The rollercoaster continues!


In my last blog I wrote about how rubbish things had felt for me that week.  I promised myself that the following week I would be fired up, focused and fabulous.  So here I am ready to report back to you on how that has been.

I posted my blog on Friday morning and felt pretty flat, but after an afternoon of gaining some perspective, doing things that made me happy and taking some time for my mental wellbeing being I was feeling a little more positive.  I understand that to some people that will all sound a bit American but for me it works and let’s be honest, your general wellbeing is so important.  We should focus on that more often rather than simply being happy burning ourselves out.   Anyway as a result of some head space I then had a cracking weekend, doing simple things with someone who makes me smile.  This all set me up for a blinding week and that is what I have had.  So good that I am now writing this blog 3 days late!

A week ago today I drove to Newcastle to spend the day with my friend Sophie.  I mention Sophie in a few blogs.  To recap, we worked together at JL for a few years and she left after being made redundant 4 years ago.  Since then she has set up Smart Resourcing Solutions and in my opinion she is flying.  She is a great inspiration, motivation and support to have in my life.  Alongside being a great friend she has unofficially become my mentor.  Last Monday we had planned in time to go through my business plan, look at the financials, share experience and plan for my strategy day that I was having with my coach later in the week.  As ever, time with Sophie was thought-provoking.  I came away with a head full of ideas, actions, motivation and positivity.  It is really uplifting to spend time with people who get it!  I always love hearing about her plans and work and the highs and lows that she faces too.  Although to be honest it is a whole heap of highs right now for Soph!

I spent Tuesday focusing my head after the day in Newcastle and getting a strategy plan together to compliment my business plan.  I didn’t intend to do this but after I sent my business plan to Lisa (my coach) she sent me some thought-provoking questions and I decided to explore them fully.  They were so helpful in supporting me to be clear about my mind, emptying my head on to paper and to see everything written down.  That actually brings me nicely on to Lisa.  I have written about her a few times.  I have been working with Lisa as my coach for the last 2 months I think.  I didn’t know her before and this is the first time I have had a meaningful coaching relationship. Something that I can see and feel is making me a better person.  It is helping me to stay focused, hold myself to account, consider things I didn’t even know needed consideration, believe in myself, challenge myself and plan.  I came across Lisa via a post on LinkedIn and after an initial discovery call I knew that we could work together.

Thursday was spent with Lisa, she had structured the day exactly around my needs.  We have spoken often and in-depth and so she really understands my head and where I am at, what I am struggling with and how I tick.  This allowed us to have a really great 3 hours together.  We got straight to it, using my business plan and strategy document to help formulate my operational plan to being ready to launch Sparkle HR in November 2017.  As you can imagine, there is a lot to do and a lot to learn along the way but I can now 100% say I am ready for this!  My plan is set out and I can track how I am progressing confidently.  I posted on LinkedIn about my day with Lisa and I will say it again in my blog, if you are going through change, or simply need support with your development/progression then working with a coach can be a beneficial relationship to have. Investment in yourself is important and I can speak from experience now, Lisa is fabulous.  If you want to know more drop me a message.  Her name is Lisa Jelly and she offers a free 45 minute discovery call for anyone interested.

My parting paragraph for this week is to say, I am feeling in a good place, I feel that no matter what happens with this venture I am giving it my all.  That is all I can ask of myself.  Last week was a great week, this week is starting off that way too but as my previous blogs have captured, that can change at the drop of a hat at the moment.  For now, I am focussing on me, my future and my feelings.  That feels good, long may this fired up, focused and fabulous lady continue!

Sometimes the strength within you is not a big fiery flame for everyone to see, it’s just a tiny spark that whispers ever so softly, “keep going.  You got this”

Love Laura x


Normal service will be resumed shortly…

I wasn’t going to write this week but then I decided I should. I wasn’t going to write because I don’t feel like I have much to write about. Well, nothing inspiring or positive anyway. 

Honestly, it’s been a rubbish 7 days . I have now officially been served my notice.  My leaving date is the 31 January 2018. So there you have it. Mr Lewis and I are officially parting company. Over the last seven days there have been many tears. It’s like the end of a relationship when you didn’t get to make the decision. (And believe me, I know that feeling too well!) 

We all know I have had months to get used to this but it still stings like a bitch! 

Lots of people tell me there is life on the other side, things will be great, it could be the best thing to ever happen and I agree. I think that myself most of the time but this week I just feel deflated and a bit meh!  When you commit 17 years to one place, work hard, do everything that is expected and more, deliver results and move all over the country it’s hard not to take it personally. “It’s not you, it’s your role that’s being redundant”. Yes yes I hear you. But I’m still going as a result. Of course I feel a bit hurt by that. 

