Celebrating your past successes

I think it is really important to keep celebrating your successes in life. Recently I was doing something on my CV and I got to the end and remembered that I had the work from my Masters dissertation published when I was at UCL. It is was in a very niche area, and at the time was at the forefront of what was happening in the sector. So I Googled my publication to see how it was doing nearly 9 years down the line. I was blown away to see that it had been cited in a Natural England report.

The work I did looked at the larval dispersal rates of rare marine invertebrates and how this would impact on the design of Marine Project Areas around the UK. I researched a lot of historical and current papers on the species, and also interviewed top experts around the world. I learnt a lot from my Masters and from doing this research. In the small bit of time I spent looking at my paper on Google I saw that I had been cited 20 times and one of which was in the Natural England report see here.


That is one of the successes from my career that I would like to celebrate. It reminds me of how hard I have worked in the past, and how far I have come. This is why you should go through your professional life from time to time and remind yourself of the things you have achieved. In 2016 I received a lot of rejections from job applications, and I am still looking for my dream role. It was very disheartening, and in 2017 I know it will still be a hard slog. However I will not dwell on the reasons why I might not be getting that role I wanted, but instead celebrating the successes I have had.

Why we need more flexible working 

When your weekly commute leaves you this tired I start to ask the question why do we do it? 

Most mornings in our house starts with breakneck speed dressing, eating and barrelling out of the door. Getting a child to day care, getting a train to London and driving in early to get a parking space. 

We arrive in our respective offices exhausted. Then slog through the day and begin the rush again to get that train, beat the traffic, and get to day care on time to collect the child. Perhaps you do this to be home for a pet like a dog, or you have a long commute and have to get a specific train. Whatever the reason, wouldn’t it be better to be able to have a balance? 

Most business in a corporate environment is done between 10am and 4pm. So if you got to start your day at 8am, for example instead of spending an hour commuting, the business would get an extra hour in the day. 

If you didn’t have to wait on a freezing cold train platform five days a week and catch that 7th cold of the winter. Perhaps there would be less sick days. Adding on to that, perhaps a trip to the gym mid afternoon instead of sitting at an office chair would promote good health . Then making up a few hours in the evening instead because you can.

Society needs to step away from the traditional 9 to 5 office and start seeing the benefits that technology now brings. Chat programs, cloud platforms etc all allow us to work anywhere. You can have a face to face conversation with someone in a click of a button. 

I’m not advocating we all start sitting in our pj’s at home five days a week, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a choice and be able to mix up the week with some flexibility. 

I see lots of companies embracing this and I hope it will continue that way. When we say we are ‘agile’ in our projects wouldn’t it be nice to be agile in our work practices too! 

The Generous Leader

I really enjoyed reading Steven Messenger’s blog post on the Association of Project Managers website about what makes a good agile leader (see here). He focuses on the generous leader and the qualities that go alongside that. I have picked out a few that I can relate to:

Open Mindness

Be open to all ideas regardless of where they are from or how big/different they might be. If you can harness this as a project manager you will establish a creative and innovative team. I know that whilst working on the Policy Controls Rules Framework (see definition here)  project at Three, it was hard to find enough scope to have all the functional requirements and the “must have” non-functional.

I was hearing from the design team that we HAD to have the conference call feature for voice over wifi (the larger project); but the suppliers making the product said they couldn’t add it in without large additional cost. So I bounced it back and got the design team and vendor together at three workshops to come up with different ideas about how to add the feature in at different stages.

As we were following a waterfall framework it was not second nature to add something in that late in the game. But with the creative ideas of the vendor, and the intelligence of my design guys they figured out how to add the feature in a fifth release in a break during the sand pit testing with all the other voice over wifi projects.

It worked, and we got a working feature late in the game. It taught me not to be completely focused on the problem but to give the issue over to the team and give them a chance to find a solution.

Trust and Patience

Work on the basis of trust unless broken by expecting people to deliver the outcomes they have been trusted to do. Alongside this always acting in the same way as you speak. Having patience and not expecting failure, giving everyone in your team a chance.

Honesty and Respect

I like to tie this one into the “no blame culture” and giving lots of praise. Being honest about the bad, and celebrating the successes, even the small ones. Breeding an atmosphere of honesty gives natural respect. It teaches a team to take responsibility for their own actions.

