tips – you will see the benefits – and that includes both physical and mental health improvements.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Coaching. We also have experienced writers who provide professional Resume Writing Services and LinkedIn Profile Writing Services designed for people who want to make employers sit up and take notice.

Choosing to be happy at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

Choosing to be happy at work

What makes people happy at work varies significantly from person to person. Since we spend the majority of our waking hours at work, being unhappy doesn’t just affect our work – it usually affects all aspects of our life. Whilst it’s well-known that recognition, reward, and positivity go a long way to ensuring employees are happy, there are many other influencing factors.

Countless studies are conducted to try to discover the secret to happy employees. Most companies recognise the benefits that come from achieving a positive workplace with happy employees. Apparently almost every business metric that can be measured (e.g. productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, absenteeism, safety etc.) can be directly impacted by employee happiness. While many companies are great at ensuring this, there are factors you can control yourself. Here are some tips to help you choose to be happy at work:

  1. Limit stress: Easier said than done in many cases, but stress is not conducive to happiness. Many jobs have stressful elements, which is fine in the short-term but can be damaging to both physical and emotional health if it becomes long-term. To limit stress, you need to be open – talk to your supervisor about what’s causing it; take time out by switching off from work and recharging; learn some relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness; and develop healthy responses to combat the stress such as exercise, hobbies, reading, time with family, and getting enough sleep.
  2. Exercise: Including any kind of physical activity in your day can improve your mood and productivity. While regular bouts of longer physical activity are essential for health, studies have shown that including even just a small amount of physical activity in your day can help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, often just a short stroll outside in the fresh air can help lift your focus, productivity and mood.
  3. Do more of what you love: You want to be happy in your work so avoiding what you don’t like doing will help to a point, BUT you need to be doing more of what you love! Identify aspects of your job you love, and skills and interests that inspire you. Think about how you can be even better at what you do. Approach your manager with suggestions on how you might be able to incorporate more of these aspects into your day to day work.
  4. Be organised: Arrive a little early so the start of your day is relaxed. Plan your day and only make commitments you can meet. A common cause of unhappiness at work is missed deadlines, causing unnecessary stress. By planning your workload, checking your diary, and making daily ‘to do’ lists, you’ll be less likely to miss deadlines. And try to factor in some time for breaks – they’ll re-energise and invigorate you and help you feel more positive. For some great time saving tips, see our article on Time saving tips for busy people.
  5. Ask for feedback: Happy employees know what their contribution means. If you don’t receive feedback, ask for it. You can’t change what you don’t know and chances are you know how you’re performing – you just need some acknowledgement – it’s proven as a strong driver of happiness.
  6. Continue to learn: Take responsibility for continuing personal and professional development. If your company supports you by paying for courses and allowing study time, take advantage of it. If they don’t – do it anyway – you are the one with the most to gain from continuing to develop professionally so make investing in training a priority.
  7. Know what’s going on: Seek the information you need to do your job well. Some companies are great at communicating company information, while others aren’t so good. If your company is one of the latter then develop your own networks and use them to find out what you need to know.
  8. Make plans: If all else fails, it may be time to start planning a career move. There’s nothing like planning your exit to make you smile. But don’t compromise your future by slacking off. If you come across as happy and committed, you’ll be more likely to receive a positive reference when the time comes.

Remember, you are responsible for your own destiny. Our number one tip is to avoid any negativity. Choose to be happy rather than down and instead of dwelling on the things you can’t change, focus on what you can change. Find colleagues you like spending time with and don’t get involved in negative conversations. Greet everyone with a smile and you’ll be surprised at how many will be returned.

Are you feeling unhappy at work? Would you like career advice and assistance with planning your next move? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

How to join the freelance revolution

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to join the freelance revolutionMany people we talk to dream of becoming a freelance consultant in their specialist line of work. Recent studies suggest that more and more people are taking up this approach to their careers – both from necessity and desire. So how do you go about becoming a freelancer if you’re still working for the boss?

