Do you put everyone else first?

Do you put everyone else first?

Is it time to stop putting everyone else first? The kids, your partner, the needs of your ageing parents, your boss, your team, the business you work for… even the dog! Or perhaps I should ask… when was the last time you put your own needs at the top of the priority list?

Perhaps, like me, you were raised to be caring, considerate and helpful, to do as we are asked and to work hard. These qualities work well in many areas of our life but at work they can leave us over worked and undervalued.

Consistently putting the needs of others before our own is rarely a conscious choice.

It creeps up on us and one day we look around to find that we are prioritising and supporting the careers of others.

We give to others. We take care of others. We work late into the evening finishing work others have deemed most important. We put our own priorities and needs to one side while we support the priorities of others.

Many of us fall into this trap.

And it’s often at the detriment of our career progression, our health, our lifestyle and our relationships.

You accept a heavier workload. You say yes to unreasonable requests. You expend time and energy on projects that fall outside your job role. All which leave you no time for you. As a result, you may feel overwhelmed, overworked, and unappreciated… often leading to frustration and burnout.

In my work as a women’s leadership coach I see many smart professional women who are frustrated, unfulfilled and burnt out. They have fallen into this trap of taking care of the needs of others at the expense of their own needs, desires and aspirations.

Is this you?

Here are 4 signs it’s time to make your goals and aspiration a priority

1. Your career has stalled.

Where once you were being offered promotions and interesting opportunities every couple of years… now you seem to be going nowhere fast. Ask yourself whether in part it’s because you have taken your eye off the ball and failed to stay focused on what’s most important to you and your career development.

Doing low impact work that does not demonstrate your greatest strengths will not get you seen, recognised or valued. A dynamic career that continues to inspire and challenge takes networking, strategic positioning and demonstrating your best work. And you can’t do much of any of that if you are busy taking care of someone else’s priorities.

2. You’re constantly exhausted.

Are you skipping your planned exercise, working late into the night, or experiencing stress and anxiety related to the volume of work you have said yes to. If you are… it’s little wonder you are constantly tired.

Taking care of others while neglecting your own needs is exhausting. Every time you say yes to take on another project or responsibility, you know it means extending your workload. But at what expense?

3. You’re bored and unfulfilled.

You are smart and highly capable so why are you stuck doing uninspiring, menial work that does not light your fire? While you are busy being busy, taking care of everyone else, it’s hard to find the time or energy to build your career.

4. You experience resentment. 

This is a tricky one for us to admit. It’s not who we are and it’s not an emotion we are comfortable with.

But have you noticed a nagging feeling that takes over when you put the needs of others first. You know that it’s holding you back from what you really want but you’ve fallen into the pattern and your not sure how to get out of it.

Striving to make everyone else happy all of the time is not sustainable.

It might be possible in the short term, but ultimately, the only person you have complete control over is you.

It’s time to draw a line in the sand and make yourself your first priority.  

You’ll be happier in your work and a better professional for it.  Let’s make your needs a priority and to focus on building a career that’s meaningful, fuels your soul and truly gives you a sense of achievement. It’s time to take action.

If you’re ready to get the support, clarity and direction you need to flourish and feel fully alive again in your work, let’s jump on a Career Breakthrough Session and come up with a plan. Click here to answer a few questions and book your time.

No more waiting. No more going it alone. No more putting everyone else first.

LET'S CONNECT

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How to make a miserable job bearable

How to make a miserable job bearable

Unfortunately, most of us have found ourselves in a job at some point that is unfulfilling and leaves us feeling miserable. At it’s worst, people will say that they flat out hate their job. Some say that they are bored, or have stopped being challenged. Some are frustrated or disillusioned by the direction of the business or by the leadership.

Whatever the reason, the outcome is never good, particularly given that we devote so much of our time and energy to our work.

It’s hard to stay motivated to do our best work when we are miserable. We are more likely to slack off and be less productive, less innovative and less likely to go the extra mile to get the job done to high standard.

And then there is the toll on our emotional and physical wellbeing.   When we are happy and engaged in our work we are less likely to get sick and are more immune to burnout.

