It’s been a busy start to 2017 and I can’t believe that the first half of January is almost behind me. Having bid farewell to self-employment at the end of 2016, my salaried job role is taking up most of my time these days, which is really positive. There’s a massive amount to learn, and at times I feel as if my brain will burst, but along with the challenges there are more than enough rewards to make up for it, and being part of a team is a dream come true.
My shifts are longer than I’m used to, but this became a lot easier once I settled back into my new routine after the Christmas break, and the bonus is that I’m getting fitter. I’m slowly getting used to the sheer volume of business meetings I’m now attending, along with various training days, and although my schedule is filling up with work it’s also being filled with fun stuff such as the monthly team breakfasts, and will soon include an ‘away day’!
Never in a million years did I ever imagine that my life could change so quickly and dramatically, which just goes to show that you never know what’s just around the next corner. If you want to move upwards you have to move forwards…
You know that you’ve landed well and truly on your feet when your manager arranges for everyone to enjoy a leisurely ‘team breakfast’ to thank us for simply doing our jobs. This morning, my colleagues and I were taken down to the canteen and treated to a full English, or whatever else we happened to fancy, and large coffees. I don’t eat meat or eggs so chose veggie sausage, hash brown, mushrooms, baked beans and toast, and I have to say it was very welcome indeed!
Suitably sustained, and finally ready to face the day, we returned to the office to get down to the business of the weekly team meeting; an opportunity for each and every one of us to update our co-workers on what we’ve been doing, what still needs to be completed and any issues or deadlines which need to be discussed. By the time we were all done and dusted it was almost lunchtime, although to be honest I wasn’t particularly hungry (can’t imagine why…)
Sometimes our jobs can be challenging, and we can begin to feel under-valued, but it’s small gestures like this that can make a huge difference to the working environment, and I applaud any bosses out there who show genuine appreciation to their staff. Sometimes the little things really do mean a lot.
My old school chum was kind enough to invite me to stay at her house over 200 miles away for a long weekend last year, so it was only a matter of time before I was in a position to be able to reciprocate. She arrived at Casa de Steampunk on Friday and we almost immediately decided to go back to visit our old school! Within the hour we’d turned up unannounced, but despite this the staff went out of their way to help and we were given a fabulous guided tour of the corridors and classrooms we last inhabited almost forty years ago. Back home much Pinot Grigio was polished off as we chatted into the wee small hours about PE lessons, lockers and, of course, boys.
The following morning the rain stopped long enough for us to take a leisurely stroll, ending up at a posh hotel when my mate was able to do some impromptu business. We then drove to a nearby village to sample the delights of all things boaty before filling up on pub grub, followed by a game of dodge-the-thunderstorm en route back to her Merc. Girly shopping was next on the list so it was off to an out-of-town complex where we spent several hours browsing amongst discounted curtains and duvet covers, frilly undies and home-wares. An encore of wine and gossip finished off our busy day perfectly.
I have no idea where the time went, as in the blink of an eye it was suddenly midday on Sunday and she was off back home again. It’s wonderful to be able to mull over happy memories but it’s even better when you can do so while creating brand new ones. This was my first attempt at hosting a guest at Chez Moi since becoming single, and judging by the success of this weekend it certainly won’t be the last, although I just need to give my liver a while to recover…
My boss had received a rather posh and proper invite to a prestigious corporate event hosted by The Army Engagement Team but wasn’t able to attend, so she asked yours truly if I’d like to go on her behalf. What? Dress up all fancy and get treated to some free food and drinks while being surrounded by men in uniform? Well, it’d be rude to refuse, so I agreed to be her representative. I also agreed (albeit reluctantly) to behave myself.
I’d been given a rather swanky ID card prior to the event, which meant I could jump the queue and therefore spend more time schmoozing with high ranking military personnel; good evening Brigadier; and business executives, before being ushered into a large room for the hour long presentation. Talks and videos all done and dusted it was back to the reception room for the nosh and more chat, before eventually making my way to my taxi home whilst carrying a fabulous presentation box full of goodies. And yes, I did actually manage to behave myself for once, although admittedly it was a challenge.
When you’re a member of a very grown up ‘Women’s Business Network’ you get offered opportunities to attend Learning Development courses, and today’s topic was ‘Voice and Communication’. The two very capable hosts were a voice and impact trainer in the business, government and health sectors, and a top social science professor, who’s an experienced public speaker and presenter of history documentaries for the BBC. The aim of today was ‘to develop more powerful communication skills through your voice, body language and conviction’.
We explored ideas around curiosity rather than ambition, confounding expectation, passionate involvement and thinking not about how confident we are but what we’re entitled to. Such topics could easily have been a bit dry had it not been for the extremely amusing anecdotes from the professional trainers, and the informal manner which the session took; especially when, at one point we were all standing in a circle re-acquainting ourselves with gravity while ‘huffing’! Despite these things being so far out of my comfort zone they’re practically on the horizon, I actually enjoyed the session so much I wish it had lasted longer. Hopefully they’ll run another course like this very soon, and when they do I shall make sure that my name’s first on the list!
A Professional Development course on the topic of ‘Motivating Yourself to be a High Performer’ was just what the doctor ordered after a rather apathetic start to 2016. Although I had been getting stuff done, my batteries were somewhat flat and I needed a metaphorical kick up the wotsit to get me firing on all cylinders again, and today’s session with an enthusiastic Life Coach certainly did that!
We looked at setting motivational goals, understanding performance and creating a plan of action to achieve whatever targets you set yourself. Evaluating what needs to be done, reviewing and reflecting on our own limits and being more confident in challenging yourself, were just a few of the other areas covered in this exceptionally high powered business environment, and I have to admit it really was just the ticket. When you’re surrounded by people who push you in a positive and supportive manner, it’s quite remarkable what you can actually do.
Whether you work for yourself or somebody else, if an opportunity ever arises where you can mix business with pleasure don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and take up the opportunity of networking. This can mean anything from accepting an invitation to join a breakfast club in order to gain valuable new connections of your own, to being asked to represent your firm at a large charity event.
I chose the latter and stepped into my boss’s formidable shoes to attend a very posh and grown-up Cancer Research fundraiser hosted by an important client. A year ago I would never have had the self-confidence to take on such a daunting task, however, since being single I’ve been pushing my own boundries more and more by grabbing life with both hands and simply ‘going for it!’ I have to admit that spending an evening with lovely people, enjoying a superb buffet in spectacular surroundings while chatting informally over a glass of something pink, fizzy and mildly alcoholic was infinitely more enjoyable than sitting on the sofa watching repeats of old sitcoms with a cup of tea. In fact, I now can’t wait for the next one. Bring it on!