Australia is currently experiencing a kind of freelance revolution. With jobs being cut and companies keen to hire specialist workforce skills only for certain projects or periods, job security is a thing of the past.

For many people, providing their services via freelancing, consulting or contracting is the perfect situation. Studies already indicate that 30% of the Australian workforce undertakes some kind of freelance work and many are doing this by choice rather than necessity. And it’s not just the younger generation that enjoys the fact they can pick and choose work to focus on. Older workers are also embracing the trend to reduce stress, increase flexibility, take back control of their career and life, and in many situations earn higher levels of income for their difficult-to-find skills and unique levels of experience.

Freelancing is a great option for many people wanting to escape the grind of a regular full-time job, but it isn’t for everyone. So what can you do to get started?

  • Understand your reasons why: If you’re doing it because you hate your job or boss, you want to work less hours or earn more money – it’s probably not the right decision. While it’s ok to have long term goals of working less, earning more and not having to answer to anyone, in the short term this is rarely the case. You need to be very good at what you do and passionate about doing that for others on a daily basis if you’re going to succeed as a freelancer.
  • Work out your offer: Being great at what you do and knowing everything about your industry isn’t enough. Pretty much anything can be outsourced to someone these days, which means what you do may be the same as what many others do. Technology has made it easier for independent workers to engage with employers anywhere in the world at any time of the day, which has opened up a global freelance market that didn’t previously exist. This means that whilst freelance work is certainly growing, it is also becoming more competitive to secure. Make sure you can clearly articulate your offer and how it is different. It might be important to narrow your focus rather than broaden it. Being a specialist limits your target market, but it also makes you more attractive to a specific set of prospects, whereas being a ‘jack of all trades’ may not be as effective.
  • Work out your finances: Many people think freelance work will provide instant financial rewards with the hourly rate looking much more attractive (on paper) than a full-time employee’s rate. Keep in mind you spend many more hours on your business than anyone is willing to pay. Your clients pay for a service, but the time it takes to run the business may not be billable. Many factors determine how much extra (unbillable) time you spend, however be realistic about how long it might take you to earn your desired salary and ensure you have the means to support yourself until then. The best way to prepare is to build up a salary safety net – you could start small on the side while still working in paid employment or perhaps think about taking a regular part-time role. Even the best freelancers take continuous bread and butter jobs, so they have a reliable regular income source. And remember, if you’re not in full-time paid employment, you won’t be earning any superannuation, so take that into consideration when you’re planning.
  • Manage your time and maintain motivation: With no manager to hold you accountable, you need to maintain your reliability. Doing what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it is the secret to success. Your clients (and your income) will depend on this since freelancers often aren’t paid until they deliver. This can be a difficult adjustment, so be mindful of budgeting and ensuring a constant flow of work to maintain cash flow. You will also need to make sure that every one of your clients feels like they are your top priority. The secret is to implement systems and processes to keep everything on track and don’t overcommit. Depending on your personality, this may or may not be an issue, but if you’re not highly motivated, your income will most certainly suffer.
  • Don’t forget about the boring bits: Running your own business means being prepared to get your hands dirty and handle every aspect of your business including the mundane and parts that may be outside your comfort zone such as finances, marketing, prospecting, sales and administration. Many freelancers make the mistake of thinking that because they are great at what they do, they will have a great business. This is often not the case. You need to be an expert in your area BUT you also need to wear many hats if your business is going to thrive. Down the track you may choose to outsource these areas, but in the beginning you will need to work hard and do it all while building your client base.

The opportunities for freelancers are endless. Most people choose it to provide more flexibility and freedom in their life but it doesn’t come easy. Be prepared to work hard and understand you most likely won’t achieve overnight success. You’ll need to allow some time to build your client base.

Would you like career advice to help you decide whether or not to join the freelance revolution?  If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

Improve your health at work in just five minutes

Article by Belinda Fuller

Impove your mood at work in just 5 minutesResearch conducted over many years consistently indicates that sitting for long periods is bad for both our mental and physical health. But for many of us stuck at a desk all day – it can be difficult not to sit. The standing desk trend took off a few years ago, however recent research suggests that walking around for as little as five minutes each hour can improve mood, prevent lethargy, increase focus, and even dull hunger pangs.

