Thursday, 29 January 2015

Climbing out of the comfort zone

This week someone I know and respect gently accused me of backing down from a project because they suspected I felt 'out of my comfort zone'.

I seized on the phrase like a drowning person would cling to a raft: "You're exactly right, I am out of my comfort zone!" Then I waited to be let off the hook.

That's where things took an interesting turn.  They had no intention of letting me off the hook. Quite the contrary.  At the end of our 'phone call, I was still very much on that particular hook.

Even more surprising is this: I'm not ecstatic about it but I'm OK.  This is NOT my average response to doing things I'm less than 100 per cent sure of.

What gives? Well, on turning forty I made myself a promise.  My new catchphrase would be - cringes inwardly - 'Forty and fearless!'. I'm only three months in but so far I've stuck to my guns.

So how does a cowardly control freak like me climb out of her comfort zone? The as-yet-unpatented three-step plan goes as follows:

Research  Spot the marketing girl (again).  It might be new to you but chances are that someone, somewhere has done it before you.  And they'll have generously shared their experience online. Get googling and get to grips with your challenge. The more you discover, the better prepared you'll be.

Supporters Your supporters don't need to have particular knowledge of what you're trying to do. They just need to be people who believe in you.  And who'll help you to believe in yourself. Surround yourself with them.

Worst case scenario  Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all? I still have issues with this one, to be honest.  I've a real fear of failure.  But I do force myself to think through the repercussions of not achieving my goal.  Letting your mind go there is painful but liberating.

Of course the flip side of the worst case scenario is thinking through how good you'll feel if you achieve what you've set out to do...

Regardless of your plans for 2015 - fitness challenges, career goals, lifestyle changes - I wish you the very best of luck. Let's all enjoy the view from beyond our personal comfort zones.

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Thursday, 22 January 2015

A life lesson learned

Life was chuntering along at Average Towers. Then all of a sudden it decided to play a little game with me.

Just as my workload began to gather pace in January, my 'average' technology proved it wasn't even worthy of that adjective.

First it was the printer. Which decided to only print when it felt like it.  Not ideal when my work demands thorough proof-reading.  

Next up was the laptop. Its operating system had a nervous breakdown. This necessitated an emergency shopping trip to Argos for a new version.  Several weary hours installing Windows 8.1 added to the thrill.

I was back up and running until a storm blew in. No prizes for guessing what that did to my broadband connection.

And there you have it.  A fortnight into January and I was already behind with my workload. Naturally I did not keep this state of affairs to myself.  Oh no.  I moaned about it to anyone who would listen until I was back online. Then I moaned about it on social media too. 

It didn't end there however. As we approached the coldest weekend of the year, the heating at Average Towers decided to pack in. Best not tell you what I thought about that.

Just over 24 hours later, normal temperatures (and tempers) were resumed. Since then, I've taken stock of the events of the past fortnight.  It's part of our culture to expect certain things to work.  How we deal with it when they don't is quite revealing.

I'm not particularly proud of my surly humour and petulant attitude.  Once Average Towers was cosy and comfortable again, I was forced to acknowledge that there are many people who can't afford to heat their own homes.  And my technical issues and project deadlines? Hardly a matter of life and death compared to the work of our emergency services, aid workers and the like.

Which brings me back to appreciating how much I actually do have.  It's so easy to get caught up with small gripes. And to take many, many luxuries for granted.  Me? I think I need to reacquaint myself with gratitude lists.  And keep thanking the printer when it performs on demand...

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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Blogging resolutions for 2015

Better late than never, I hear you say.

What with it being a brand new year and all that jazz, I felt it was time I pulled my blogger's socks up.

With just a little bit of effort, I think this wee blog could be sooooo much better. Here's what I propose to do about it...

1. Get on with writing my own posts instead of wistfully re-reading Mumsnet's 'blog of the day' and despairing of ever writing anything half as good.

2. Write less of the long rambling posts. And more of the short, easy-to-read ones. Promise.

3. Finally get round to uploading a photo (preferably soft focus) on the 'About Me' page.

4. Upload same soft focus photo of choice to BritMums, thus avoiding having the same standard cartoon head as several hundred other members.

5. Swallow my pride and ask my lovely neighbour and fellow blogger at Storm In A (Vintage) Teacup to explain to me how Google + actually works (blushes furiously).

6. Implement some of the great blogging and SEO advice that the talented Tarana at SandInMyToes regularly dispenses.

7. Pluck up the courage to join a few more link-ups.

8. Perhaps most importantly...Reply more promptly to the lovely comments that some of you are kind enough to leave.

Happy 2015 folks.  Did I mention that I don't really 'do' New Year's resolutions?

Do you believe in New Year's resolutions? Leave a comment and let me know.

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