Showers over Windermere from Holbeck Lane near Troutbeck.

WOOP Your Life!

December 22, 2023

A couple of weeks ago, In-Cumbria magazine Associate Editor Sue Riley asked if I’d write a few words for my home county’s No. 1 business magazine, on career changes.

Here’s the article; just published in the December edition of In Cumbria – which featured the winners of the In Cumbria 2023 Business Awards.  (Congratulations to all you winners and contenders!!  Cumbria is in good hands.)

Here’s to a 2024 full of change and fun.

Time to WOOP Your Life

It’s that time of the year again.  Time to consider change.

The first thing to realise is that there are only three kinds of change – Incremental, Transformational and Disruptive.  The trick is to know which change bucket to dig into so that you minimise risk and maximise gain.  To minimise stress and maximise happiness.

Incremental change is all about kaizen.  Continuous improvement.  The ‘er’ words.  Making your current choices bigger, smaller, blacker, whiter, faster, slower.  Small gains, small risk.

Transformation is when you change something inside out or upside down.  When you look at the thing you’ve been looking at every day and see something completely different.  For instance, after three years of partnership, you decide to get married.  Hopefully that’ll change stuff quite dramatically for the better.

Disruption sounds sexy, but rarely is.  It’s very high risk because it relies on destruction first.  When you destroy something, it’s usually hard to rebuild it.  The risks are high.  The rewards can be high too.  For example, your first baby is usually quite the disruptive event. 

So the first thing to do when considering a career change is work out whether you’re looking for incremental, transformational or disruptive change to your life.  To help you in the process here are four steps I have found to be useful.

  1. Figure out what your happiness quotient is.  Give yourself a score from 1 to 100 on how happy you feel generally.  Then take a look back at your last month or so and figure out how you’re spending your time, since that is usually the key determinant on how happy you are.  (Apart from sleeping) we spend our time on five things: work, family, friends, community and me.  Look at your typical week as representing 100% of your time.  Then allocate the amount of time you spend on work (not at work but on work), on family, on friends, on the community and on yourself.  If these don’t result in a happiness quotient over 70% then clearly you need to change the way you are spending your time.  Since time is a finite 100% you must decide to eliminate, or reduce the amount of time you spend on activities that do not contribute to your overall happiness.
  1. Blue Ocean your time and your life.  Figure out what you need to eliminate, to reduce, to raise and to create to live a happy, fulfilling 2024.  Start with eliminate and reduce.  First, you have to find space before you can raise and create.  Be choiceful, be brave and be decisive.
  1. WOOP your life.  Outline your Wish, the Outcomes if that Wish were to come true, the Obstacles you will face en route and the Plan to overcome them.  Then follow the advice of the US Navy Seals – Adapt, Improvise, Overcome. 
  1. Go into 2024 optimistically.  Positively.  Confidently.  And remember what John Lennon said “Everything will be OK in the end.  If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.“

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