If this is resonating with you… you’re not alone.

The most recent Gallup Poll survey suggests that about two-thirds of the Australian workforce are either disengaged or actively disengaged from their work. That’s a lot of miserable people not working to their fullest potential!

I understand this predicament well.

Some years ago I found myself in a role that no longer suited me. I was not working to my strengths and I felt undervalued and under utilise. My work performance slipped and I was bored, angry and miserable.

And like many who get stuck in a role they don’t enjoy, worse was to come when I got sick, with no real explanation to what was causing my symptoms.

When we reach this point it’s usually an indication that it’s time to start looking for a new role or the next challenge.

However it’s not always that simple.

There are many reasons why moving jobs may not be the best option right now such as; other personal priorities, an industry slow down, the time of the year or commitments to a particular project.

But one thing I will say is… just be sure that you aren’t settling for the status quo out of fear of change.

So if staying put is your best options right now, let’s make the most of it.

Here are 7 suggestions to make your miserable job bearable.

1. Take Responsibility. Recognise that your happiness is your responsibility. If you make the decision that you will be staying, also make the decision to make the best of it.

Focus on the positives and take time to do things that increase the feel good factor. This might mean making time to reconnect with your network for lunch, seek out a high potential new graduate to mentor or working from a café on occasion.

2. Let go. Make the commitment to focus on those things within your control and let go of the rest. Worrying about decisions and issues outside of your control will only lead to frustration. Tune your attention and energy to areas you have control over and that give you a sense of satisfaction.

3. Avoid negativity. Have you ever noticed yourself getting dragged into the negativity or drama within the office? It might feel good in the moment but it’s long term effects are never positive.

Whether it’s whining about your workload or grumbling about your boss, negativity drags everyone down. It impacts your mindset, creates a disruptive energy, and is more contagious than the common cold. Stop it!

4. Challenge yourself. One of the most effective ways to get out your funk is to challenge yourself. Get involved in tasks and projects that stretch you either personally or professionally.

Get out of your rut and step outside your comfort zone. Learn something new. Do something for the first time.   It may at first feel uncomfortable or unfamiliar but the sense of pride and fulfilment will make it worthwhile.

5. Build positive relationships. Positive relationships make every situation better. Seek out new connections and build on existing relationships. Be generous in your support of others and graciously accept the support in return.

This might also be the perfect time to expand your networking efforts so that when the time comes for you to move onto the next role you will be perfectly positioned to tap into the hidden job market.

6. Up your energy. It’s time to get off your butt and get moving. Take a walk outside in the fresh air to get your body moving, blood pumping and lift your mood. This is not the time to be sitting at your desk for long hours, skipping your lunch break and neglecting your health and fitness.

7. Set a date. Draw a line in the sand and make a commitment to yourself. Set a date and make a plan to move on from your current role if nothing improves.

This will help you to see beyond the day to day irritants and problems of your situation.

Knowing your current role is only temporary can be incredibly freeing and allows you to begin positioning yourself for the next role or the next phase of your career.

Your happiness and your career choices are your responsibility.

 If you’re miserable in your job, decide today whether you’re staying and leaving. And then commit to doing what’s in your control to be making the best of your situation as it is today.

LET'S CONNECT

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Are you listening to your intuition?

Are you listening to your intuition?

How often do you find yourself doing what you think you should be doing rather than listening to your intuition… and later wishing you had followed your gut instinct?

Women are intuitive beings. We have an inner compass, that when given the chance, can guide us in the decisions we make and the direction we take.   When we trust our intuition and take action based on it’s guidance, it will support us to be seen as authentic and super charge our power and influence.

But in all our busyness we seem to be forgetting how to tune in and listen.

Many high achieving, driven women have disconnected from their gut instincts and it’s getting in the way of career progression, success and happiness. They are working hard, getting the job done and putting on a brave face.

But at what cost?

The cost can be high when we ignore the quiet whispers or persistent inner calling trying to guide us. When we fail to recognise these telltale signs, we miss the need to pause before hitting burn out or fail to say yes to the big opportunity or make a poor choice when recruiting a new team member.

