I wanted to write a post about getting through your professional life in 2023, the march of mandated RTO (return to office) by organisations, & how to be resilient in the face of change. Some practical things to do, ones which I do & some recommendations & further reading at the end of this article.
Caveat: Be a practitioner not a parrot. I heard this quote on DOAC with Stephen Bartlett this morning at the gym & I felt it important to emphasize here that unlike so many recreational bloggers I do practice the things I talk about permanently. Take a listen to that by the way, it’s fantastic.
I write this post very much with a sense of purpose. I know many looking for jobs, in part due to the change in workforce needs, the decidedly uncertain tech bubble burst which started in the US & has moved to the UK (I was too affected by the tech bubble bursting again in Silicon Valley in Q4 23 mass layoffs) & being involved in helping people & organisations seed, land & find talent, but also helping my friends & colleagues find work.
I give this advice somewhat with a sense of experience of what I think ‘works’ in the job market, when you’re a tech pro & you’re looking. I was fortunate to be able to land a role quickly, but I continue to deploy constant techniques, practices, tactics & approaches to ensure I’m employable & statistically likely to be hired. I wanted to share that with you as I’m often asked in the pub about it & recently have been helping a few friends who due to job issues are struggling with their mental health subsequently.
As an IT professional, no matter what area of IT & tech you work in, you have a DUTY to be multi skilled. Not even just complementary skilled, but diversely multi skilled. You can do this without being a jack of all trades & master of none, but it takes work. And you don’t have to just stick ‘Ai consultant’ in your social bio & start pontificating about how ChatGPT is the future. I’m talking about honest, ethical multi skilling to ensure you’re as valuable as possible.
Using time wisely
So, what does that look like? Well for me it’s the fact that as a delivery manager, I pride myself on my genuine polyglottal like ability to work up & down the technology stack being more than expert at a range of fields. Whether that’s software design, physical prototyping or writing code (even to a low quality but working level), architecture, media, all related (some more loosely than others) but also compliment my core fundamental skills & passion in IT & technology. I also think about the skills worth learning to help me in my personal life, & if I decide to pivot over to something else later in life, I can do that. Its worth thinking about how you spend your time & how much of that time you spend learning, rather than say doom-scrolling on your phone.
The gyms a classic example, I use the time I spend in the gym not only to stay fit, (more on that later) but that time I can spend listening to a podcast about something I want to learn about. Sure, I could listen to Cardi B talking about her big back but I could also listen to a podcast coaching me on a new piece of software, or an audio book on Psychology. Really think about how you spend your time, especially some of that seemingly idle time so you can maximize your day.
When it comes to time (& this post is by no means a lifestyle coaching blog whatsoever) there’s things I’ve done for years which I have learnt are now in fashion. Various lifestyle experts recommend various ‘morning routines’ but there is *some* science in *some* of the advice & the things I’ve noticed which work are the things I do which seem different to so many other people. I almost guarantee you do very few of these. Let me know if I’m wrong;
- Get up between 5-6am (for mindfulness, for peacefulness, to give you a head start on everyone else & to help you manage your time)
- Go to bed early (to help with above) but to ensure you get something massively mis-understood & under-rated, the importance of a good night’s sleep
- Keeping alcohol to a minimum or cutting out completely (this is more important than just health)
- Meditation – for many can sound ‘airy fairy’ but for me, meditation is merely spending a bit of time each day breathing properly, visualizing how I want my day or week to go & just spending a bit of time listening to my body.
- Stretching – again sounds not very important but listening to & stretching into your body each day really aligns both your physical & spiritual self. (Look, I can’t even belief I’m saying words like this but honestly, it works)
- Stay off your phone – Stop spending too much time on your phone & social media. The amount of people I see who are not in the physical world they exist in because its easier to get validation & self-worth from virtual worlds, friends & eco systems.
- Physical health & diet – the food you’re eating is most likely killing you, but you don’t know it. I mean, really. I’ll link at the end of this post things you really need to watch & read. Its almost a 80/20 split between diet & going to the gym. One doesn’t counter-act the other. Change your diet & change your physical & mental state. Be in a calorie deficit, fast, and drink water.
Journalling & Retrospection
Journaling can be done in so many ways. For example, I write my blog & do my podcast for primarily me. I learn from my experiences, I re-write them for reflection & learn from then again when I need them. Helping others or helping to set out my online brand is a mere by-product & not the priority it may seem for me.
