Confidence

“Have confidence in your convictions and you can go wherever you want to.

A previous manager of mine said this to me in a one-to-one review and it isn’t the first time I’ve heard that confidence is something I lack.

At parents evening, in University meetings, in my one to one reviews at work, you name it; everywhere I go, it’s the one piece of feedback that has been consistent throughout my life.

I suppose at work it’s partly to do with experience. I haven’t even been in my particular role for one year yet, so it’s difficult to speak and advise with conviction when in the back of my mind, I’m wondering “what if I’ve made a mistake? Am I really well versed in the role yet?”

What really is the worst that can happen?

This thought popped into my head recently when given a task at work that made me a bit uncertain: returning a phone call to an outside organisation to ask how we could help, bearing in mind that my job mostly consists of internal calls and that the nature of this particular call wouldn’t allow me to quickly scribble some kind of script beforehand!

I did make that call, it went absolutely fine, and with this new positive thought process, I’ve found myself presenting to tens of people on conference calls (not in person yet, that’s the next level!) and voluntarily setting up calls with people at work where I could have just e-mailed them.

Speaking on the phone is something I’ve struggled with and I think it’s pretty common: in the age of WhatsApp and social media where we communicate daily with people by typing our thoughts rather than voicing them, picking up the phone and speaking to someone can be pretty daunting.

What if I stumble on my words?

Yep, this happens to me all the time and you know what? The way I overcome that is actually by calling it out. I find a coping mechanism in humour, which may not work for everyone but when I stumble on my words, I just say “oops, I’ll put my teeth back in!” or “whoops, should have rehearsed my lines!” and generally, people chuckle and we move on. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t understand my humour or is fairly stern and uninterested in my Dad jokes comedy gold, but that’s fine, the same applies: I just move on!

I’ve started looking down the street ahead of me instead of staring at the floor on my way to and from work, and I’ve started asking questions or disagreeing where actually I think there’s a better way to do something, for example. It’s these little habits that I’m building up in the hope that eventually it won’t even be a conscious effort anymore, it will become second nature.

I’ve been known just to be agreeable but I’m starting to come out of my shell.

That process actually started when I’d lived abroad: gaining confidence speaking a foreign language day in, day out, and fending for myself. Now, it’s about refining that confidence, applying those skills to living in my native country and speaking out: both on the phone and voicing my opinion.

It’s absolutely normal to lack confidence, I’m sure it’s quite common. Some people already have it figured out, and hey, some people could do with their confidence turning down a notch, y’know what I mean?

The important thing is, I’m going to make a conscious effort because I think it will help me both in my career and in my daily life. I hope this has inspired you if you struggle with speaking on the phone or opposing someone’s opinion, that if I can do it then so can you!

It may take time and different techniques work for different people, but the crucial message to take away is:

Always strive to be a better version of yourself.

Have you any tips for gaining confidence?

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A Nothing Holiday

It was a week before we were due to hop on a plane to sunny Crete and I was feeling totally overwhelmed at work, business was picking up, I had a lot on my plate and the worst part? It landed on my desk three days before I was due to go on annual leave for a week. Not much time to get ahead then!

If I were jetting off on a city break with a busy itinerary, I think I might have internally combusted.

At first, I researched our accommodation and was a bit bewildered as to how we might spend the days. As someone who likes to research the landmarks and the local food of our travel destinations, an all-inclusive holiday in a pretty remote hotel is new territory for me, in more ways than one.

Then, the week before happened, and it completely tipped my perspective on its head. I was so exhausted, I just could not wait to lie beneath a parasol, with my factor 50 on (stay safe in the sun, kids), reading a book, napping or writing, and only moving to eat, swim, or go to bed.

I exaggerate a little. We did wander to the vineyard close by, we explored the restaurants and sampled the local shops, but there was nothing to stop us spending half of the days just relaxing.

Whilst a jam-packed city break feels very fulfilling, sometimes you just have to plan to do nothing. No-one can constantly give 100% without a complete recharge at some point and I think the week we went to Crete was the perfect time.

We’d been having conversations at work about objectives and goals, and on a sun lounger with a cocktail in hand was like a peaceful enough environment to actually stop and consider mine.

We are constantly striving to learn, to keep moving, to progress and achieve, but there’s only so far you can go without burning out. So, I think a nothing holiday can do the world of good.

It doesn’t need to be abroad; a cabin in the countryside, an Airbnb in a new city… New surroundings can be really refreshing even if you’ve only driven 20 minutes down the road.

In fact, I take that back. It doesn’t even need to be anywhere other than your own home. Some time off work in the comfort of your own home can be just as effective. I often get caught up in housework if I’m at home though, so personally I think venturing off down the road or across a few borders is perhaps better for me.