When have you failed to listen to your intuition?

Looking back on a decision I made last year that didn’t turn out so well, I recognise that I ignored a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I experienced massive resistance, slipped back into an old habit of procrastination and come up against lots of unexpected roadblocks.

I now know this was my deep intuitive knowing at first whispering – and later shouting from the roof tops – that this was not right for me. Had I listened to the initial whispers, it would have saved me a lot of time, energy and financial pain!

Obviously, there is no exact science to this but it pays to listen.

We know that when we listen, our gut instincts help us to;

  • Read people,
  • Make the right decisions,
  • Set the right goals
  • Align with our true path

And there is something magnetic about people who are in tune with their intuition and make decisions based not only on logic but also gut instinct.

When our intentions, our instincts and our actions are completely lined up, people see us as authentic. They are drawn to us. We have a presence that gets noticed for all the right reasons.

So I hear you saying… how can I become more intuitive?

The good news is we all have the skill; we are just out of practice. Somewhere between early childhood and now we have become more focused on operating from a point of logic rather than intuition. It’s time we got the two working in harmony again.

3 Ways to tap into your intuition more effectively

1. Take time to pause. Gut feelings are difficult to recognise when we are caught up in the busyness of our day to day. Take the time to pause and still the mind.

That might mean making time for a little meditation, taking the dog for a walk, dancing to your favourite music or, like I did today, taking a quiet moment during my lunch break to watch the waves roll in at the beach.

2. Pay attention to your body. We don’t tap into our intuition by thinking. It happens through feeling. To get back into the habit of listening, simply take a few moments a couple of times each day to scan your body. This will help you become more present, to quiet your busy mind and tune into your body. Notice anything that feels out of the ordinary. Be aware of your breath. Tune in to how you feel.

3. Emotions leave clues. Take notice of the emotions you’re feeling on a consistent basis. Too often I see smart dynamic women suppress their emotions to a point they no longer feel them.

Your emotional response to any situation provides you with clues. Notice your energy and trust your emotions to give you the signals you need.

You have an inner guide, you would be crazy to ignore it… 

Imagine what could be possible if you were to shift your focus (just a little) from your head to heart and get tuned into the signals from your body.

NEXT STEPS?

If you have a suspicion or a gut feeling that the career you have built isn’t quite what you want any more or isn’t fully aligned with who you are then I invite you to join a small select group of high achieving women in The Leadership Connection.

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Are you brave in your career choices?

Are you brave in your career choices?

Are you brave in your career choices or are you constrained by your self imposed limits? Do you sit within your comfort zone, doing work that you could do with your eyes closed? Or are you consistently taking on new and interesting projects that stretch and challenge you?

There are times when doing work that is well within your capabilities is a smart move. (eg: when other parts of your life are throwing you a curve ball!) But if you sit in this space beyond its use by date, the outcome is never good.

I recently heard from Kym who had always considered herself an ambitious and focused career-driven professional. After attending a workshop with me, she realised she was “asleep at the wheel and simply complacent.”

It’s little wonder she was being overlooked for the best opportunities.

Brave career decisions don’t come without some risk.

But when did you last achieve something that you were proud of that didn’t come with just a little risk?

Taking bold and courageous action in my career hasn’t always been part of my DNA. (The fact that I worked as a Health and Safety Consultant for quite some time may explain my aversion to risk!)

For many years I held myself back, playing small and choosing the safe career options. Others saw more in me than I saw in myself. I feared that I wasn’t good enough to take the roles others encouraged me to go after.

After a time, these safe decisions left me feeling bored, unfulfilled and frustrated because I was capable of so much more.

Brave and inspiring is how a client described me recently.

Who me? Well yes. No self-imposed limits. No boundaries. No following what is expected. This is much more how I live my life and shape my career today.

Six years ago I left the corporate world with no real plans for what was next. That alone was a huge and brave step. Quite frankly, it had my friends and family questioning my sanity.