On the positive side I have now ordered my Sparkle business cards and I can’t wait to see them, I have some exciting things coming up and a day of business and operational planning next week to look forward to. When I write next week I intend to be fired up, focused and fabulous! 

There you go, that’s me all naked and vulnerable. I’m not going to write more. Today, writing my blog has been like therapy! Right now I’m going to prepare for next week, bake a cake, listen to a motivational blog and do some meditation. 

Happy Friday one and all, keep talking, it’s good to share what’s in your head. Thanks for your ongoing support.   

You’ve got a new story to write and it looks nothing like your past. 

Love Laura x

Community can be found in many ways… 

This week has been challenging. I’ve felt a little frustrated, very stressed and super emotional. However, I’m not going to witter on about that. Instead I’ve thought of something positive to share with you all!   

I haven’t written about this yet but a number of weeks ago I went to the Northern Area Partnership CIPD conference.  It was a great two days because I had time to learn, network, have fun and feel part of a community of like-minded professional people.  However, I’ll admit I did go along feeling a sense of uncertainty mainly due to the fact I was going alone and only knew of one other person  I had met before. 

Now I’ve said in previous blogs, I’m a fairly confident person; I love people. (I guess I’m in the right profession!) I love meeting new people and I enjoy feeling part of a community, yet still I’m no different to many people and this kind of scenario can make me feel slightly uneasy. I really shouldn’t have been worried though, and didn’t feel as if I was in a room of strangers at any point. 

Now here comes the link to my love of social media. I really am a fan. Both in my personal and professional life. From Instagram, to G+ and Twitter to Snapchat you name it I use it!   I have increased my Twitter useage for lots of HR related stuff,  as a source of opinion, information and connecting it’s been fantastic.  Now imagine you turn up to a conference where you think you know one person and actually there are heaps of people you know. You’ve not actually met them in person but you know them from social media. So this happened to me well over ten times over the course of the two days. I actually knew more people than I thought; Twitter was a great opening conversation at the least and it has reaffirmed in my mind how valuable social media can be when used in the right way. 

I also mentioned feeling part of a community earlier, community is important to me. Since the age of 10 I have been part of choirs. Singing has given me a lot of life skills actually, from the obvious technical skills such as breathing correctly and control to the less obvious ones such as building confidence, meeting people from all walks of life and just giving me many many exciting opportunities.  Singing gives me that sense of community – a belonging, a shared goal and common purpose. Being part of an HR community is actually very similar.  Both things have transferable skills with each other too, be it controlling your breath when presenting or maintaining good eye contact when singing. 

The last thing I wanted to mention which resonated with me at the conference was delivered by our after dinner speaker. Her name was Joy Marsden. She spoke about the importance of having an identity that isn’t simply related to your job title. Now that hit me right in the face, that was exactly me. For years I have been Laura “John Lewis Partnership” Moughton. That’s why the redundancy announcement hit me hard.  For the last four months though, I’ve been trying to reconnect with who I am without the JLP bit. It’s been challenging for me and still is some days, yet at the core of Joy’s speech she focussed on a simple message: Regardless of what you are facing, step up, step out and stand out. 

I feel fortunate that I got to hear Joy present. She helped me have a giggle at my own expense, understand that I’m not alone and focus on a bright future. 

Here’s to a great weekend, my MacBook doing what I need it to and a shiny bright future. 

The impact you have on others is determined by who you are – Joy Marsden 

Love Laura x

Positivity breeds positivity

Hi everyone. My blog this week is not related to any specific topic just a general update on my progress and what’s been happening. I hope some of it may be useful and interesting to some of you and if not I hope you enjoy knowing how I’m filling my time anyway! 
I’ve been asked by a lot of people recently what steps I’m taking and how I’m doing things, what I’m learning and any advice. So I figured a bit of an update might be a little interesting to anyone going through something similar, even if it’s to just share the experience.  I’m not trying to say I’m right in my approach by the way. Simply sharing how I’m muddling through! 

There’s been a lot going on this week. My head is full but if I were to summarise my mood right now it would be one of feeling hopeful, positive and energised. Being around positive people really is impactful.  One of my aims this year has been to find ways to get this outside of my current employment, in preparation to becoming self employed.  It’s amazing how powerful sharing and support from what effectively are strangers can be. There’s a hugely supportive world out there when you start to look.  It is so important to invest in time for you. It’s worth it. The benefits may not be there immediately for you to see but my advice would be to do it anyway. It won’t be a negative thing that’s for sure, there’s always something to learn or a new connection to be made maybe even space for an idea to spark. 

