New Years Resolutions for Equestrian Jobseekers
by Caroline Carter
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
New Year seems like a natural time to press the “refresh” button on our personal and professional lives, or even just a chance to take stock and stay as and where we are, but in a better way. We have all heard the cliché (which is a cliché for good reason), “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”.
I read with interest that about 70% of us make New Year’s resolutions, but less than 8% will be kept beyond February/March! It’s not surprising to learn that the top resolutions will include things like losing weight, quitting smoking, managing debt etc. but, also importantly, resolutions focussing on careers and job choices are right up there too.
To avoid any doubt or seemingly dubious motives, let’s start by saying if you have a job or career you love and it isn’t broke, I say 100% wholeheartedly, don’t fix it – maybe just tweak it here and there! But if you want to stretch a little more than that, consider major goals or simpler ones like getting a contract in place, a better wage, a chance to develop your skills, additional experience and/or qualifications, you need to make a plan for this, even within your current role.
Here are 5 condensed and simple suggestions which might really help as we teeter on the brink of 2018…
1. Stand Back
It’s never a bad thing to stand back and take a helicopter view of your life in order to make improvements for yourself, those around you or the animals in your charge.
I would strongly recommend in the first instance that you take some time out to daydream about where you want to be job/career wise 5 years from now and work back from that. Invest some real quality time to this. If, for instance, you would like to be the next Alan Davies grooming at the highest levels, or even just in a less high profile but equally rewarding career, then work out what the key building blocks are to get there. Make an honest appraisal as to where you are on that skill-set level now and plan what you need to do to bridge the gap. If you currently work on a low-level yard without any chance to prepare for shows or opportunity to attend some events on a regular basis, you are going to need to address that either by talking with your current employer to see if there are possibilities, and if not you need to consider what will be the right next move for you.
Your ambition may be more modest than that. If you like where you are now and you aren’t wanting to move on, maybe geography, family and friends, or animals anchor you, or maybe, just maybe you have found a job that just fits, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have goals. All of us need to plan and goal-set, and to achieve it really is the key to career happiness.
2. Make a Plan and Set Goals
Another cliché for you, “If you don’t know where you are going, chances are you will never get there!” Meandering through your life going from job to job, landing where chance takes you can sometimes be fun, but more often leaves a lot of grooms VERY disenchanted. Without proper planning and research, sooner or later chances are things will go awry. The more patchy your “job history” and CV become the narrower your options become. The view from the top of a hill, standing in the doorway of an unheated caravan, looking after 24 horses, sole charge, 6 days a week, far from friends and family for less than the National Minimum Wage is a very depressing place to be. Soberingly and not infrequently, I do hear this story! I am often shocked to see how many young grooms take the first job offered rather than making a choice between a few options, weighing up the pros and cons and taking experienced impartial advice before taking that acceptance step. See our previous article on how we can help you with this.
3. Own and Manage your own future
Once you have achieved some clarity on what you would like to gain in your career, if you are to stay put in your current job, make sure that you and your employer are in firm agreement on what you’re both doing to get you there and that you are crystal clear in your understanding of the quid pro quo!
Be proactive, ensure you’re getting the required time and activities at work, and that you are meeting or exceeding your employer’s expectations to deserve this continued commitment. Don’t assume he/she is paying close attention. OWN YOUR OWN FUTURE! If there’s a disconnect between what you’re doing and what you want to be doing, don’t wait until you get unhappy or frustrated. Ask your employer for regular reviews to agree progress and next steps. Be fair, point out the need for change and have those awkward discussions which can lead to decision points, all of which can turn out to be very constructive one way or another.
4. Get more sleep!
This might seem like an odd one! A grooms’ life can be a hard physical choice in many cases. To achieve what you want to achieve you have to be match fit and ready, you have to be “present”. Our bodies are smarter than you might think. They’re trained to respond to light and dark, which according to the National Sleep Foundation send us important signals, like the time of day. Those signals also aid our bodies in adjusting our circadian rhythms – that’s the handy 24-hour physiological cycle that helps us fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning. All of that is pretty cool… until screens are added to the equation. Our brains recognize the brightness (referred to as “blue light”) from phones, computer monitors, and even TVs as external light, which sends the signal that we should be awake. That’s why it’s harder for so many of us to fall asleep when we’re exposed to too much screen time at night. Put the devices down before bed in order to have uninterrupted “renewal time”.
5. Make time for play
Have fun. Work hard, but smile while you’re doing it. No one likes a grump. Approach each day with a positive spirit. Make time to enjoy your family and friends as well. Make time for you! Guard it, it’s precious and everyone needs a work-life balance. All work and no play makes life a chore and can predispose you to physical and sometimes even mental imbalances.
I do hope that this will at the least give you some food for thought as we approach the New Year. The team from The Grooms List by Caroline Carter recruitment is always available to both employers, looking to find a groom, and freelance grooms, searching for equine jobs, for an informal chat about any of the above, helicopter sometimes included, at least metaphorically!
Happy New Year everyone,