Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Happy Holidays!

What can I say about the Christmas and New Year holidays that hasn't already been said?

Not a lot. So I'm not even going to try.

Instead, I want to say a genuine 'Thank You' to everyone who has read and supported work/life fusion over the last year.

Your visits, comments and emails have made our conversation here complete. They have also transformed this blog from a nervous peek into the unknown, into a confident and true exploration of careers and work/life relationships.

Something that would have been impossible for me to do alone.

Christmas and New Year Reflections (groan)
[Photo Courtesy of bluecinderella on Flickr]

On that note, I will have exciting news in 2010 about the explorations we have conducted here and how they will be growing and expanding. It will be posted here first too because your opinion and support will be a huge part of it. Perhaps an even bigger part than it has been to date.

But before any plans for the New Year can take place, a holiday is where many of us will be going first.

Have a great Christmas and New Year, wherever and however you are planning to spend it!

All my best for now,


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Can you think of a virtuous circle?

Something that goes around, comes around and is good?

A virtuous circle is opposite and entirely preferable to a vicious circle.

Here’s one example: When we make better career decisions, our experience of work improves. When our experience of work improves, we have more positive influences for our career decisions.

OK, it sounds a bit simplistic but there is evidence to support each step.

For instance, a better understanding in key areas like your VTGs (Values: What’s important to you, Talents: What you’re good at, Goals: What keeps you going) can help you make better career decisions.

And better career decisions are a great way for a virtuous circle to start.

It looks even prettier when you take a take a step back

[Photo courtesy of Swamibu on Flickr]

Big decisions about work and careers can make you feel dizzy.

Your VTGs can slow the whirling carousel and give you more confidence when you have a choice to make.

You start the virtuous circle when you’re ready and on your terms.

Think of a career cycle you’d like to break or any circle you'd like to be less vicious and more virtuous.

There’s plenty of evidence to show it can be done.

All the best for now,


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Where you want to be in 5 years time

The last post on this blog proved nothing.

Not as bad as it sounds because the intention wasn't to prove anything, the intention was to find out what's possible. To ask if there might be a better way to answer this career question: "Where do you want to be in 5 years time?"

Proving and disproving should start with questions worth investigating. Questions that offer knowledge worth gaining. Questions that are worthwhile exploring.

It might seem like an unusual way to try and answer career questions but a mathematical approach does offer certainty. And if I'm not mistaken, mathematical certainties often begin with doubt too.

Maths has this much in common with career decision-making at least!

A worthy exploration or a waste of time?
Your opinion has the same value as anyone else's.

Maybe maths isn't the right discipline to help us as individuals answer this question. If that is ultimately proven (here or elsewhere) then we've all learned something worthwhile.

You don't have to be a maths professor for your opinion to count.

As an outsider to the language of maths, there are some things I am envious of. The importance of what you say, not who you are is one. Pierre de Fermat was a career lawyer not a mathematician after all.

Here's an excerpt from an email I received last week:

There are only two types of question:

1) Questions mathematics has answered
2) Questions mathematics has yet to answer

I took that as encouragement to keep exploring this question.

Special thanks to Steve and Kyle for commenting last week and moving this question forward.

All the best for now,


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Discover a new way to answer this question for yourself at exploreyourcareer.com

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Where do you want to be in 5 years time?

Could mathematics ever answer this question?

Unusual mathematical studies have got me wondering. Stranger questions than this now have the benefit of a mathematical formula to explain them.

The probability of a biscuit collapsing after dunking in hot liquid is one example. Another memorable piece of work was the formula that explained why cold pizza still tastes good the next day (apparently it’s down to the cheese).

If you are a mathematician and you have worked on studies like these: first and foremost, I salute you; And second, now the big questions about biscuits and pizza have been answered, I’m interested in your thoughts on the following...

Up to your neck in water? Could a simple formula help you swim?

The question “Where do you want to be in 5 years time?” is linear so if my (very) limited formal maths training is correct, this suggests the possibility of a mathematical equation being drawn up.

This question is linear because you have two points, let's call them Point A and Point B. Point A is where you are now. Point B is where you want to be in 5 years time.

Point A is a known/knowable quantity (I appreciate that ‘knowable’ isn’t a maths term but stay with me a little longer maths geniuses!)

Point B is an unknown quantity but the potential to define it exists between the degree an individual understands their position at Point A and the relative difficulty their path from A-to-B represents (based on the Point B that the individual has defined).

For example: if you are at Point A as a student just leaving college with an arts based degree in humanities, and you decide that in five years time (i.e. at Point B) you’d like to be a celebrated rocket scientist, the relative difficulty of the path you have chosen will be high. Much higher than if you had chosen 'Geography Teacher' as your Point B instead.

An additional relationship exists between Point A and Point B that might also help the formula expand. It lies within the experience of individuals who have already reached Point B and how they compare to the individual attempting to move from Point A (to a Point B others have successfully reached).

