365 Day Blog challenge Day 71 – Development #365daychallenge

I’m about to start a development course and one of the actions on Day 1 will be to look at what career I want. This is quite a daunting thing to think about. I’m 45 and have never known what I want to be when I grow up. That in itself is never something that’s bothered me, I’ve always been happy to go with the flow.

 The flow though has taken me to the civil service and a promotion 18 months ago that means it’s the sort of thing that now gets talked about constantly. One of the issues is the civil service is huge… so much so that after 10 years don’t know all the subsets of my own department never mind the other ones. A lot of people see career advancement as moving up in grades rather than jobs. That’s how I ended up where I am and in hindsight if I could apply for this role directly knowing what I know now I probably wouldn’t want it.

 I’ve got myself on the mailing list for civil service jobs to give me a greater idea of what is out there but even just reading the titles of some roles is daunting. I quite like the idea of moving to the department that deals with education or the environment but then I wonder if the red tape and entrenched working ideas are the same everywhere. I should get a mentor on this course so I might look at seeing if I can get one that is in one of those other departments.

 The other issue I have is my own confidence. I spent the first year of this role feeling like an imposter. I’ve settled now and know what I’m doing and where I need to improve but when I think about moving somewhere else or another promotion I keep telling myself that it’ll not happen. I’m not the type of person who this would happen for. I know deep down this is rubbish. I managed to get this promotion and I did it on merit rather than being a senior managers pet.

 I’ve a tendency to quit when the going gets tough with work. I got myself all the way up to mortgage adviser 11 years ago. It wasn’t for me as such as I felt there was too much hard selling but rather than look at using my successes (and I had plenty) to move roles within the banking company or to another company I demoted myself! Plus I demoted myself to an office where no one got a promotion unless they knew someone and were a favourite. I wonder if I carry a bit of a chip about this?

 I’m not always the first person people think of for getting the juicy pieces of work. One manager called me ‘quiet’ in a derogatory way but where I see quiet as someone who comes in and gets the work done without fuss, they didn’t like that and expected me to be foolish like them. I didn’t fit in with her values so I got held back. The whole desire to be invisible probably never helped me either.

So I need to start thinking and at the age of 45 come up with some kind of goal. I’m about to spend 2 days looking at this so by the end of the week hopefully I should have a more defined idea of what I want. Having changed managers and my resolutions I’m slowly becoming more visible so that will help.

Who knows in 12 months I could be in my dream job…whatever that may be….


365 Day Blog challenge Day 22 – Day in the Life (work) #365daychallenge

I was hoping to do this but realised my work life could well be incredibly boring for most people & so this will probably be a short blog! I spent many years as a work coach for the government helping people on benefits into work which I loved but you can only do it so long before burn out so in early 2016 I put in for a promotion and was lucky enough to get through. I now spend my days delving into benefit systems analysing how they and people work within certain topics and looking for ways to improve this. Once done I write a report which goes to senior leaders who then have the ability to make the changes I suggest.
I’ve been doing the job for 15months and I probably hated it for the first 10 months. It’s been a huge learning curve. Having spent a work life time working face to face in customer service roles I was now behind scenes and away from the general public. Funny how you miss the things you once spent each day complaining about!
I had to learn Excel and PowerPoint from scratch as I’d never written any reports before. I had to learn to stop getting upset when I had to re-do sections of my reports after Quality Assessments. It took a long time for me to accept that different audiences would like things written in different styles. Why can’t everyone like my style and deal with it? Not the thing to say to senior leaders who report to Government ministers apparently….
I’ve had to learn to push myself forwards and not be a wall flower which after years of depression was my natural state. In this new department it’s all about making sure people know you’re name and good work so that the leaders and developers offer more. It’s about being visible. It’s not easy to achieve when you spend your life trying to be invisible and go un-noticed. I battled against it for most of the first year.
But eventually something clicked. I started to get into the role, enjoy the research and the presentations of the work. I might be a wall flower but I wasn’t always and it’s pleasing to see my old abilities come back even if I am out of my comfort zone for now. But it gets easier each month. I still hate writing reports but accept that tweaks and changes need to be made and to tailor to my audience. I try and find out now beforehand who the intended audience is and how they like to see things.
So hopefully who know? Maybe this time next year I’ll have even more positive things to say about my job

365 Day Blog challenge Day 11 – Putting Well-being First #365daychallenge

Last Thursday when I finished work for the weekend (I work 4 days) I left a section all packed up and ready to move to a different part of the office. Arriving back on Monday everything was set up however rather than having a desk we now had to ‘hot desk’ i.e sit at a free desk and everyday it’s a lottery where you end up.

This has triggered my anxieties up so much. I’ve not had office seating issues for about 5 years. At the  height of my mental health issues I’d have regular panic attacks if I didn’t sit either near a fire door, regular door, aisle or corridor.