Common medical opinion dictates that long uninterrupted bouts of sitting is unhealthy. Studies consistently show that when we sit motionless, blood flow to the legs reduces and our risk of heart attack, diabetes, depression and obesity is increased. However recent research conducted in the USA indicates that getting up and walking around for just five minutes every hour can have significant health benefits. For many people who don’t have the option of a standing desk or the luxury of working out in the middle of the day, you can probably manage to fit in five minutes of movement for every hour that you’re sitting.

The research study, published in November in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, found that frequent, brief walking breaks were more effective at improving well-being than a single, longer walk before or after work. The study was conducted on a relatively small group of people with researchers initially inviting the sedentary office workers to a university clinic to complete a range of health tests and questionnaires. Heart rates and stress hormones were measured with participants asked to rate their energy, mood and appetite on a numerical scale. Concentration and decision making ability was also measured using a specially designed computerised game.

Participants then visited the clinic on three separate occasions to simulate a six-hour workday. On the first day they sat for the whole time working with no interruptions, except bathroom breaks. On the second, they walked moderately for 30 minutes at the start of their day, and then sat for the five and a half hours with no interruptions, except bathroom breaks. And on the third visit, participants sat for six hours, but began each hour with five minutes of moderate walking on a treadmill.

At the start and end of each session, researchers checked stress hormones and heart rate, with participants asked to rate mood, energy, fatigue and appetite several times during each day, and the computerised testing of concentration and decision making was repeated at the end of each session.

After analysing the data, researchers consistently found that both the morning walking and the five-minute sessions increased participants’ energy, but only the hourly walking had workers reporting greater happiness, less fatigue and less food cravings than on the other days. Their feelings of vigour tended to increase throughout the day with the hourly walking, whereas they had often plateaued by early afternoon after walking only once in the morning.

The good news is that the detrimental effects of sitting all day can be minimised by adding just five minutes of walking for every hour of sitting. Introducing these short bouts of activity during the workday of sedentary office workers seems like a simple approach to improving health and well-being with very little effort or time constraints. So why not jump on board – make it your goal to get moving more consistently at work. You can schedule in just five minutes walking every hour by combining it with your bathroom break, trip to the water cooler or coffee machine.

Katie Roberts Career Consulting provides a range of career advice services including career coaching, resume writing, LinkedIn profile writing, interview training, job search coaching, Myers-Briggs personality profiling, and outplacement services.

4 tips to decide if a sea/tree change is right for you

Article by Belinda Fuller

4 Tips to Determine if a Sea/Tree Change is Right for YouWhile these types of changes used to mostly apply to retirees selling up and moving to a coastal or rural area to retire, these days more people are choosing to escape the big city rat race by changing their lifestyles to achieve less stress and better work life balance. But this kind of major life change isn’t for everyone, so how do you work out if it’s right for you?

Over the Christmas break, up and down the coast of Australia, people will be gazing into the windows of real estate agencies, checking out property prices in their sleepy holiday destination. I know because I’ve done it before and stood next to others doing the same! We were having such a wonderful time in a coastal area on the northern NSW coast, and wondered how we could make it work as a place to live full time. We did do some research and seriously considered the move, but once those holiday endorphins wore off and we came back to reality, we never actually followed through for several different reasons. But many people will take up the chance to cash in on big city property prices and downsize their lives to achieve a better work life balance.

Achieving a successful sea/tree change is about defining exactly what is important to you in terms of lifestyle, then changing things to achieve more time, less stress, more fulfilment and/or a better work life balance. Thanks to technology, the options for people to achieve this dream while still earning a decent living are endless – it’s just a case of deciding what you can do and where.

