All Experiences Are Good Experiences

In life, we say and do things all the time. Some of these we regret, and wish that we could undo or erase them. Others, we wish we could relive a million times. But, all of our experiences, both good and bad, make us who we are. In the end, they shape every detail of our lives. Good experiences bring pleasure, but they also show us what we like and what we are good at. Bad experiences, missed opportunities, failure and mistakes, on the other  hand, tell us just as much about ourselves. They force us to question what we are doing, why we are doing it, who we are and what we want from life. These negative experiences are even more important than the good times, because it’s in challenging times that we learn, develop and bounce back back wiser and more resilient. If you were to undo or erase anything from your past, you wouldn’t be the person you have become today.

You are the person who you see in the mirror today, as a result of your past experiences, decisions and actions. Understand this truth, and embrace it. Everything that you have been through so far has led you to this point. You have discovered who you are, what you enjoy and what you are good at. You’ve even determined what your values and priorities in life are.

However, you life is not set in stone and you are not the finished article. You never will be, because life is a process of constant and never-ending learning, growth and development. So, if you are unhappy with your current circumstances, good. You have the power in your own hands to do something about it. Always seek to become more, and do more. Let comfort and complacency be your enemy.

So, just live your life as best you can. Make mistakes, have wonderful experiences and make incredible memories. Most of all, though, never second-guess who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve experienced or where you are going

The Pain and Pleasure of the job hunting process: After the Interview

Arguably the most nerve-wracking part of the job hunting process comes AFTER the interview. This is because it is now out of your hands, and all you can do is wait for the outcome. So far, there was plenty of research and preparation which could be done, but now all that is left is to reflect on your performance.

In the aftermath of an interview, I would suggest some quick and honest reflection. Pick up a notepad, and write down how you felt that it went; what went well and what elements you could’ve handled better. Don’t overthink it, just write whatever comes to mind. If you can remember them, also make a note of the questions which were asked of you. This will help you to prepare for future interviews.

Read and reread the above, and highlight the areas which you can work on and improve. Also note your strengths. It is useful to have a reflection on your interview, so that you can learn from the experience.

While it’s useful to have your own reflections on the event, there is a second element which needs to be added. This is the feedback from the panel. This may not be offered when you get the call which informs you of the interview outcome, and if it isn’t just ask for it. Most interview panels are very happy to provide some short, constructive feedback after an interview’s outcome has been determined. When this is added to your own feedback, you will gain a clearer idea of where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and what areas need more attention.

If you are unsuccessful, rather than dwell on it, get to work and fast. Search for more vacancies and start applying. This will keep your mind busy, and ward off the temptation to start feeling sorry for yourself and lose motivation. Furthermore, from your reflections and the feedback from the last panel, you have plenty of information which can help you to create a very interesting personal statement. Obviously, this is done with the aim of securing another interview, for which you will be in a much stronger position because of everything which you have learned during your recent experience.

If, however, you are successful take a moment to enjoy your achievement. Then revisit your reflections to determine what you need to work on in order to be successful in your new role. This will help you to hit the ground running, and make a positive impact very quickly.

After an interview, relieve some of the anxiety by reflecting on the event. Request some feedback from the interview panel too, once a decision has been communicated to you. Finally, act on this reflection and feedback regardless of the outcome. If you got the job, use it to start your new role strongly and make a positive impact. If you were unsuccessful, act on the feedback to improve your personal statement for future applications, and better prepare yourself for future interviews.

In the wake of an interview, do something. The time will pass anyway, so rather than worrying try to reflect on the experience and see what can be learned from it

Less Searching, More Experiencing

Advice on personal development and leading a more fulfilled life is often confusing and full of contradictions . Of these, one of the biggest inconsistencies revolves around taking action. If you were to look back through some of the posts on this very blog, you would be forgiven for spotting potentially opposing advice.

There seem to be two schools of thought on this subject. The practical side will preach the importance of taking action, learning from your experiences and adapting along the way. The theoretical side, however, will stress the importance of reflection, setting goals and making plans. Surely, one of them must be right, but which one?!

The reality is that both of the above are right. Together, they both highlight the key stages in the personal development process. Not all of the stages are relevant for everyone, and there is no set order in which they should be followed, though. I put reflection at the top of this list because that is my starting point, which works best for me.

  • Reflection. This is the ideal starting point, as you identify your strengths and weaknesses, your interests, what drives you and what you hope to achieve both personally and professionally.
  • Goal Setting. With a good understanding of your situation and circumstances, the next logical step will be set goals, both short and long-term. Goals are a great way to keep you motivated as you have something to strive for which is broken down into small steps. Furthermore, goals are an indicator of what progress is being made, and whether you are staying on track.
  • Planning. The planning stage is more a matter of personal preference than a necessity. Some prefer to take action once their goals have been set, but others prefer to plan and strategise. In this instance, some find it helpful to set out how they will use their resources in order to reach their goals, and what knowledge or skills they may need to acquire.
  • Action. Arguably, the most important stage of all. After all, without taking action in the direction of your goals, you won’t achieve very much, if anything. It is by taking action that we gain the experiences from which we learn and grow.
  • Review. As you take action in the direction of your goals, it’s important to regularly review your progress. This will help you identify gaps in your knowledge and areas to be addressed, as well as highlight what has been working well. The review process also gives you the opportunity to amend and update your goals as you meet them.

As with everything else in life, both sides are right but balance is essential. In this case, you need to find a healthy balance between reflection, planning and taking action. If you spend too much time thinking, planning, searching or strategising, you won’t have enough time left to actually take action and so will get nowhere. On the other hand, if you just jump straight in and get to work without a plan, it becomes incredibly difficult to judge what it is that you are actually achieving.

Through reflection and planning, you gain an understanding of who you are, what you have to offer and what you would like to achieve from life. When this is coupled with action, you then get to experience life in all its glory. The lessons gained from your experiences help you to understand what happiness and life itself mean for you.

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of.

You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life

 

Unsure of which path to follow?!

Choose the path of MOST RESISTANCE!!

It is fair to say that the choices we have made until this point in our lives, are largely responsible for the circumstances in which we find ourselves. No matter how small, they all add up over time and take you closer to, or further away from, your goals.

Humans are creature of habit, and our habit is to seek comfort in what is easy or familiar for us. We lead incredibly busy lives with countless demands being placed on our  time and attention every day and often find ourselves drained of energy. Therefore, when we are faced with a choice we favour the easier option. This is often the choice which requires the least effort or energy from us, with the outcome more certain. The rewards tend to be smaller when we play it safe and take the easy option, but so are the risks.

However, it is the more challenging, riskier choices which could potentially make a huge difference in our lives. It is those things which we often regard as challenging, time consuming and tiring which we should be doing in order to succeed. Even if you take the  riskier, more difficult choice and it doesn’t work out as you had hoped, you have a valuable experience from which you can learn. You might even have developed a new skill or acquired new knowledge along the way, neither of which are bad things to have.

That is not to say that you should be reckless and bet your whole future on one roll of the dice, so to speak. Never risk your last penny, home or your livelihood. If, for example, you have a passion which you would like to turn into a business, start it as a side project and only quit your day job when it takes off. I use businesses as an example because they can take a long time to become established and profitable, so quitting your job early would only increase the financial pressure and the risks.

Be bold enough to make difficult, and wherever possible calculated, choices. Enjoy the highs of following the path of most resistance, and learn from the bumps in the road.

I’ll leave you with this popular saying as food for thought;

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations