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New Year Resolutions? Are they worth making? by Catriona Cookson

So, we’re one full working week into the New Year so if you’ve made New Year Resolutions, you’ll be well on the way to seeing if you can stick to them! Many people will be doing Dry January …and good luck with that if you are, but January is a miserable month anyway so difficult to deny yourself even more. A dry October or November seems a much more sensible option before the fun of the Christmas festivities begins.

I’ve always thought this whole idea of New Year Resolutions seems to either be quite negative – in terms of things you are going to give up or so intense and radical that they’ll be impossible to achieve. The first Sunday Times magazine of the year on the 6th January took a different approach and was titled “Small Changes, Big Differences” which was refreshing and seemed achievable. This covered a whole range of topics from some tips on how to get a better night’s sleep to some healthy recipes from Tom Kerridge and the benefits of a walk in the fresh air for better wellbeing.

I prefer this idea of “doing more of …. “which should in turn reduce an alternative, so for example “I’d like to read more” should mean that I spend less time with the TV on not watching anything in particular. Or “I intend to eat more vegetables and salad for snacks” …surely a bowl of tomatoes, cucumber, sugar snap peas etc means I will be less likely to reach for the biscuit tin on some occasions. This is much more positive than “I am going to give up biscuits “which I would find so difficult, actually practically impossible!!

Perhaps that might be a better way to approach the New Year and the choices you make in your life!

NY new you

As we head in to the New Year are you thinking of refreshing and updating your cv? by Catriona Cookson

A recent article by which you can see here highlights 8 things recruiters don’t look for in cvs….interesting approach as usually we focus on what to include so a useful reminder on what to leave out!

While I’d broadly agree with most of them, I’d also suggest the following:

Review and update your cv regularly – Update with details of your last consulting project while it’s still fresh in your mind and don’t forget to reduce the content of your earlier roles as you gain more experience …you don’t want a 5-page cv!! On the other hand, don’t cram it all on one page – I’ve never seen a one-page cv I like!!

IT experience – include any systems/applications etc which you would be hapoy working with on a daily basis as increasingly key word searches are used to filter applications. Likewise, include relevant qualifications – yesterday I was speaking to someone who had included his PRINCE 2 qualification on his LinkedIn profile but not his cv. Ensure this information is included as again it may be a preselection criteria on cv screening and you don’t want to miss out.

Home address – while you don’t necessarily need to include your full postal address, it is useful to have a sense of where an individual lives, and may be particularly helpful in sourcing for roles outside of Central London. If this information is missing, I assume the individual is living miles away and trying to disguise this. If you live in Glasgow and want to work in London or relocate from Paris, let’s talk about it and see how we can facilitate this.


New world bank president appointment could have far-reaching implications – by Tariq Siraj



The World Bank will begin the search and selection process for a new president in February after President Jim Yong Kim’s surprise resignation last week.

Kim has spent the best part of 30 years as a leading light in the development of the world health infrastructure. He founded Partners in Health, oversaw the World Health Organisation’s HIV/AIDS work with incredible success, and he led academic initiatives at Harvard and Dartmouth in the US.   At the World Bank had been in the role since 2012, was re-appointed for a second term and has generally been considered a success in the role.

So, with all this in mind, it is hard to begrudge him seeking a new challenge to join a private investment firm where he will focus on infrastructure investments in developing countries.

The issue is that Kim’s resignation has raised concerns among the international development community that the United States — which traditionally dictates who runs the organization — will seek to replace Kim with someone less supportive of financing climate change projects. The Trump administration could also exacerbate tensions with China by selecting someone sure to reduce the WBs lending to Beijing.

The World bank is political by its nature and history – but at a time when the world is more polarized, where populist governments are coming more and more to the fore and where aid and development budgets are more under threat than ever, it would be worrying if the appointment of the World Bank President was politicised to the degree that it effectively minimises World Bank influence and feeds into trade war, isolationist and foreign-aid budget reduction policies.

