New Year’s Resolutions

Does anyone else not really bother with New Year’s Resolutions? Or do you make them in earnest, and never really keep them?

I decided that as the New Year coincided with a new promotion and new responsibilities, that my New Year’s Resolutions should be somehow tied in, to keep me motivated!

However, NYRs tend to be shoddy rhetoric-driven scraps of promises that we make to ourselves. Why do we let ourselves down so readily?

 

Create Good Habits

Many NYRs are never realised because they were never measurable in the first place!! At work we are set SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound) and this should also apply to objectives and goals that we set for ourselves.

Motivational writers often talk about forming good habits rather than trying to go hell for leather in the first few weeks and “failing”.

Set some goals that are easy to achieve (but not too easy!) then ramp things up a little, piece by piece. Before you know it, a new activity or behavior will feel like second nature, and become part of your routine.

If something isn’t working for you, that’s OK too. If you’re giving up on something, be sure to at least analyse the reasons why you are doing so, to try and at least take a lesson away from it all.

Lesson.jpg

I’ve written down some ideas I’ve had for mine this year!

Power dress

Look good, feel good. A universal truth. If you feel good, you are confident (but not arrogant) and confidence radiates outwards and can have a positive impact on everything you do.

With my new promotion I figured that I should dress to impress (and impress only myself, I’m not doing it for anyone else’s benefit, mind you).

So today, I did a little shopping in Zara….

(this one isn’t measurable, unless I commit to spending £100 a month on clothes at least. Something I can definitely manage!)

Hobbies not Weight Loss

My weight fluctuates by 1-2 Kgs throughout the year and it doesn’t tend to be a pressing issue for me. There are times when I wish I was a little thinner, trimmer and in general more healthy, but that’s a maelstrom of highly complex biochem and I ain’t going there.

December_02__2015_at_0904PM

Instead, I want to find hobbies that I enjoy that just so happen to be exercise. Dancing, Yoga and squash are things I want to try out doing more often. If I can be active at least 3 times a week, that doesn’t disrupt my schedule too much and will most likely keep me healthy and happy.

Show my husband how wonderful I think he is

I have a great, supportive and kind husband who I just don’t shout about enough. I can be quick to temper at times, and he is the person in my life who least deserves it. I want to commit to taking him for lunch when he least expects it, leaving him notes, helping him with his routine if he is stressed or running behind. These things don’t all cost money, and only go to show that I value him, and want to help him because I love him more than anything else.

Read 25 novels

This is a repeat objective from last year, which I smashed by 3 extra books. I LOVE reading, and it is not a chore for me at all. However at times I can be distracted by social media, at bed times or on public transport, when that time could better be put to use by diving into a book.

July_29__2015_at_0702AM

Does anyone else have any NYR inspiration?

Keep up to date with my posts by following me on bloglovin, Instagram and Twitter.

How to use your skills for Social Good

Hello readers!

I took part in #BlogHour this week and I asked if people would find a blog post about using your skills to do social good useful. The answer was a resounding yes, so here it is!

I’m sure many of us want to help out charities, but struggle to find opportunities or to know which they would be best suited to. I’ve written a guide crossed with my experiences this year.

What is Social Good?

First, I’d better start by defining what I mean by Social Good. The simplest way of describing it is by talking about the work of charities. Charities exist to address a social or health-related issue, and direct all their efforts and capital towards solving it.

There are other structures that organisations can adopt to address an issue – Social Enterprise, Not for Profits… the long and short of all three of these structures is that they are set up and geared towards delivering positive societal results, or positive social impact – ergo, Social Good.

 

Volunteering your time

Operating Capital, or cash to spend, can often be hard to come by for these organisations, and they often solely rely on donations coming in, and heavily on their fleet of volunteers. Cash is the main challenge for charities, to ensure a constant influx of income to remain sustainable.

I often wondered, as I met with lots of enthusiastic representatives from charities, or founders of Social Enterprises, how I could help them with my own time and my own skill set.