Being Humble

The first step I have learnt is being able to forgive and not hold grudges. It is much better to stop thinking you are 100% correct and focus instead on listening and using your skills to find solutions.


Once of my 2017 goals is getting a mentor. I believe this is a vastly important quality in a good leader, both being a mentor and finding a mentor. Recognising skills and qualities you can share, and helping people grow.


What is the point of burnout if it achieves nothing faster or better? Focusing on delivering quality within an achievable time frame sounds like a fairy tale, but what is the point on over reaching and everyone burning out? Providing the security to your team to allow a sustainable pace is golden.

And finally…

Kindness and Care

I have really learnt the importance of this, not in my career but as a mother. You can’t build respect with your child if you do not give kindness and care. As most parents know toddlers push all your buttons, but being angry never solved it for me. Being able to step aside and find support when things get tough is much better. This is applicable in a work environment. Being kind goes a very long way.

I am always interested in good leadership qualities, I’ve written a few posts on this which can be found here and here.

Day 4 Goal Setting: Go Big or Go Home

Day 4 of my goal setting is a little late, but I have had a good amount of time to think. Remember to refresh your memory with my Day 3 post here and watch Jack Black of Mindstore’s Day 4 video here . For the final part of the process I decided to Go Big or Go Home. I have chosen a mixture of the big and bold, as well as the smaller goals.

Jack calls Day 4 extraordinary goal setting, not realistic achievable goal setting. The reason as Jack puts it:

“Not a single person inspired me from history started out with a realistic achievable goal. And another thing, no one gets out of bed on a Monday morning with a passion for a realistic achievable goal. The men and women who have always inspired me have set out with goals, dreams and aspirations that were truly truly compelling and aspiring”

So Go Home or Go Big. I am not going to worry about how I’ll get there, I am putting up goals that push my buttons. Jack has concluded that 7 goals are the right number – like the 7 days in the week, the 7 colours in the rainbow etc 7 is the number. His theory is that once you have these 7, the rest that you had (in the list of 30 from Day 3) will follow in due course. So first here are my title goals:

  1. Work for Google
  2. Earn over £45,000
  3. Better work life balance for Jules and I
  4. Get an agile qualification
  5. Get a mentor
  6. Life in Sydney again
  7. New bathrooms

The next step is to write the date you have set those goals and if you like, the date you want to achieve them by. Don’t let your self doubt get in the way – the voice in your head that says “I won’t be able to do that in year”. Write down what you want.

Once you have done this you need to create an affirmation to go with this. This is a sentence that you say about your goal. It contains the three “p’s”:

  • Personal statement (begins with “I”)
  • It is a positive statement
  • And it is said in the present tense

So you could start it “I have” or “I do”. So here are some of mine below. I did this for all 7 goals and you will notice the tip ex because I did it wrong the first time! I chose to share these three below because they all stretch over different time periods that I want to achieve them. Living in Sydney for example I have written 2020 next to. But the work life balance goal says 2018. This is because I wanted to share the length and breadth of what I wish to achieve. It’s not all going to be done by tomorrow it’s a long term commitment.


So goal chosen, date set and date to achieve, affirmation written. The next step is to add a short description. This needs to be very detailed, you can’t just put “make more money”, because as Jack points out you might find 10p in the gutter tomorrow and that would be achieving the goal. So really get the detail down about the goal, how it looks, how it feels. Finally add some images to your note book pages. This is very easy – perhaps the model of the car you want, or a picture of the house you want to buy.

I take one example for the description that I wrote for my goal better home/work balance for Jules and I. Jack isn’t specific, but I put it in present tense:

“I have a job which has allowed me to have access to both flexible working patterns and some work from home days. This has allowed Jules to request a second work from home day and step back on his hours. It allows us to both be there for our childcare arrangements and reduces commuting days.”

My pictures – well that was easy: a picture of a 3 bed rental unit in Sydney in Curl Curl because that’s what I want to do for living abroad goal.