So I spent the week doing a lot of nothing and I really enjoyed.

I read the majority of a novel.

Not something I have the chance to do at home between housework, eating, sleeping and watching all the crime drama series I enjoy.

I cleared my head of To Do lists and errands to run.

I left the flat clean and tidy, all laundry done, all rubbish taken out, and in a hotel, the maid does that all for you (well, not your laundry but you can shove that in a carrier bag and worry about it when you get home). It was bliss. All we had to worry about was which of the 12 restaurants we wanted to go to each night.

I wore what I wanted.

There’s something about not knowing anyone but the people you’ve gone on holiday with, that’s somehow liberating. I don’t know if this is a common thing, but I wouldn’t dream of wandering around in a bikini and skimpy shorts anywhere that isn’t labelled a resort, or on holiday.

What do you think? Do you a love a relaxing holiday or do you do your relaxing at home and your exploring abroad?

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How to Focus on Living in the Moment

A quote from The Good Place (Netflix series) sparked my interest in this concept and made me analyse the way I’m spending my time:

“There is only one time that is important: Now. It is the only time when we have any power.”

Tolstoy.

Chidi said this to Eleanor in The Good Place and after he did, I just knew I wanted to adopt that perspective and live in the moment. There are two meanings that I have interpreted from this quote:

  1. The past is in the past and there is nothing you can do to change it.
  2. The future is not here yet and worrying will not change the situation.

 

I’d even go as far as to say that this is now my favourite quote. Here are a few ways to actively adopt this outlook on life, in a bid to avoid driving myself crazy…

Aeroplane mode

It can be so easy to worry about tomorrow’s blog or social media content when you’ve committed to plans today. Put your phone in aeroplane mode during date night, dinner, or even when you’re watching a film together. Your phone flashing or vibrating will immediately pull you from reality into your virtual world and it can be so difficult to get back out!

Focus on what’s happening now

When you become aware that you are spending quite a while thinking and worrying about an upcoming event, pull yourself back to the present moment. Looking at the clock or something that shows the date can help me with this. I’m very aware that I often fall into the habit of upsetting myself or making myself feel anxious if I have a work event coming up, for example. A Monday event can affect a Sunday afternoon watching TV, when I could have focused on the present and just enjoyed the cuddles and the TV show.

Yoga

Before I started yoga, I would come home from work and talk about my day for a couple of hours, and not really have left any of it at the office. The breathing and stretching in yoga is a great transition for me to exhale all the bad parts of the day, internalise all the good parts and store them away, and focus on being present. I’m sure Dean has benefitted too, because I don’t spend the evenings wittering on!

How do you make sure you focus on the present moment? Do you have a favourite quote or mantra to live by?

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Monthly Gratitude: June

We’re back for the second instalment of the Monthly Gratitude series! I’ve been on quite a long break from blogging so I wasn’t sure if I’d even make it to the second post of my series but here we are, I’m back just in time.

This series is a brilliant way to look back on the month and feel really good about my achievements, all the fun I’ve had this month, the exciting things we’ve started planning, and I hope that by sharing this practice, it will help some of you recognise the positives from the previous month and bring out some of the warm, fuzzy feelings that it brings out in me.

1. Family time. This is possibly something I took for granted as a youngster because I lived with my parents and we lived close to a lot of my family. Now that I’ve flwn the nest, family time happens a lot less often and therefore it feels so much more special when we have that quality time. For Father’s Day weekend, I booked a short cruise in the Lake District for my parents and I, with a stop off for lunch and a wander around, and the sun ended up shining too!

2. My partner in crime being a travel bug like me. I spent longer than I would have liked without a ‘next destination’. There were exactly five weeks between our return from Crete and booking our next adventure (not that I’m counting!) and it felt like a lifetime, so you can bet your bottom dollar I was absolutely ecstatic when Dean and I finally sat down to organise our flights and Estonian AirBnB!

3. Animals and pop-up events. As a child, I was very familiar with pets in the house and we had dogs and cats at various points in my childhood, so it will come as no surprise that I am very keen to get a dog as soon as we get our own house or rent a place that permits them, as is Dean. When the Dachshund Cafe popped up in town, we were first in there for tickets and it was one of the best tenners I’ve ever spent. A Sunday morning cuddling sausage dogs, feeding them treats and walking around with them pitter-pattering around your feet? Sounds like the perfect Sunday morning if you ak me. (Stroking dogs is also mutually beneficial for blood pressure and therefore it’s only healthy for me to get a dog, right?!)

