Each month I’ll pick three of my random musings, in the hope they’re useful. They might have been things I’ve experienced, read about or become aware of. Enjoy!

These are the November monthly musings. Three short ideas to give you something to ponder…

‘We often judge the pleasure of an experience based on how we feel at the end’

Woah. I read this in an article and it stopped me for a brief moment, not because I thought it was wrong, but because I appreciated it was probably right. Sometimes, this can be really helpful; if we’ve spent all day doing some hard work, we’re probably going to have enjoyed that less than the little rush of adrenaline and satisfaction we get when handing in the work at the end. But, how does this skew how we do things?

I was talking to a mum, and fellow runner recently, who explained difficult long races like giving birth – it’s painful at the time, but you go on adrenaline, and soon after you’ve finished, you forget the challenge, and remember the victory. This completely ties in with the above. So maybe the fact we forget the struggles is a good thing?

But I wonder what that means for our reality. Are we spending long periods of our lives stressed and unhappy, but forgetting them because at the end of each project we feel a rush of joy? Well, quite possibly. Does this also mean we could have enjoyed a wonderful social day out, but an argument on the way home totally mars the memory?

Don’t worry. It’s not all bad news, but I am going to give some advice; notice your feelings in the moment on the journey. Are you part-way through a project? Are you part-way through a weekend? Notice what you’re feeling right now. Then take a moment to think about different things going on for you; what’s happening in your studies, and work life? Which bits bring positive feelings, and which bits bring negative feelings – and what feelings are they? Excitement, fear?

Work won’t always be an easy ride. But if you can identify which parts of work you’re really enjoying, can you re-shift things so you have opportunity to do more of that?

Work and Rest

The two polar opposites. Or are they? Can you find work in your rest and rest in your work? Well, I think it has a lot to do with where you get your energy from, and what is an energy stealer for you. I am an introvert. Therefore, I don’t find being around people energy-giving, and sometimes, if I do too much, I even find it quite draining. That doesn’t mean I’m anti-social, and it doesn’t mean I’m not delighted to see you, or that I don’t love spending time with you and giving you support – I’ve chosen this job because I really enjoy coming alongside people in their journeys of life. But I also recognise that to recharge, or to rest, I need to be alone. What this does mean, is that I can actually rest at work. Let me clarify; I’m not putting my feet on the desk and having a snack, but what I mean is that if I’m able to re-charge my batteries by quietly getting some work done alone, I feel the benefit of that ‘rest’ – even though it is still, technically, work.

What does that mean for you extroverts? Well, a colleague mentioned the other day that they feel like catch ups, meetings and 1:1s can feel restful. They really enjoy chatting and gain energy through being around people. They come back from a meeting feeling and looking visibly energised, and would hate to be sitting alone to work.

So what does this mean for you, now, in this post-pandemic world? Well, it means balance. It means looking out for colleagues of different temperaments to you, and as a community help to fill each others metaphorical cups.

Notice what’s work, and notice what’s rest. It’s ok to make sure you balance as you return to the office. Or make sure you balance as you look to your future career plans. Where do you find rest? How can you build that in to your working routines?

Beware of shiny things

Recently I’ve been talking with friends in a range of sectors about work benefits. Especially as the return to office happens, but equally during the pandemic, there was a great range of ‘staff wellbeing’ activities or concepts, but one piece of feedback seemed to come from each of the people I spoke to; beware of the shiny things. What do I mean by this? Well, in some places the wellbeing stuff can be a bit… tokenistic. There might be a free drinks trolley on a Friday afternoon, or there might be a ping-pong table, or there might be training sessions on wellbeing… but if in an interview you ask what their commitment to staff wellbeing looks like and these are the answers, just beware. Because a free drink on a Friday afternoon doesn’t erase a blame culture. A ping-pong table doesn’t mean you’ll get to take your lunchbreak, and a training session on wellbeing I have heard a number of times, are obligatory sessions, late after work! Make sure when you’re seeking the right workplace for you, that there are genuine nods towards caring for staff. Does the CEO watch her child’s nativity play? How do they celebrate team birthdays/ life moments? How do they endorse and encourage a culture of work/life balance?

Consistently going home on time might feel a lot less of a shiny benefit than free snacks, but according to all those I spoke with, it’s a lot more highly valued.

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