Jack also suggests the following to help remind you of your goals:

  • Take those images and put them in places you least expect. For example the picture above I am going to put on the inside of my kitchen cupboard door where I get my mugs from so that first thing in the morning I see it
  • Take the wording of your goals and abbreviate them and use as your passwords- for example “Work for Google” could be wfgoo@2018. The date added perhaps being the date you wish to achieve it by

The principles of these actions is that you are mentally programming this goal into your daily life. By visualising and reminding yourself every night or morning it allows you to be constantly acting upon these goals. The more you do, the more creative you might become. I’ve only just got my notebook sorted but I want to have a go at all of these things. So stay tuned…I will be writing this from the Google office this time next year!


Day 3: Goal Setting with Jack Black

It’s Monday morning so I think that is a good time to post my write up of Day 3 goal setting with Jack Black of Mindstores. So start by viewing Jack’s video on You Tube here, and you might want to refresh your memory of my posts of Day 1 and Day 2. I really enjoyed Day 3 of Jack’s series, as this was the chance to write down some of the things I “want” out of my future. The exercise was to write 30 things you want to do in your life, within a time limit of 11 minutes. If part way through you ran out of ideas, Jack said imagine if I stopped the clock. Then stepped in and said, I am giving you £1 million. Now continue as if you had that backing behind you. I referred to my clock face from Day 1, which shows the ratings from various areas of my life.


Here’s my list of 33 goals in 11 minutes:

  1. Work for Google
  2. Earn over £45,000
  3. New job be attainable this year
  4. Have flexible working to allow some work from home days
  5. Log cabin in the garden for our home office
  6. Spend some time in living abroad in Australia again
  7. Safe delivery of Maingard No.2!
  8. Better job balance between Husband and I
  9. Live in Berkshire again
  10. Successfully rent out a property again
  11. Have a weekly sports/exercise class
  12. Start indoor climbing again
  13. Ride horses again
  14. Work in London
  15. Work in Sydney
  16. Go to India
  17. See Husband’s friend Yoshi in the Caymen Islands for a family holiday
  18. Save more money
  19. Achieve save, secure childcare for 2 children
  20. Get my Agile PM qualification
  21. Contribute to the Association of Project Managers Women in Project Management group as a volunteer
  22. Get a mentor
  23. Become a mentor
  24. Produce a standout CV
  25. Make more friends locally
  26. Have a month’s holiday to Australia
  27. See other parts of Australia
  28. Go to the Isle of Skye
  29. New bathrooms in my house
  30. Big loft conversion
  31. More readers on my blog!
  32. Increase my happiness score
  33. Be more positive

I found the first 10 really easy, they just came to me because they were at the forefront of my mind. The next 10 – 15 were harder, and I had quite a lot of time left, so I applied Jack’s “£1 million” concept. If I had £1 million, well that’s easy, I ended up with 34 things in 11 minutes. It is surprising how much you can put down if you think you have an unlimited resource to achieve them.

Jack Black talks a lot about how we struggle with our goals because we spend too much time thinking about the details of how we will achieve them. I was initially caught up in this but I tried to push past, and when I did I got so much more. His analogy of Jim Carey was excellent: Jim Carey was a struggling actor. He wanted to be successful so one day he started visualising his image on all the bill boards in Hollyword. He then wrote himself a large check and put it in an envelope and believed that it could happen. Less than a year later, he was on those billboards, and when he opened his envelope he realised he had achieved that amount of money and more.

Tomorrow is Day 4, the final day and the big one. Get ahead with Jack Black’s video here.


Day Two of Goal Setting 2017

So yesterday I completed Day 2 of Jack Black’s four day goal setting guide. Jack Black of Mindstore (see here) gives a complete You Tube video guide to a four day program for settings your goals for the up coming year. I started with Day 1 (see my post here) following Jack’s You Tube video found here.

So now for Day 2 – check Jack’s Day 2 video here first

There are two aspects to this session, creating a list of ten things to eliminate from your life and physically clearing space making room for the changes ahead. Jack highlights the fact that the past year for him certainly flew by. Well for me, I can say that I also agree it went very fast. There were some really high, and some really low points. One of the biggest things I can take away from 2016, is how all over the place I was  and how I didn’t know what I wanted to focus on. Going forward to 2017 I want to make sure I can focus exclusively on my goals, and I can see that I need to make room both mentally and physically.