What are you grateful for this month? Feel free to join in and hashtag #GratitudeWithParis

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How to Prepare for a Professional Event

Throughout my early life, admittedly I bailed on a lot of events. I didn’t want to be around people and I couldn’t explain why. As I’ve grown older (and arguably, wiser), I’ve both pursued therapy and found more beneficial coping mechanisms. If it matters to my job, I can’t just bail on an event and make an excuse, so here are some practical ways that help me in my quest to becoming more socially apt:

Rescue Remedy

This magic potion got me through driving lessons and my driving test, and also through my first customer facing event with work. It slots nicely inside a clutch bag or pocket if necessary, and doesn’t look any different to your average breath spray, so it doesn’t draw attention to you.

Give yourself plenty of time

If you roll out of bed late and end up running there, you’re going to put yourself under unnecessary pressure. Allow for mishaps such as picking up Dean’s keys and locking him in when you leave, then having to jog back home to let him out, return his keys and jog back to the event. Y’know, a generic example like that…

Pack for all eventualities

Is there a chance of rain? Pack a spare pair of socks in case your new “breathable” running trainers leak in (they were cheap ones, I really can’t complain). Is there a chance your shoes will rub? Shove some plasters in your pocket. Heels and flats, trousers and a skirt… I even pack for a chance of indecision (which is fairly likely, knowing me).

Prepare the night before

Have an idea of what you will eat for breakfast, leave your cutlery and bowl/plate out, and your outfit hanging on the wardrobe door. This means you won’t have to worry about the top you wanted to wear being in the bottom of the laundry basket!

How do you plan for a professional, social event?

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Like Father, Like Daughter

Happy Father’s Day!

Here in the UK we are celebrating all father figures and influences in our lives, and it seems like a good opportunity to share how my Dad and I are alike. We may not live in the same household anymore but I certainly have some of his traits and mannerisms.

1. We both like psychological thriller films and international films to help keep up our language skills! Netflix is a pretty good one for the latter.

2. We love a good snap. Dad has a Nikon camera and some fancy lenses, and I use my Huawei, but both of us love taking loads of photographs when we go walking in the Lake District, or during a family occasion!

3. We both love driving. I was very keen to learn to drive after watching my Dad drive me to school, Ballet, friends’ houses and all over the place as a child.

4. We each enjoy being out in the countryside, climbing mountains, wandering through villages… You name it, if we’re out in the fresh air, we’re happy!

5. We both love animals. I grew up with dogs and cats in the house, and despite how he didn’t seem keen on us taking in our first feline, he certainly ended up being the lap that the two cats sat on most.

However you are spending the day, I hope you have a lovely Sunday!

If you liked this post, check out Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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Run, Paris, Run!

I didn’t make any new year resolutions this year, in fact, I pretty much gave up on those a few years ago. I don’t think the beginning of the year is any different to the beginning of the month or week, when you can set yourself goals for a shorter time span, and be more likely to reach them (and then continue them for another week/month, and so the cycle goes…)

Instead of goals for the year, I decided there were a few things I wanted to try: one of them being somehow contributing to one or more charities.

I have run the Race for Life before and I have British Heart Foundation bags in the drawer ready for when we have another clear out (we’ve had two already this year so that’s going swimmingly!) so I’m no stranger to doing my bit but I wanted something that would challenge me too.

One charity very close to my heart is Leicester Hospitals Charity.

I won’t go into the full detail but Dean fell extremely ill three and a half years ago to the point where his lungs were no longer fulfilling their purpose and he needed to be connected to an ECMO machine to carry out their job to give his lungs time to rest and heal.

This very process saved his life.

We now live together, both work full time, and are getting in as many city breaks as we possibly can with 20-odd days annual leave!

In a bid to get myself in shape, I’ve signed up to the Inflatable 5k this year. Without some kind of cause or fundraiser, I wouldn’t have bothered; I’m no athlete and honestly, I’ll finish that course looking more red than your average stop sign.

It’s in the summer so I’ve plenty of time and hopefully British summer will do its thing and I won’t be too sweaty by the end (she says).

I hope to raise £500 for the ECMO department at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester who looked after Dean in a critical condition and myself as a visitor, a 20 year old student, not really knowing what was going on but autopiloting through the whole thing (and somehow even passing university exams?! Whilst my grades did take a hit, how I even passed them I’ll never know).

Here are some useful links if you would like to know more about my fundraiser, the event, the medical process the charity and their incredible work:

Thank you for taking the time to read about our journey, this is a pretty personal one for me, which I may not normally have shared but I’m passionate about getting this out there.

I appreciate each and every penny that is spared for this cause, and each and every share or interaction with this post and my fundraiser page because that potentially helps me reach my target too!

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