The relative similarities/differences between the individual at Point A and the individuals already at their target Point B could also enable greater definition of the quotients that decide the relative difficulty of the individual’s five year progression from A-to-B. (Providing the framework for an individual to define both Point A and Point B is also possible but the extrapolation of this might be best left for a later time).

Mathematicians: this will of course be wrong to your trained eyes and minds but, nonetheless, here is a simple formula to get you started with the proving and disproving that you do so well:


A = where you are now

B = where you want to be in 5 years time

x = relative differences to individuals already at point B

n = relative difficulty of proposed route from A-to-B

With the age old biscuit and pizza questions answered by you for all time, maybe the moment has arrived for mathematics to tackle a new question.

I’m not one for throwing down the gauntlet, especially to mathematicians. But let’s pretend for a moment that a gauntlet has clattered to the floor. Are any of you willing to pick it up?

All the best for now,


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Learn how your answer to this question can evolve over time at exploreyourcareer.com

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

On Difficult Times

Seeing others breeze through difficult times while we struggle is frustrating.

It's like being unable to do something, only to take it to your boss and see her do it in five seconds flat. Most of us will have moments in our careers like this. Not many make it onto our CV or resume for obvious reasons.

Seeing others cope while we struggle is discouraging but it can also be a false impression.

We just see the other person coping effortlessly. We tend to forget that they either had to learn how to cope, earn their ability to cope through hard-won experience or have it drummed into their heads by someone else so they would know what to do.

No one ploughs a straight furrow on their first go

[Photo courtesy of Joanna Young on Flickr]

Some people cope during difficult times because it's in their experience to do so.

Let's put these pesky, proficient other people to one side for a moment and look at difficulty from another point of view:

What difficult times do you make look easy?

What is second nature to you?

What has your experience taught you to cope with?

What’s been drummed into you?

As well as being personal to you, your answers show that there will be times where you’re the one coping. Times when you make things look easy. Situations that give others confidence in you. Settings suited to your experience.

We can find the same things difficult but what we find difficult also depends on our experience and our point of view.

When you are finding things difficult, look around and ask:

Who is making this look easy?

What experience is helping them to cope?

What can I learn from their behaviour?

What's the best way to ask that person for help?

Maybe questions like these will help you find a new point of view on difficult times.

All the best for now,


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Café Culture Careers

Work Coach Cafe is one of my favourite career blogs but a big reason I like it so much only struck me the other day.

It's like Central Perk from 'Friends' or the diner from Seinfeld, if such a place could ever exist online for your career.

A place to pull up a (virtual) chair and talk about what's on your mind. You don't need an agenda; You don't have to worry about being preached at; No one will tell you what's best for you or pretend to know your situation.

Sit down, share a story. That's all there is to it.

Work Coach Cafe stands out from its peers because it's more than just a waiting place.

Bus stations, doctors' reception rooms and airport lounges are waiting places. We only visit them to get somewhere else. They're a means to an end. We're not there by choice. We're only there because we have to be.

A waiting place is no place to talk about your career.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with waiting places. OK, some of them aren't well loved. The carpet might give you electric shocks, the seats can be uncomfortable and there's chewing gum stuck where you're trying to stand up or sit down. But they're just about OK in general because they serve a purpose.

Only because without them we wouldn't get to all those places we want to go.

A hastily assembled montage of 'just-passing-through' places

What I'm saying is this: Your career deserves more than a waiting place.

And you need more than a rushed, 'get-me-somewhere-else' conversation to do your career justice.

Work Coach Cafe is proof there are places where your work/life can be visited and re-visited, and the experience is a pleasant, refreshing one.

We can feel comfortable. We're not being hurried along. We don't have to wish we were somewhere else.

Our careers deserve all this and more.

New places to talk about our careers are appearing and - better still - they're starting to multiply too.


So what's your opinion?

Where do you like to talk about work - online or offline?

Have you ever been to a good waiting place?

What place does work/life fusion make you think of?

I'm keen to hear your thoughts!

All the best for now


Friday, 20 November 2009

Where do you want your career to go?

This is my favourite career question.

It respects your opinion
It asks you to look ahead
It wants what you want

There's real positivity in this question.

Even if you're not feeling on top of the world, this question can help you set that aside and think about what's possible for a moment.

We can't always give a zinger of an answer when it comes to career questions but this one won't let us escape with a downbeat response when others might.

No one wants bad things for their career.

Good things have permission to shine through with this question.

Where you are and where you want to be may be closer than you think

Plenty of career questions ask what you've learned from other people but this one doesn't let you off so lightly. It gives you the space to think and the inspiration to use it.

Other phrasings of this question (Where could your career go? Where should your career go? Where would you like your career to go? etc.) feel a bit wooly and uncertain in comparison.

I like this question a lot and plan to use it a lot more in the future, starting right now.


Do you like being asked career questions?

Is there a career question you like better?

Are there any career questions you don't like?

Where do you want your career to go?

After all these questions, I'm looking forward to some answers...

Have a great weekend wherever you are!


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Who is That Guy?

