My blog has moved

You can find my latest blog on Medium.  All Talk and No Action

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happiness-quote

The Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness – this seems to be the recurring theme.  Ever since I started my journey to escape my current job, I have heard countless people talk and write about the search for happiness.  Am I looking for happiness?  I’m not per se.  What I am looking for is contentment and fulfilment which I don’t feel I have right now. I guess, achieving the latter and former should ultimately lead to happiness.

So why is it we are all so unhappy?

What is happiness?  Having searched Google, I’ve found there are a whole host of definitions.  This however is my favourite and it resonates with me. happiness-quoteAre we all so unhappy because we aren’t achieving our values or goals?  Are we not flourishing as individuals?  For me this is true.  Why are so many of us now seeking a new way of living?  How did we end up where we are in the first place?

Ken Robinson describes the fault with the education system “every education system on Earth has the same hierarchy of subjects…at the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities and at the bottom are the arts”.  Why is this?

Ken Robinson has written many books on this subject and his famous Ted Talk – Do Schools Kill Creativity is a favourite of mine.  The education system was created in the Industrial Revolution to produce academics.  The subjects that were placed at the top of the education hierarchy were there because they were the subjects that would lead you into jobs.   Back then this was what we needed and it meant a steady well paid job for those who chose that path. Today there is so much more choice and the working environment has completely changed.  The paths the academic system led us to are not necessarily areas we particularly excel in, so is this the cause of our unhappiness?

The fact that the education system stigmatises individuals who choose to study arts means there is an unfair pressure being put on individuals to choose subjects they don’t excel in. Are we unhappy because we haven’t found our element?

Finding your element

Another book by Ken Robinson is Finding Your Element.  Ken recommends using a multitude of methods to find your element; he never recommends one over another because he recognises that we are all individuals and we have different learning styles.  He points out that we may believe ourselves to be weak at a subject, but the reality is this may be down to the way we were taught.

We all have unique learning styles.  Having completed the Honey and Mumford learning styles questionnaire, my preferred styles are pragmatist and theorist, followed by reflector and lastly activist.  This makes sense as I like a good plan and I like to understand why and how things fit together.

honey-and-mumford

Thinking back about my education and experience, I have always favoured pragmatism. I am a pragmatist – someone who is practical and focused on reaching a goal. So long as I have a goal in sight, I am pretty happy working my way towards it.

I went through school to get to university.  It had been drummed into me from an early age, in order to get a good job, I needed to go to university.  I studied Business and Marketing, my favourite part was my sandwich year – practical application.

After university, I did several temporary jobs in the public and not-for-profit sector before I went travelling for a year. I returned to work in the charity sector (as a fundraiser) because working for a commercial organisation didn’t feel right.  Many people are unhappy because they don’t see the value of the work they do.

Should I be happy just because I work for a charity?

To be honest, I think the work our front line workers do is amazing. However I am not happy because I still find my role unfulfilling and I don’t like the culture I work in. I would feel more fulfilled if I was having direct impact, working for myself and with more like minded people.  There are several boxes that need to be ticked. Is problem solving for social good my element?

Organisational culture is interesting.  Freedom, flexibility and creativity are important to me.  Areas of which I don’t feel are promoted or encouraged enough where I work.

In fact, I feel creativity is quite often stifled due to laborious processes which drain the fun out of everything.  Also, shortsightedness – the inability to plan for the future and see what might be is frustrating.

This has made me focus on who my actual target audience should I follow my creativity and innovation consultancy route.

The Opportunity Exists

Our education system is no longer fit for purpose; it no longer meets the needs of changing society. It doesn’t respond to the fact that children are growing up in a digital and always connected world.  This creates different needs and brings many different opportunities.  The present education system doesn’t prepare them for the future.  The fact that our education system still chooses to be based on a hierarchy established in the Industrial revolution means that many young people are being excluded unfairly.

Children are taught to conform, following a standardised curricula so they can perform well in their standardised tests. Standardisation means we are ignoring and only developing in areas dictated by a few individuals – mainly politicians – and let’s admit it, what do they know about the real world?