This weeks return to stressing over desks has made me think about the ways I put my health and well being first at work. While I don’t want special treatment with desks and have good distraction techniques in place now that I didn’t before it’s still been a rough week.

So putting my health first I’ve made sure my manager is aware of my triggers and have voiced some of them at a meeting about how the week has gone and how we can improve the situation to make the new working conditions work for everyone.

As much as I don’t want to be known as ‘the one with the mental health problems’ I have to do what is right for my health and so hopefully next week will go a bit smoother.

So the weekend is now mine to de-stress and relax. It’s also my mums birthday so I’ll be spending time with her, doing lots of reading and catching up on TV plus if the current snow doesn’t get too bad a few drinks out tomorrow. Putting my health and well being first.

It took me many years to learn how to do this and it’s definitely one of my better decisions

365 Day Blog challenge Day 5 – Dream Jobs #365daychallenge

One of the items on various blog challenge lists is to talk about ideal jobs. I’m 45 and still haven’t figured this bit out! I never had much of a dream about work when I was younger except maybe do some writing. My best school friend wanted to be a teacher and a teacher she became for over 20 years. I just wanted to bet out of school and had no thought beyond that.

Over the years I’ve done several different styles of jobs but the one that keeps drawing me back is ‘helping people’. I’ve been a mortgage seller helping people afford a dream home, I’ve been an employment adviser and I’ve worked in the community helping those with homelessness and addictions move forward with their lives. I even looked into starting my own business in holistic treatments and while it’s on hold I may go back to it n a few years time.

I’ve been in my current job for the last 15 months. It took me  along time to see that it does fit into the ‘helping people’ description as I’m now really far removed from seeing customers every day. I research benefits, find issues and write a report for others to fix. It’s only now that the identified problems are being resolved that I can see how I’ve been able to change something for the better. So while it’s not an obvious helping role I have the opportunity to make lives better.

I don’t think I’m ever gonna have the perfect job in terms of a title (teacher, nurse etc) but as long as I can feel I’m making a difference I’ll be happy in my work 🙂

2017 mid-year in review

I’m a few months late really for a mid-year review but I’ve just spotted my gratitude/good- things-happening jar is 3/4 full. Without looking through it (that’s a treat for between Christmas and New Year) I’ve been thinking about the last 8 months.

Work – It’s been a roller coaster year. Some days I love my job and some days I just want to hide under the duvet and pretend it’s not there. Pretty standard with most people I guess. I’m just a Geminian drama queen so when the horrible days happen I’m telling everyone I want to quite and having mini-meltdowns (as I did about 6 weeks ago). However I’ve recently taken on the role of well being advocate so I get to put together events such as our team walking challenge. Events like that make me happy enough to push through on days when it’s not so great

Self employment – I had a push to re-start this in 2017. It’s also had it’s ups and downs to the point where I decided to take a step back to see if it’s really what I want to do with my life. Turns out I’m passionate about these things but not so hot on working for myself. I’m just not business minded. There are so many things I could be doing besides updating websites, pushing the business, and doing all that annoying paperwork. As I have a day job guess what – the boring admin jobs don’t get done. The task now then is to find ways to utilise the things I love but maybe not on a self employment basis. Or just plod along and see what the universe has in store.

House – This is an area with lots of success this year. Tomorrow I get a new hall carpet after it twice suffered through a burst boiler. I’ve talked in previous blogs about having a debt plan and little spare cash so this is a big deal for me at the minute. I’ve also repainted all the rooms. Still a little bummed that my lovely coloured walls are all pale magnolia/barest peach but if I follow through on my plans to sell up in 2 years these are the colours buyers want. If I decide to stay then Oh I m going to have so much fun repainting everything red/orange and yellow! I’ve also replaced lots of little things like lampshades, kitchen utensils, pots and pans and so on. By the end of the year the last few rooms (kitchen and cupboards) will have been repainted. I may have to give in to the idea of pale walls but I’m getting my colour in my accessories.

Health – My diet blogs are ongoing. 6lbs so far and I’m keeping up to the diet. I’ve a walking challenge on this month but I’ve been pushing the number of steps for a while now. One thing about being a wellbeing advocate. It means I have to practise what I’m preaching so less pizza more health. I’ve reconnected with a dentist and currently saving for some cosmetic dental treatments. I finally started having the money to get my hair styled and coloured on a regular basis. The second half of 2017 is all about me and these small things are going some way to not finding myself but rediscovering myself.

Fun/Life – Oh this needs work. I’ve been to a few events this year. First music concerts in a  couple of years and some drinking nights out. What I’ve discovered though is that I miss being out and about. I’m a sociable person but the debt plan is killing that. Me and my friend who lives in a different city had a heart to heart about this with the plan that we will take turns visiting each others houses per month and go out on the town. That’s one thing to look forward to. I then made a list of who I am and what I like to see how I can use it to start reconnecting with people. How do I get out without much financial investment. I’ve started at a couple of book clubs which are ok. It’s early days yet. One of the things I thought of was a night class. Instead I decided to re-start my open university degree/ I have 2 (part time) years left. That will give me the opportunity to go to some study days and connect with people on Facebook forums. I’ve a little list of some other bits to look at too.