Bt4arIJIIAAaeRi

Volunteering can get a bad rap – think of those mac-wearing ‘hippy-types’* who accost you in shopping centers and make you feel guilty that you have somewhere to be – even though you know you’ve got a list of Direct Debits each month going to charities like those they represent. Volunteering isn’t often glamorous, either, and I can’t really blame people for not being enthused , in spite of stabs of guilt.

Time is precious, right? You want to make sure that any time you give is put to maximum use, and has the highest impact it can.

Charities are often capital strapped, and therefore believe it or not their focusses are in the wrong place. Getting money trough the door is and will always be a struggle. But the problem will still exist and need to be fixed.

It’s a circular problem.

How you can use your skills to best effect

Something in my brain clicked in May this year, when talking to a lovely Lady from British Bee Keepers Association at a conference in London.

“Surely,” I said. “There are ways that you can sell what you are doing as a service, so that you can move on to bigger and better things?”

Her eyes lit up, we started chatting and before I knew it we were in planning workshop meetings with trustees, building a commercial model that might become a business case in the future.

That was me, doing what I do on a daily basis, but helping a cause I was passionate about. It didn’t feel like traditional volunteering. I felt useful.

2014-11-03 22.04.08

What are your skills? Are you a great negotiator? Are you good at debating, at selling an idea? Then there’s definitely a charity that can use your skills. You just need to put yourself in front of the right person.

Are you good at planning? Is organisation your thing? Are you a social butterfly? Then maybe charity events and fundraisers are your bag!

Are you a blogger (I know many of you are!). Do you get a lot of readers? Large social reach? Charities often don’t have the time or capital to invest in social media – could you help them there?

Look out for smaller charities, or new campaigns and initiatives on social media or local community message boards. Connect with the campaign leaders and reach out with a friendly ‘hello, I’m happy to help!”.

A conversation over a coffee lead me to agree to working with a campaign leader for Cats Protection on their strategy and community engagement plan.

Another conversation and I was helping a social enterprise Cathartic on investigating Crowd funding as an option to seed-fund the business.

To summarise, thinking laterally about what you are good at and the problem that needs to be solved can often throw up very interesting and highly rewarding opportunities for you and for charities and Social Good organisations. Donating your time pro-bono can be very rewarding, anfd who knows, it could lead to something wonderful!

Have you got charities you’re passionate about? Drop me a comment and we can chat about how you can get involved!

2014-08-10 09.47.23

Keep up to date with my posts by following me on bloglovin, Instagram and Twitter.

*I do not mean offence by this generalisation!

Shoegazing

So this post title won’t mean anything to any one else but me – it’s a bit of an introspective post about Working life, if you’ll forgive that.

If any of you follow me on Twitter you might have seen that I posted about being offered an amazing job opportunity to be a COO (Chief Operating Officer) of a startup. I was really excited about it, because the business is a social enterprise, doing good rather than just making money. I was ready to jump in feet first, prepared for the high risk but high reward challenge.

It was the type of opportunity that literally fell into my lap, and I felt amazing for having been asked to do it. It speaks volumes about how capable I am and could be. It was a huge ego boost, to say the least.

Given that I would be walking away from a job that is, for all intents and purposes, stable I needed to think about it carefully. The salary was exciting, the CEO a great guy who I could work with as a peer and an equal, and I would have the opportunity to create something from the ground up and build a team around me.

BUT.

There’s always a huge but, isn’t there? The job would most likely require me to travel to Sheffield everyday. If not right away, then eventually. I currently live in Manchester and take a 15 minute tram ride into work – 40 mins door to door. This might have been worth the reward, but I know that travelling for 3 hours everyday would take a toll of my life and on my relationship with my husband, and that’s something I couldn’t risk and wouldn’t risk for the world.

And there’s no such thing as a career ladder; it’s a rock face. A scary and ever-shifting one at that.

I was devastated. The guy at the startup was really empathetic and understanding, wanting me to make a decision based on knowing all the facts and taking into account the worst case scenarios.

It was exactly the sort of job I was ready for, the thing I wanted to do most as the next step in my career.

I never believe there’s really just one thing you want to do and that is that; you’ll be happy never moving on. And there’s no such thing as a career ladder; it’s a rock face. A scary and ever-shifting one at that.