We are all born with the capacity for divergent thinking but studies have shown that this ability deteriorates with age.  It is educated out of us because of standardisation. By the time we leave school, our ability to think laterally has all but gone.

In this current age, we are looking for innovative solutions to the world’s problems, we look for collaborators as we know that the best ideas come from groups rather than individuals working alone.  Our education system has not and does not prepare individuals for this.  Tapping back into our creative mind set takes effort and requires re-education.  There are a lot of people who could do with this training, finding and working with those who it would benefit most is now the challenge.

Choose wisely

Even as a consultant, working for myself, I am still accountable to my client.  Therefore, I should choose my client base based on who will bring me most contentment and fulfillment.  Who will achieve the most from what I have to offer and where can we make the biggest impact.

Notebook

Keep swimming or risk drowning

The idea of running my own training / consultancy business has been lurking around in the back of my mind for some time.  It is for this reason I decided to explore it further.  I wasn’t making any progress on my previous business idea as I seem to have developed some form of mind block, so now is perfect time to explore a different route.  What I have learnt it not to waste too much time stuck on one pet project.  I guess I need to be like a shark – keep swimming or drown.

Referring to another one of my favourite books: The Innovation Expedition by Gijs Van Wulfen, I quickly wrote out my mini business case in my lovely new notebook.

Notebook
Shaun Tan notebook
An aspect I learnt about myself recently is I work better on plain paper.  I find lines restrictive; they dictate an order I don’t necessarily subscribe to. I therefore treated myself a lovely plain notebook by Shaun Tan (an Australian illustrator) admittedly, I hadn’t heard of him before but what caught my attention about this notebook were the illustrations; it was perfectly fitting.  It’s amazing how a simple sheet of paper can make me feel differently about the way I approach what I am doing.  Plain paper provides the freedom to write in any which way I see fit.

Making Progress

I completed the business case and was actually pretty chuffed with the progress I had made, so I started to think about names for my business.  I did a bit of research for inspiration which led me back to vision and values. So what is my vision for this business and does it still sit true with who I am and what I value?

My vision for this business is: To provide individuals with the creative skills and confidence to identify problems and empower them to be self-sustaining in how they go about identifying solutions.

I would do this by running workshops on creativity and innovation.

This is very much in alignment with my desires to create a self-sustaining society as per my vision in an earlier post My Personal Brand. Tick.

I went back to thinking about me and my story, how did I get to this point?  My second attempt proved a fruitful exercise and I think you will agree, it makes sense.

My Story

Having spent over 10 years working in the not-for-profit sector, the need to create something from very little is very familiar.  I wouldn’t have said that I was a ‘creative person’ but what I am is incredibly resourceful and an extremely good problem solver.

Throughout my years as an acquisition fundraiser, I would regularly need to develop and refine propositions and products.  This was no mean feat.  Often the most impactful way to refine the product was via the training of groups of incredibly highly charged, caffeine-induced dialogue fundraisers (those who speak directly to the public either on the street, door or phone). Employing creative techniques was a must to improving an existing offering.

I currently lead on innovation for my employer.  It’s not the role I signed up for, however I have turned it into a role they should have employed me for. Internally it has always been said that innovation should be everyone’s responsibility, however in reality, it sits with a relatively small group of employees, where it is not a full time role.  This means innovation and product development work is slow, not exactly fit for purpose in a rapidly changing society.

I lead a group of Innovation Ambassadors, working with them, I aim to educate and up-skill our colleagues in their understanding of insights, innovation and creativity.

It’s all about Innovation

Everyone is talking about ‘innovation’ but I see very few charities doing it well. There are many barriers and the lack of guidance/support from senior leadership only accentuates the problem.  It is for this reason I believe that we need to take a step back, we need to empower individuals with knowledge and skills; they need to understand the expectations and their roles in the process.

As much as charities may be in desperate need of radical innovation, they aren’t demonstrating readiness. There is however nothing stopping them from taking the baby steps needed to provide them with the crucial incremental improvements that could pave the way to radical innovation.