Demographers estimate that of the 350,000 Australians per year that talk about making a sea/tree change, 20% will make it happen. Of those who do make it happen – 20% have major regrets and give it all away. In contrast, 80% are glad they made the change and wish they’d done it sooner – so how can you work out if this kind of change is right for you and avoid becoming one of the 20% with major regrets? Here’s some tips to get you started:

Tip # 1: Gain clarity about what it is you really want – ask yourself why you are making the move? What’s the main thing(s) you’d like to achieve or change about your current lifestyle – you could refer to our article this month on How to Create a Life by Design to help you gain this clarity. The biggest cause of failure results from people not being clear about what they really want or having unrealistic expectations about what the move will mean.

Tip # 2: Think about your lifestyle – how are you going to earn a living, how much do you need to comfortably do the things you want to do – and what will make you happy and fulfilled? Another major cause of failure is poor financial planning and under-estimating how much your new lifestyle is going to cost.

Tip # 3: Think long and hard about location – do you want to move to a coastal community to live by the beach? Would you prefer to escape to the country on a farm, in a small country town, or even a larger regional centre? Research and planning is essential when making such a major change, especially if you have children. Are there schools and facilities close by? If not, are you prepared for the travel that you/they will endure to achieve the kind of education you’d like them to have? What will you do for work? Are there the right opportunities close by or will you have to travel?

Tip # 4: Are you prepared emotionally? Not only will this be a major change to your day to day lifestyle, you will probably be moving away from friends and family. You need to overcome any fears you may have of the unknown and maintain a flexible approach in order to fit into your new community. You will have to make an effort to get to know people and small communities are often very different to larger cities.

This type of change is always going to be scary, with many decisions to make along the way. Fear, excitement, confusion, anticipation, uncertainty, eagerness, trepidation, hope – you’ll feel all the emotions as you go through the process. Just remember how rewarding a sea/tree change is for many people – it might be the perfect way to finally create the happiness you crave.

Life is too short to be unhappy – is this something you’ve been wanting to do? If so, you should explore your options and do your research. If you decide to go ahead, but you’re worried about your career opportunities, getting career advice from our Career Counsellors can help! Please see our Career Guidance Services for more information.

How to create a life by design

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Create a Life by DesignIf you are becoming increasingly fatigued by ordinary life and frustrated that you aren’t getting where you really want to be in your career, life and finances, you are not alone. It’s estimated that around 80% of the population are finding it more and more difficult to gain and maintain clarity and control across all these areas of their lives.

We have written before about career change, work life balance, and choosing a job and career you love. Many of our clients, especially those who take up career counselling services, are not only facing challenges with their work, but are also at some kind of crossroad in their lives. They want to be more fulfilled across all areas – which can include family, health, relationships, finances, social, spiritual, and/or creative aspects in addition to work and career.

At some point in our lives, most of us would like to gain more control over some or all of these areas with many believing that more time is the answer. However, often this just isn’t a viable solution – we all have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and most of us are stretched to our limits as it is. The real reason most of us don’t have control of our life is CLARITY! While most people don’t have enough time to do everything they want to do, they almost always find the time to do the most important things.

Happiness and success in life is very much determined by how well we understand what we truly want. While most of us can define what we don’t want in life (that’s the easy part), few of us know with real clarity what we really do want. Taking responsibility for all areas of our life, work and finances; and working out what our true priorities are isn’t as easy as it sounds. To do this requires taking some time out to ascertain what really is important, ideally with some specific tools and expert guidance.

Here are some tips to get you started:

TIP # 1 Create a bucket list with at least 50 things you would like to do in your lifetime

TIP # 2 Identify your top 5 priorities for next year

TIP # 3 Create a personal cash flow to get more financial control

TIP # 4 Focus on your daily priorities – three for work and three for personal time

TIP # 5 Develop the habit of gratitude and take time to appreciate the best three things in your life each day

TIP # 6 Design your perfect ideal week and action a few things from it now

TIP # 7 Make a top five fun list (e.g movies, massage, dinner with friend, comedy show etc.) and make sure you do one every week

TIP # 8 Exercise to energise

TIP # 9 Allocate set times to check your email so you have time to focus on important priorities

TIP # 10 Schedule some fun things in your diary now for the next 12 months

Setting Yourself Up for a Great Year Ahead – over the Christmas/New Year break is a great time to do this with the added benefit that you’ll be reinvigorated with new goals focused specifically on your needs for the start of the new year. Set yourself up to achieve your best year yet with clear strategies to improve your work life balance, maximise your job fulfilment and take control of your personal finances.

