Check my facts on Opportunity UK

Employment opportunities in the UK

Today, Twitterers are retweeting BBC’s report that TUC says 60 people are chasing every job in the south, and elsewhere in UK, each job is chased by 10 people.  Is this true?  And if it true, is it unusual?

I wonder if Andy at SironConsulting a leading recruitment agency would make a comment?

Talk facts not negative emotions

I’m a positive psychologist and I hail from Zimbabwe so I know a fair bit about living in an economic crisis.

  • Bad news outweighs good.  People reading the BBC report on their way to work today will need 3 times as much positive information of greater weight just to think straight!  They will need 5 times as much positive information to be creative and to find solutions to challenges of the day.  Be prepared for a rough day at work and stop to take a walk in the park, listen to the birds and admire the daffodils.  You may need it!
  • Even those of use who are good at maths find it difficult to keep track of numbers with lots of zero’s in them.  I don’t undertand why it is so difficult but generally we need to pull out pen and paper and lay out the arithmetic neatly.  Don’t assume journalists have done this.  They are as dazzled as the rest of us!
  • We need information to guide action not to encourage excitable chatter.  We need facts and figures presented, in context, in a way that supports the purpose of the reader.

I find it hard to find facts and figures about the British economy, so I am going to collect them here.  But do check my numbers.  I do know from living in Zimbabwe that we are prone to make errors when lots of zero’s are involved.  Maybe I’ll add an error from time to time to see if you are doublechecking!

And I am also going to relate the facts I find to the issue at the top of our minds: making a living joyfully in the UK!

Here are my two facts for today and my take on the BBC report.

1   We live and work in the 5th largest economy in the world

Wikipedia figures for GDP by country seem to be 2008 and are probably in USD.  In the last year, the pound has weakened and our economy will be smaller now nominal terms. We have also contracted about 1.5%.  A year ago, India was expected to overtake us in size and I imagine this has happened.

So we are probably not 5th any more.  Maybe we are tenth?  Who knows?

We are still massive by any account.

2   We have 4% of the world’s economy and 1% of the world’s population

We have a disproportionate share of the world’s production and services. Yes, we do.  We are well off.

The world’s GDP is around 50 trillion (million millions or 10^6 x 10^6).  Our GDP in the UK is between 2 to 3 trillion USD.  I’ve taken the lower figure to arrive at 4%.

The world has 6 to 7 billion people (thousand millions or 10^3 x 10^6).  In the UK, have 60 million people.  So 1% of the world live here.

We have 4 x our share of the world economy!

Of course, the USA, with GDP of 15 trillion has 30% of the world economy and a population of 300 million, 5% of the world’s population.  So they have 6x their share of the world’s economy and one-and-a-half times our already disproportionate share.  Pareto’s law in action.  A few people command a disproportion share of resources.

A share in the UK economy

Once, we have remembered that we are quite rich, then we can turn to the issue exercising the TUC – the ability of people to take part in the economy.

Our opinions on this matter provide the underlying tension in western politics and seem to go something like this.  Rich people think they should continue to be rich even if they have just lost billions through bad decisions.  People who seek to make a living through employment believe employment should always be available.

It seems a sterile debate to me.  Looking at the UK from the outside, people quarrelling in a rich economy look like governors of the workhouse in the film Oliver stuffing their faces while the boys ate gruel.

It is quite hard for someone who has lost their job, and who is shocked and frightened, to imagine they are in a psychological state similar to  someone who has lost millions or even billions.   Anyway they are in too much shock to care.

Negative emotions are overwhelming, and psychologsits are pretty confident we need 3-5 moderate positive emotions to outweigh 1 mild negative emotion.  A shock like redundancy needs heaps of positive, which is hard when you’ve just lost the social support system of work and you are short of money too.

But reality and commonsense must also kick in here.  Certainly, claim redundancy money, sign on, and do sensible things.  But consider your basic game plan too.

Why are you waiting for other people?

While you are doing sensible things, do start taking charge of your own life.  Aim to come out of this ‘recession’ not only with your house intact and some savings in the bank, but less, less, LESS, dependent on other people for opportunity.

Can you create opportunity and look for another jobs at the same time?

You must.  Otherwise you are in a bizarre position of feeling poor in a country where we control FOUR TIMES our share of the world’s economy.

There are many simple systems.  Here are 4 suggestions.

  1. Buy British corporate poet, David Whyte‘s CD, MidLife and the Great Unknown and listen to it while you commute, or as you take a walk in a park or field in the gentle spring sun.
  2. Buy What Color is Your Parachute? and do the exercises.
  3. Listen to Dr Srikumar Rao talking at Googletalk (50 min) and follow his advice.
  4. Do my “new person and new url per day” exercise.