You know the guy I'm talking about. He's usually on the cover of a book with a smile on his face and a gleam in his eye.

He's got neat hair and white teeth too. And he really, really wants you to be successful. But how important is your personal success to that guy?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he wants you to do badly. I actually believe he wants you to do well. That guy knows what's best for you but there's one thing he can't know, and that's what you want.

That guy will probably sue me*

Figuring out what you want is a big part of career success. That guy did it his way but success at work might mean something different for you. You might value things differently. You might enjoy different things. You may have different priorities when it comes to grooming.

That guy won't ask what you want and really listen to the answer. But he's not all bad. It's not his fault. He is trying to help after all. And there's a great deal we can learn from him about figuring out what we want and getting motivated. He did that successfully after all.

We know his individual story but what of our own?

Maybe it's not up to that guy to ask us this question. Maybe it's up to us to find out more for ourselves.

Why not make it your business to find out what you want. Ask questions and explore your career for yourself. Find individual answers and make important discoveries based on your experience.

Questions like:

What's important to me?
What am I good at?
What keeps me going?
When did work last give me a good feeling?
Where should my career go in the future?

Share your career answers, ideas and questions below if you want to. Jump to That Guy's defence if he has helped your career move forward.

I want to hear what you have to say. That Guy doesn't have a monopoly any more.

All the best for now,


[*Disclaimer: Any resemblance between the above photograph of my Uncle Brian and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.]

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

What's stopping you?

If we're not careful, we can spend our careers wondering...

Can it be done?
Is it possible?
Can I do it?
What happens if I fail?

But - if you were careful - could you wonder like this instead...

It can be done.
It is possible.
I can do it.
Whatever happens I'll learn something.

What difference would it make to your career if you could?

Inspiration is like a beautiful sunset.
You don't have to be in a beautiful place to experience it.

All the best for now


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Fill the Void

Ending a job starts one of the biggest changes of routine most of us are ever likely to experience.

The place you visited every day of the week disappears overnight. It doesn't matter if you chose to leave or the choice was made for you, a change of routine like this hits just as hard.

Most of the things you did for your job [your - Ahem - skills that pay the bills] are put on ice temporarily. Colleagues and workmates are no longer with you everyday. The guy you bought your coffee or sandwich from, the lady who knew what paper you like, the ticket collector or car park attendant you greeted at the top and bottom of every day. They're all still there but now you're somewhere else.

So where does all this change leave you? What new routine do you adjust to? What are you doing with all of your time? Can anything possibly fill a void like this overnight?

Lots of space to fill: Worry or Opportunity?
[Wailea Horizon - courtesy of Rosa Say on Flickr]

If you're looking for a new job right now, you might have heard it said that, 'looking for a job is a full-time job' but have you ever found this to be true? Has anyone ever found this to be true?

When's the last time the person telling us this spent 8 hours a day at their computer, at the library, on the telephone, reading the job pages of newspapers and everywhere else a job search takes us? Even that 'full-of-good-advice' well-meaning person would have to admit that as a new routine, 'making your job search your new job' isn't a patch on the old one.

What you fill the void with - whatever it is - is up to you. And no-one does it overnight. No matter what they say.

Adjusting to change as big as this takes time and needs a steady, determined approach. You can adjust and you can build a new routine and it can start on day one. But it will work best for you when it's built on small, gradual steps to get your career back on track. You'll do all of things you already know you have to do. You'll also learn plenty of new things along the way. And you can do it without all that pressure and expectation on your back.

The steps we take to adjust to a new routine might seem small and insignificant at first but they all add up. And they can add up to something that fills the void when a job disappears overnight.

Pick a question if talking about voids has got you in the mood:

What helped you get back to work when you were searching?
What big changes did you face after leaving your job? How did you handle them?
What did changing jobs teach you about your career?
What new routine are you adjusting to right now?

Comment below and join the conversation...

All the best for now,


Wednesday, 28 October 2009

A Good Career Feeling

When things go well at work, you get a good feeling.

We all know the feeling and there are plenty of ways to describe it: satisfaction, fulfilment, self-worth, happiness, success.

But what actually gives us this feeling?
Where does it come from?
When have you had it in the past?
What can give it to you again in the future?

Nothing like a load of questions to kill a good feeling...

You don't have to be an explorer to explore
[Rough Waters=Beautiful Skies: see more at Saundra's Flickr Photostream here]

...Unless they are questions that help you explore your career for satisfaction and success.

Questions like the ones above are worth asking because they have the power to turn a good career feeling into something a little more substantial. Something you can begin to understand, find evidence for, even seek as your answers become more familiar to you.

If you know the feeling I'm talking about, if you have experienced it briefly or even only once in your career before now, you have some real evidence to focus your questions on.

What work were you doing at the time?
Who were you doing it with?
What could have made that feeling last longer?
What would have killed it stone dead?

I hope you do choose to think about the good feelings your career has given you. And how your career always has the potential to give them to you again in the future. Only one person will benefit if you do.

All my best to you for now,