Thursday, 5 January 2017

Stop waiting, take action!

‘The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.'
Barack Obama
What a great quote to start the new year!  It truly sums up the message I would like to share with you in this month’s blog.

Stop waiting, take action

Waiting for good things to happen can be a soul-destroying experience, making you feel hopeless as you revisit past mistakes and wonder why good things always appear out of reach.

Living like this can be exhausting.  Dwelling on past mistakes and waiting and waiting….and waiting….

Can I persuade you to free yourself from all this waiting? 
Can you let go of past mistakes and associated feelings of failure? 
Can you believe that good things are in reach and you can do something about it? 
As Barack Obama says, the best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.  Find the courage to try new opportunities.  If something doesn’t work out, try something different.  Remember, there is no failure, only feedback. 
Through believing in yourself and acting on your ideas, you can make 2017 an exciting year for you and your career.
Stop waiting, take action and have a very happy new year!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Don’t give up on your career!

Have you ever felt like a failure?  You may remember an incident as if it happened yesterday. We’ve all been there!  I can certainly think of a few times in my life when I have felt like this.

Feelings of failure can be very difficult to overcome.  We often cling on to negative experiences, using them to justify beliefs that we are not good enough.  We can be very hard on ourselves.

Unfortunately, these negative beliefs can set us up to fail.  They can prevent us from doing the things we want to do achieve, especially in our careers.  They also cause low self-esteem and perfectionism, making us feel miserable.  We can miss some amazing opportunities through feeling like this.

‘Do not be afraid!’

As we prepare for Christmas, we will hear this phrase from the Nativity story a lot over the next few weeks so how about using it to help you move forward with your career journey.  It may not be quite as dramatic as the Nativity but imagine how exciting it would be to start the new year no longer being afraid to pursue your dream career. 

I know it can be difficult to overcome feelings of failure.  However, it is possible and perhaps Christmas is the best time to start challenging those feelings. 

Can you find the courage now to overcome your fear of failure?

How you answer this question is your choice. You can choose to end 2016 dwelling on past negative experiences or you can choose to challenge your feelings, learn from your past experiences and enter 2017 with a new positive vision of yourself and hope for your career. 

Taking responsibility to change your beliefs will enable you to experience all the amazing opportunities the (career) world can offer. 

Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

How I made a career change possible

Many people really struggle to see how a career change can be possible.  Perhaps they are unhappy in their job but feel they should persevere with it.  Perhaps they do not want to risk changing career for fear of failure.  Perhaps they have absolutely no idea what they want to do.  

I changed career and, although I did struggle at times to believe it could be possible, I am glad I persevered as I did eventually discover what I wanted to do.  This is how I did it.

I initially trained in law and qualified as a family law solicitor.  I was attracted to this area of law given my interest in problem solving and helping people move forward with their lives.  I enjoyed tackling the challenges my caseload provided but, after a few years, my mind started wandering. I started to become more curious about the world of careers and the options available.  I felt there was more for me to explore and that I might be better suited to something else, something that was really me. 

After a lot of thinking time, I realised that I was not going to be able to leap into my ‘dream’ job from my current role and so I made the bold decision to save some money and take a six-month career break to enable me to experience different roles of interest to me and make a better decision about my career. 

I remember one of the hardest things about making this decision was having to justify it to people.  Why would I leave the certainty of my job in law?  Perhaps many people wouldn’t leave their job but this decision was right for me and I always knew that I would regret not making this step.  If it didn’t work out, I would return to law.    

During my career break, my initial intention was to do some studying and voluntary work.  My focus was on improving the lives of adults and children within the education and charity sectors.    
Within a couple of months, I had completed a Foundation Course in Counselling Skills for Working with Children with Place2Be and was offered temporary paid experience working in a primary school.  By the end of my six months and upon completion of my work in school, I was fortunate to secure a paid full time position as a Major Gifts Officer at Macmillan Cancer Support.  

Working for Macmillan was fantastic and, through witnessing the courage of those suffering from cancer, I became even more determined to find a career I was passionate about. 

It was during this time that career coaching started to feature in my mind.  Given my experience of moving from the legal to the charity sector, several people approached me for career advice and guidance.  I was surprised by the number of people who did not enjoy their jobs and the negative impact this was having on their lives.  I started to investigate the world of career coaching and found this to be a career I wanted to do.