Money – This is a biggie. I am now half way through my debt plan. I’ve managed to reduce the end date by 3 months and most importantly I have cleared 50% of my debt. Seeing the figures last month was one such a happy moment and one I didn’t think I’d see

So when I have a bad work day or a day when my mood is low I can actually look back and see actually this year has been pretty amazing. They’re all small steps but they’re adding up to one great year.

The Quiet Ones

The other day my manager called me ‘quiet’. I took huge umbrage with it. I’m not quiet ask anyone. I did – that night I met 5 good friends for a meal and mentioned it. They laughed… a lot…

You’re not quiet. Where did she get that idea from???

But it’s made me think. I’ve written in some earlier blogs about how being in debt robbed me of my self esteem and I stopped going out and socialising. It also seems that I stopped talking to people. The friends above I’ve known since we all started working together 8 years ago. My best friend I’ve only known 4 years. I made a friend at work when I started my new job 10 months ago (although we were stuck together on a training course in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do except talk to each other).

So somewhere over the last 2 and a half years I’ve stopped sharing to new people. Old friends know me and my depression and can spot up and down swings and know how to work within that. New people don’t and low self esteem issues have meant I’ve not even bothered.

In the spirit of positivity and because I have to start going out (but cheaply) more I joined a new book club. And it was excruciating…well for me no idea about the others. I didn’t say a whole lot and when people shared what they do for example run some blogs where I could have said ‘Oh me too…’ and moved a conversation forward my brain went ‘oh no you can’t say that they’ll think you’re competing’…..


It’s ok I have given myself a big kick for that.

My boss is a big fan of ‘So what?’…so what are you gonna do about it? I started by telling people about my weekend, I shared holiday chats with the big boss. I told her about enjoying art galleries and history. I texted everyone I know that I lost 4lb in my first week at weightwatchers. And a few other bits and pieces. I don’t think I overdid it. And I’ll never be an over-sharer with personal stuff (I hate that on Facebook )

But I’m going with the new thought of telling people stuff…any stuff and if they don’t like it…tough. I’m also going back to bookclub. A different one but same book shop as they run a few (the one from last week isn’t on again until August but I’ll be there also) and I’m going to speak up. I can deliver presentations to groups of people who hate the government I work for without batting an eyelid so I can have a go at letting people get to know me. I can only try.


So I’m sharing and then people will see what my old friends already know….

I’m not bloody quiet

(P.S….there’s nothing wrong with being quiet as a natural state 🙂 )

2017 – Be Excellent to Each Other

I saw an article yesterday that said 130 celebrities had died this year. I may be riddled with flu but I was stuck naming more than a handful besides the few that died this week. I’ve seen arguments on both sides about how much grief one should have about a celeb death and how much with that grief has.

On the other side, sadly I can name more than a handful on my Facebook friends list who have lost family and close friends (and I’m including the pets in this) which is  a bit more close to home.  While it’s sad for anyone to die these mean more to me because I’m seeing my friends (no matter how long it’s been since I saw them last) suffer.

Facebook and Twitter seem to be awash with negativity and various polls, elections and votes have given results that have stirred up anger even more to the point that people are viewing this as one of the worst years ever. I’ve seen the twitter posts stating 1939-1945 were probably worse which is right but sometimes I think of social media as a hive mind of doom. Bad news and misery seems to be following us everywhere. There was a twitter moment regarding some good things that happened in 2016 (mostly animals coming off the endangered species) but in less than 48 hours it’s gone and we’re back to misery and political tit-tat.

We really need to kinder to each other. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t best friends with a celeb, if their lives touched you grieve away. Better than keeping the crap bottled up and struggling. If you don’t like it, unfollow that person on FB for a few weeks. Then let it all go back to normal. Let’s help each other out. If someone is upset (for any reason) give them a hug; offer them tea or just sit and chat. As someone who has suffered with depression for many years sometimes this is all a person needs.

And then maybe we can spread that to people outside our social circle. But in the secret altruistic spirit of George Michael let’s not tell anyone! Don’t tell us you gave Bob the homeless guy you’re filled free coffee coupon. Post some articles or write a blog on the plight of the homeless instead. Don’t tell us about your volunteering somewhere – raise the profile of that charity instead. Let’s share the different ways to volunteer and help people rather than making it all about us.

(However if you’re after the money for charity, promote away. I may be doing that again if I decide to do the St Gemma’s Midnight walk again.)

We need to make 2017 a year where we’re not counting down the hours wishing it to end but one filled with as much positivity as possible that we’d be quite happy to do all over again the following year.

Let’s just be excellent to each other x