5 essential questions to reconnect you with your career path and reignite your job spark

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Feeling lost and uninspired with your career? Ask yourself the following questions…

5 essential questions to reconnect you with your career path and reignite your job spark

We spend a large portion of our days, weeks, and lives at work, to the point where, often, the time we spend on developing our careers and businesses outweighs time with friends and families.

This isn’t necessarily negative; hopefully our work supports us to live with meaning. But, sometimes, we may not feel aligned to our role, or valued by our employer, or feel positively challenged by our job. Perhaps, our values no longer match with the organisation we work for, or the lack of career progression may be holding us back.

As with all areas of life, things can change. Our ambition might outgrow the current role we have at work.

Maybe we are returning from maternity leave with a renewed sense of identity, perhaps we have a new manager who doesn’t support our career ambitions, or we realise that a 50-hour working week isn’t for us anymore. It’s common to have these thoughts, and to feel out of sync with our working life for some time before we review and act towards change. Job security and financial stability can outweigh the possible risks that come with a career move, and we can start to feel ‘stuck’ instead of curious.

But the pandemic has created a shift in workplace culture, and the changes towards flexible working have provided new opportunities, reduced commuting, and minimised office politics for many. As a life and career coach, many of the clients I work with share thoughts on wanting to make a positive impact through their work, wanting to feel more fulfilled, and to have more of a balance between work and home.

As with all big life decisions, it is important to move through the fear that we first notice, and into a place of open-minded possibility. So, ask yourself these five questions that can help you to reconnect with your career path and purpose.

1. Is your work ‘meaningful’ right now?

Having a sense of purpose in our work keeps us motivated and allows us to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. What do you love most about your role right now? Assess how your company’s values align with your own personal ones. Make a note of when you can influence positive change in your projects. Recall the colleagues that inspire you, who share your vision for a supportive work environment.

2. Is your current role making you feel valued?

Knowing that we are making a difference, and that our time and contributions matter, is how we feel fulfilled. Reflect on recent feedback, and note the contributions you have been thanked for. Assess where and how you enable your team and organisation to achieve objectives – does this make you feel proud? Being appreciated helps our motivation. Who is championing you and sees your potential?

3. What new skills are you learning through work?

Our capacity for learning is endless, and each opportunity for growth taps into our potential. Access to learning and development keeps us engaged and motivated, whether this is through formal learning, observing, or saying ‘yes’ to new experiences. Does your curre

The Little Things Newsletter #324 – Life, laughter, and lots of great food!

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Welcome to the weekend, my friends! I’m in Arizona this week visiting family and avoiding that swell summer sunshine as much as possible. It sure does make me miss my beloved Ohio. 

Anyone else enjoying the last days of summer while also getting excited about fall? I’m really enjoying the cooler mornings lately. (And yes, I know, I’m weather obsessed. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon.)

ON THE BLOG this week: This potato salad made with roasted potatoes is a whole new world of potato salad awesomeness and you need to try it asap. A tangy creamy dressing coats every bite of this salad along with hard-boiled eggs, olives, and pickles.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream is an old-fashioned favorite when made simply with strawberries, sugar, and cream (or milk). Just a few ingredients adds up to a summer ice cream treat that everyone loves.

Cheese and refried beans meld together to create flavorful enchilada layers in these Cheesy Chicken and Refried Bean Enchiladas. We typically serve them warm with plenty of tortilla chips on the side for scooping the enchiladas.

Chocolate Quinoa Cake has the texture of a traditional cake, yet no special flours are required. This is pure, sweet Chocolate Cake made without any flour at all. This cake has blown my mind. Just writing about it here makes me grin as I think about how perfectly moist, rich, and chocolatey it is.

Grab a spoon, you are going to want to eat this Whipped Cream Frosting straight from the bowl, or go ahead and dive in with fresh strawberries.

What I’m CRAVING: This Spaghetti Pizza caught my eye this week and now we have to try it. I’m thinking it will be a big hit with my boys.

My FAVORITE THING this week is this super lightweight scarf. While I almost never actually wear a scarf, this one travels with me nearly everywhere I go. It’s a travel blanket on road trips, it’s a shawl if a movie theater is cold, and it does double duty as a pillow or a blanket on chilly flights. It folds or rolls to an almost unbelievably small size, making it perfect for tucking into a carry-on.

I bought what I have called for years “the perfect scarf” on a work trip about 8 years ago. Unfortunately, the brand discontinued the scarves and I’ve never found another one like it. (And I have tried a whole lot of different scarves that were listed as “travel scarves.”) But this scarf? I’m ecstatic over it. I love it every bit as much as my “perfect” one and I now have backup and a perfect scarf to share wit

Project Soothe: the global photography project helping to induce a calm mind

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Scientists have found that merely viewing images of beautiful landscapes or cuddly animals can induce a sense of tranquillity in these troubled times. Welcome to Project Soothe… and here’s how you can take part

Project Soothe: the global photography project helping to induce a calm mind

Perhaps it’s daybreak, as the sun rises over a rolling, verdant landscape. It could be the afternoon, as a cat cuddles a soft, white toy and sleeps peacefully in bed. Or maybe it’s evening, and the sun sets over a mountain, green trees framing a pinky-purple ocean.

These tranquil scenes are among the most soothing photographs taken by ordinary people, designed to relax and calm. Today, scientists at Project Soothe, a research website of super-soothing images like these, say that “landscapes, water features, trees and flowers, animals, and skies” all induce a sense of ease and calm.

Project Soothe is a global citizen-science project based at the University of Reading. “Our goal is to collect soothing images by you and me, to help people self-soothe,” says Professor Stella Chan, who founded the project in 2015.

