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I will be speaking at the Agri Careers Expo in the Main Hall, RDS Dublin on Thursday February 14th. Ahead of this I did an interview for the Farmers Journal Irish Country Living Magazine. The following is the interview carried out by journalist Margaret Hawkins.


Do you have a growth mindset when it comes to your job or are you limited by a fixed one?

Thinking of changing career?  If so, what questions should you be asking yourself?

Also, getting a handle on work-related stress – how do you do it?

Margaret Hawkins seeks answers from Waterford-based GP, author and lifestyle medicine expert Dr Mark Rowe ahead of his presentation at Agri Careers Expo 2019.

Workplaces can be difficult places sometimes so how do you remain positive when the going gets tough?

For Dr Mark Rowe, a GP for 27 years and author of The Prescription for Happiness and The Men’s Health Guide, it’s down to mindset.

“Mindset about work and career is really important,” he says.How we see things determines to a large extent how they are.”

Change in relation to work is constant for all of us now, he points out, with the ‘job for life’ replaced by portfolio careers where people are going to have different job in their lifetime.

“In every job there is an opportunity to grow, though, and build on what you already have.”

He often advises young people to examine their mindset.

“I say to guys in their twenties, just out of college and maybe working in a call centre, ‘where do you see yourself in ten years’ time’?

I say ‘do a night course, keep on developing yourself because it always pays the best interest in the long term. If you seewhere you are as an opportunity rather than as ‘I’m stuck’ the mindset changes. You adopt what we call the growth mindset. This would say that ‘wherever I am now it’s only a starting point. It says that if I keep learning new skills no one knows where I’m going to end up because nobody can say how far I can go’.”

KEY – CONTINUOUS SELF-DEVELOPMENT 

Dr Rowe is a big fan of lifelong learning and continuous self-development.

He believes that many people disengage from work but that, wherever we are, work-wise, we should give it everything we’ve got.

“It really is about putting yourself fully into whatever you’re doing.”

He reckons that only about 1 in every 3 in any workplace really feel they have a strong sense of engagement or calling (in that job).

“That’s a huge pity and a missed opportunity,” he says, “because the truth is we can all use any job to connect more with our own sense of inner purpose. We can do that by simply changing our mindset about how we see the job or career itself.”

On this front there are several questions we can ask ourselves including:

·      How can we use our job to serve and support others (customers, team mates, employers or employees?)

·      How can we provide more service?

·      How can we use more of our own strengths in the workplace?

·      How can we use this step on the career ladder as an opportunity to learn and grow?

Dr Rowe quotes Benjamin Franklin here.

“We should never stop learning. Benjamin Franklin once said that the best thing you can do is empty your purse into your head for learning always pays the best interest. For me it’s about being continually willing to let go of what you know and being willing to keep on learning.”

STRESS IS NEITHER GOOD NOT BAD – RESPONSE IS KEY

He points out that having a growth mindset helps one cope with stress also.

“The growth mindset embraces stressrather than runs away from it.  It is open to change rather than resisting change.”

Stress is neither good nor bad, he says, but instead, it is our response to it that matters.

“It’s about what sort of lifestyle habits you have cultivated and developed. Humans are incredibly resilient creatures and we can put up with a huge amount of stress without it harming us whatsoever as long as we can recharge from it. A lot of people don’t give themselves that chance and then toxic stress builds up.”

There are many lifestyle tactics that can help insulate us from stress, he says.  Here’s his list:

SLEEP IS ESSENTIAL

Anyone being well today started last night with that person having a good night’s sleep. Getting enough restorative sleep is critical as lack of it will impact on everything from mood to focus to attention and even to one’s creativity.

“It will affect your willpower too as you will crave calories,” he adds.

CUT OUT MOBILE TECH OUT FOR 90 MINS BEFORE BED

This is because the blue light emitted by screens prevents melatonin being released from your brain and stops sleep coming on.

Leave the mobile phone downstairs rather than beside your bed, he says.  “Use an alarm clock instead of your phone.”

KEEP A JOURNAL – AND GO HEAVY ON THE GRATITUDE

Keeping a journal – a little notebook – is a great thing to build psychological fitness or strengthen your mindset, he says. Write down 5 things every day that you feel grateful for.  Writing it down helps you plug into your subconscious mind and focus on what’s going well in your life and takes you away from the worry and anxiety and negative stress.”

