Self Help

Shake off your January work blues with Laurence King's self-help cards – Creative Review

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It’s January, which means it’s officially the month of fad diets and well-intentioned but false promises about how we are going to do things differently this year.

Careers typically feature prominently in many of our new year’s resolutions, whether we are feeling unfulfilled by our current job, or are unsure about where to go next. Thankfully, publisher Laurence King’s got all the confused creatives among us covered with its new set of career-oriented, self-help cards.

The publisher enlisted the help of author and University of Brighton principal lecturer, Gem Barton, to bring the set of 50 cards to life. Below are five of CR’s favourite bite-sized pieces of advice.

BE A WARRIOR, NOT A WORRIER

I have often wondered why so many inherently creative people are such excellent worriers. It wasn’t until I heard the quote ‘Worry is a misuse of the imagination’ by US creativity consultant Dan Zadra that I made the connection. Imagination is the amazing gift of being able to ‘see’ things that are unreal. Used well, this talent can achieve amazing things: the designing of a new product, the writing of a screenplay, the creation of an algorithm for calculating great stuff. But when this wonderful gift gets muddied with a lack of confidence, your brain begins to imagine negative scenarios, in life as well as at work: ‘Did I leave the oven on?’, ‘What if my client can’t pay their bill this month?’ Use your ability to ‘foresee’ problems to your advantage (rather than letting it own you) and it will become an extremely beneficial asset.

KNOW YOUR VALUE

Determine your own measure of value, and don’t be afraid to monetise your skill and talent. In this increasingly socially aware world there can be stigma attached to wanting to rake in the big bucks. But remember, this is about you – not everyone is born to be a social entrepreneur, a board member of a non-profit organisation, or a governor at a local school. Making money is a necessity for the majority of the population. Sadly, money has also become a primary measure of success and value. Aim to make enough money; be fair to yourself but also to those around you – your success does not need to mean another’s failure. Other measures of value are equally important – the joy you feel when you sign a book contract, the satisfaction of completing a project on budget, the happiness of receiving praise for doing a good job. You can’t buy these feelings.

FAIL (MORE) OFTEN

It is common to avoid challenges and change because of the fear of failure. This fear has the power to keep us barricaded deep in the pits of our comfort zone. And while it is warm and cosy down there, most people forget that the comfort zone also has a tendency to protect us from all the fun, new, exciting, brilliant, fab, cool, ace things too. You need to fail at something to realise that failure is relative, and only ever temporary. That doesn’t mean it isn’t important, because it is – every failure is an opportunity to learn a lesson. So take a walk to the edge. You never know, the view might be beautiful. Embrace it, live it, and move on.

DON’T BE AFRAID OF DIFFICULT DECISIONS

One of the few certainties in life, alongside death and taxes, are difficult decisions. If a decision is difficult to make it means it is inherently important, and that you have given it the time, attention, and respect that the situation deserves. The decision might be whether to terminate a relationship with a collaborator, or whether to take on a lucrative project that you do not necessarily want to work on. These situations are difficult because the outcome is unknown and therefore mapping out pros and cons is complex. However, more often that not, making difficult decisions leads to incredibly rewarding outcomes. Let the tough situation become a catalyst and motivator for the future – a turning point in your career or personal and business growth. Making difficult decisions will be the making of you.

CHALK UP AND LEAP IN

The ‘career ladder’ is an outdated and mythical concept. Today the idea of ‘career asymmetric bars’ would be more appropriate – full of twists, turns, flips, falls, jumps, spins, and chalky dust. This is a good thing, because the myth that all careers are linear, that if you stay long enough and try hard enough you’ll end up at the top, has crippled so many. Don’t let the impossible expectation of a junior > middleweight > senior > retirement track discourage you from following your dreams – instead, sidestep tradition and try new things. The career ladder simply does not translate effectively into all new modes of business and employment. So whether you are on the ladder, the asymmetric bars, the pommel horse, or the balance beam … chalk up and leap in.

These Cards Will Change Your Career are available from Laurence King from 3 February

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