Tag Archives: decisions

Work as a crutch

Some time ago, I wrote a post about how I’d realised that I had been using music a way of hiding my true emotions. I also wrote one about having a strong work ethic, which I attributed to my upbringing.

Maybe I’ve been looking at things wrongly, and the first post holds a clue to the second. Just as music helped me deal with my emotions when I was a teenager and beyond, what if work did the same?

Thinking about it, why would I be so happy doing 80-plus hours a week if not to avoid thinking about things, or to avoid being at home? Why did I spend summers in a different country to my parents? Was it to learn how to be independent and to sample different ways of life, as has been discussed at length at home? Or was it to enable me to deal with (rather, that should be avoid) what I now know are negative influences?

When I was older, and married, I used to put in long weeks, often working 15 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week. When I realised that was physically bad for me (and, to a lesser extent, my relationship) I did something about it. (Admittedly it was my ex who pointed out how that level of work was affecting our marriage and my health.) But was I working ridiculous hours in those days because I was subconsciously unhappy in my relationship?

Is this just a version of the fight or flight response, where throwing yourself into work becomes “flight”? Did I really develop a powerful work ethic through the example my parents set, or did I develop it in order to spend less time at home? As I get older, I’m tending to think it is the latter.


What a difference a year makes

It’s only just dawned on me that on this day (of the week) last year, I walked out of the doors of the company I’d spent more than 21 years working at for the last time as an employee.  I wrote a little about it in this article, and thought I should perhaps share an update.  

What a year it’s been! I took a short break including a few days holiday in Prague with Dee, before starting with my new employers. They are about 1000 times smaller in terms of manpower than the previous firm, and the two environments couldn’t be more different.  

Working at a small, relatively new company, there have been so many opportunities to do new things, to try new roles, to let my imagination run riot to create new services and products which might give us the edge.  For example, I got involved in writing the “screenplay” then filming and appearing in some marketing videos.  I’ve been to new countries on business for the first time, none of which would have been possible at the last firm.  I’ve delivered public presentations, gained two new certifications including one as a teacher, manned a stand at trade shows, appreared on panels of experts at information sharing events, carried out pure consultancy engagements and a whole host of other things.  These were all new experiences for me.  

Looking back at last year’s article I can see that I felt some trepidation about the move. I was worried that I’d become instiutionalised, too set in my ways, and therefore of limited use to my new employers.  It was all very new and quite scary, a massive leap of faith in my own abilities, and do you know what?  I’ve never looked back.  
This move has been so positive for me, it’s given my career a good push, it’s boosted my self esteem and self confidence, and it’s given me back a feeling of enjoyment at work that I now realise had been missing for a long time.  Simply put, it’s been a positive, life affirming, invigorating change, one I’m extremely happy to have made. 

You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it

So what’s my point, I imagine I can hear you asking.  It’s this: if you think you’ve gone stale at work, if you think you’re unemployable elsewhere, if you think you can’t learn new things, or experience new challenges because you’re “too old” or “too set in your ways”, then I have news for you: it’s never too late to change, it’s never too late to  take on the new challenge.  Yes it’s a scary thought, yes it’s a big leap, but live your life, don’t just accept your existence.  

Be bold, dream big, and follow your dreams.  As George and Marty McFly both said in Back to the Future: “You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it”.

You need hands…


Sitting in the office recently, I’ve been listening to the parents of some youngsters who have been getting their exam results in the past month or so.  Without exception, the emphasis has been on them getting good grades, and what the parents can do to help if they’re not getting top marks. That included checking on progress throughout the year, checking homework, getting extra tuition, and “making the child work harder”.  And the reason for this?  So the child can go to University, study for more years, and get a good job at the end of their studies.

On the face of it, wanting your child to do well at school seems like a laudable thing. We all want the best for those in our care after all, don’t we?

But here’s the thing.  For those in their mid to late teens not all are gifted academically. Not all are driven and ambitious.  Not everyone knows what they want to be when they grow up. And do you know what?  That’s not a bad thing.  Radical I know, but I’ll say it again: it’s not a bad thing.  And here’s why.

We will always need tradesmen, craftsmen, florists, shop workers, mechanics, cleaners, refuse collectors, bakers, butchers and the like. Why do these people need to spend three or four years of their life at further education what they want to do is build houses, create bouquets, cut hair etc?

In many respects, builders, plumbers, electricians etc have pretty much guaranteed income for their whole working life if they are reliable and capable.  The same goes for hairdressers and mechanics, and lots of other trades besides. Without their skills and knowledge, without their abilities, it won’t matter how many degrees you have, chances are you’ll struggle to live in any kind of comfort.

Those who work with their hands are special, and we should nurture anyone who has an ability to do so.  There’s an art to laying bricks, to cutting hair, to providing quality customer service: we shouldn’t take it for granted, and we certainly shouldn’t think such jobs are beneath our children.  They’re such a vital part of our society, to the extent that society wouldn’t exist without them.

Surely the most important thing for our offspring is to provide encouragement and support, love and understanding, irrespective of their academic achievements? Rather than burden them with expectation, be there for them, help with advice and guidance, and encourage them to follow the path that makes them happy. If they’re happy and content, chances are you will be too.


Respect Yourself


I’ve had cause over recent months to question my own worth, my rights as a person, and my place in the world. Were it not for my lovely Dee by my side, I think that I would have hit an ever descending spiral of dark mood and emotion.  She has been my shining light.