Writing down the things I learn, the things I accomplish & the things I find difficult allows me to reflect & look at myself in the mirror. When I’m down, I can be reminded of the things I’ve accomplished, when I forget something, I can go back & re-learn. When I make progress, I can measure that progress.
Self-retrospection is something I do every six months. I take myself off into my office (you can use any space you have) with a huge whiteboard & some stickie notes. I draw something similar to the below & I ask myself really honest questions. The powerful cathartic release on doing this allows you to ensure you’re always thinking about how to improve, correct & adjust.
The world constantly changes & so should you.
Removing yourself from the negativity of the world.
I’m lonely. Really chronically lonely. That’s no joke. I’m not actually sure I have many if any friends. The things I’ve been able to achieve & accomplish given my background & childhood is monumental. But it comes at a cost. Each day as I grow & become wiser, I learn that often the environment around me is designed to pull me into the mediocrity of life. People are negative because their worlds are, many often can’t stand seeing others succeed as it spotlights their shortfalls. Most people (by definition of maths) aren’t in what’s known as the ‘2%’. And they don’t want anyone they know to be either. Jealousy is often rife & social media compounds that further. Putting yourself out there, standing for something & having an opinion often leaves you to criticism. Your colleagues in the pub get pleasure from moaning about their workplaces rather than improving themselves. Sure sometimes a good moan is cathartic, but over time its damaging & re-wiring your brain, lowering your mood, releasing stress hormones into your body, & generally giving you a false perception of reality.
We all know why Ed Sheeran is a millionaire. Even if he was your school mate. We all know why Lewis Hamilton has the success he has, even if you knew him back when he was in Stevenage. But if its your mate in the pub, who came from a dodgy background, why the *** was it them & not you. That resentment is absolutely prevalent. & its poison.
The other thing you have to consider with negativity is it literally re-wires your brain if you’re exposed to much to it. Just think about that.
I’ve chosen to be very particular of how close I spend with negativity & over what periods. At the expense of relationships. In part because I see how negativity hinders others & they don’t see it. I’m not suggesting to live in a rainbow-coloured echo chamber, but you have full control of your life, no matter what that life is. Be very careful who you let into it & ask yourself the impact of their negativity has on your own thoughts & life. Thought Catalog do a great article on getting it together, you should check it out.
Be good as if no ones watching.
If you’re having a hard time, one of the things you can do (which sounds counter intuitive when its you who needs help) is to help others. The more privileged you are the more this becomes beyond helpful but also duty. Whether it’s helping in a soup kitchen feeding the homeless, taking two months out to go & build infrastructure in Africa, adopt a child (extreme) or set up a charity. All of these things are massively important not only for the people you’re helping directly, but for your mental state. You’ll also learn new skills & obtain perspective on your own life too. I find the whole Movember (done that), running the London Marathon (I’ve done that too!) & the myriad of other ‘look at me improve my own life & raise money & awareness at the same time) schtick is often done, harsh I know, but for social media rather than the act of giving. I’m not undermining the effort or anyone who helps raise money or suffers subsequently because of with which that the awareness is being built, but pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to directly help those in need right in front of your face, can give you a different view on your life.
Closer to home, help others. Help others find work, big them up on social. Write them a recommendation when they didn’t ask for one. Genuinely call people out for the good things they do. I was reminded to the disappointment of people recently when someone I’d mentored got in touch with me, spent thirty minutes of verbal foreplay to just ask for something. Relationships these days are transactional with a ‘how does this benefit me’ approach. Everyone’s trying to get ahead & been seen to help others only when someone’s looking.
The life triangle
You’re made up typically of three things which need to be in broad alignment. Your health, your love/heart, & your sense of purpose/meaning/what you do. Like an old table with wonky legs, you can kick out one of these & the table mostly stands, maybe even if another is more than wobbly, but kick out all three & the table falls. Think of yourself like this table & think about how you protect, improve & enhance those three things.
Recommendations & good reads
As promised, here’s a list of people who I think you should watch, books or podcasts you should listen to, which I’ve not just stumbled upon, these are people, ideas & thoughts which have changed my life & taken me to the next level. Don’t worry, I won’t be selling you Crypto in the next post!
- Ultra processed people:- here
- Unprocessed – how the food we’re eating is fueling our mental health crisis:- here
- James Smith on YouTube:- https://www.youtube.com/@JamesSmithPT
- The Gluecose Goddess
- Time Management 101