While you may have the best intentions to try and gain this clarity, it can be difficult without assistance. Some of us at Katie Roberts recently completed an online self-leadership program which has helped me personally to achieve improved clarity around what’s important, with an added bonus of creating some strategies and steps for my personal and business life. As a result of our success, we would like to encourage you to also complete the course.

If you would like to take more control of your life, work and finances; and feel happier about your future direction, please click here for the Life by Design Self-Leadership online course.

10 Tips for Work Life Balance

Article by Belinda Fuller

10 Tips for Work Life BalanceWork is an essential part of life that many people feel drained by. If you are not consistently challenged and energised, it may be time to think about a change. If you think you just need more balance in your life, you may be able to achieve it by altering a few simple things.

If you run your own business, you’ll know it provides the flexibility to work your own hours, but often we end up working harder and longer than ever before. Finding a balance between work and life can be challenging and the perfect situation is different for everyone, however with a little effort, it can be done! Here are some general tips to get you started:

TIP # 1 – Decide what’s important to you. Working less doesn’t mean better work life balance for everyone. So long as you are happy with the amount of time you dedicate to each part of your life, you’ve probably achieved your best version of work life balance. Decide on your priorities. What would you like to do more (or less) of? Think about what you need to focus on and try to eliminate the stuff that doesn’t really contribute to that.

TIP # 2 – Establish working hours. Set boundaries for yourself and others. If you work from home, try to walk away from your office space at a set time every day. And if you work in an office – try not to take work home unnecessarily. Of course, unplanned events do occur but finishing up at a set time every day to spend planned time with family or friends is a good idea. Likewise, make sure friends and family know not to interrupt you at work unless it’s an emergency. For most people, it would take a big personal emergency to reschedule something important for work. Give your personal time the same respect and try not to ‘reschedule’ it unless absolutely necessary.

TIP # 3 – Switch off your phone, your laptop, and your tablet – anything that’s keeping you connected to work so you can spend time doing whatever it is you would like to do. If you’re spending time with your family or partner this is especially important. We need time to focus on personal relationships. Even if you just switch off for an hour or a meal, try to do this every day. Turning off technology allows us to give people our undivided attention for short periods of time which goes a long way towards improving work life balance.

TIP # 4 – Track Your Time. Not all the time, but try it for just a few days. Tracking how much time is spent on tasks opens our eyes to opportunities for time savings. Then eliminate things that aren’t productive, delegate where you can or consolidate – often we do things without actually thinking about whether it’s 100% necessary.

TIP # 5 – Try to schedule ‘time off’. This includes holidays and weekends. At a minimum you should try to schedule two weeks off each year and try not to work on weekends. This doesn’t mean you need to book an expensive holiday. Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been ‘staycations’. Stay at home and enjoy what your local area has to offer. We often get so caught up in our day to day work that we miss all the fun stuff right under our noses. Time off helps you feel refreshed and recharged and will contribute to you achieving your best levels of productivity.

TIP # 6 – Schedule something enjoyable every day. For me that’s exercise most days. If that’s not for you, schedule something else you enjoy doing. Even if it’s just a quick walk or coffee catch up with a friend or colleague, some gardening, cooking, pottering in your workshop, or reading a book. It could simply be some quiet time to yourself doing nothing – it certainly doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming.

TIP # 7 – Look after yourself. Not eating well, getting enough sleep, keeping hydrated and making sure you get enough exercise are all factors that affect your ability to achieve work life balance. Getting good nutrition and exercise will help you feel happier and achieve higher levels of productivity in the longer term.

TIP # 8 – Don’t sit still. Aim to get up from your desk at least every two hours. Try to do it before your concentration wanes and your attention flags. Get up, have a stretch, grab a glass of water, take a quick walk around the block for some fresh air – just do something that gives you a break from working and clears your head for the next task.