One of the barriers we constantly face is time and resource – is it really about acquiring more staff and increasing capacity or is it about looking at what is already in existence and changing processes?

Questioning the status quo

For me, it’s about looking at how we do things now.  Can we do it differently? Can we introduce new processes to stream line our work?  Can we interact and engage with our colleagues differently in order to take on new viewpoints? By questioning the status quo we are not only engaging in innovative process development, but we are also fostering an environment that will be fit and ready for more radical innovation.

If we want to create a more innovative workforce, we need to drive creativity and increase collaboration. Individual creativity is important but so are the social relations. Providing individuals with the tools and encouraging active collaboration should lead to overall improved productivity. I say should because ultimately you cannot legislate creativity. Although creativity can be taught, it tends to emerge naturally where people are motivated and within a culture that encourages exploration.

I have already run several successful creativity and innovation training workshops for my organisation and am about to run another in October. As someone who really enjoys creating and facilitating these types of sessions, it seems natural to want to focus on this as a career. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

My next goal is to shorten the story and make it a little bit more succinct.  It was a really useful exercise and got me to really focus on the ‘why’.

100 Days of Commuting

After having week off – away from London and away from work. I was full of renewed energy and lots of ideas.  My ideas were mainly for the creativity project I am working on at work.  Unfortunately, the energy quickly drained upon entering the office.  This week has been a complete drag.  I feel incredibly demotivated.

Rush_hour_LondonWaterloo
Rush hour in London Waterloo station

My commute is long and unyielding. London is busy – full of rude people, all in a rush to get somewhere.  Every week I spend at least 15 hours commuting; most weeks (especially when school is in term) it’s closer to 17.5 hours.  This equates to at least 60 hours per month and a whopping 660 hours per year (based on 11 months – I’ve kindly given myself a month off, aren’t I lucky?).  Scarily this works out as 94 working days! 94! This might as well be 100!

100 Days of Commuting

What could I spend 100 days doing? There are a lot of things I could be doing: pursuing my interests for a start.  I used to do a lot of photography but it took over my life, well truth be told Instagram took over my life. I was also faced with internal conflict about whether photography should be edited and whether I should be digitally enhancing my photos.  The result was I stopped.  I’ve had some time to settle the internal argument and I am ok with the editing – I see my photography as an art now so the editing process is about creating a particular look.   I want to make a return to it but not on Instagram.   I just need to find the time.  I think I may undertake an iphonography project first – take a photo everyday.  See where this takes me.

I enjoy water sports but my current lifestyle does not cater for it.  I could be out kayaking and enjoying the river. Last week I went canoeing on the Norfolk Broads, it was so peaceful and hundreds of miles away from the hustle and bustle of this crazy city.  Even the coastal resort of Great Yarmouth was an amazing break.  I love being close to the sea and would love to live on the coast.

It’s so important to take time out to reconnect, however this makes returning to work incredibly hard.

On Monday, my first day back at work, my bus got caught in traffic, I therefore missed my train and thus I arrived at work later than I’d planned. To top things off, it was pouring down with rain.  My renewed energy had probably drained out of me before I even arrived at work.

Reconnect and Remember

It was a combination of all these things that reminded me why I am planning my big escape.  I need a change in lifestyle. I need to reclaim my time. I need to stop commuting. Reminders are important otherwise we easily lose track of what we are doing and why, and the motivation evaporates.

I am planning to escape because I want to live my life on my terms.  Thankfully there is a long weekend approaching, time to invest in Project Escape.

Is it a case of the ‘what ifs’ or something else?

I’ve discovered that developing new products for an employer is a completely different ball game to starting my own business.  I have a business idea, in fact I have several, but why am I struggling to make progress? I know what I need to do but I am I really struggling to get anything done.

I’ve come to the conclusion that fear is my barrier.

