While many people make resolutions at the start of a new year, I prefer to focus on the new things I want to achieve over the coming month. And in particular this includes new skills. In fact, there’s two occasions during the year that I tend to take up new activities and it happens to coincide with the academic terms in September and January. Maybe that’s because it’s easier to find evening classes starting up and online courses are being promoted more at those times of year, but mostly I just think it’s down to me having a bit of time off and having the chance to reflect on what new things I want to learn.In September I started to learn Spanish but time constraints meant that I never quite got through all the practice tasks for the beginners’ Spanish lessons so I couldn’t progress at the same speed as the rest of the course. Nonetheless, I have all the documents and workshops sitting in my inbox so I can get started up again whenever I get some time. I guess I’ve just got to make time, right?!The other course I started in September was ballroom dancing. I went along to my first class on a dark Thursday evening and was immediately hooked. Well, who doesn’t want to be waltzed around a dance floor like a princess, eh? The added bonus was that latin dances were taught alongside the traditional foxtrot and quickstep ballroom dances, so I discovered that I quite liked these too. Who would’ve thought that I would enjoy dancing a rumba? I certainly didn’t see that coming! The beginners’ course has just finished and I loved getting my head around the steps. I’ll be back for more as soon as I can.So this January I want to focus on developing my crafting skills and it’s the wool-crafts that I want to focus on. Excuse the pun but knitting has always had me tied up in knots. Continue reading “Learning a new skill in 2017 – Knitting” »
Over the years I’ve done a lot of studying online. I’ve studied branding, community journalism, IT and marketing, to name just a few. And, no surprise, I’ve completed a course in Personal Development via distance learning too. I studied the course, completed assessments and gained a qualification without ever meeting a tutor or any other students. For some of you, it may feel a little lonely to miss out on that human connection and social interaction with your peers but don’t worry; you can communicate with other course members through forums and email.For me it was a really convenient way to learn; it meant that I could study as little or as much as I liked, and could complete the course in less time as I wasn’t attending a certain number of lessons or spending time on class discussions. Plus, once I’d competed each course, I could proudly add it to my CV. I really like this way of learning and here a three reasons why you should consider it too:
Paper-free studying – The course materials are all the same as with a regular course, just that you’re able to experience them ‘paper-free’. No more textbooks or journals cluttering up your home, or files full of notes on your desk. With online learning it’s all contained within your laptop and assessments are usually online or submitted via email. Continue reading “Personal Development – 3 reasons for learning at home” »
Are you currently working in a job you enjoy? Perhaps you’re an intern, or are working on a gap year, or just starting out in a new full-time role. Maybe you’ve already bagged your dream job and the only way is up? No matter what stage in your career, if you want to continue to work in your sector and develop new skills in order to progress up there is something you can do right now to become more talented at your current role. It’ll help you become a valued employee in the organisation you’re working for, earn you a pay rise and make you more employable in the future. What is it? Learning as you work.They say that there’s no longer a ‘job for life’, and that is partially true. Compared to our grandparents’ generation, who may have had the same role in the same factory for 50 years, it’s unlikely that this is how our working lives will pan out. But there IS such a thing as a career for life. And yes, there is difference! It’s about finding the job that makes you feel like you’re not really working because you enjoy it so much (for me, that’s writing) and sticking with that career for your whole life. You can change companies, work freelance, do work on different projects and collaborate with various people but, essentially, everything you do is linked to your ‘career’. When you start to see it like that, you can identify ways to learn from every experience you have.
Think of it this way, your CV is a work in progress. Okay, usually we only write a CV at the start of our working lives, once the education part is out of the way. We might update it with work experience when we look for a new job, but it rarely gets much attention other than that. I personally like to update my CV every year. Even though I work freelance and never really apply for jobs, it’s still a great way to keep track of the skills I’ve learnt from the projects I’ve worked on throughout the year. And the getting the most out of every project is the key point – learn as you work and you’ll add more and more value to your ‘offer’ as an employee.
What are your plans for the weekend? Not all that busy? Well I’ve just found out about something that I’d love you to get involved with. A series of special events is taking place in and around London this weekend and, if you’re anything like me, I think you’d love to go to some (or all!) of it. Yes, if you’re a thrifty-minded soul with a love of fashion (and all things earth-friendy) I know you’re going to love this… So, what on earth am I talking about? Well, this weekend the social change charity Hubbub are teaming up with the fabulous gang at Rags Revival to host a series of re-fashion events. Any idea what that means? I had no clue until I started looking into it; the re-fashion events are a social experiment to encourage and help people extend the life of their clothes, through a series of exciting workshops and fun clothes-swapping events. The events will take place across the weekends of 23rd and 24th January as well as the 30th and 31st January 2016 and, best of all, the experiment is a success and enough people head to these fun activities, the re-fashion events will be rolled out nationally. The fact that 1/3 of our wardrobes remain unworn is one of those ‘urban myths’ yet Hubbub has confirmed that it’s true! According to new research from Hubbub the underused clothing lurking in our wardrobes is worth £30billion, and that’s a figure that has really shocked this thrifty gal! I admit, I too have a few things in my wardrobe that I never wear so why am I hanging on to them when someone else could be enjoying them? I honestly don’t know! A clothes-swapping event would be ideal for having a clear out and getting some new outfits for the new year without exchanging cash. That’s especially brilliant considering that payday still feels far away!
