Tag Archives: work

Lady with a baby coming through…

Having just come off the back of two maternity leave roles, it gave me pause to reflect on my maternity leave experiences.

I’d had ownership of my job for three successful years when it was time for me to go on maternity leave. I soon realised that I must let go of control and pass on my knowledge as much as possible because once you’re gone, there’s nothing you can do.

Honestly, after I left, I was too busy keeping a small human alive to even think about what was happening back at work, let alone worry who was organising the next conference.

When I came back from maternity leave, I realised that the world had kept spinning without me and my replacement had actually improved some of the processes. My worry about not having a job to go back to was quickly allayed when she went on maternity leave herself.

But then I discovered that I actually didn’t want me old job back anyway. In a strange twist of fate, having a child actually gave me the ambition to have a career, not just a job. I figured that if I was spending time away from my daughter, I better be doing something that was worth it.

And so I made moves towards loftier career goals and took a maternity leave contract role in a company that would expand on the skills in the areas I wanted to work in. I was fortunate enough to meet a lot of other strong career women there who supported me through my learning process and taught me that confidence is not a dirty word.

I learnt that self-belief is not arrogance, but ego can be weak and a sign of insecurity. I was also taught that it’s ok to be selfish and not selfless in order to get where you want to go.

Once my maternity leave contract ended when the mother returned, I took another maternity leave role from someone who had been in her job for over a decade and I think was freaking out, trying to control the only thing she could with the uncertainty of her first child on the horizon- her job.

And we all know better than that now don’t we?

Both the maternity roles I took gave me different opportunities and experiences, but I can honestly say that I am now done with stepping into someone else’s shoes, no matter how shiny they are. I’m ready to have this job of my own again in a new role that is mine for the taking.

Related posts: Work, work, work, Money vs Happiness, The hunt, Pride vs The Fall

10 things to do in Melbourne

As a Sydneysider, I am conditioned to think that Sydney is better than Melbourne. As much as I love Sydney, I still enjoy visiting Melbourne and can appreciate the city for its differences. Be it for a girls weekend, a wedding, a couples retreat, or to visit cousins- I’ve always had a good time in Melbourne-town.

First of all, the shopping in Melbourne is better than Sydney. It has the flagship H & M store, which is bigger than any that I have seen anywhere else and they have the few remaining Mango shops in Australia. Chapel St also has few more different fashion options.

I love shopping in the little laneways like the Block Arcade and the Royal Arcade with Suga- a shop where you can see them roll out and make yummy lollies. My favourite jewellery shop, The Rose Garden on the Walk Arcade, is where I bought all my wedding jewellery and accessories.

The next best thing about Melbourne is the shows. The theatre district near Chinatown always has a great blockbuster like Chicago or Avenue Q, sometimes before they make it to Sydney.

The beautiful National Gallery of Victoria is my top sight seeing pick. I was lucky enough to catch the Degas exhibit last time I was there- one of my favourite artists. The water-featured entry way always gets me straight away and the modern layout is spacious and light.

The Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium is also fantastic. The wonderful Emperor Penguins make it better than Sydney Aquarium, especially as they still have a shark tunnel.

Another good spot is the huge Fitzroy Gardens complete with Captain Cook’s Cottage. Melbourne loves its English style parks, and this one is my top pick.

Melbourne is known for its great restaurants from world class fine dining, to the Italian precinct on Lygon Street and casual laneway dining experiences like the Meatball and Wine Bar and Touche Hombre. All delicious!

It is also renowned for its serious café culture. And I must admit that these Melbourne-ites know how to elevate a café to the next level. My recent top pick is #hash with its signature hot chocolate science experiment served with fairy floss.

My favourite suburb in Melboure is St Kilda. It has the original Luna Park, the famous Esplande Hotel where they filmed The Secret Life of Us, the Beachcomber Café at St Kilda Baths and the weekend markets. I was lucky enough to live and work here for a couple of months and play the local, catching a tram into the office everyday.

With the newly renovated Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and me working on the conference circuit, there was another year that I went to Melbourne a lot. It was good as to discover the adjoining Southbank area with the Crown Casino and Rockpool Bar and Grill, both of which I rate better than their Sydney counterparts.

And of course the DFO is right near the convention centre for any last minute shopping emergencies, like suddenly finding out that you need to attend networking drinks at the Old Melbourne Goal.

And then there’s the tennis. Even this non-sports-lover has to admit that watching the tennis in Melbourne for the weekend was atmospheric; and I didn’t even get bored.

Related posts: Sydney vs Melbourne, 10 things to do in Sydney, Small town vs Big city

Money vs Happiness

Three things happened to me last week:

  1. My husband said that his goal for the next 5-10 years was to continue to be happy
  2. I finished up at my first job in the for profit sector
  3. I read that 52% of Aussies would sacrifice up to $10, 000 of their salary in order to feel happier.

When the first happened, I was surprised as I thought my husband’s goal for the next 5-10 years was to own a big house in the suburbs. Mine was to travel overseas at least once a year of course.

I thought his goal was sweet and simple and definitely achievable. The lesson of just being happy is one that I thought I had already learnt and one I actually remember teaching my husband about on a couple of different occasions when he decided to move on from a job. Perhaps it was a timely reminder due to the second occurrence.

The job I left last week, was my first job in a for profit company. Perhaps, because of this, I never stood a chance. I have no regrets, as I have always been of the school of thought that it’s better to go for it and find out, then always wonder what could have been. This theory works for relationships too I find!

It wasn’t about the people- there are good (and of course bad) people in every workplace- I just wasn’t happy. I’m not sure if it was even about being a for profit company either, for as long as I have purpose and passion I find I have the drive to work. So perhaps it is just that passion that I was missing.

Which brings me to point 3. I would definitely sacrifice money in my job to feel happier (although I shouldn’t have to!). And it seems I am not alone. We all know the theory that money doesn’t make you happy. But maybe it is money that makes you happy? Or enough money to keep your wife happy? Or maybe just having enough money to feel comfortable? And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Maybe it’s not about the fight between money and happiness at all, but about finding the right balance for you. As I embark upon my next round of soul-searching interviews to find the right fit for me, this is definitely something to keep in mind. At least I feel like I am getting closer. And as they say, this is the first day of the rest of my life.

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It’s not how good the music is, it’s who you’re dancing with

I heard this saying the other day and it made me think.

The dance floor could be the coolest one in the country with the hippest people and the best beats. But if you are there by yourself, with people you don’t really know and don’t really like, then its really not that much fun.

The funkiest cocktail bar with the best drinks can end up being a dive in the basement if you go with the wrong people and the music is too loud. The best restaurant in the trendiest suburb can be lack lustre if you go with people who aren’t that fussed with fine food.

Of late I have been catching up with a few friends from various parts of my life and it made me remember that these people are in my life for a reason. No matter what we are going through in our lives, even if it means we can’t catch up as often as we would like, when we do see each other life seems better when shared with these people.

There are the old work friends who I’ve kept in touch with because it’s not just about the job we did together, but I actually really like them as people as well. Their lives are diverse and interesting and they offer different perspectives on life.

There’s the wives of my husbands friends who have been around for over a decade or more and are now my friends in their own right. They make restaurants more fun and Saturday nights a family bonding experience for everyone.

And there are the special friends from near and far who and know my history and me better than I do myself. It is for these friends that I am truly grateful as they have the ability to pull me out of a dark place for a reality check and make me smile no matter how bad life can seem at the time.

Friends remind you that you are not alone, you are not crazy and it’s actually the rest of the planet that has gone mad.

So whether your daily soundtrack is Portishead or Ministry of Sound, it’s the people you are listening with that can make all the difference in the world.

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The Hunt

You may have been wondering where I have been for the last 3 months (or maybe you haven’t).

Where I have been is job hunting. And let me tell you, job hunting takes over your life.

There is always something else you can do. Recruiter meetings, coffee meetings, emails, phone calls, applying and interviewing. On the bus, at lunch time, not to mention your whole weekend. It never ends.

Job hunting is hard. The constant search for that perfect role in that perfect company that will not only progress you career, but be interesting and fulfilling.

The constant highs and lows, hope and disappointment that makes you feel like a manic depressive with bipolar.

Just when you think you’ve found something, the other person gets the job and the excitement fades to having to start all over again.

It’s very hard to keep the motivation going under such conditions- living in limbo and becoming forgetful due to the need to focus on the task at hand. It is a stressful time!

But I was fortunate enough to have a supportive husband, a new mentor and a great network of professional contacts who had more confidence in me than I sometimes had in myself. I only hope to repay the favour as needed.

So now I am happy to say that I am starting the not so new year with a new job, a new haircut, new shoes and a new hand bag.

But getting the job is only half the battle. There will also be new people, new tasks and a new battle to prove your value.

It takes at least another 3 months to learn how things work and how you fit in to all of it.

But you never know what you are capable of until you try right?

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Work, work, work

“Just because someone doesn’t see your worth, it doesn’t lessen your value.”

I heard this quote the other day and it really rang true for me.

I have always been a hard worker, hate sitting in the office doing nothing and will tackle just about any task.

But just because you are a hard worker, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get the promotion. Often lazy people who do nothing, but just know who to network with, are the ones that seem to get ahead. Maybe I am the one doing it all wrong?

I also don’t need recognition for my hard work, much preferring to do the behind the scenes work and have everything run so smoothly that it appears seamless.

But by being this way, I run the risk of others taking credit for my work. And by making it look easy, others don’t realise just how much work has gone into it and see my worth.

When hard work is not valued, it can lead to demotivation and mystification. Sometimes I really don’t understand why some people get away with things that I would be fired for.

For me, I guess that hard work has to be it’s own reward because I couldn’t adjust my personal standards anyway. Does this earn me respect in the short term? Perhaps not.

But in the long run, I think I am better off. I can see the tangible results of my hard work and feel like I have achieved something at the end of the day. Perhaps not the smartest move, but the happiest for me.

So maybe my worth won’t be recognised everywhere, but when the right people see my value, then their value rises too. And I would much rather be around people who share the same values. That’s just human nature right?