TIP # 9 – Say no! You don’t need to be ‘available’ for work all the time and you don’t have to say YES to everything. Learn to say NO sometimes and feel more in control.

TIP # 10 – Consider a change. If your job is so stressful and draining that you can’t change the way you’re feeling about balance, it might be time to start thinking about a career move.

Studies show that a poor work-life balance can cause stress, unhappiness, and reduced productivity. Implement some (or all) of our tips and start working to live instead of living to work today.

If you would like personalised help from a Career Coach to evaluate alternative career options to achieve a better work life balance, please see our Career Counselling and Coaching Services.

What to Consider When Making a Sea/Tree Change

Article by Belinda Fuller

iStock_000039589914Small (1)It might seem like a great idea to chuck in the stresses of city living and move to the country or coast for an easier and less stressful lifestyle. The idea of moving out of the city and making major lifestyle changes is a long held dream for many people. It’s fantastic to have dreams, but the reality of such a change can sometimes be tough. Many people’s ideas of getting back to nature and enjoying a quieter life lead them on a journey they didn’t expect.

I personally can think of several occasions when I’ve been on holidays and looked in the real estate window dreaming of a sea change. I consider it briefly, before crashing back to reality – I am a city girl at heart and know that I couldn’t move away from my friends, family and all that it has to offer – at least not right now.

A sea change (or tree change) is a drastic change from a city lifestyle and is really about evaluating what’s important to you then improving your lifestyle to achieve a healthier, less stressful environment. It’s about living life to the full and enjoying a more peaceful or meaningful existence. It doesn’t really matter where you go and is often more about downsizing (your house, your income, your expectations, your workload). Sometimes though, the desired calmer and happier lifestyle doesn’t just happen. Often the stress and anxiety that follows such a major move is more than people expect. If you’re considering such a move, some things to consider include:

1. Why do you want to move? Are you reacting to a stressful situation that could be changed with some effort? A difficult job or relationship or feelings of loneliness may not disappear in a different location. Try to resolve these issues first and then see whether the sea (tree) change still appeals.

2. Will you miss your support network? Friends and family won’t be close to where you move. Since moving is considered to be one of life’s most stressful events,  you may not feel an immediate sense of calm! Most people hate moving – packing, unpacking, moving, finding and establishing a new home, meeting people, making contacts, finding essential services, settling children into school, starting a new job, the list goes on. Will you be able to maintain contact with your family and friends from your new location and will proximity to those established networks be an issue for you?

3. Do you know the area? Many people holiday in an area and think they’d like to live there. Life as a resident is often very different to that of a holiday maker. For starters, at peak times, you might not be able to access services you normally take for granted. Shops will be crowded, doctors booked out, restaurants full, and other services simply unavailable. You should always consider a trial period first – rent out your home if you own it before selling up – and rent in the location you’d like to live. If that’s not possible, try to visit the location at different times throughout the year, so your view of the area isn’t based on the ‘best’ it has to offer.

4. Will you have access to essential services? These are your essential services and differ from person to person, but consider availability of hospitals, transport, schools, tertiary education, doctors, other medical facilities, entertainment, day care, nursing homes, children’s services (pre-school, playgroup, dance class, swim school, sporting groups etc.). Work out what’s important to you and find out what’s available.

5. Can you rent first? If you can, this provides a no risk chance to get to know the area. You could even find out about house sitting but try to give yourself at least 6 to 12 months to settle in because it will take at least this long to get to know the area and some people. A year is a great trial time frame since you’ll experience all the seasons, various holiday periods if it’s a popular holiday destination and all that the town has to offer (good and bad). Talk to local residents during this time about how long they have lived there and what they do to fill their time. Find out what the town has to offer and evaluate whether it suits your needs. This also gives you the added benefit of keeping your own house in the city (if you own) so you have something to come back to if the move doesn’t work out.