In order to get started, I need to gather my supporting insights. I need to:

  • validate assumptions about my users
  • build my user profiles
  • research and understand the competitors – direct and indirect

Avoidance

fear_ahead_sign
fear ahead

Rather than just get on with it, I’m sitting here writing a blog about it.  It’s clearly an avoidance technique.  Is it fear that is holding me back? What if no one wants to use the service I am offering? What if the market doesn’t exist? What if there are already lots of competitors? What if, what if, what if?

I am overwhelmed by the ‘what ifs’ and it is starting to drive me a little bit crazy.  If I am really honest about it, I truly believe there is a market for the service I want to deliver and there are few UK suppliers, if any (I have already done a bit of research) so what’s the real problem?

Do I fear failure?  Well no, because I have already said that this is very much my first project and I need to do it to learn from it.  So what exactly is my problem?

A lot of my anxiety is around starting an online business and the legalities and technicalities behind it. I did some research into starting an online business but I don’t feel the information is sufficient and I am not confident with what I have read. I think this is what I am truly avoiding. I need to speak to someone who has done this before, who can provide the advice I need to crack on, as this avoidance technique is hampering my progress.

Reaching out and asking for help

Some people have no problem asking for help, in fact a colleague of mine drives me insane as her first thought is always to ask someone else rather than to turn to her own internal ability. I, on the other hand, am used to being self-reliant.  I rarely rely on others for anything and this can hamper.  I recognise this as a weakness and is one I need to face head on if I am going to make progress faster.

There are so many different levels of fear, but fear is a good thing.  If I wasn’t aware of it, I wouldn’t know how to really challenge myself. I am therefore going to set myself a task of identifying potential mentors by mid September as I am going to require assistance in quite a few areas.  Asking for help is not a weakness but a necessity in growth and development.

My personal brand

This week I attended a workshop entitled “What’s your big idea” held by The Happy Startup School.  I’d registered to attend a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for networking opportunities without a BIG idea to hand.  At the time I thought it might be good just to go along and see who else was there and absorb.

A few days earlier, whilst at work, I was discussing a major barrier to future proofing the organisation and how this problem might be solved.  Thinking about that, I saw an opportunity – a startup opportunity, so I used that as my big idea.

I actually had another idea en route but that one is far more challenging.  In short, I am suddenly having ideas. Not lots, but some, and that’s a good start.  I feel alive. I haven’t felt this way for such a long time.

The workshop

The session was very practical and required a lot of brain work.  Despite the fact that I had previously covered some elements as part of my recent things to do, I still found it challenging because I was discussing it with someone rather than just working on my own and we were approaching it differently to how I’d previously covered the exercise.

One of the tasks was about identifying our values.  Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work.  They should determine your priorities and deep down they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out as you want it to. Your values define your character.

They impact every aspect of your life:

  • Personal and work behaviours
  • Interaction with friends, family and colleagues
  • Decision making processes
  • The direction you take in life

We talked about Why, How, What.  Although I had done this before, I didn’t really appreciate its meaning until Carlos, our trainer, talked us through it.

I was interested in finding out more so I watched Simon Sinek’s TED talk  How great leaders inspire action.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

If you don’t stay true to your values, you are less likely to persevere.  You have to truly believe in what you are doing.

Who am I?

Why do I do what I do? My Vision and Mission

My vision is of a world where everyone has the power to create opportunities for themselves and to achieve their dreams.

My mission is to empower people by providing them with the skills they require to help themselves.

How do I do it? 

values
values

My values: collaboration, sustainability, honesty, accountability, Empowerment, ambition.

My behaviours: I am enterprising, resourceful, adventurous and solution focused.

What do I do?

I listen to other people’s goals and help them identify what skills they require to achieve their goals. But as I am a firm believer that you create your own fate, people need to be responsible for themselves.

Good things do not just happen; people need to want it and they have to take the right steps. I help them take those steps.

I have been doing this in everything I do. I’ve only just realised it. So this is who I am.

This got me thinking about My Big Idea and whether it fit with who I am. I think it does. Ultimately it is about enabling people to help themselves. I am therefore progressing this tennis ball.