I established my business, Tessa Armstrong Associates, and have now been working as a career and performance coach for almost 7 years.  I am using my past and present experiences and skills to improve the lives of individuals by enabling them to discover what they want to do and support them in getting there.  I am also currently keeping in touch with my other interests (children, education and charity) in a voluntary capacity.

Finding this career path took a lot of research, planning and networking as I thought seriously about what I wanted to achieve.  It also took a lot of perseverance to overcome the challenges and uncertainty along the way but it was all worth it.  I enjoy what I do and hope my story has given you something to think about. 

The biggest thing I learnt was that a career change takes time.  There may be a few steps to take and decisions to make before you reach your destination.  Be patient, be brave and focus on solutions. 

If you do not enjoy your career, are thinking of a career change or struggling with your performance at work, have a look at my free resources here and start thinking about your next step.

Imagine a world where we all felt fulfilled, confident and excited about our career choices!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Six ways to find career happiness

Do you long to be able to say ‘I LOVE MY JOB’?  

Do you want to be able to respond with passion and excitement to the frequently asked question ‘What do you do?’.

Do you want to enjoy Monday mornings and feel relaxed on Sunday evenings?

Are you so fed up at work that even answering these questions has made you feel depressed?  You actually dread Monday mornings and feel full of anxiety on Sunday evenings.

Feeling miserable at work is really tough.  It impacts your career, as you become increasingly disengaged with work, and your home life becomes a struggle too.  We don’t want to feel like this but often we do not know how to make it better.  How do we find a career that makes us happy?

Let me tell how….

You will find six action points below which will help you to find a career that makes you happy.  Please take time to go through each step. Remember, it is a process that cannot be completed overnight.  It will take time but will be worth it. 

1.       You – take time to think about you.  What do you enjoy doing and what interests you?  Think of times when you felt really motivated and fulfilled – what were you doing?  Be as specific as you can.  You want a career that takes advantage of these skills, strengths and interests.

2.       Your personality – Work out what kind of working environment would best suit you?  Do you like going to the office each day or do you prefer being out and about?  What makes you feel happy and comfortable? 

3.       Your money – We are often preoccupied with how much we are earning and make this our primary focus in a career search.  We all need money but how much do you really need to be happy?   Do not let salary solely dictate your career path.  Decide on a realistic salary band.  Remember some of the top 20 most satisfying careers are the lowest paid.

4.       Your vision - Having progressed through points 1- 3, now think about your first day in your ideal job.  What are you doing?  Who do you meet?  Where are you?  Who do you talk to? How are you feeling? What skills are you using?  Focusing on the detail will make action five easier to achieve.

5.       Your investigations – spend time researching opportunities that you believe closely match your vision.  Talk to people.  Do some work experience.  Keep asking questions and discovering what makes you happy.

6.       Your plan – Start making decisions and create an action plan to find the job you love.

These actions may require taking a step into the unknown.  However, they will give you the best chance of finding the job that you love whilst providing your work-life balance with a happy boost. 

Remember it is YOUR career - it is about YOU and what makes YOU happy.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Five ways to achieve as a perfectionist

A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new. (Albert Einstein)
Are you a perfectionist?
Do you set yourself standards so high that they are almost impossible to reach? Do you frequently feel disappointed with yourself for not being able to meet the standards you set?  Do you worry about what other people would say?  Do you view mistakes as failure? 
If you answer yes to these questions, you may be a perfectionist.
Being a perfectionist, does not lead to perfection…. 
A perfectionist sets themselves extremely high standards which are usually unattainable.  Furthermore, when they don’t achieve perfection, they can spend a large amount of time criticising their efforts leading to feelings of frustration, anxiety and exhaustion.  Their unattainable high standards rarely lead to perfection but instead lead to feelings of not being good enough and a fear of failure which can ultimately stop them from achieving what they want to achieve.
Does this sound familiar?  If so, I am sure you would admit that these experiences can be very stressful and leave you feeling really disappointed with yourself.
Now let’s turn to the good news which is that anyone can be successful without being perfect.  Let me tell you how…
Being successful without perfection.
If you find that being a perfectionist is stopping you from moving forward with your career or any other part of your life, please believe me when I say that there are ways to achieve without being perfect. 
Have a think about something you would like to achieve but have not pursued for fear of failure.  Perhaps it’s a career change, a promotion or a new hobby.  Now have a think about how you can overcome your fear of failure.  Read the following five ways which will enable you to move forward and achieve what you want to achieve:
1.       Stop thinking ‘I am not good enough’ and start thinking ‘I am good enough’.  Nobody is perfect!
2.       Be constructive and don’t worry too much about the detail.  Instead ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen? Accept that we all make mistakes and use these to help you move forward (rather than feeling rubbish about yourself).  How can you do it better next time? 
3.       Be kind to yourself and lower your standards.  You can still set high standards but make them achievable.
4.       What small step can you now take?  Allow for some imperfection! 
5.       Celebrate your achievements!  Enjoy it!
Remember, you can be excellent without being perfect!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Five simple steps towards a career change (that you can do today!)

