Designing your future

Why is the name of my coaching practice Design the Future?

Partly because designing the future is what coaching is about and partly to remind myself and others how important it is to plan actively for our futures and not just let someone else send us in whatever direction best fits their agenda.

I look back and think what a tragically amenable child I was (and that’s me putting a good spin on it!), always taking it that adults and teachers knew best. Just one example: I wanted to spend some of my 6th-form “free” periods learning to type. The Senior Mistress looked witheringly at me and said, “You don’t need to type – you’re going to university.”

Well, quite apart from the fact that, at university, I had to produce my dissertation in German and typed which was difficult and expensive, as we all now know the world is centred around the keyboard.

And what business of hers was it to direct my life based on her academic snobbery rather than what interested me?

We owe it to ourselves to pursue our own happiness: however well-meaning other peoples’ advice might be, they aren’t the ones who are going to have to live the consequences of it on a daily basis.

You don’t have to do it with a coach – although, of course, I think coaching gives you advantages it’s hard to find in any one other place.

If you’re going to make the best choices, you need someone who will really listen to you, someone to give you objective feedback on your ideas and someone who can lead you to insights you might otherwise have missed while focussing on you as a talented and capable individual.

With coaching or without, plan for your success and take action to achieve it.

Have you chosen happiness?

Dr Robert Holden (www.happiness.co.uk) says that we shouldn’t chase happiness, we should choose it.

In other words, happiness isn’t something external, it’s something you have to find inside yourself.

Looking deep inside yourself, what makes you happy? Does your job make you happy? (Do you even expect it to?)

I would hope there are at least some aspects of your work that bring you happiness: have you stopped to think about what they are and how you can get more of them – either in your current role or a new one?

And in your personal life, what elements bring you happiness? How can you introduce more of these elements into your work?

Maybe you know someone whose job makes them happy and you can work out what it is they have or do and use that as inspiration.

And, while you’re upping the happiness quota at work, you could see if there’s more to be had in your leisure time.

One of the quickest and best ways (because it spreads the mood around) to feel a little happier is to make someone else a little happier: do something nice for someone else. It doesn’t have to be huge – give someone your seat on the bus; smile (but not in an inappropriate way!); pay someone a (genuine) compliment. You could just listen to someone’s problems – no need to say much, especially not a recital of your own difficulties.

You can “fool” yourself into feeling happier, too: just changing your posture can be a big help. Don’t sit/stand with your shoulders in a dismal slump – set them back and lift your chin so it’s parallel with the ground. Make it your default position!

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