I craved work that would challenge me and fill my soul.

I just knew in my heart that I wanted and needed change. I didn’t at the time know exactly what that was but had faith that with time and space the clarity and opportunities would come.

And yes… creating this business of supporting women to find their place at the leadership table has been incredibly brave. It meant stepping into an unfamiliar world, backing myself and completely reinventing myself and my career.

It also included letting go of the certainty of a regular income (although I didn’t quite plan on earning quite so little in the early years).

I hear from many women who feel trapped in their current role out of the need for certainty and stability of the income it provides them. I thought the same but now realise we have way more choices and options than we might think.

Today I enjoy a lifestyle and work I could never have imagined for myself six years ago.

I enjoy an incredible relationship with an amazing man who supports me in everything I do. And together we live a crazy, unconventional life.  For many years we lived between his home on the Northern Beaches of Sydney and my home within the café culture of inner Melbourne. 

We are now primarily in Melbourne but travel VERY often blending our work with our love of enjoying all the experiences life has to offer. 

Every day I get to do work that is challenging and so rewarding. The richness I now enjoy is all down to having the courage to let go of my self-imposed limits, to regularly stepping outside my comfort zone and always making choices that are right for me.

I don’t tell you my story to inspire you to walk away from your job or your career.

That might be going a little too far!

Rather to encourage you to ask yourself whether you have been asleep at the wheel or stagnating in a role that no longer challenges you, excites you or gives you real meaning and fulfilment.

Is it time to take your career off auto pilot, let go of your limits and make some bold and courageous decisions to reignite your career and your life?

LET'S CONNECT

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Does Happiness Matter To Leadership Performance?

Does Happiness Matter To Leadership Performance?

 

How happy are you in your current role? Pretty simple question really but not one we ask ourselves that often. Maybe it’s because we don’t really want to admit the answer.

And what does happiness have to do with work, career and being a productive, inspiring, high performing leader anyway? I’d suggest… a lot.

Think about it. When do you do your best work?

Is it when you are wallowing in you own self pity party, day dreaming about getting as far away as you can from the day to day grind of your uninspiring job with uninspiring people that leaves you cold? I would think not!

Happiness is at the core of creating a productive team culture, where collaboration and supporting each other to achieve exceptional results are the norm. It’s important for sparking creative ideas and innovative problem solving.

And it all starts with you.

If, as a leader, you’re not happy and having some fun… it is very unlikely you will cultivate a team who bring a fun, happy and engaged energy to their work. 

Know one thing for sure… you set the tone and your energy and behaviours are contagious.

Intuitively, we know this is true… and now research from the fields of positive psychology and neuroscience are making a clear connection between happiness and success. It turns out that when your brain is in a positive state, it is actually primed for higher levels of success and performance.

So it would make sense we seek happiness… not just because it feels good but also because it has a powerful impact on our work performance and outcomes.

Start here to improve your happiness... and your results.

1. Choose your attitude.

Your attitude has a powerful effect on you and the people you lead. What impact do you want to have on them?

If you are filled with negativity and bring a grumpy or, may I say, bitchy or gossipy energy into the office… you will be influencing the general actions and behaviours of your team.

It is your responsibility to set the tone for your team…. regardless of the tone being generated above you. You may not be able to influence a shift in the broader company culture… however, you can influence the culture of your team by choosing your attitude wisely.

The attitude you bring to work will have an impact on your own personal work performance, the effectiveness of your relationships and the way you are being perceived.

And most importantly… your overall level of happiness.

2. Reassess your role.

Does your role bring you joy and happiness? We spend a large part of our lives at work… let’s make sure it’s work that makes us happy. We do our best work when we are engaged in work that we are passionate about and that allows us to put our greatest skills and unique talents to work.

And doing work we are proud of matters! Making a real contribution, having an impact and being able to influence the direction or business outcomes is what brings many of us the most joy.

So, if you have found yourself in a role that no longer inspires you to do your best work and leaves you feeling depleted, disengaged or unfulfilled… it might be time to consider what’s next.

Life is too short to be stuck in a role that does not make you happy!