My elimination list

This wasn’t easy, I actually struggled to find ten things. Perhaps because some of my goals are around career and mental attitude? Anywhere here they are:

  1. Negative conversations. I bored everyone I know in 2016 with the same topic, I am really going to try and drop this habit
  2. Excessive clothes shopping. A very naughty habit of mine, when I am bored I go online and shop. It’s an expensive habit, even if most things are returned. So this year I am not buying any new clothes (yes there will be some rule around this). I have created my capsule wardrobe ready (see points at the end of my post)
  3. Clutter. I am doing my big January tidy up as part of this goal setting process and I am determined to keep it that way – clutter free
  4. Believing I’ll fail before I start. In 2016 I expected a lot of ventures not to work out, this included things like job interviews. There is no room in 2017 for this!
  5. Driving to the local shop. I like this one because it’s a naughty habit – I can walk there in about 10 minutes. It’s time to get some exercise and make every step count
  6. Living in the past. A really hard thing for me to let go of, I made some decisions in 2015 which I regretted, but it is time to move on and build a new future
  7. Grumpy mornings. Yes you all know about those!
  8. Wasteful spending. Oh Amazon Prime you are my downfall, this follows on from point no.2 I need to stop buying unnecessary things and focus on saving
  9. Food wastage. We are not bad in this house, I manage a weekly food shop on £40. However somehow the fridge still gets emptied with wastage, I want to reduce this
  10. Scruffy garden. Well there has to be one big one in there – I’d like to culture a natural garden but tidy

Making Room – Get out your bin bags 


The clutter drawer – we all have one – the drawer where you throw all your random bits. The highlight of the process I’d say, it is an example of where to start. So under Jack’s guidance I got out my bin bags and started going through my house, the drawer was my first area. All the random receipts, broken plastic toys, keys, odd DIY tools end up in one drawer in our kitchen. It never gets sorted, but I am pleasantly surprised to say it was actually easy to go through and to let go of things. Why had I let it become so messy? It is like the mind, you start with clear intentions, but if you do not create that mental space how do you allow future growth.

It wasn’t just the drawer, I have progressed this method to the rest of my house, and to my electronic devices. The wardrobe, the shoe cupboard, the study desk drawers (broken mouse? old sim cards). My laptop; I tied my files, sorted my cloud space and got my folders in order. Uploaded all my photos to Google Photos, and then removed from my hard drive. The act of clearing has indeed some created a sense of space and flow which I have not felt in a while.

The hardest one for me was the attic, I was really interested to hear how Jack mentioned that this can feel like a weight from above. I didn’t realise quite how true that was until I got in there and sorted and arranged. Now I feel better, we have about 1/3 of the stuff we had before in there and it is organised and labelled. With the above my head tidy, I know everything else can trickle on down through.

A couple of tips for doing this:

  • Have you tried a capsule wardrobe yet? I can highly recommend this. It speeds up your morning dressing routine leaving valuable mental space for the rest of your day. You can feel confident in what you are wearing, and also know everything goes together. Check out this guides for achieving this.
  • Moving on your possessions: We fill landfill and waste items at a remarkable speed. What about passing on your good items? I use a variety of methods for this; Ebay for selling, Freecycle for free items to local groups,  Facebook local pages and finally the charity shop.
  • Google Drive and Cloud Storage: I just uploaded all my photos to Google Photos, and set up automatic back up on my devices. It means my photos are never going to be lost and I don’t have to store them on my hard drive. Google Drive allows for my other files which can now be accessed anywhere.
  • Spam emails: I don’t want an inbox full of clutter, it takes too long to get to the things that matter. So I have taken the time to unsubscribe from newsletters, and assign spam to other items.
  • A positive box: This isn’t technically clearing our or sorting, but I am fed up of coming home at the end of the and wasting precious mental energy on the things that went wrong. So I’ve started a jar on which I write one grateful thing and put in. Leaves me feeling lighter.

So that is Day 2, lots of work in there for you (and me) but extremely satisfying when you get started. I feel order returning to my house, and my life, and my mind clearing. Tomorrow I will watch Jack Black’s Day 3, go ahead and get a preview here.

I leave you with a frosty Thursday morning: