Blue Sky Update – October 2021

I am grateful that we are now in November – after a busy but productive month. So, let’s review my life in October as a career coach, writer, and human being.

Zoom fatigue

Or fatigue from any other online platform you are required to use.

The more I work in front of a camera – the more I can appreciate and sympathise with those delegates/participants who choose to keep their cameras off or decide to have them on intermittently.

It is hard work looking at yourself and others all the time.

In her article, ‘Zoom Fatigue is Real – Here’s how to cope (and make it through your next Meeting), Taneasha White tells us our brains need to work harder to read facial expressions and decode tone through a computer screen.

It makes complete sense to me – luckily, the article also provides some practical tips for making all our lives a little easier. So, if this is something you think you might be struggling with, then read more here.

The power of reframing:

‘Cognitive reframing is a technique used to shift your mindset, so you’re able to look at a situation, person, or relationship from a slightly different perspective.1

Read more here

So, here are some of the things I have learned to reframe over the past months:

  • Ironing – is now part of my daily mindfulness practice.
  • The garden – is now my outdoor gym. And for the first time in sixteen years, I am starting to enjoy taking charge of our trees, shrubs, and plants.  I am happy if I can get outside at least once a day with my secateurs and lopper.
  • Except for my home office – the rest of the house is now an indoor gym, even better if you have stairs. Chasing a hoover around is a great way to step away from the screen.
  • My kitchen doubles up as either a university/college where I can listen to podcasts or disco as I travel back in time to my clubbing days via Spotify.

I will need these and other distractions over the coming weeks – as, for all sorts of reasons, October is a tough month and one that I need to work hard to get through.

And thank goodness for the workshops I am due to deliver this month.

Dealing with tough feedback

It is always lovely to receive glowing and positive, feedback – but what do you do when this isn’t the case?

How do you respond to negative feedback – what do you do with less than stellar responses?

To start with – take your time, so you can respond rather than react. Consider what truth might be present within the message – could this be a gift?

Is the messenger getting in the way of the message?

Because we have all been there, this article contains insightful and practical ideas if you find yourself struggling with this.

I particularly like the suggestion that we cannot act on feedback until we truly understand it.

So, I can only repeat, take your time – explore the feedback and check-in with those whose opinions you trust, ‘loving critics’ as described in Tasha Eurich’s article.

Looking after your voice

I did not expect to say this, but I am enjoying and becoming more comfortable hearing my own voice on tape.

Having started an Introduction to Podcasting course, I am now busily recording myself reading aloud. Our tutor suggested that we get to grips with how we sound and how our voices work.

So, now as I listen back to myself read from some of the stories I am working on – I can see three immediate benefits:

  • It is helping with how I edit and refine my writing
  • I can hear how I inject humour and emotion.
  • I can listen to the rhythms in my voice and when I sound a little flat and monotone.

Our voices are fantastic instruments, and I say this as someone who used to sing with a Gospel choir.

With so many of us working remotely, perhaps it is time to pay more attention to our voices and what we can do with them.  When I sang, I would regularly practice vocal warmups before rehearsals and performances. Why not do this before a presentation, an interview, or a meeting?

It sounds a simple thing, but it occurs to me that we might well be taking our voices for granted and not using them to our best.

So, I have a challenge for you – why not record yourself for a minute or two each day for the next week and see what you learn about your voice?

And for those of you who are game – have a go at Mark Baxter’s Vocal Warm-Up. It is Epic.

Taking a break

They say a change is as good as a rest, and that is what I will be doing partway through next week – taking a bit of a break to head off to Shropshire to catch up with some friends.

There will, I know, be ample opportunities to get outside in the fresh air and enjoy some lovely walks – something I have neglected in recent weeks. Work has been a little hectic.

And as October is usually a difficult month for me, scheduling some time away makes a lot of sense. So, this will be a fantastic opportunity to recharge and reset in readiness for the run-up to Christmas. Yeah, I said it. ????

So – how do you recharge and reset when you need to?

Until next month