Absolutely commit yourself to taking charge of your life and join in unashamed abandon a chase to catch up with the US!

We would like 6 times our share of the world’s economy too!

Not for the sake of gluttony but because it is fun to be innovative and productive and when we trade fairly, people in other countries benefit too.

I would love to hear how you take charge of your life.

Enhanced by Zemanta

3 questions to head-off burnouti

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 10:  A homeless man who ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Overtired and babbling like a three year old?

Have you every felt so tired that you know your performance is impaired and that you really should take a break?  I don’t mean go home at a reasonable time.  I mean take a very long holiday?

Of course many professions build breaks into their work cycles.  I remember reading the biography of the best published mathematician in the world.  He worked at Oxford and he took a holiday every vacation – 8 weeks on, 3 weeks off!  He thought 3 weeks was the minimum time on an active physical holiday to recharge.  During term time, he also went rock climbing every weekend from Saturday lunchtime to Sunday evening.  During the week, he got up early to work, as many creative people do, and found he had his best ideas on Monday.  If he had a good idea on Tuesday too, he took the rest of the week off!

Are you heading towards burnout?

Until today, I always thought burnout meant the feeling we get at the end of a work cycle – when we are really tired and need a break.  Or maybe, the feeling that we get when we didn’t get a natural break and we worked two terms back-to-back.

Today, I was lucky to meet psychologist, Jo Haworth (on the telephone).  Jo works out of Strixton about 10 miles north of where I live in Olney.  She is a clinical psychologist who works in the business sector. What she said about burnout amazed me.

Burnout before your eyes

Jo has clients who burnout spectacularly.  One day they find themselves staring at computer screen, maybe in a foreign country, and they have completely lost track of what they are doing on their task, in their career, and in their lives.  They find their way home and they realize they don’t know their neighbors.  They’ve lived in the corporate cocoon for so long, they don’t know how to use a washing machine!

I have found the same pattern with executives made redundant from leading companies.  One day they are “It”.  The next, in a stroke of a pen, they are jobless, and lifeless.  Their income is gone.  Their toys have gone.  Their status has gone.  The people who are hit worse have invested their life-and-soul in the company.  They belong to no clubs and have no life outside work.

Doing without burnout!

We can be amusing and concoct expressions like ‘from 9-6 my soul belongs to the company – but when I drive out that gate, my soul belongs to me’.   We can be serious and say leaders at work must be leaders in other spheres too – and check that our staff have a life.

To be practical, we need to take time out to monitor whether our work, or rather our employment, has a place in our lives.  Forget mincing expressions like work-life balance.  Do you have a life?  Can you answer that in the affirmative without the tell-tale language of a lie – some rapid blinking, some looking away, some touching of your mouth?  Can you walk away from you job tomorrow?  Or, is it your entire life?  When I ask you that simple question – do you have a life? – will your eyes shine or will they dull over?

3 basics for a good life

These are my suggestions.

At all times we should

  • be able to walk away and take a year off to do what we want to do
  • be able to support our partner if they want to take a year out and do what they want to do
  • have 3 alternative jobs lined up so we have enticing and exciting alternatives on a 360 degree horizon!

If you don’t have 2009 resolutions, let these be my gift to you.

It is quite extraordinary how people do live lives they want to live.  They aren’t selfish and they aren’t foolish.  I’ll wager people who ‘live a life they can call their own’ live, like corporate poet, David Whyte who in writing these words, do something of immense value for other people and are quite successful financially.

Some sales objections, hey?

I can’t do this during a recession, you say!  Of course, you can.  Deciding that employment will meet these criteria, even if you bring changes about slowly and incrementally, will encourage you to notice possibilities around you.  I don’t know what changes are possible, or which you will appreciate, but you do and the more you pay attention, the more you will see them.

Or you say, I can’t do this now because I have to work two jobs or spend 5 hours a day commuting on grubby trains in the UK.  Not easy I know. You have trouble remembering your own name under these conditions.  For you, I say, write on your mirror in bright red lipstick: I will find the life big enough for me to live.  Write on the front flap of your diary, “I will organize my affairs so I always have time and room in my life to explore, imagine, support others, and to move on to something more exciting and more adventurous”.  Then use the downtime while you commute to ponder these issues.  The ideas will come.  Believe me, they will come.  On the scale of living through chaos, I am likely to beat you hands-down!

So here’s to a life that is big enough to live!

Dr Srikumar Rao talking at Googletalk estimates no more than a year to reorganize your life without any abrupt moves.

Let me know how it goes?

And thanks to Jo Haworth for an instructive lesson.  I must stop confusing fatigue with burnout!

Enhanced by Zemanta