Over the past couple of years I’ve been gradually purging my life of those who don’t enhance it, or those who don’t contribute to it in a positive way. That may sound very harsh, but in this day and age there is so much bitterness, hatred, discrimination, racism, bigotry and judgmentalism that I decided that there had to be a better way of living.

I turned my back on those who sat in judgement of others for their own entertainment or glorification. I know that to some extent most people judge others, but making assumptions about who someone really is just because he is overweight, or because she has tattoos, or because they are trying to work out whether to buy two or four slices of toast with their breakfast: that’s the sort of judgmentalism I can live without. He may be overweight, but maybe he’s already lost 10 stone and is working hard to lose more, or maybe he has a medical condition which has seen him react badly to his medication. Her tattoos may be messages of hope and support for friends having a hard time. They may be so poor that the fact the price has gone up for toast means they can’t even afford those two extra slices of bread.  Everyone has their own story to tell, and everyone has a right to be treated with respect and care.

I turned my back on those who indulge in gossip, which is simply one way people have of looking for faults in others and relishing in them or trying to feel superior because of them. So what if so-and-so didn’t put their name to a funeral notice for a member of their own family? Who are we to judge? How do we know the circumstances that led that to happen? Most importantly, what business is it of ours? What does it matter to me what Fred down the road did or didn’t do, or what Freda was wearing the other day?  I don’t know them, and it’s of no concern or interest to me.  It’s their business not mine.

I turned my back on those who, when I asked to be treated with kindness and good manners, chose instead to retaliate verbally with unfounded accusations of all sorts of wrongdoing. Instead of saying “I had no idea you felt that way, or that I seemed to be behaving like that, I’m really sorry and I’ll do better from now on”, they chose to treat my plea for help and compassion as a personal attack on them without stopping to think why I’d felt compelled to speak out.

I turned my back on those who, when faced with the outrages in the world today suggested that those who wanted to be suicide bombers should just kill themselves (when their attacks also kill scores of innocents) and could not see that exhorting any one person to kill themselves was a bad thing.  How can telling someone to kill themselves (whatever the reason) ever be justified? Where do you stop? Is assisted suicide for those in pain and / or terminally ill to be met with “just get on and do it”?

In this process, I’ve lost people I loved and respected, but who didn’t seem to love and respect me in the same way.  I’ve lost people who I thought were friends but it seems I was only of use as a friend if I continued to indulge in tittle-tattle and hate. Through those losses, I was made to feel that I was in the wrong, that my behaviour and beliefs were unreasonable, that changing my life at my age was a bad thing, that I didn’t have the right to make those decisions.

The only way out is through – Robert Frost

However, I know for certain that I have gained clarity about the things that really matter. I’ve made new friends and acquaintances who see life through the same lens, who don’t want to live their lives the way I used to.  I have found validation in my pursuit of happiness, of becoming a good and kind person.  I’ve found people I belong with,  who want to make the world a better place, who make me happy.

I was told recently that a “happy ever after life” is elusive.  Maybe it is, but I know that I’m happier with my life having made these changes than I was before I made them, and I know that now I’m surrounded by people who are kind and compassionate about their fellow humans it’s a much more likely outcome than if I’d bumbled along in my previously unhappy state.

New beginnings – Image #111

Today was my penultimate day in the office for a company I’ve been with since January 1995. There are people in my family who weren’t even born then! I realise that it’s very unusual that someone should stay with one company for so long, but then it’s also unusual to join a company which had 1,500 staff and leave one with over 80,000. In the intervening years I’ve had many roles, done many different jobs, worked for many managers and met some truly talented people. There have been personal growth opportunities galore, and for the most part I’ve taken them. It’s been an incredible journey, but I’m now absolutely ready to jump ship and take up a new challenge.


There are a number of emotions at play at the moment. Sadness, at leaving so many good friends behind. Fear of the Unknown. Worry that I don’t have the skills needed for my new role. Concern that I won’t fit in: what if they don’t like me? What if I don’t like them?

But wait, those negative thoughts and feelings are overridden massively. Excitement at the challenges ahead, the thrill of doing something new, meeting new people, learning new skills, exploring the wider world. Confidence that I will bring something new and positive to my employers, that my skills are unique and valuable. Perhaps most importantly, certainty that my decision to change now, after so long, is 100% the right thing to do.

It’s what I have to do, and will enable me to continue my voyage to true happiness which I started a couple of years ago.

It had to happen someday – Image #67

I’ve never seen any of the films (I think there’s more than one), and I’ve no idea what the characters are called, but I’ve finally given in and posted one of their many quotes (I’m guessing not all appear in the films)!


This one seemed pretty good, as a reminder of the Mindful Meditation course I finished a few weeks back. We can’t change the past, so let it go.  We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, so all that’s left is the present moment.  Make the best of every moment, be all you can be.


Apologies for the poor grammar and incorrect capitalisation (two things that wind me up, incidentally) but I had to leave you with something a bit upbeat: it is Monday after all, and 4 whole days before the weekend…

Homeless statistics increase – Image #56

Taken on Christmas Day, source The Guardian website
Taken on Christmas Day, source The Guardian website

I’m not going to say much about this today, as the figures speak for themselves. In this newspaper article, it’s evident that the number of homeless people sleeping rough in England has increased by 30% in a year, and by far the biggest demographic of those is people with mental health problems.

It’s 2016 for goodness’ sake. Why are we letting this happen in this day and age. What are you going to do to prevent it from continuing to happen? None of us is more than 1 bad decision from the same fate, so shouldn’t we do more, because one day it could be you or me.