Have you been saying for months or even years that you are not happy with your job and want a career change?   Do you struggle to know where to start?  Do you fear change and so have ended up remaining in a role you dislike, despite your motivation decreasing daily?

You are not alone!  Many individuals remain in their current role despite knowing their career aspirations are likely to be found elsewhere.  They remain in these roles due to the common mistaken belief that a career change requires a big life change and therefore involves taking a big step to achieve it.  This step is simply too big, unachievable and scary and so excuses are made to delay any change. 
‘It is not the right time.’

‘The market isn’t good right now.’

‘It is too risky.’      

You remain disappointed and unhappy, continually waiting for the right time to make this big step.

This is so frustrating for you.  However, it doesn’t have to be.  Let me use a quote from Lao Tzu to explain to you how to make your dream career change manageable and achievable.   

‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ (Lao Tzu)

All that is required of you is to take the first single step towards your career change now.  Yes, it really is that easy. 

Think about it, everything in life requires a first step.  Why should this be any different?  To get to work each day, requires you to get out of bed.  To eat your meals at home, requires the purchase of food.  To arrange a night out with friends, requires communication with your friends.  Without these first steps, you wouldn’t get to work, eat or see your friends.   

The five steps towards a career change

Let me summarise this in five simple steps: 

1.       Accept that a career change does not necessarily involve one great big step. 

2.       Use the above words of Lao Tzu, to frame your thoughts.  

‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’

3.       Decide on your first single step and do it!

4.       Once you have taken the first step, you will have the knowledge and confidence to work out the next step.

5.       Keep taking small steps until you succeed in reaching your desired career. 

This journey may take months.  However, you will always be moving forward and it is far easier to achieve a small first step, followed by lots of little steps, than a great big jump into the unknown. Often taking lots of small steps gets you to your goal more quickly than going for one big, difficult leap and the one that counts the most is the first single step. 

‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’

Tuesday, 28 June 2016


Brexit has triggered an explosion of emotions over the past week.  On Friday 24th June it was announced that 52% of the UK had voted to leave the European Union.  This meant that 48% did not want to leave and it is these 48% who are feeling shocked, angry and confused. 

This result has triggered a reaction that has exposed us all to an intense build-up of negative emotion.  It is surrounding us in everyday conversation and on the news.  My Facebook thread has been dominated by unhappy and angry posts written by family and friends who feel really passionate about our country and care about what happens to our future.  Through no choice of their own, the change and uncertainty which lies ahead has caused them, as well as millions of others, to feel fearful.

However, it is this fear that makes individuals feel even more out of control and anxious about their future.  It is this fear that stops individuals from achieving the things they want to achieve. It is this fear that causes unhappiness. 

I have already seen the impact this is having on some individuals and feel really sad about this. This is why I was so relieved to read Dr Rebecca Edwards’ recent post on Facebook.  Rebecca is a very good friend of mine and extremely committed to her political views.  This is her request:

‘If today you are feeling outraged, harness that energy and get involved in politics.  There is great political uncertainty ahead, with changes in leadership in our political parties certain and a general election in Autumn most likely.  We need people to step up and act as our representatives and for many more voices to be heard.  Join a political party (even if it needs changing from within), write an informed blog piece, take part in a protest, deliver some leaflets or talk to a neighbour about why your viewpoint matters.  Let’s take politics back.’

My request is similar.  I now challenge you to decide what your positive beliefs are in reaction to Brexit and to start acting on these beliefs to move you forward towards an inspiring future.  It may be a change to your personal life, it may be a career move or it may be, as Rebecca suggests, a political move. No matter how big or small, start making positive changes.

Some of you may now be thinking I am being unrealistic and there is nothing you can do anyway.    Yes, it probably feels like everyone is being unrealistic at the moment and there is not much happening to spur us on.  However, isn’t the negative climate we are currently living in an even bigger reason to be driving yourself forward?

Being positive is the foundation for making good decisions, taking action and becoming top of your game.  Please take action and create a fulfilling life for yourself.