6. What work opportunities are available? Many coastal and regional towns offer fantastic job opportunities but many don’t. If you’re considering starting your own business, have you done your research? What jobs are available and is it possible to secure employment before moving? If not, how long can you last before finding a job? These are important considerations so that the stresses of seeking work don’t impact on your happiness and ability to evaluate truly how successful this sea (tree) change is going to be.

Clarify the lifestyle that you’re seeking and work out if the novelty will wear off after a short period. Taking a holiday by the beach is one thing, but living there is another. If you enjoy culture, the arts, theatres, cafes, restaurants and lively bars, then moving to the country may send you mad. Instead of a sense of calm and serenity you might just be bored and frustrated! Any place is completely different when you live there so take that into consideration when planning your move.

Are you considering a sea (tree) change any time soon? Would you like help from a Career Coach to establish a plan to identify your work options once you arrive? If so, see our Career Counselling and Job Search Coaching services.

Turn What You Love Into a Career

Article by Belinda Fuller

Turn.What.You.Love.Into.a.CareerTurning our passions into a viable career is a lifelong dream for many people. You probably know at least one person who loves art or music and dreamt of being a painter or musician but were persuaded to pursue something ‘safer’ and more ‘financially secure’. The benefits of hobbies and interests outside of work have long been heralded as the way to achieve a work life balance, but for many people, their hobbies turn into their careers.

While career options that provide secure paths provide the basis of comfortable living and regular work, if you aren’t working in a job that you love (or at least like most of the time) and that fulfils your values, it is unlikely you will ever feel truly happy.

I have several personal friends who’ve taken their passions and turned them into careers – a friend with a lifelong passion for health and fitness became a highly successful personal trainer in her thirties. She gave up a high paying account management job to go it alone and after five years has a successful business that she loves. Another friend was always very artistic as a child and teenager but chose teaching as a stable and comfortable career. She has now developed a fabulous career helping people from all walks of life through the practice of Art Therapy – combining her passion for teaching with her passion for art. Another one discovered his love of gardening after transforming his own home’s outside area and has since developed a very successful gardening business.

Your hobbies might seem like a pipe dream for a career but often they are very achievable.

Some steps to help get you started include:

  • Just take that first step – If you are unhappy with your current career, just taking some simple steps to improve your situation will help. That doesn’t mean you have to quit your job to find your passion, but it does mean taking some action today in order to improve your situation.
  • Think about your interests – If you have worked in the same job for many years, chances are you may not even remember what you’re passionate about. Start paying attention to things that interest you. What are your hobbies? Do you even have hobbies? If not, ask yourself what you enjoy doing and try to seek out ways to incorporate more of those activities in your day to day life.
  • Consider taking a short course – There are some wonderful short courses on offer at community colleges to help you get a taste for what a new career might look like. You can try out a course to see if you like it before enrolling in a diploma or degree course in that field. If nothing else, these courses can provide great stress relief from the day to day grind and help you achieve that all important work/life balance that is so elusive for many of us. They also provide an ideal opportunity to meet new friends with the same or similar interests to you.
  • Investigate specific jobs – Once you have an idea of what might be a fulfilling alternative to your current career, do some research about that job or job opportunities to find out what changes you’d have to make or any training you may need to undertake in order to work in that field.
  • Seek professional advice – if you’re having trouble narrowing down what really interests you, consider the services of a Career Counsellor to help steer you on the right course. Take a Career Assessment or participate in a one on one coaching session. A Career Counsellor can help you identify your interests and values in order to ascertain the types of jobs that you would find most satisfying. The results may surprise you and possibly lead to careers you may never have considered previously.

Discovering what you want to do in life is, for many people, a life-long pursuit. From the time you leave school (even before) you start making decisions about what career would best suit you, but many of us end up choosing something quite different to what we originally intended – either out of necessity based on results, or availability of study options or jobs, or perhaps by choosing a career that you might see as ‘more secure’.

Are you having difficulty finding true happiness in your career? Have you tried to evaluate your options in order to choose a different path? If you would like help from a Career Coach to find your passion or turn your passions into a new career, please see our Career Counselling and Coaching Services which can be provided over the phone or in person in locations across Australia.