Professor Chan was working with patients with brain injuries when she discovered that imagery can calm and quieten patients. She says she found that not everyone could “imagine” their own picture in their mind’s eye. So, she decided to gather photographic images for the patients to view and self-calm.

It works, too. I spent an hour looking at photos of my two cats and a roaring fireplace: things I love dearly and like to spend time with after a day at work. I felt happy and warm inside after viewing them. The pastel pink colour of one cat’s ears stood out as particularly cute to me, and it immediately made me feel very happy and calm.

Project Soothe: the global photography project helping to induce a calm mind

A recent study shows I’m not alone, and we all have a shared understanding of what soothe means to us – feeling calm, relaxed, and at ease. One man taking part in the study said: “Feeling soothed is in the moment, present-focused, relaxed.” A woman added: “It’s a state of aloneness or detachment from my surroundings where I feel calm, warm, safe, and secure.”

Some people find mindfulness meditation is a source of soothing for them, too. One woman said: “I listened to a short mindfulness audio tape, which helped me to focus on my breath. It helped me to focus through visualisation, and I got a sense of strength and calm after listening to the audio tape.”

Another participant said: “I was in bed, relaxed and with music on and I was soothed when knowing that all my work and tasks were done. I was both happy and optimistic.”

Human stories like these, along with others, show us that we agree on what’s soothing: solitude, affiliation, mindfulness, connection with nature, and physical sensations.

Now these findings from researchers are helping mental health practitioners and clinicians support individuals to develop self-soothing strategies. And the sense of soothing extends to young people, too.

Project Soothe is working with young people with Read more

Could a new training programme teach you to sleep better?

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A new training programme from The Sleep Charity has been launched to help us get better sleep

Could a new training programme teach you to sleep better?

Sleep is vital for our health and wellbeing, and yet 40% of the adult population have experienced sleep issues, which go on to impact their mood, behaviour, concentration, and overall productivity. Even so, if you’re going through difficult phases with sleep, it can feel as though there is nowhere to turn, and few solutions to the problem.

In a survey conducted by The Sleep Charity, 57% of UK adults shared that they felt there is a lack of support for people with sleep issues, and 48% went on to say that companies should offer support for staff who are having trouble sleeping.

According to the NHS, upon visiting a GP to talk about a sleep problem such as insomnia, they will usually try to uncover what the cause may be, and then refer you to the right treatment. For example, you might be referred to a therapist for cognitive behaviour therapy, which may help change thoughts and behaviours around sleeping. Sleeping pills are also sometimes, though rarely, prescribed for a few days or weeks at most.

In a bid to offer practical support, The Sleep Charity has launched a five-part course which explores a range of topics including sleep psychology, insomnia, menopause, mental health, and ageing.

Developed by leading sleep science expert, Professor Jason Ellis, five modules each work through the topics, asking and answering questions such as, what is normal sleep? How much do we need? And, how do sleep problems develop?

“We are delighted to be working with Professor Jason Ellis on these courses, truly focussing on adult sleep and the effects that ageing, menopause and mental health issues can have on sleep and overall wellbeing,” said Lisa Artis, The Sleep Charity’s deputy CEO.

“We've had some incredible feedback from our Workplace Sleep Ambassador training courses and wanted to expand our training options specifically for those working and supporting adults to further empower the whole nation to sleep better.”

The courses come following on from a time when there was an increase in the number of people struggling to fall asleep during lockdown – with a study from King’s College London and Ipsos finding that more than half of people experienced some form of sleep problem during that time.

“Not surprisingly we are all experiencing mounting levels of stress,” explains psychotherapist and Hypnotherapy Directory member Ann Hamilton, told us at the time.

“Stress can make it difficult to concentrate, enjoy emotional balance and restful sleep. Increased cortisol elevates the stress response and shifts the sleep-wake balance in the brain, which increases sleep fragmentation and ultimately leads to insomnia.”

If you would like to learn more about The Sleep Charity’s new modules, visit thesleepcharity.org.uk, or you can call the National Sleep Helpline on 03303 530 541, calls are charged at your standard network rate.

Whipped Cream Frosting

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Grab a spoon, you are going to want to eat this Whipped Cream Frosting straight from the bowl, or go ahead and dive in with fresh strawberries!

Whipped Cream Frosting on Chocolate Cake

Easy Whipped Cream Frosting

Whipped Cream Frosting is perfect for rich cakes as the frosting is not too sweet. You know the one bite and done frostings that you scrape off of the cake? You won’t be scraping this off.

It adds just the right amount of sweetness, especially when paired with dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate. The light sweetness goes so well on angel food or citrus cakes like lemon too.

If buttercream is sometimes too heavy for you, whipped cream frosting is the answer. The biggest difference between the two is that the whipped cream is light and airy as opposed to the heavy richness from the butter base of buttercream.

When using whipped cream frosting you will need to store the frosting in your refrigerator and keep it cool. You can plan for the cake to be good for 2-3 days. It will start to dry out after that and your frosting will likely weep.

I also suggest sticking with one-layer or two-layer cakes. It is a softer icing and does not form a crust so using it for that wedding cake tower would not be recommended.

Whipped cream frosting is perfect on chocolate cakes, such an easy dessert that no one turns down. Hershey’s Chocolate Cake is truly the most versatile and easiest one-bowl chocolate cake recipe I have ever made.

This Chocolate Crazy Cake is one of the easiest cakes you’ll ever make and you don’t even need any butter or eggs to make this recipe.

If you haven’t yet tried the unforgettable Chocolate Quinoa Cake, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. There isn’t a hint of “quinoa” taste to the cake and it’s also the easiest gluten-free cake you can make without any special ingredients required.

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