With sheer determination, change can occur quickly

Last week I confirmed my _SocialStarters place for February 2016. I am so excited. I can’t believe that in 6 months time I will be starting a new phase of my life.

Looking back to when I started to get this ball rolling, I was surprised to find it wasn’t really that long ago. It was early June that I thought a career change was an option and totally possible. Going to the The Escape the City taster session turned my internal light back on.  Thanks to the talk by Matt Trinetti and The Escape Manifesto I am on course for major lifestyle changes. All of this happened only a mere 7 weeks ago.

This isn’t to say that I have made spur of the moment decisions. I haven’t. The last 6 weeks have allowed me to take practical small steps in the right direction and thus provide me with the confidence to aspire for something much bigger, yet unknown. More importantly for me, I am okay with the idea of not knowing.  This is a massive step change for me as I am someone who has previously been more comfortable with black and white.

I have done a hell of a lot of research and planning to get me to where I am, and I am feeling the benefits of the effort I have already put in.  I feel more confident in my own ability and I am optimistic about what the future may bring.

My biggest concern revolves around not having the right people around me, so I have actively been taking steps to connect with different people.  I have signed up for events and talks but the biggest benefit to date has been offering my skills on a pro bono basis. People are approaching me.

I have engaged with really interesting and inspiring people who have set up and run organisations I would never have come across.  It’s been a fantastic opportunity and a great learning experience and I’m really excited about a project I have just been discussing with a potential new client.

Right now, the opportunities appear endless.  For me, anything is possible.  No problem is unsolvable, you just have to work out how to approach it and be determined to make change happen.

Build an income portfolio

I was reading 10 reasons you should never get a job and  it led me to question work and money.  If I am to choose a life on my terms, then I need to find ways to earn my living outside of the norm. I don’t want to conform to society anymore, so I am now subscribed to developing “an income portfolio”, including generating income through investments that will work for themselves. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.  Property investment has always been on my radar but for some reason, it just didn’t occur that this was my gateway to a life on my terms.  I have lots of thoughts around this so this will be a project on its own – a tennis ball to pursue. It’s not going to be immediate but the planning has started.

I worry about money a lot.  I wasn’t poor growing up but we definitely had to save and budget for luxuries.  My mum has taught me a lot about money management and thus I have made good financial decisions.

Although I am a strong financial planner, I fear being financial insecure when I am old. I definitely don’t need to live like a princess but I don’t want to live hand to mouth either. I want to have enough to be able to live comfortably for the rest of my life.

Making investments that will provide an income will at least provide the financial security I need to pursue projects and tennis balls of more interest.

The sense of relief is amazing once you make that realisation.

You have to know what you want… that ideal job

As planned in my last update Getting Granular, I have been actively working away on my targets for this week. Right now I am feeling very inspired and hopeful. It’s been a progressive week, in many ways, which started with focusing  on getting onto paper what my ideal job was.  A lot of it was just things I like about my present role and things I enjoy doing that should be a main part of my job but aren’t because I work in a mammoth of a machine for an organisation and I am a mere cog.  The culture is definitely killing me, whether it be slowly or fast I’m not quite sure yet but I sure done want to hang around too long to find out.

A Clear Vision

So I wrote my job description. It is by no means full and complete. I’ve trained myself to just be able to get things done without worrying about it being perfect and complete. If the bare bones are there, it’s a starting point. I can’t grow something which doesn’t exist so I aim to get anything down just as long as it’s something. I wrote down five aspects I enjoyed and would like to continue doing.  I felt a weight had been lifted; I had a clearer vision of what I enjoyed.

Here’s where the strangest thing happened. My current job has been under review for the last few months because I have raised that it is not fit for purpose from a business point of view. I have had various discussions about what might work better but nothing has been agreed.

The day after I write my ideal job description, I come across an article about replacing Chief Innovation Officers with Innovation Enablement Leaders – the IEL role is to my surprise more or less the job I had drawn out for myself. To top things off,  my boss raises the question about the direction of my role again. It could not have been more perfectly timed.

