So long and thanks for all the fish…and everything else!

Well it’s been some ride. Certainly this has been one of the most interesting seasons of my life. Around 15 months of unemployment draws to a close and whilst I am mighty relieved and excited, there is also an element of sadness, with a touch of nervousness, and a hint of wondering if I can remember how to dress myself appropriately! Currently searching through my wardrobe to check my stocks of business casual wear. And shoes, what’s shoes should I wear? Tough decisions to come.

So the job – it’s a project management role for a company called Catalent, based in Cham, up near Zug. Starting on November 5th, and I will start off by commuting weekly and see how it goes. It’s already been suggested to me that working from home will be an option after a period of getting to know the people, the business and the tasks in hand. But we shall see, just stoked to be back in work to be honest!

Someone asked me a question the other night, one that I had been contemplating for a while; what have you learnt during this journey?

So, so much! It could be said that you learn a lot in adversity, but I guess one thing that I have definitely learnt is I would not describe my situation as adversity. It has been an opportunity. Yeah some of it has been a bit shit, but the reality is that your mindset makes a massive difference in walking the path of redundancy, and the subsequent time on you hands. You may remember a blog I posted soon after my parting of company with Nestlé ( where I talked about positivity and mindset. Is it narcissistic to quote yourself? Probably. But I stand by this.

“Let us be relentless in our positivity. Let us look for the good in people. Then you will be rewarded. With a smile, with a job, with love. It’s all out there. We just need to look with an open heart.”

Learning number one – stay positive. OK we are human and this is not possible 24/7. Over the last few months this has been tougher, but I have continued to refer back to these words. Without a positive attitude and thankfulness it would be very easy to wallow constantly in self pity, self loathing and regret. Don’t get me wrong, I am not belittling those suffering, or subscribing to the ‘man up’ and ‘just snap out of it’ school of thought. We all have our coping strategies, and I choose to take a positive outlook. This is not possible for everyone I know. Mental illness, depression and anxiety are way more complex than that! However I have sought help to get me through this from professionals, and have been seeing a therapist and also taking antidepressants. I guess this is learning number two – do not be afraid to ask for help. This applies to so much more than mental health, but also to practical things, to looking for work, just about anything. Develop and grow your network. Not just for work, as one of the things that has been a highlight for me over the last 15 months is the development of my mens mental health initiative, Blokes and Black Dogs. The people I have got to know whilst working on this project are fantastic, really interesting and kind individuals. They bloody care about this stuff, and are prepared to give up their time and energy in supporting me. That leads me onto the next learning, number three – the importance of community and relationships. Despite the drive for positivity, and asking for help, I think it is fair to say that my community have been so important to me, to my ‘survival’, and to my mental health throughout my journey. People from church, from outplacement agencies, from the Impact Hub, from sport, from the gym, new friends, old friends, new relationships, family, I thank you. I am not going to mention you all by name, but you are all so special to me. I have felt your love and support, and it is totally reciprocated! It would be easy to become isolated without both giving and receiving support to those around you. Don’t be alone. Believe me it can happen all too easily and there has been the occasional day which have featured Netflix, crunchy muesli and a lack of trousers. However, there always those who encourage, invite you to places, This helps, but I guess we all need to take a degree or responsibility in seeking some company. This can be a stretch for sure, especially for the naturally introverted. Learning number four – care about those around you. Give a little of yourself to either your contemporaries, or to those who are in need. Go volunteer – my time at Medair and Impact Hub are both, in very different ways, incredibly stimulating and I have met some great people – again too many to name check, but you know who you are. Check on your friends who might be having a hard time, or out of work, or sick, or just unhappy. Lunch, coffee or even a WhatsApp message could be the only contact someone gets on any given day. And when you doubt whether it is the right thing to do, put yourself in their shoes – what would you want? A little warmth and human contact is so bloody important. Finding something positive to do, giving yourself tasks or objectives to achieve is so good. Sometimes, getting out if bed can be an achievement, so do not beat yourself up if you havent done very much. I know, because I often did this! So track a little what you do. To do lists are not that onerous if you don’t get over complicated or over zealous. Keep it simple. Learning five – give yourself credit for what you achieve. There are so many tools and processes to help you do this. My method, as mentioned in an earlier blog, ( worked for me, but the back of a fag packet might help! One thing I have done quite a few times, even if I haven’t consciously tracked anything, is look back over a day, and write down what you have done. Try it, it helps.

There is so much more too, but some of it I cant and won’t document, but I think these five learnings have been incredibly important in helping me through tough times, underpinning my daily activities.

So, keep on believing. Believe in yourself, your family, your friends, your god. Without them life would be less interesting and less fun.

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