The World Bank provides billions of Dollars in loans each year to help countries develop capital projects and has a stated aim to eradicate poverty, combat disease, reduce child mortality, promote gender equality and many others.

Many are demanding the bank shake off the historic U.S. stronghold over the appointment process and, in a statement, the bank’s board has affirmed its commitment to an open, merit-based, and transparent appointment system.

A new process agreed in 2011 where the board itself shortlists candidates and has the final say on selection should allow for an inclusive candidate. This appointment and the direction of the World Bank over the next few years will be interesting to watch – to say the least.

-          Tariq

Pre-Retirement Planning – Do You Have One? by Liz Watt

We meticulously plan so many aspects of our lives. The planning that marks the transition from school to University or further education; the thought and effort that goes into career planning; the intricate detail that is involved in organising the ‘big ticket’ events in life – significant birthdays and celebrations, holidays; and even the more mundane ‘what’s for dinner tonight?’ type of planning.

And yet one area of our lives that is often significantly under planned or suffers from a lack of deep thought and attention, is what the plan is for life post retirement. Or should I say pre-retirement? As the concept of traditional retirement rapidly evolves, the consideration should be what life might look like post 55 – 60.

The Centre for Ageing Better has published a report on retirement which states that a significant number of people worry about retiring. Data from a poll of over 50’s suggest that over half of those planning to retire in the next five years are not looking forward to it. A third are concerned about feeling bored, and 32% about missing their social connections from work. 24% are worried about losing a sense of purpose.

Employers are being urged to play a far greater role in supporting their staff and helping them to plan for this major life transition. The sense is that being open and positive about managing the transition into retirement will help retain experienced staff. It sends out a really positive message that plugs directly into the health and wellbeing strategies championd by most businesses.

An increasing number of us are finding ourselves in the position of considering our options at a far earlier stage than previous generations, especially as there is quite likely to be a gap between when we finish conventional employment and when pensions (state or otherwise) kick in. This may be an enforced situation – eg redundancy, or driven by health or family issues; it may be that one experiences a growing realisation that life in the corporate world is no longer as fulfilling and ambitions wane; or one may be in the fortunate position that financially suddenly it is possible to change tack.

Whatever the reason, the reality is that having made the decision to change direction, or retire, many are blind-sided by the question ‘Now What? Lack of planning can leave a huge gap between the world that was, and the reality that is now. Consequent issues can include boredom, loneliness, ill health, loss of purpose and direction and often financial hardship.

I think it makes good sense to start thinking about what your future life might look like a couple of years before the change takes place. That way, you have the time to mentally acclimatize and put practical steps in place – for example, to undertake a good financial health check. You can also consider whether you still want to work and if so, in what capacity? Part time? Consultancy? Do you want to change tack completely and re-train? Or would you like to find some form of employment that simply provides company and a supplementary form of income?

If you aren’t planning to work, how will you fill your time? Consider what your interests and passions are and how you might develop these. Or maybe there is an unfulfilled ambition or interest that you would like to focus on. It may be that charity work or volunteering are on your agenda. Then there is travel, time with family and friends, and some well-deserved down time to weave into the mix. For most people it will be a combination of all of the above!

In my experience, though, it is those with a sense of purpose that make the most successful transition. Everyone is different and the same plan won’t work for everybody. And undoubtedly there will be some trial and error involved. I know people convinced that they will just want to potter at home find only to find they are bored senseless and have to return to work; others who had grand plans and find that actually they were far too ambitious. But undoubtedly the happiest and most fulfilled pre-retirees are those that have thought about the change, embrace the opportunities and challenges and go into this new phase of life with a sense or curiosity about what might be possible.

If you are at the stage of considering your future life, but aren’t quite sure how to go about planning for it and would like some help, you might like to consider my Pre-Retirement Planning programme. If you would like further information, please contact me Liz Watt – at or on 07867 517919

And if you are an employer looking to help your team with pre-retirement planning, I run Future Life learning lunches. If you would like to find out more, please contact me :


Confidence – Innate or Learned? by Liz Watt

We all know people in our professional networks who seem to be innately confident – nothing seems to phase them, they breeze through life taking everything in their stride, they are always positive and never scared.