The organisation I work for needs to go undergo a number of cultural changes before it is ready to take the next step. It wants to be more innovative; it needs to be, but everything that is a move from the norm is a struggle, or fails because the foundations are poor. The house isn’t in order and there’s too much bureaucracy and internal politics.

The previous discussions I had about my role have been merely plasters over a wound. They don’t treat the cause. I like to use the sand castle analogy. I can build a castle and make it huge, but if the foundations are poorly arranged then the sea will just erode away anything I build.

Insight, Values and Opportunities

With my newly developed insight and the timely article, I feel that actually my role should be something different, more than a plaster, more like a breeze block. This sounds like an amazing opportunity; to be doing what I want to be doing, however I am only part excited by it. I am not jumping for joy, but why?

Fact is I no longer like my employer. There are parts of the business that don’t fit with my values. I never wanted to work for a religious organisation but it is becoming more so. It’s a huge machine and everyday is an uphill battle. I spend more time thinking about and trying to resolve politics than doing the things that make a difference to the bottom line. Besides, I have felt like my skills will diminish if I don’t leave soon. I don’t practice what I am self learning fast enough and I am impatient and thrive on growth.  Although this opportunity is tempting, I’ve learnt to stick to my guns.  If it doesn’t fit with my values and what I am striving for, then I shouldn’t choose it. The role is right, but the environment is wrong; I’m striving for the full package.  I am more excited about leaving this all behind to start a new phase of my life.

My manager has no idea of my intention to leave but as we have been discussing a change in role, the time is fast approaching for that awkward conversation. I have however made a plan – a proposal of sort – for what I’d like the role to do and to make it a six month project. This way the project is defined and I get to help deliver substantial changes which should leave them in a much stronger position than they are in now. That’s the theory anyway.

My vision for the role is to build innovation capacity so that they can deliver innovative solutions. It’s a self sustaining model and it’s about capacity building which is ultimately what I stand for. Empowerment of individuals who can collectively make a difference. I feel excited by this. I just hope they buy it!

Making Substantial Progress

Other progresses I’ve made have been about what to do after my placement. I have more ideas now. If the project above succeeds that’s a string to my bow as I’d definitely like more of that. But having returned to The Escape Manifesto – my Bible – I have found inspiration from the suggested readings and case studies of fellow escapees. The article that resonates with me most right now is How to become an idea machine. Reframing questions:  “when is an idea too big” re thought as “how do I make all ideas smaller and achievable”. The Richard Branson story of how he started the airline business inspired me to have faith and confidence in myself. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do anything new because I didn’t have the right expertise but you know what, when you break it down, it becomes instantly possible. The opportunities now appear to be endless. I shut down many ideas because  I thought they were too big, but now I have a renewed energy to chase those tennis balls.

If you read The Escape Manifesto or talk to anyone from Esc, you will immediately understand the tennis ball reference. It’s about finding your passion.  Apparently, it was Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox, who made the first reference to Tennis Balls in his MIT Commencement Speech but I first heard it at the Esc taster session I attended.

With my renewed energy and focus, my mental to do list has grown exponentially. I am starting to feel a little overwhelmed with the things I want to cover and get through.  I woke up with a busy mind, which frankly is not a great way to start the day.

Prioritise and Chill Out

As I have made a lot of progress in identifying things I need to read, sites I need to visit, videos I need to watch, people I might want to connect with, I feel a prioritisation exercise looming. Being someone who can often be impatient, I have to remind myself that this is a marathon and not a sprint.  I need to pace myself to avoid burnout.

This week I will:

  • Get organised – make lots of lists on my OneNote account so that they are accessible where ever I am.
  • Prioritise the information I want to get through
  • Decided on my meetups as I’ve still not done this
  • Confirm my _SocialStarters placement

Getting Granular

Time seems to just evaporate and before you know it, you forget what you are striving for.  At least, that is how I have let myself feel in the last week or so.   But it’s ok!  I have managed to drag myself out of the pit and as of today, I have regained my strength and am determined to be even more focused.

