Being self employed, what an attractive way to work…. sometimes? I have been self employed now for five years and although totally rewarding in many ways, it’s not always smooth sailing…. it can be very bumpy sometimes.
Marching to the beat of your own drum! No mind numbing meetings to sit through. No one screaming at you because targets were not met. Get up when you want, schedule work & meetings outside of peak hour traffic! Home office- yes please! Skype clients instead of going to see them, leggings on, bare foot with a work shirt – they cant see that on skype! No after school care for the kids, quick load of washing in between calls. Catch up for a coffee with a friend. Sounds good – and it can be great!
But then there are lots of things you don’t think about while your beating that drum…
- Business plan – an absolute must! One of the first things I did – easy! Hard part- following it through, being discipline and realising this is a live document that changes and needs attention.
- So I am a Business owner/Manager/ Principle/ Consultant – whatever title fits… But what about all the other roles I suddenly inherited….
- accounts – admin, MYOB, tax, insurances,
- HR- compliance, risk assessments, OH&S
- sales person …. really? YES really – self employed = having to sell yourself
- professional networker- you must work this to get known and hired
- product development
- IT expert
- Business development
Autonomy and flexibility are definitely some of the perks but …. the flip side of being a sole trader / business owner – can isolation and no one to bounce ideas off…
Discipline… you must have this, otherwise the washing, coffees and myriad of other distractions can easily lead you off track
No work no pay… I may earn in one day as a consultant what it took me a week to earn before, but it may take me weeks to land a gig! So planning & budgeting become so important to be able to sustain the quieter times.
What I have learnt-
- Have a plan, set goals and always reassess where you are headed
- Get connected so your not isolated and still have your finger on the pulse- women in focus, business chicks, linkedin and other networking sites that are business & socially orientated. Flying solo is also a great entrepreneurial group to join.
- Network events – courses, workshops, business breakfasts- a good way to meet like minded people and get work
- Outsource when possible (and funds permit)- book keepers, graphic/ web designers, when busy use other consultants in your network to ease the load, perhaps even barter!
- Be disciplined and organised. Set two days aside for face to face work , two days in the office to work on the business and one day aside a week as your day off! I like Friday – this is when I have the catch up’s & coffees.
- Trust in yourself and your abilities – otherwise no one else will
- Give yourself creative licence to try things- be brave and take some risks. If it doesn’t work that’s ok, try a different strategy
- Get yourself a business coach to help you with your journey
Overall I have learnt alot about my self- my business acumen, my frustration at all the balls I sometimes juggle. There are gaps I still need to fill and many more opportunities I still have created. Most importantly I have learnt that when I put my mind to it I can achieve awesome things , create and design programs for teams and organisations, meet wonderful people and broaden my skill repertoire. Becoming more self aware and learning to self regulate have been the most challenging & rewarding parts of being self employed.
What is a high performing team and how is it measured? By output? By camaraderie By key performance indicators? The research and literature focuses on creating an environment rather than creating an output of products or achievements.
Some characteristics of high performing teams are –
- having clear –
- vision for the team and organisation
- roles and responsibilities for all team members
- defining organisational and individual roles
- use of positive language that builds –
- encourages innovative ideas and energy
- solution focused thinking and practices
- having a strengths based platform –
- to work from
- assigning tasks to individuals that will leverage off their strengths
- empowering the team through
- encouragement and acknowledgement
- positive reinforcement
- autonomy and flexibility
- effective policies and procedures that are –
- user friendly
Essentially – The high performing team will thrive and flourish in an environment that is – supportive, communicative and lateral in the approach it takes with its team members. A key issue to be mindful of, is that individuals and teams exist within systems. One must examine the health and well being of the system to view the effects it will have on the performance of the team! It is difficult to have a high performing team in a languishing and dysfunctional system.
Although mental toughness has long been synonymous within sporting contexts, it has started to creep into mainstream language in both professional and personal domains. Within a psychological context the term has ben plagued with indecision and been described by psychologists as both a personality trait and a state of mind. Mental Toughness is typically seen as an umbrella term that denotes positive and robust psychological characteristics. ie. self belief, willpower, focus, courage.
Jones, Hanton & Connaughton (2003) defined mental toughness as a psychological construct clustered into seven categories-
- self belief
- desire and motivation
- focus (performance related)
- focus (lifestyle related)
- dealing with competitive pressure (external)
- dealing with competitive anxiety (internal)
- dealing with physical & emotional pain
How to be mentally tough? –
Regardless of psychological research and theories the main themes that seem to emerge around the construct of mental toughness are-
- self belief – belief and acceptance in who you are and what you are capable of doing
- control – thought control – (particularly negative self talk)- this will help to decrease self doubting, distractions and anxiety
- challenge – thriving and stretching yourself into places that will allow you to flourish
- confidence – making your motivation work for you, positive self talk
- commitment- maintain focus on the things that matter and set goals that are authentic and align with your core values.
