A quick Christmas message

playingsmallnelsonmandelaI’ve just realised that it’s been 14 days since my last post and, as silly as it may seem, I’m not about to give up my at least one post a fortnight rule this close to a new year. So Happy Christmas everyone, and thanks for reading!

As the New Year approaches I know I need to keep reminding myself to keep motivated and stay focussed. I wish all the best to anyone else going through a period of transition – it’s tough working things out and I know I sometimes just feel like I’m going round in circles, but we’ll get there. After all, you can’t have a good story without a good struggle :)

What’s blogging all about?

I was more than a little surprised to find the following, rather unfriendly and cryptic, comment in my inbox a few days ago. I was in two minds about sharing it but it’s brought up a couple of things I’d like to discuss, so here it is:

Forget the blog post. I won’t blow smoke in your face and say I’m so glad that I read your post. What I will say is that people who go by a pseudonym annoy me. No name, no way to connect on LinkedIn or follow on Twitter. As well, your subtitle is a bit self-defeating and not a good way to start the branding process. None of this would have to be said in the form of a reply if I knew who you are and how to contact you; because I would like to offer a bit of professional advice. Namely, I’m not the only professional old-timer who is going to see your talented prose but wonder, “Are you for real?” So, two things that piss me off: one) you are a talented writer, yet immature; two) I don’t know how to contact you to tell you this in front of others who are to follow your writing, including my much respected pen pal, Rebecca. Sorry if this offends you, Rebecca. Bob McIntosh http://www.linkedin.com/in/bobmcintosh1

Assault on the anonymous

I choose to blog anonymously for two main reasons:

1. I feel that it helps me to be more honest in my writing

2. I’d rather my current and potential employers didn’t come across my confused ramblings

I don’t write this blog as any form of self-promotion or marketing. I write it for myself, to help me to explore career ideas and thoughts and to share these with others, and to enable me to read the thoughts and ideas of others who I can learn from. Being anonymous allows me to do this completely freely.

A supportive community?

Until I received the comment above I was pleased to be part of what I’d so far found to be a welcoming and supportive community of like-minded people. To me blogging isn’t about always agreeing with others’ views, but it is about being constructive and supportive.

I’d love to hear your views:

– How do you feel about anonymous bloggers like myself?

– What’s blogging all about for you?

A thank you to fellow bloggers

blogonI’ve been blogging now for 4 months – it’s nice to get thoughts down somewhere and lovely to have people reading and commenting. I’m following some great blogs and I regularly enjoy reading thought-provoking and inspiring posts.

Rebecca Fraser of Career Avoidance 101 kindly nominated me for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award, which I very much appreciate, especially as I’m such a big fan of her own blog. And I’ve just found out that Ryan Balboa of Erasing the Stripes has nominated me for a Liebster Award, and again I’m very flattered. I only recently discovered Ryan’s blog and I’m looking forward to reading more from him.  It’s nice to know that at least two fellow bloggers are enjoying reading my posts! Thanks Rebecca and Ryan :)

I’m not going to strictly follow the award instructions here, but, in no particular order, here are a few blogs I like (in addition, of course, to the above two which you should definitely check out!). Nowhere near a comprehensive list, but some interesting and well-written blogs to take a look at…

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Farah Colette – I think this was one of the first blogs I started following; great writing style, amusing and honest.

Carolina Georgatou – some great photos and inspiring posts, I especially enjoy following her current portrait project.

Gen Y Girl – inspirational posts from someone who’s passionate about helping young professionals.

It’s a Man’s World – very readable, funny and honest.

Life on a Branch and stuffgradslike – tips from those who’ve survived the post-uni panic.

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With all of these awards floating around I’m discovering even more great blogs by looking up other nominees and nominators, and I’m definitely looking forward to continuing to find new inspiring blogs in the future.

Thanks to everyone who reads and follows my blog – and thanks for all of the great posts you write too!

Emotions are scarily powerful


They say we have nothing to fear but fear itself. This post is me admitting that up until now I’ve been making a huge mistake in the way I’ve been living my life: I’ve been letting negative emotions and fear dictate my choices.