A few weeks ago, I went to a talk at The Escape School – it was a taster session about their Escape Tribe.  They describe it as “a community experience combined with an expert education in career change. Accountability, inspiration, and confidence to move you from thinking into doing”.  An opportunity to “find direction and transition towards more fulfilling work”.

It really sung out to me and I loved the session.  I felt really connected and inspired and truly believed in what they were saying.  It was like they had experienced everything I was feeling.  God forbid, they had been there too!  Joining the Tribe would have been amazing, but alas, I don’t have the funds.   I have no doubt the benefits would have been priceless but I really need the money for my escape fund.

This is all a bit chicken and egg, and it’s all rather frustrating.  Even sitting and writing about this situation makes me feel all weird and overwhelmed.   I feel anxious.  I’d rather just not think about it, but the not thinking doesn’t help the situation, so I am forcing myself.  The more uncomfortable I am about doing something, the more I clearly need to write about it.

I have an idea of what I want to do when I escape from my current job, correction, I know what I want to do and I know how much money I need to do it.  So you may be thinking, what’s the problem? Why would I need the tribe?  Well, my escape plan seems a little flawed.  I want to leave my current job to do a 6 week _SocialStarters immersion programme as a Social Enterprise Consultant, but that’s as far as my plan goes.  I am adamant that I don’t want to return to my current role so am not even entertaining any form of sabbatical. But what happens after?

This is where I become overwhelmed with information and I end up doing nothing in order to just make it stop. I think being part of the tribe would help me focus and help alleviate some of the anxiety, but I am getting desperate to leave my job, so much so I am reassessing dates and budgets.  Money spent on the tribe would have negatively impacted the escape fund, but it would have had a positive impact on the planning and anxiety.  For me, the escape fund won, rightly or wrongly, this is where I am at.  On my own!

Small Steps

Via The Escape School’s website, you can sign up to a whole host of inspiring emails.  I think I have signed up to all of them! Yesterday’s carried a link to: Should I worry about….Not knowing what I want to do with my life? podcast.   I listened to it on my way into work and it’s given me a new lease of life on chasing my escape goal.  It was like being gently kicked up the backside. I feel a need to get organised again.  Things went a little bit awry last week, so I am addressing that by making my plan more granular.

The Plan

As it stands the plan says:

  • Commit to _Socialstarters programme for February
  • Start a blog
  • Offer my skills via online volunteering
  • Leave job end of January 2016
  • Save £x each month
  • Attend some meetups to network and meet more people

I think you will agree; it’s pretty broad.  So far, I have interviewed with _SocialStarters but am yet to commit.  This is partly down to having a few other major commitments that need sorting first but it’s in motion.

I am volunteering my skills via pimpmycause and have consulted with several organisations already.

I have attended one meetup, see previous blog and I have booked to attend a masterclass on 1 August about Conversation, social skills and influence.

I am saving. And yes, I have started my blog; you’re reading it, in case you hadn’t noticed.

Although I am ticking things off my list, I don’t feel like I am making any progress, making enough impact, so as of today, I aim to set myself smarter goals and the goals will be set per week. I need to be accountable to myself and I will use this blog to track my progress.   The steps were too big, so I’m breaking them down.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am very goal driven. Set me a goal and I will do whatever I can to achieve it.  When I am goal-less I am like a lost soul out at sea, just drifting.

The Escape Manifesto  Manifesto-Large-poster

The guys from The Escape School published an incredibly useful book The Escape Manifesto.  I devoured the book in a few hours.  It’s full of practical things you can do to make the escape happen and as it is written by people who’ve been in the same situation as I am now, they get it, they really do.

The benefit of reading it through a Kindle App meant I could highlight all the things I needed to do and refer back to them easily at the end.  I will refer back to the list this evening and address what needs to be done this week.

Finally, my list for this week:

  • Go back and review The Escape Manifesto to do list
  • Go through Meetup options and identify at least 3 more talks to attend before end of August
  • Create my perfect job description – this one has been on my mental to do list for ages. I need to write it down as it may provide some clarity for post placement.