“What’s the Target?”

The sound of machine-guns filled the air, and with varying degrees of urgency a hundred student officer cadets hit the ground- or sank to their knees in exhaustion. We weren’t real soldiers, we knew there were no actual bullets, and we were all tired; but for now, I was in nominal charge and we had just been ambushed.

“What’s the plan?” shouted the instructor.

“Delta to flank right. Charlie provide covering fire. Delta to drop smoke on the enemy when in position. Then Charlie to fight through, with HQ in support.” I was saying “the right thing” and with the best intentions.

My façade of military genius crumbled with a single question: “What’s the target?”. I peered about me, unsure where the enemy were. For eight years I’d avoided wearing specs and had grown to assume that nobody could really see “that much”. I pointed vaguely to the hill in front of us.

“No. There! You can see the smoke from their guns!” (I’ve removed the more colourful language.) I was about to lead an attack on the wrong place.

When you’re looking for a job it’s always good to understand what the target is. Previously, as an employer, I would frequently have discussions with prospective staff who would assure me that they could work any shifts, and in any capacity. With a minimum of probing it would normally be the case that there were various conditions which meant that they could not live up to their promises- and quite rightly. Transport, caring duties, personal safety, cost and even social life are all things which need to be considered. If you ignore them when you apply for a job then they can become problematic when you start work.

Likewise, most of us can think of jobs we wouldn’t actually want to do. Our personal values and preferences, or even our own health may preclude certain roles. We need to make practical as well as emotional assessments about the type of employment we are looking for, in order to protect our own health and wellbeing and to make us more likely to stay in work. Sometimes we find ourselves saying “the right thing” to ourselves or to our parents or to those institutions we sometimes approach for support, when instead we’d be better off identifying the right target.

At HeadsUp we help you to decide what it is that you want to do, and to take into account those practical considerations which are important. We can help you to see things a bit more clearly, to direct your energy more effectively. We can help you turn your best intentions into a positive result.

Where do we find the positives?

Hand in glove with mental ill health is the negativity we feel about ourselves. The 3am thoughts where past conversations, actions or inactions come to haunt us and leave us questioning our very purpose in life. Left unchallenged the negative nagging voice sets the benchmark for the next day, week or months.

The nagging voice feeds on negativity, growing stronger with each acknowledgement you give it. So this week I decided to put it on a diet and feed it positivity and took the time to reflect on my positive actions. I supported a friend who has just had surgery by phoning her every day to see how she is progressing, cracking jokes and employing our usual black humour until we both felt better. I listened to another who had fallen out with her daughter in one of those silly family arguments that come from nowhere and ends in a lifetime of soul searching and recrimination but are forgotten as quickly as they started. I baked a cake and cooked favourite family meals because it made me feel good. I had a long conversation about the breakdown of relationships, moving home and how out of all that chaos there are positives; you get to make your own choices without involving anyone else, you have the freedom to pursue your interests without putting the needs of another first; instead of being a “half” of someone else’s life you are the “whole” of yours.

I’ve never really subscribed to the old adage “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. At the time it is happening it sure can feel like it is killing you but when you are strong enough, if you step back you may well find that what you have lost wasn’t really worth keeping.   There’s a positive!