Of course, there are many for whom this is their reality – they are indeed supremely self-confident and never suffer from a moment of self-doubt.

I would suggest though that these individuals are in in the minority – the more I engage with my Coaching clients on a deep level, the more I realize that quite often many are living with a genuine lack of self-confidence and they have to really steel themselves to overcome or manage the business and personal challenges they encounter on a daily basis.

Yet to the outside observer, these are all confident, successful people who are achieving in their chosen career, who would appear to have their lives on track. Imposter Syndrome is a very real phenomenon!

This is not to suggest that most people are in fact quivering wrecks terrified to face the world though! Most people I encounter are pretty resilient and learn to manage the areas of their life where they might not feel completely in control. For example, fear of public speaking is one of the most common anxieties, often ranked higher than death in the pecking order of ‘things to fear’. And yet somehow speeches are made, seminars are delivered, and meetings are facilitated. Most of us manage to overcome our fear and ‘fake it to make it’ – we do the best we can, we face the fear head on and in the main, people would never know that we suffer from a lack of confidence in a particular area.

One area I really lack confidence in, for example is driving. Not crucial to my professional life admittedly, but something I would rather avoid at all costs, much to the hilarity of my nearest and dearest who cannot understand my fear. Of course, I do drive, and get around fine, but don’t suggest a motorway, or driving somewhere unfamiliar to me……

But if you do suffer from lack of confidence and gaining confidence in a particular area seems like a huge hill to climb, what can you do about it? Is gaining confidence a learned skill?

I believe there are techniques and tools you can employ to increase your confidence – as with so much in life that is worth having, it requires effort, hard work and practice. The following ideas might help you build your confidence:

  • You’re Good – Remember Why! You have a professional skill, are experienced in what you do. Take some time out to reflect on your achievements, think about your successes and take pride in them. Better still, ask a trusted friend or colleague to list 3 things they believe you are good at and why.
  • Passion – what are you really passionate about? It doesn’t matter if this is a personal or professional passion – being able to let your passion for something really shine through will make you feel better about yourself and others will take their lead from your exuberance.
  • Take Risks! Don’t be afraid to try something new. Taking calculated risks is a great way of experimenting, moving forward, expanding your skills base. What’s the worst that can happen? And the exhilaration when it goes well – which it will – is infectious!
  • You Have A Voice – Use It! If you never put yourself forward at work, are reluctant to let your talents shine through, never say what it is that you want to do, how will anybody know? So be prepared to speak up, to volunteer for that responsibility, to ask for the training you need so that you can move forward.
  • Your People – surround yourself with positive people who will champion you, who you enjoy working with, who are fun to be around and who share your values and ambitions. Avoid at all costs those who are negative and who sap your energy and motivation.
  • Be Kind To Yourself. We all make mistakes, sometime things don’t go to plan, we might upset someone by accident, we might not win every pitch. That’s life. Don’t beat yourself up or ruminate. The key is to look at the situation honestly, think about what you can learn from it – and then move on. It is all about silencing your inner critic and not allowing that pernicious voice to undermine your confidence.
  • You’re Not Alone. Look around you at your colleagues and friends, you may think they are all sailing through life brimming with confidence. The chances are though that they have their insecurities, doubts and worries, their own areas where they don’t feel all that confident. Appreciating this might make it easier to recognize and celebrate your own achievements and accomplishments, and empower you to not let a lack of confidence to stand in your way, but to be determined to overcome any impediments to reaching your personal and professional goals.

If you do suffer from a lack of confidence in any area of your life, the start of the new year is a good time to think about the changes you can make to build your self-esteem. They don’t have to be dramatic, but a shift in thinking could pay amazing dividends!

If you would like some help in building your confidence, please contact me for a confidential discussion: or 07867 517919


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