On Thursday I attended the first Northern Power Women live event which was a day made up of a series of short speakers sharing their own stories.  Some of the topics on the face of it were not necessarily relevant to me. However in reality I took something from each and every single session. I left yesterday feeling motivated by a room of amazing people and every time I attend something like this my confidence grows. I get used to speaking as the Director of my own business rather than an employee of someone else’s. It feels great!  

My business plan is also coming together now and after a session with my coach this week we have planned in half a day in July to turn my completed business plan in to a workable operational plan in order to support me launching Sparkle and building my clients. This action alone this week has made me feel in control and has given me a sense of purpose. 

I’ve also taken another positive step; I’ve enrolled to study for my ILM Level 7 diploma in executive coaching and mentoring. Alongside outsourced HR services I plan to offer coaching to business leaders and therefore I will be ensuring my skills are at the top of their game. Making this decision and enrolling is another piece of my plan falling into place.  I’m making things happen (slowly) and I’m happy about that. 

I’ve also booked myself a place at a WIBN meeting locally as I want to increase my networking in and around Sheffield. I’ve done a fair amount in Leeds, Manchester and York but need to put some focus on the city I live in. Again, all little steps but it’s a lot of little steps that will make the difference. 

I know that I’m still on this wild rollercoaster and next week I could be feeling very differently but as I listened to Tanja Lichtensteiger speaking today I took this message away engrained in my brain. Aim for 1% progress each day and you will go a long way. 

Take a breath and have a go. You will only go forwards not backwards – Lara Morgan

Love Laura x

You don’t ever know how change will impact you until it does!

It’s no secret that the whole reason I am working towards the biggest change in my career to date is due to a restructure of the HR function in my current employment.  I didn’t actively go looking for this!  That change means that my role is redundant and I think I am due to leave in January 2018 sometime.  I have now known about this for 3 months. There are positives and negatives knowing that change is coming for such a long time. For me, although I am finding this hard I think I prefer the amount of notice. It is giving me time to get my head around things and to plan for what I hope will be a wildly successful next chapter in my life!  For others I know that the amount of notice seems or would seem painful and unnecessary, but that just goes to show how we all deal with change so very differently and there is no wrong or right response.  Nobody can tell you that you are coping in the right or wrong way.
As a HR professional I am all too familiar with the change curve!  I was ready for the announcement; I knew change was coming, I was going to be cool with this, I was ready, hit me with it….and then the announcement happened and I was firmly in shocked mode…stunned in fact.  I am not ashamed to say I cried, what on earth do you mean?! How can you do this to me?!
I am writing about the impact of change this week because it has already affected me in many ways.  It seems relevant and timely because over these last 12  weeks many people have commented on my upbeat approach and  positive outlook throughout.  I wouldn’t disagree on the whole but that doesn’t mean I am not faced with a  range of emotions daily.  I am not unaffected but I am just choosing to channel my emotions in as positive a way I can.  Those close to me though will have seen me cry, get excited, have a rage and get focussed. I’m not selective with my emotions!        
I have moved from the top of the curve to the bottom and back up the other side like a pendulum.  My most common feelings right now go from fear through to commitment and back again, I teeter between them all but the most common ones are fear, anger, hope and enthusiasm.  Inside I bobble about between them like a rollercoaster but on the outside I try to appear and portray a constant sense of confidence, hope, enthusiasm and commitment.  Not because I don’t want people to know how I feel but because it helps me personally get back to the place I want and need to be.  I can’t make Sparkle HR a success if I stay in anger mode and neither do I want to feel that way.   Feeling utterly hacked off that this change is happening isn’t going to help me move forward is it?  If anything those feelings stifle your potential awesomeness.  At the end of the day it is happening, I can’t change that and that kick has pushed me to make the most exciting career decision of my life to date.  For that I am grateful.  I am also grateful that my employer is supporting me in many ways to have a smooth transition to a new life, it definitely helps and is something I appreciate.  Let’s not gloss over the fact though that I do still feel angry with “them” at times, I wouldn’t choose to go….why would I? I have had a great career.  I love the business I work in.  After a conversation with a friend recently we summarised this feeling – my head has accepted the change and moved on but my heart is still caching up.  I am sure my heart will still be catching up on the day I leave.  I have many fulfilling happy years behind me after all.
From a professional perspective, going through this experience has given me a better insight and a deeper understanding regarding how successful change can be implemented.  I have examples of things I would replicate time and time again and things I would not.  The importance of human interaction and a genuine care is key, process is obviously important but don’t let that detract from being human. 
My final thought is this, I am feeling positive, why wouldn’t I be?  I have a new chapter to look forward to and lots of support to make this happen.  I know I will continue to bobble about the change curve and you know what?  That is entirely ok!
Don’t be afraid of change, be afraid of staying the same – Carrie Green FEA
Love Laura x

Stepping up


I am an over thinker. I actually think many of us are guilty of that but in my experience women are worst at it! We analyse everything; what did she mean by that? Why did I say that? What do they think of me? If I do that, this might happen. The list really does go on. 