He also recommends writing a ‘To Do’ list every night which helps to take what you have to do out of your head.

“It’s easier then not to be ruminating about things and relax feeling more organized.”

ENJOY 90 – MINUTE WIND DOWN TIME BEFORE BED

Look at your favourite comedy show, read, do whatever helps you relax.

“We all need the work/play balance.”

EXERCISE IS KEY

Making exercise a habit is vital, he believes, ‘particularly the space between your two ears!’

Dr Rowe is an advocate of HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training.

“It only takes 15 or 20 mins and involves going at a regular pace for a while then at a fast pace on a cross trainer or exercise bike or whatever.

It not only dissolves cortisol and negative stress hormones but it brings on the release of what I call the biochemical cocktail? – serotonin and oxytocin – which make us feel more positive, connected and motivated.”

DANGERS OF SITTING TOO LONG

Sitting at a computer all day is bad for us as it moves us, physical health wise, toward a pro-diabetes type state as well as inflammatory and ageing one.

“It’s making you more sluggish and you effectiveness is going down and you might be completely oblivious of this.”

His tip is to move 10 minutes in every 60.

“Get up and stretch your legs every half hour. That’s something the corporate warrior or somebody at a desk can easily do.”

He piggybacks the habit of moving more onto speaking on the phone.

“I stand up when I answer it and move while I talk. I go outdoors as I talk too, if I can.”

Which brings him to the value of spending time outdoors

GREEN EXERCISE TO BEAT THE BLUES

Exercising outdoors is crucial, he says.

“Get outdoors for 15 minutes at lunchtime, even on a cloudy day, and at weekends get out in nature.  I call it ‘green exercise’ and it’s tremendously good to move you away from all that busyness of your monkey mind. It can really restore you from negative stress.”

SLOW DOWN YOUR BREATHING TO CALM YOURSELF

This is his ‘anywhere, anytime’ practical, inexpensive tip to reduce stress.

“Simply slow your breathing to four or five breaths a minute rather than the normal 12 breaths a minute and focus on your breath. This dampens down the red alarm button in the brain called the amygdala.”

BREAK OUT BOX – SIDEBAR

CHANGING CAREER – YOUR ‘WHY’ WILL BE YOUR GUIDE

Are you considering changing career? If so, you should ask yourself three questions.

1.   What do you want to do?

2.   How do you want to do it?

3.   Why do you want to do it?

“The ‘why’ question is the most important,” Dr Rowe says. “There is great power in knowing that. If you know the ‘why’ the ‘how’ gets easier.

You will be able to see your job through the eyes of a calling, purpose and engagement rather than feeling that it’s something that you have to turn up every morning for and know in your heart if and why you need a change.”

GIVING IN LIFE IS ITS OWN REWARD

You can then make a plan, he says.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can say ‘what’s the five year plan here?’ The other keys as you work toward your plan are to never stop learning and really embrace self-care along the way.

Look after your physical and mental health. Cultivate your emotional fulfillment, contentment and happiness, and be kinder to others.”

These are really important ways to build an inner sense of happiness, he says, because giving in life is its own reward.

“Value your relationships with yourself and other people and spend time with people who are going to strengthen and support you. Understand that the energy and vitality you show up with at work determines how people see you too,” he says.

UNHAPPY IN WORK?

If this is the case you have to try figure out why you are unhappy.

1.   Workplaces have HR departments there as a resource so go to them. Issues should be addressed appropriately.

2.   Consider Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or counselling. “CBT can be very helpful in informing someone about what they are thinking about their situation, how they have their own belief systems and how those beliefs are feeding into those thoughts and how that is making them feel.”

3.   Don’t just say ‘I’ll run away’. Far away hills are seldom greener. Look at what can be changed and can you get appropriate help but yes, there are sometimes situations where things don’t work out – that’s life.  In the middle of all that it’s important to value yourself. Value is a very important word. We all want to feel valued. It transcends pay cheques really. In the current global war for talent employers have to value employees if they want to retain them.”

*Dr Mark Rowe will be speaking at the Agri Careers Expo in the Main Hall, RDS on February 14th. See www.agricareers.ie