Choose your attitude, choose your career path, choose to fire up your right brain, choose happiness!

LET'S CONNECT

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Jane Benston

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As we begin the run down to the end of the year, are you beginning to feel the pressure to get projects completed, lift the team to new levels or ramp up efforts to meet KPI’s and budgets?

Women often tell me they are already running hard and are not sure how they can do even more – both in and out of work…

Jane Benston

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Find Your Career Fulfilment Sweet Spot

Find Your Career Fulfilment Sweet Spot

Your professional career sometimes seems like the holy grail that ebbs and flows with the cycle of your life and the whims of corporate decision makers. 

At times we have it all together where our career is skipping along filled with accolades, satisfying challenges and exciting opportunities. Then there are those times when we feel all out of whack and work is nothing more than a tedious hard slog.

You may not be able to put your finger on it but you do know when things are just not right – when work isn’t much fun, it is hard and your focus in on nothing more than surviving each week.

Unfortunately many of us, at some time in our lives, will find ourselves in a job that is not a good fit. Perhaps as a result of a restructure, a period of limited opportunities or maybe the role seemed like the next obvious choice at the time.   So we end up in a job that is at odds with who we are, what we value and what we are truly good at.

For me… I fell out of career alignment during a corporate restructure. I became a square peg in round hole doing work I wasn’t so good at, I had no passion for and that left me questioning my personal values.   

But the problem ran so much deeper than being bored and disengaged. Like so many women who I meet who are out of alignment, my health was a mess.

To be in career alignment means finding that “sweet spot” – it’s the intersection where what we are good at, what brings us joy and what fits with what we value most in life meet. And when we find it, work and life seems easier, more fulfilling and meaningful and having an impact comes naturally to us.

The 5 “P”s to Career Alignment.  

1.  Purpose. According to Daniel Pink, author and expert on the nature of work, meaning and purpose are core motivators to push us to do our best. We are driven and inspired when we believe that what we are doing serves something important beyond ourselves. We long to find this meaning in our work.

2.  Passion. Finding work you are passionate about starts with finding work that taps into your unique skills and talents. Our passions are usually linked to what we are naturally good at and what we have been drawn to for most of our lives. It’s those activities that light us up and that we could do all day just for fun.

3.  Principles. Doing work that is in alignment with our principles and values is fundamental to job satisfaction. When we are doing work that betrays our core personal values, we feel awkward, uneasy, and even sick. Conversely, when our actions, decisions and work match our core beliefs, we feel a sense of calm, ease and peace.

4.  Possibilities. No one likes a dead end job. We thrive when we can see the possibilities for our own personal and professional growth. It has been well documented that employee engagement and productivity is linked to meaningful professional development through strong mentoring, involvement in interesting and challenging projects, career progression or formal learning opportunities.

5.  Profits. We need to believe that we are being fairly remunerated for our skills and contribution to feel truly fulfilled by our work. No one likes to be taken advantage of and over time being poorly paid will take its toll.

Now it is over to you….

Are you out of alignment? Have you found yourself in a position where you are no longer hitting the “sweet spot” where passion, purpose, principles, possibilities and profit intersect?

If you have, now may be a good time to hit the pause button, reassess where you are at and identify the steps to take to get you back into alignment. 

If remaining where you are is no longer an option for you and you would like some help to get back on track, let’s jump on the phone for a quick call to find out how I might be able to help. Click here to answer a few questions and book in a time to chat.

LET'S CONNECT

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Our mindset matters – even more…

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Jane Benston

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As we begin the run down to the end of the year, are you beginning to feel the pressure to get projects completed, lift the team to new levels or ramp up efforts to meet KPI’s and budgets?

Women often tell me they are already running hard and are not sure how they can do even more – both in and out of work…

Jane Benston

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I’ve had a number of conversations this week with smart, mid-career professional women who have fallen into the trap of being the “go-to girl.” Perhaps you too are the go-to girl. Or you might be known as the Jack of all trades, the fix-it woman or have earned the label of “reliable”…

Jane Benston