There are steps in reach, and some more after that, like ledges and handholds on a climb; each one a stopping point on the way to the final destination. It might be a slight sideways climb, an upwards leap, or even a short retreat back to get to a better vantage point. This job for me was an upwards leap alright, and there aren’t many of those that come along you’re perfectly suited for.

October_30__2015_at_0305PM

I rapidly moved through the stages of grief and denial, closely followed by a bout of anger.

I need to begin to accept the things that I cannot change, and try and influence change myself to get me to the next handholds on the climb.

Have you ever had a career dilemma? Want to try something else? Let me know in the comments.

As an aside, the black brogues in the blog header are Jasper James Brogues from TKMaxx.

Keep up to date with my blog posts by hitting ‘follow’ in the sidebar- or you can find me on Bloglovin‘.

project mc2 dolls

Dolls making smart the new Cool?

A few weeks ago now I was approached by a PR company to review a slightly unusual item, and it really set the cogs turning in my mind. I had mixed feelings about it. I was mulling over subjects like feminism, Body image, and child development over in my head.

All because of a doll.

A doll?

This is a doll from project Mc2, aimed at young girls of around 6 years old and up, with the goal of making smart the new cool.

 Project Mc2 Doll with Experiment Asst FW 149
Source

I firmly believe intelligence should be praised above beauty or appearance traits, and I do my best to behave in ways that my sister will benefit from. For instance, of course I will compliment her on wearing a pretty dress, but I actively try to praise her for academic success and show to her, through engaged discussions and rewards that being smart and succeeding (as best she can) is far more rewarding and much more laudible than simply being pretty, for example. The results have been amazing so far, when on receiving a glowing school report I took her to Waterstones to pick out some books of her choosing. She felt like she had earned those books, and actually chose to read over playing with her electronic devices, taking delight in reporting back to us on her progress with reading.

But back to the dolls.

 

On a fundamental level, this sounds wonderful. I have an 8 year old sister with an attitude of a young lady already, and I constantly worry about the pressures she is bound to face to fit in as she grows up; whether that’s what she wears, how early she starts applying makeup, how she will feel about her weight and body image…

I never felt this pressure as a kid…  Did I?

So I played with Barbies. I loved Barbies! But even as a kid I harboured a healthy level of cynicism. Barbie was unrealistically proportioned, I knew. I just liked dressing her up. I liked role playing games. I never lacked imagination, and I used Barbie as a tool in my playtime.

My sister never had the Barbie phase. She’s a child of the digital age,  where apps&games are designed to suck you in,  utilising no logic,  creating no emotional buy in or crafting any sort of storyline. So will a doll even appeal to her?

These dolls are supposed to kick start a young girl’s interest in science at an early age, to hopefully create a shift in the stats around women in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and maths) and jobs longer term, and I am a complete advocate of this movement and a firm believer in the benefits that these fields will see from having more women working within them.

Will these dolls really help, though? the language on the box sort of makes me cringe – it’s very Americanised and overly energetic. The character of this particular doll, Bryden Bandweth, who is an African American (in skin tone only, her facial design is very uniform with the caucasian dolls) is supposedly a tech whizz, and has a catch phrase of, “stand back, I’m trending”.

project mc2 dolls
source

As an aside, although Social media plays such a huge role in our lives now, I can’t see how encouraging children to use it earlier in life can add benefit. It makes me feel anxious, as I’m sure it does to parents all over the world for reasons I can’t tangibly list.

I also found myself critiquing the doll in terms of how Barbie has been critiqued over the years for her unrealistic representation of body image to young girls. These dolls are still skinny with overly large heads, and as mentioned before, the different races/ hair colours are great, but in reality the facial differences are kept to a minimum.

If these dolls are supposed to encourage smart (versus what, I ask) I’m not sure that providing skinny dolls and dressing up gear is necessarily address that. Each doll does come with a science experiment, which I’d be interested to know if the children who play with these dolls actually do.

You can find out more about the project by looking at their website here.

I’d love to know your thoughts on the project and these dolls in the comments below!

Keep up to date with my blog posts by hitting ‘follow’ in the sidebar- or you can find me on Bloglovin‘!