I might be a little bit slow to catch on but I’ve just found out that most of the world has been calling Wednesdays ‘Hump Day’. I’ve heard it a few times and some of the US-based books I’ve been reading have been referring to hump day, but I’ve only just googled it and found out the meaning of this nickname. It’s always been a mystery to me as to why I have less oomph on a Wednesday and sometimes get into a big sulk because I don’t want to do any work – but now I know that everyone else is feeling the same and that that there’s even a ‘technical’ term for it, so it’s not just me, phew! In honour of hump day, I’ve procrastinated this morning and had a reading session rather than getting on with writing this blog post, but I’m here now and ready to roll. So welcome to another Hump Day and I hope you’re feeling as optimistic about getting over the ‘hump’ of Wednesday into the downhill slide towards the weekend as I am. It’s a particularly fun weekend coming up for me because it’s Valentine’s Day on Friday which will mean I get at least a few hours of my husband’s undivided attention. I also have a fun first-weekend-in-half-term planned which includes a car boot sale rummage, afternoon tea with my husband’s family and a naughty night out with my BFF and her boyfriend. After this little glimpse into the impending weekend I think I can cope with this hump day well.
Anyway, onto the topic in hand. A couple of weeks ago I told you all that I’d just finished my leisure-learning course on Secret Power of Brands – a degree-level course from the University of East Anglia. Although I enjoyed the course, it was very business-focussed throughout and I learnt a lot about the history and methods of branding. It wasn’t until the very last lesson that my imagination was sparked by the content – creating your own personal brand. Now this was relevant to me! And, I figured, was quite relevant to a few of you too. So I posted a little article about the course and was overwhelmed by the response from fellow bloggers, writers and pals who were making over their CVs and online profiles. I couldn’t leave it there and went on to share all of the questions needed to determine the three elements of building a personal brand:
Each of the segments above have a number of questions to answer in order to determine your answer to each section – click on the links above to complete the questions for yourself and you’ll find it easier to find out what your passions, skills and positions are. I am particularly lazy with doing self-help tasks like this and probably wouldn’t have actually completed these questions if I hadn’t been blogging about it, so if you really feel like you can’t be bothered, maybe write down your answers in a blog post and send me the link to share – at least you’ll feel like you’re doing something worthwhile with your time rather than just faffing around with branding jargon. The questions really did help me focus on myself and my abilities and has even led me in a slightly new direction in my work and I’m hoping to incorporate it into my blog as I go on – so I’d really recommend that you have a go at doing it! Once you have the answers to the questions you’ll have determined your brand purpose and can work on showing it off to the world. Here’s an example of what Richard Branson’s three segments would look like so that you can get an idea of how each section contributes to the overall brand purpose:
Sorry about the blurry image – it’s a slideshow from FutureLearn
My segments are: I am passionate about sustainable living and saving money through thrift and recycling/upcycling. I am good at communicating, research and sharing knowledge through writing. The world needs to know about the impact of making ethical decisions and the importance of creativity. My brand purpose is therefore: Create and communicate written content which encourages an economically and ecologically friendly lifestyle. So you can expect to see more of this on the blog soon! I know I already share bits here and there about recycling, thrift and charity in all areas of life but now that I have a brand purpose, it will influence most of my work and I will be more likely to create cohesive content – plus I’ll feel that my work is more worthwhile. Or at least I hope it will be!
At this stage the course sums up by suggesting looking at how you can implement your brand purpose in the future. For me, it’s as simple as making positive changes to the blog. But for people in other roles, who may be writing a CV or thinking about a change in career direction based on their brand purpose, it’s about making the positive changes happen. So here’s what to do next::
- Appoint your own personal advisory board – choose six people who can help you achieve your ambition, ask each one if they will be on your informal ‘board’, usually they’re delighted to!
- Ask for help with things you’re unsure of and see if one of your ‘board’ would become a mentor for you.
- Publish yourself – get your ideas out into the world and your content will earn you respect
- Coordinate your personal profiles online so that they all point towards a shared direction for your personal ‘brand’
I really hope that the sharing of my progress through the personal branding section of the course has helped you and if you’re interested in taking the course for yourself, the UEA are running it again as a completely free online course via Future Learn – it starts on 24th Feb and you can complete it at home and in your own time. I just want to point out that I’m not sharing a sponsored link or promoting the course or anything like that, I’m just sharing the info so that you guys don’t miss out if you fancy doing it for yourself! Let me know how you get on with implementing your own personal brand and drop me a line if you need a helping hand with anything – I’m always here to help! 🙂