Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Bloom is now using a new form of cognitive behavioural therapy - Acceptance and Commitment Training - in most of its interventions. ACT is a new, so-called '3rd wave' CBT which helps people to increase their psychological flexibility.

Basically, psychological flexibility refers to someone's ability to experience all of life's hardships (including negative thoughts and emotions) and still make progress towards their valued goals.

I'll be writing more about ACT in the next few weeks, but if anyone is interested in learning more about ACT, I recommend the following ACT training courses. Contact Henry at info@tir.org.uk if you'd like to find out more - some of the places can be funded through Train to Gain.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Job search in a recession

A lot of people I know - personally and professionally - are looking for a job. Some of our clients are looking to change career because they don't fulfilled in their last one. But more still are looking because they've either just graduated or have been made redundant.

A number of people in the latter two categories have approached me recently and so I thought it was about time I wrote a series of posts aimed at helping them.

The most common questions I get asked are:

1. Do you know of any jobs going?
2. What the best way of getting a job in a recession?
3. Can you review my CV?
4. What do you think I should do?
5. Does Bloom have any jobs?
6. How can I motivate myself?

I'm going to deal with each of these questions in turn, but if you have questions of your own, please ask!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Conscientiousness - the downside

Conscientiousness has been linked with a whole range of desirable work outcomes. It's linked to job performance, productivity, satisfaction, the works. Although theoretically it is neither good nor bad, most people see it as highly desirable.

But I believe my own conscientiousness has hampered my career. There is no doubt that my gratitude for a job, my desire to please people and my natural pride and competitiveness all translate into high levels of conscientiousness.

But if I hadn't tried so hard, hung in there, gutsed it out and showed such determination I'd have left my consultancy job earlier. If I hadn't been able to subjugate my own needs to those of other people I'd have followed my heart earlier. If I hadn't been so willing to tackle things that I didn't really care about I'd have realised that this isn't as effective as tackling things I really, really want to be remembered for.

In short, the trait called conscientiousness allows people to be good at most things. Being good at most things leads to the paradox of choice - how do you differentiate between all these things you can do? (More often than not, whatever pays the most and whatever other people think become the main decision makers).

But the loser is you, your dreams and a life only partially lived.

Friday, 18 September 2009

What is a job?

Imagine you wanted to appoint an employee to help you with your life. Imagine that you had to create a role for them, with a job specification full of tasks and responsibilities.

What tasks would you allocate to them? Let me guess, they're the tasks that you can't be bothered to do, the tasks you hate, the stuff you're not very good at or that takes ages to do. Basically, it's all the tedious crap.

Now flick through the job ads on Saturday and recognise those jobs for what they are. They aren't 'you' shaped holes designed around your unique skills and abilities to fulfil you. They are buckets into which someone has put a load of tasks they either can't do (best case scenario), won't do or don't want to do. What are the odds that this job is also the thing that provides you with a meaningful work life?

No wonder looking through job ads is so depressing for so many people. Unless you specialise in something you love, you'll be forever doing the stuff no one else can be bothered to do.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Climbing the right ladder - Bloom's 2nd anniversary

We're now entering our third year of business. For a brand new company doing innovative things in the world's biggest recession (TM), we think this is an achievement to be proud of. More importantly, we've delivered great results for a wide range of both organisations and individuals, and we've worked with great people along the way.

We believe our two operating principles of being evidence-based and remarkable have never been more important. We think being independent and values-driven allows us to focus on delivering what our clients want, not what we think they want. We also think that psychology is relevant to many - if not most - of the problems that people face on a day to day basis. So, to put it midly, we're feeling optimistic about the future.

Even better, on a personal level we are now doing what we set out to do. Life feels very different when you use your strengths every day, and you suddenly realise you're actually quite good at your job. It's even more of a shock when you start to - whisper it - enjoy it. It's been difficult to get to this point, but there's never been the feeling that this was the wrong goal in the first place. After all that time in the stats lab, that comes as quite a relief.

Talking of which, yesterday I picked up my Masters' degree at Goldsmiths. All my old classmates were there, full of energy and busy making their way in the world. It was great to see and excellent to see our lecturers there too. I'll always be grateful to have been a part of a group of such bright and welcoming people.

I've got two requests:

1. Keep in touch. We built something remarkable during our course and we can use our network to help each other in future. Don't rely on anyone else - write the email, attend reunions, ask for help and offer help.

View Rob Archer's profile on LinkedIn

2. Think about what you actually want. If there's one lesson that I have learnt it is that climbing the ladder is not the problem. Although new projects feel difficult at the start (stats coursework anyone?), almost always you will succeed in what you set out to do. The same will go for your careers.

The difficult part is finding the right ladder to climb in the first place. I climbed a ladder only to find it was the wrong one all along. And believe me, starting all over again isn't easy.

You can avoid this by taking some time now to think about what you are uniquely placed to do, and what sort of cause you want to put your strengths in the service of. Now's the time to look ahead and to think strategically about the sort of life you want to build.

Don't make the mistake of living someone else's life, or get fixated with climbing the rungs of the ladder. Instead, focus on what you want the world to look like once you reach the top.