Paused for thought

Paused for thought

Monday, 18 January 2016

Monday coffee break - 18th January

Tim Peake’s space walk last week caused great excitement in our household. The idea that you can become an astronaut and walk in space and live in space and still communicate with Earth is a source of fascination for our young children. Not only did it spark conversations about space, it also sparked a discussion around career choices. Vet to refuse collector, fisherman to accountant, gardener to administrator, we talked about them all.

I’m not sure if it stems from career advice at school, my HR background or my outlook on life, but I realise how lucky we are that we can have these conversations. That no profession is out of bounds and, perhaps more importantly, that it is entirely possible and sometimes necessary to change our career, which we can do with increasing ease. I think back to my parents’ generation. There were definitely some vocations now considered mainstream that were thought to be more unsuitable than others. In an interview with Jeremy Paxman conducted back in 1999, David Bowie discusses how he wanted to be a musician because it seemed “rebellious”, “subversive” and “a dead dodgy occupation to have”, whereas entering the world of pop or rock music is now a “career opportunity”. You don’t have to look far for courses to suit any budget to support your chosen occupation or career change either. Future Learn is a fantastic resource, as is the Open University, depending on what you are looking to study. Part time courses, full time courses for mature students, anything is possible.

Whilst I delight in this, I wonder if there might come a time though where the world of work becomes so accessible to so many that we might be in danger of becoming a nation, or several nations, of, to quote a famous saying ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’? That we will lose those essential skills necessary for any civilisation. Only last year there were reports that bricklayers were in short supply in the UK compared to the demand for new housing. I wonder if that will happen to a number of professions as others seem more attractive or as people change with ease between different occupations trying to find their perfect fit. I have no solution for this, except to add my thought that investing more in teachers and careers advisers to excite children and adolescents to follow their dreams and remain focussed and positive despite any setbacks that occur is surely a step in the right direction. Some people need change, some people want change, but there should be an element of celebration for those who decline major change too. For those who ride out the mistakes and wrong directions, for they will happen, and come through with increased determination.

For the meantime, I must return to my career change – once an HR professional, now a mother, housewife and occasional writer. The irony of my thoughts sitting on my shoulders as I ponder over them.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Monday morning coffee... 11th January

I don’t know if this is just my perspective, but as life passes time somehow seems to pick up speed. One moment it’s the summer, next we’re cantering into January. I’m not sure it felt that way when I was 8. There’s something about New Year that I love though. I used to be saddened by it, surrounded by celebrations I felt like I was waving goodbye to an old friend I hadn’t quite finished having a conversation with and I wouldn’t see again. Now towards the end of each year I start to look forward to it. The memories from the year are still there, not going anywhere and perfect building blocks for future endeavours, but the first day of January brings fresh opportunity every time and seems like the ideal moment to choose whether to let something go or make it work out. There have been some sad decisions along the way, but mostly I tend to be an optimist and believe that if things are meant to be then, with varying levels of time and attention, I can achieve them. New Year could be any given moment in time, but it is there, a recognised date in our calendar when we can wake up with a fresh face to our dilemmas, dreams and successes.

I’d wager that New Year also brings with it a raft of resolutions made across the globe. Now we’re a week in, I wonder how many are still standing. The new diet, exercise regime, fresh wardrobe? I make them all and stick to most with limited success. That said, every year as a family we make one resolution that does continue all year long. We choose a charity to support, whether it’s through a cake sale, regular donations of money or goods to sell in their shops, or small scale parties, and we all get involved. This year our children chose the charity (Blue Cross) and we are spending time finding out more about them, the work that they do and how we can help. Last year I was fascinated to follow the inspirational Caroline Jones and her Knickers Model’s Own campaign. What a wonderful way to inspire charity shop purchases whilst simultaneously raising money in memory of her late mother. Although I don’t profess to be as creative, her enthusiasm and determination to raise money in a fun and thoughtful manner has inspired me to think of ways to fundraise that we haven’t tried before. So thank you, Caroline.

It is with that thought I leave you to put my own brain into gear and think of ways my family might be able to have some fun whilst raising money this year, and progressing with the one resolution I know we will stick to.

I’d love to hear about your resolutions! Happy Monday.