I first started this blog in an effort to share my reading and learning on the process of decision-making, and a lot of what I’ve written about  is the question of whether to follow logic or intuition when making choices. I wanted the answer to be that it’s right to follow your intuition, to confirm that some of my past decisions were based on good solid intuition and not just fear and confusion – but it’s not, and they weren’t.

I’m not saying that these past choices were necessarily wrong, but I definitely let emotion get in the way of the decision-making process. I guess I dislike logic because sometimes it can go completely against feelings, and ultimately I want to feel happy. It’s scary how easy it is not to do something just because it feels uncomfortable in the moment – it’s surprisingly difficult to see past current emotions to a happier future.

There is something to be said for gut reactions (see my post ‘Logic versus intuition‘), but I’m starting to realise that my own gut feelings aren’t actually worth paying too much attention to! It’s all too easy to confuse discomfort and fear with a bad gut feeling.

I become irrational when I’m scared – I become defensive and make excuses, then later struggle to explain my actions. If you follow good old fashioned human logic then once negative emotions fade you’ve got something really solid to fall back on. Emotions aren’t permanent or fixed and, despite how strong they can be, they always fade.

A while ago I reviewed the book ‘The Chimp Paradox‘, and the more I think about it the more the model it teaches is perfect for learning how to get past fear and negative emotions. We need to remember that we can make a choice to act despite our emotions – fear truly is the only thing worth fearing because it stops us from making the most out of life.


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Rebecca Fraser of Career Avoidance 101 (a great blog – do check it out) recently wrote this post on fear, and I think there are more to come – I also love this quote on fear and courage.

5 ways to stop worrying about regrets


After my last post on the theory of accepting regret and moving on, I thought I’d share some of my own techniques for dealing with regrets and worries:

1. The worry scroll

I can’t remember where I read about this idea but it’s a great one. When you’ve got something on your mind that you keep going over again and again, picture yourself removing the ribbon from an invisible scroll, opening it up and writing your worry down, then rolling it back up, retying the ribbon and throwing it into a corner.

This represents noting the problem down as something to worry about later. You’ll know it’s there and you haven’t forgotten about it, and you can plan a time to get the scroll out and do some serious concentrated worrying! Whenever you find yourself thinking about it just stop and remind yourself that you’re going to go back to it and worry about it later. (I don’t usually get to the going back to worry about it, having it written down ‘for later’ seems to be good enough for me!)

2. Someone is always regretting something worse than you

You only have to listen to the news to realise that your mistake is probably insignificant compared the worries of others. And I’m not just talking poverty, famine and war, there are people in this world living with the regret of awful and/or tragic actions. People locked up in prison for taking the life of someone else, whether intentionally or unintentionally, must be suffering immeasurably, and arguably a lot more than you or I are for choosing one job over another, ending a relationship, messing something up at work or the like. Never forget this.

3. For how long will this matter?

One of my personal favourites. Whenever I’m feeling like an idiot I ask myself: Will this matter tomorrow? (The answer is probably yes, it will still matter to me tomorrow.) Will this matter next week? (Depending on the issue, possibly still yes.) Will this matter in a month? (Quite possibly not.) Will this matter in a year? (With the majority of worries, probably not.) I also try to think back to previous worries and remember how quickly they stopped mattering to me. Mistakes fade as time passes and new events replace the memory of them.

4. What have you learnt?

No matter how stupid you feel or how big an error you think you’ve made, you can always find something to learn from it. Focus on this positive, however small, whether it’s the fact you’ll now better understand others who make similar mistakes or that you’ll never make this same error again yourself. You don’t want this feeling again any time soon, so don’t forget what you can learn to prevent yourself from repeating the same mistake again.

5. You worry and regret because you care

I mentioned this in my previous post on regret, and I’m repeating it again here because it stood out to me. We regret things because we care about our lives and our goals and our dreams. We want to get things right because we care about ourselves, our values, our integrity. If you ever stopped caring about these things, then you’d really have something to worry about!