These mental coping strategies are important for psychological and social resilience- building self-efficacy and hardiness in individuals and teams.
So ask yourselves the following questions-
- Do I have belief in my abilities or what I do?
- Am I able to control my negative thoughts- or do I let them take over?
- Do I challenge myself, or do I just do the bare minimum?
- Am I confident in who I am& what I can offer?
- Do I set realistic & authentic goals, commit to them & then follow through?
Building mental toughness means challenging your thoughts and behaviours. It however requires you to first and foremost believe in yourself!
Is the first thought that enters your head when you wake up for work – “UGGG ? I dont want to go to work? I feel sick? I can’t go to work…” Do you spend time coming up with excuses on why you can’t go to work? Do you begin the charade at work by coughing and complaining your sick, to set yourself up for a sick day later in the week? Do you run out of paid sick leave before the year is even half finished?
Is your work place making you ill- emotionally, mentally or physically? If so why is this happening? There could be many reasons-
- Toxic work environments
- Unsatisfying job
- Difficult colleagues or superiors
- Unchallenging job
- Negative vibe in the workplace
- Heavy demands you cannot meet
- A job that doesn’t align with your core values
- A dead end job with no future opportunities
- Difficult and challenging work colleagues or customers
- Lack of drive or desire in your current role
- You have out grown your position
- Lack of creativity or stimulation
The list can go on and on…..
If this is your reality and the thought of work repulses you and gives you a thumping headache- what can you do???
- Try to assess the issue that is causing your grief by firstly identifying what it is
- Seek help internally or externally if the issue is serious through- HR Dept, Counsellors, Doctors, Family , Friends etc
- Figure out what your core values are and whether they are being meet in your current job
- Get a business coach who can work through a plan with you
- Start to look for another job if this is an option
- Start your own business
- Start goal setting for yourself
- Take some short course or training in areas your interested in
- Think about what your ideal job would be? How can you move towards this?
People often stay in a job even though they are unhappy or unproductive. This to fear of may be due to a multitude of reasons-
- afraid of change
- convenience & familiarity
- lack of motivation or apathy
- financially bound to do so
- lack of belief in yourself to be able to do anything else
- or…simply not knowing where to start
If this is the case for you- now is the time to be brave and step outside your comfort zone. A good place to start is to talk to someone you trust and start bouncing ideas off them. Then try to seek some professional advice to get you started on the right track.
We spend nearly one third of our lives at work ! So it’s worth putting in the effort and courage to be happy in this space….
Claudia is a Coaching Psychology Consultant, Coach & Trainer. Contact her if you want to have a further conversation about this.
Great TED talk from Bono. Drawing on strengths such as Justice, Kindess, Perspective & Gratitude
Performance reviews, appraisals, updates, Key Performance Indicators….. The word performance appears to have infiltrated our workplace ethos and embedded itself into our everyday language. The pressure to perform and reach targets is an expectation that has become a harsh reality in many industries. No longer can we rely on the fact that we have qualifications or skills that suit our job. We need to be able to take it to the next level with colleagues and customers. Performing in the workplace has almost become a sport….
How do we train for this? How do we keep up? Many organisations have developed sophisticated HR departments. Some organisations have L&D specialists, others have access to internal or external Leadership and Performance Coaches. But what if your organisation offers none of these, or you are unable to access services due to hierarchy? Where does this leave you in the race to out perform your competition or improve on your personal best? There is no simple answers to these questions.
However there may be a few simple questions that you can ask yourself-
- Do I have a clear job description?
- What is my role and how do I fit into the organisation?
- What are the expectations of me in the workplace? Are they realistic or can I work towards them?
- How can I access support to improve my performance?
Next- take time to ask yourself some more intrinsically motivated questions-
- Do I actually enjoy what I do?
- What are my strengths and how do I bring them to the workplace?
- Do I set SMART goals for myself?
- Do I have moments of flow throughout the day?
- Am I flourishing?
Just like training for sport, modern organisational expectations are requiring more training from their team members. A great place to start is to look at what our values are – Do they line up with the organisational values? Areas of sport psychology such as – mental training, imagery, intentional focus, goal setting, working effectively under pressure- are areas that have crept into the organisational landscape.
So just like training for sport, perhaps we need to train for our workplace positions- mental training perhaps? What do you think? Are we expected to evolve and constantly work on our performance? Is the workplace the new sports arena? ….