It’s why we choose the partners that we do, have the parents that we have and raise our children to be a certain way.

And you can bet that I will be teaching my daughter the value of hard work, so that that the right people can see her worth, and she has the option to stand on her own two feet whenever she needs to.

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Power Plays

The office sometimes seems like a high school playground with all the clicks, bullying and popularity contests replaced with power plays, bitching and favoritism.

I hate to be a woman who says it, and I am sure I am not the first to, but sometimes women in power are the worst of all.

I recently went to a seminar that basically surmised that women have the same issues workforce flexibility as they did years ago as it and that we need to challenge ideas about work to change the system.

This is hardly going to happen when we are too busy trashing each other and watching our backs to support each other.

A level playing field requires accountability and trust. Two things that can’t happen if you are too scared to make a decision in case the woman next to you pulls you apart or drops you in it.

The same seminar stated that the office is at least 10 years behind society and the social norms of women haven’t shifted.

Women are the primary carers, a title I was shocked to see required my acceptance of if we wanted to claim parental benefits. Sure, my husband could just as easily have been the primary carer, but our agreement was always that the one who was earning the least would be the one to stay at home- it just makes fiscal sense.

But how are women ever going to earn more than men when we are trying to compete with the boys club, fit into a limited window of opportunity and deal with the fact that we are discriminated against in interviews?

Hey, I get it, if I was an employer and was presented with two equally qualified candidates in their late 20’s- one male, one female- I’m sure I would make the same choice too. The assumption is that as a woman you will leave as some point soon to have kids, but this assumption is not always correct.

What about those that don’t end up having children or can’t have them?

Sure women don’t help themselves with the bitching, the moaning and the tears, but not all women are manipulative like that. There are those of us who don’t want children, want to earn an honest living, stop wasting time with all the bull shite and just get the job done.

My favourite take out from the seminar was that men have an important role as a co-parent. Only when you communicate about and share responsibility for the raising of the kids can true work equality be achieved.

So maybe the key is to find a supportive partner and then all the rest will fall into place?

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Having it all?

The concept of having it all is nothing new. We are all told as young girls that we can have it all- the handsome prince, the massive castle, 2.2 kids and the brilliant career.

But in today’s time poor society, is there room to have it all?

Being in a relationship takes work, having a big house costs money, the kids need a bit of both and the career takes up 8 hours plus a day. Factor in family, friends and finding time for yourself and it all can be a little overwhelming. Most of us, having all these things to juggle will find that one thing or the other suffers at some point.

I recently heard from a wiser woman, that what it really is about is choosing what’s important to you. But that is easier said than done. It takes time to figure out what the highest priority is and this can also change from time to time.

So what do you do?

Realise that you can’t please everyone. Sometimes that work deadline will have to be delayed so that you can pick up the kids from daycare, and the world won’t end if it does. On the flipside, maybe you are lucky enough to have a husband that can pick up the kids so that you can stay late at work if you have to.

It’s about choosing your battles. There are some wars that are not negotiable. Your husband may have to wait for their quality time until the kids go to bed, but that’s ok, as long as you don’t forget about him completely of course. Maybe you will have to take a step back from your career, but make sure you leave your options open in case you ever want to return. The grass is always greener right?

Sometimes an earlier than normal start or a later than normal finish to get in some exercise or spend time on a hobby are a necessity to feed your body and your soul. Yes, it’s time away from the family, but won’t you be happier and more present when you have been able to find this time for yourself?

Me, I’m still figuring it all out. Sometimes, that concept of work life balance and following my dreams seems very far away, but on my more positive days it feels like a distinct possibility. All I can do is make the most of what I have and not regret the decisions I have made that seemed like the best ones at the time.

Oh, and the battle about what’s more important- a big house or travel experiences- that one can wait for another day. When I’m not so busy.

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Emotion vs Logic

Also known as being impulsive vs think first.

We are taught to use the logical part of our brain to make decisions. Take the emotion out of it, write a for and against list and make the right choice according to the numbers.

This is especially true in the business world. Emotion and the work place definitely do not mix, especially when it involves an emotive email that you send in the heat of the moment without thinking and regret later.

Being impulsive at work often means poor planning and bad preparation which may ultimately lead to a lackluster delivery. Thinking first with a creative approach will almost always lead to better results and then you can just leave the being impulsive decisions for the last minute hiccups- this is called thinking on your feet.

But does this theory work in the real world and in your personal life?

Whenever I try to write a for and against list for a personal problem, I always figure out that I have already made the decision in my heart anyway. And what’s so wrong with that?

I find that trusting your inner intuition is always a good idea, especially when it involves whether to walk down that dark alley or not. And wouldn’t our personal life be boring if we made all our decisions logically?

We’d never date that bad boy, go to that rave party or jump out of that plane.

I think adrenaline junkies must always make impulsive emotional decisions and never think first! (Unless it’s about safety first perhaps).

Thinking first means coming up with all those reasons that you can’t try something new or step out of your comfort zone.

Being impulsive in life often leads to much fun that you may have not had otherwise or travel to a place that you may not have been planning to go to.

And I for one am always up for that (as long as finances and responsibilities are in order of course).

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