The truth is, we anticipate futures that simply may never happen and that in turn makes the thing too big and scary to contemplate and then you hesitate and that hesitation stops you from achieving your potential. I’m writing about this this week because I have been putting the business plan together for Sparkle HR.  In truth I have been putting this off for weeks. Of course I know in my head what it is I’m doing and let’s be honest that’s the fun bit. But making myself get detailed, and focus on things new and terrifying its not always as fun. It’s not always fun because I often don’t initially know the way forward or how to do something but burying my head in the sand or skipping forward 6 steps and panicking about what might happen doesn’t help either! 

Each time I’ve started to focus on my plan this week I have ended up going into overthinking mode. I have had to tell myself to stop. Focus on the now. In order to make Sparkle a success I need my business plan. In order to get to the detail and build a plan of actions and a timeline I need my business plan. Therefore to allow myself to do this I have to stop racing ahead. That’s hard. So many ideas and anticipation in my mind.  I saw a Ted talk this week which suggests that defining your fears instead of your goals can be more important for progression as we suffer more often in imagination than in reality. A sentiment I am going to hold close over the coming months. 

I also have to learn to become comfortable with not being in control. I would say I’m coping better now than I was in January. Would I say I’m entirely there yet? Hell no! I am getting better though, that’s progress right?! I’ve mentioned in a previous blog about utilising your friends; again, at times I am good at this but at other times (and usually when I’m in the grip) I sit stressing and worrying. I have a ton of brainy, talented, amazing and creative people in my life and I need to become better at speaking up and not trying to do it all alone. 

My goal for the next week is to complete my first draft business plan in order to focus on this during my coaching. Once I am happy with what I have I can get back to the exciting stuff! 

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing – Walt Disney 

Love Laura x

Being vulnerable – it’s a gift 

Over the years I’ve learned to become comfortable and at ease with allowing myself to be vulnerable. The more I’ve done it the more I’ve realised that this is actually a massive strength. Nothing bad has ever happened to me by being vulnerable. In fact the opposite. Great things usually come from it. 

So what do I mean? I’m happy to hold my hands up and say I don’t know, I’m happy to ask others for help when I need it and I’m comfortable with recognising when I could have been better.  I’m also happy to work my hardest to learn, to fill the gap and to be the best I can.  The quicker you accept that not one person knows it all and that nobody expects you to either, the quicker you allow yourself the freedom to progress. 

You see, I know there’s lots I’m great at and I know others recognise that in me too. Therefore I’m happy to share my challenges and the reason for that is simple, nobody likes a smart arse! Not really. I have learned so much from people by allowing myself the freedom to not pretend, to ask when I need it and to give myself time to think. 

You know I told you last week that I have recently completed my CIPD, well this is a great example actually.  I was happy to share with others whilst I was going through the process that I found it tough along the way.  I rang people to vent, cry, you name it. When I needed an outlet, I found one.  As a result of that more than a handful of my colleagues who are going through the same thing have subsequently reached out to me when they’ve felt the same way.  I’ve been able to support them. It’s infectious. It creates a safe space, and guess what, one by one we are all finding out that we have nailed this.  We could have all pretended this was a breeze – after all we have all been in the profession for half of our lives. Instead, the power of vulnerability has united us, great things are being achieved and I’m proud to be a part of such a successful team, I will miss this when I leave. 

To finish off this week I just want to share with you a few things.   I’ve had a good week and I feel back on track. I’ve made progress in a few areas with my business and that feels good.  My branding is finalised and I’m starting to consider my website.  Sparkle HR is becoming a reality day by day. There is still some key items on my to do list that I am yet to achieve and I keep beating myself up about this but they are now at the top of the list.  I had my third coaching session this evening with Lisa Jelly. We focussed specifically on my priorities and business planning. I am now clear of the coming weeks and what I need to achieve and Lisa and I we will be focusing on this together. 

If anyone is wanting a coach I would highly recommend her. She helps me gain clarity and calmness. In the spirit of being vulnerable I was all over the place in our meeting today and she helped me re – focus on the strategy.  I needed that.   We meet via Zoom for 90mins at a time. She offers a free 45 minute discovery call with no obligation to anyone interested. What have you got to lose?

Things in my personal life feel good at the moment too and all of that makes for a content me. 

This week I’m happy to say that I’ve achieved some great things but I’m also happy to admit that there’s been moments of  “how on earth do I do this?!” One step at a time, that’s how. 

Vulnerability is not about weakness, it’s about showing up and being seen – Dr Brené Brown 

Love Laura x