February 2004
  Pure Agony

Well hello again everyone!

This month’s page is going to read like a newsletter and the title of the newsletter is called GOALS!

What is it about the New Year that makes most of us think about starting something new or trying again to do something we haven’t had the commitment to do before?. New Year’s Resolutions are a funny thing aren’t they?. Some people love the process of setting themselves goals and others just hate it. I can remember when I was a teenager being taken to a Careers guidance counsellor – did you ever do that? She asked me the million dollar question "what do you want to do?". She only had to add "when you grow up" and as a teenager, I’d have left the room. You tend to storm out with annoyance when someone patronises you at that age. Instead, I can remember thinking what a really huge question that was. I hear people saying it regularly, asking themselves "what do I do?" or "I can’t leave my job, what else would I do?".


The problem in life is that many people don’t know what they want to do with their skills and the fact that they’re being asked, makes them feel inadequate. I was lucky I suppose. My mother came with me when we visited that counsellor and she answered for me – did I mention how patronising that can be too? Nevermind, mothers are allowed I suppose. I’m one now and I’ll probably do it too! What she said was that she thought I’d make a really good Psychologist. I liked people, was good at observing them she said and might enjoy learning more about them. Amazingly, she was right! I have spent much of the last 15 years studying, training, and presenting to people and I love it. Was it all plain sailing – no! In a nutshell, here’s what I learnt: -

1. I looked at books. Any books really, in an effort to find a subject that I was interested in. I talked to people about the kind of jobs they did and as a teenager I decided that I would be a vet, doctor and then finally a psychologist. The latter came about because my dad had masses of books in the house on the subject and he used to talk to me about people. He was enthusiastic and that sold it to me. Enthusiasm is infectious. So, if you’re not certain about what you can do, or what else you can do, then sit down and think about things that make you enthusiastic. What do you enjoy? Things you enjoy are likely to be things you’ll be good at.

2. Eventually I went to work for the Abbey National Building Society. Now people may remember I’ve talked about my experience there before. It wasn’t a good one. For 15 months I tried very hard to be liked, to do a good job and to be what they wanted me to be but it didn’t work! I didn’t work with them. I was a square peg in a round hole and sometimes you have to have the courage to LEAVE. I left, but before I did, I sat down and did this exercise. What are the 3 things I value most?

This is not about values in life, e.g. honesty or integrity. It’s about the 3 things you value the most. At the time I was in my early twenties, had been paid £10,000/ year which is £833.00 before tax a month and was fed up. After much thought, I therefore wrote the following: -


What do I do for a living now? I help people by teaching them skills and information and get paid for it. That has been right for me.

Try it for yourself if you are feeling at a crossroads in your life. I talk to people a lot about crossroads. They come to one sometimes quite deliberately, because they always knew they would want to work until a certain age and then they’d have children, or they come to them quite by accident. A friend of mine came to see me and we went out for a meal last night. It was her visit that prompted the theme for this month’s page. She is at a crossroads. She’s been in marketing for a number of years and is good at it but having taken a decision to move out of the big corporate markets like banks and credit card companies, she moved into a smaller enterprise. She’s been there 3 and _ years and is leaving. Not to another job though. She has decided that try as she might she cannot coincide her next choice with the timing of her exit and it is more important to her to get out. Wise choice if you ask me.

She’s playing with the idea of where to go next now but during a plaintive discussion she was having about what she did and didn’t want to do, she realised something. IT’S OFTEN AS VALUABLE TO RECOGNISE WHAT YOU DON’T WANT IN LIFE AS IT IS TO RECOGNISE WHAT YOU DO! That too is a goal. A decision.

She then asked, did I believe that things in life just happened or do you have to go out and get them?. I have to tell you I honestly do believe that you get more in life if you go out and get it. That doesn’t mean you have to plan what you’ll achieve every year for the next ten years as large corporate organisations have to, but it does mean that even the act of asking "what can I do?" is indicative of a desire to solve the problem.

So, if you feel you’re at a crossroads in life, talk to people, mail me [email protected] or sit down and think about what you’ve ever enjoyed in life. It’s a good start and could bring you some surprises.

I set goals all the time because I’m someone who enjoys them. I prioritise what I need to do every day, what I want to achieve this month, next month, this year and so on. I set goals in relation to my business and my personal life. At the moment on a personal basis I want to find a school for my son because he starts school in September, find the right childcare to help me at that time, run two 10k races for charity this next 3 months, book our holiday (which I’ve now done), and find support because my husband is going to do the ‘round Britain yaught challenge’. Setting goals for me isn’t scary, it doesn’t represent a huge question of ‘what do I want to do?’, it just represents a small question because I chunk it down in to something far more meaningful and less terrifying. I ask ‘what do I need to get done today?’. That’s enough. It gets you practiced and soon it becomes easier to ask bigger questions of yourself.

So, if you want to know more about me or what I do, please visit my website at www.insight-psychology.co.uk. On it you’ll find lots of info about stress, change, success and self-esteem. Soon you’ll find clips of me from when I’m on the television and when I’m speaking, but that’s on my business goals ‘to do’ list. That reminds me, did I ever talk to you about the power of GOALS……

Best wishes to all of you,

Sue Firth

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