New Year motivation

After some unsuccessful interviews for jobs I wanted and another successful interview for a job I didn’t (on this occasion turning it down was definitely the right choice) I’m in need of a little motivation for the new year, so I thought I’d share 13 of my favourite quotes in the lead up to 2013…


1) Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out – Art Lunkletter

2) Everything is ok in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end – Anon.

3) When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, ’till it seems you cannot hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time the tide will turn – Harriet Beecher Stowe

4) Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent – Calvin Coolidge

5) It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up – Vince Lombardi

6) Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want – Dan Stanford

7) Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement – Jim Horning

8) The only good luck many great men ever had was being born with the ability and determination to overcome bad luck – Channing Pollock

9) Anyone who doesn’t make a mistake isn’t trying hard enough – Wess Robert

10) Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance – Bruce Barton

11) The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel – Steve Furtnick

12) Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm – Winston Churchill

13) Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could – Ralph Waldo Emerson


And here’s an interesting article: How to make decisions (it’s also reassuring to read the comments – we really do all make mistakes, and a lot of us find it hard to make decisions). The key thing I’ve taken from this article is clarification of the difference between following your gut and falling into psychological traps. If you can step back from your emotions and separate gut reaction from emotional reaction, then going with your instinct seems to make a lot of sense.

Happy New Year!

A vegetarian Christmas

lisa_the_vegetarianI’m a vegetarian and have been now for around 7 years. I have a number of reasons for this choice – I don’t particularly like the taste or texture of meat, I don’t like the idea of eating something that was once alive and that I definitely wouldn’t want to kill myself, and we have so many other options of what to eat that I kind of just feel eating meat isn’t necessary.

There are also health benefits to not eating red meat, though fish and white meats could be argued to be pretty good for you. I guess it really depends on how much of an effort you make to eat the right other stuff (beans, pulses, wide range of fruit and veg, cheese, milk and other sources of protein etc.) as to whether or not being a vegetarian makes you healthier than being an omnivore.

Am I a vegetarian for ethical reasons? Sort of, but I realise that from an ethical standpoint vegan-ism is really the only way to go (apparently cows have to regularly give birth in order to keep producing milk and the calves are taken from their mothers at a very young age). Eating less meat is also a great way to reduce carbon emissions, and having a strong interest in environmental issues I do try to do my bit! Although I now hate the thought of eating meat, I have no problem at all with anyone else choosing to eat it. This is just my own lifestyle choice.

So obviously I won’t be having a typical Christmas dinner, and I thought I’d share a lovely nut roast recipe that I first tried last Christmas and will be making again for tomorrow. Nut roast has a bad reputation as being boring and dry, however this recipe from the Guardian’s website is delicious: Felicity Cloake’s perfect nut roast (scroll down past the discussion of the different aspects to find the perfect combination)

Happy Christmas!

The perfect gift

presentsI hate buying Christmas presents – or more I hate choosing them. Giving is great when you know the perfect gift that’s really going to be appreciated, but more often than not I find myself looking for presents for the sake of giving something, anything.

I genuinely don’t think I’d mind if no-one bought me a Christmas present, I’d be more than happy with Christmas good wishes, yet when you know you’re going to receive gifts you feel you have to give something back in return. This year we’re baking presents for our extended family, though I’m not wholly convinced they’ll all appreciate our efforts.

Maybe I’m selfish – I dislike shopping at the best of times and I have a tendency to leave gift buying until the last minute. I know that others really like to receive presents, I’m just not very good at selecting those elusive ‘perfect’ gifts. Maybe searching for ‘perfect’, rather than good enough, presents is where I’m going wrong. Will I appreciate gifts, well-chosen or not? Of course.

My grandma always asks for a completely honest answer when she asks: do you like this/will you use this? Offering to take back presents and replace them with something more useful or preferred in return if the answer is no. I appreciate this effort to make sure that everything she buys and gives is actually wanted and useful – it saves waste and unused gifts lying around the house. However this seems to be a maximising attitude, promoting discontent.

At the end of the day, it’s the thought that counts, and even a generic gift shows that someone has thought of you. While I dislike the waste and materialism of Christmas, I’ll still be putting on my best ‘oh it’s what I’ve always wanted’ expression throughout the festive season.