What Is a Comfort Zone and How Do I Get into One?

I’ve already vented in this blog about the off-putting language of  job ads, with their demands for desperately hungry and driven individuals who are good at just about everything.

Today though, I’d like to take the longer view and think about CPD, or Continuing Professional Disappointment. It’s a fact of working life that no sooner have you begun to grasp the basics of your new role than they suddenly change and you have to learn them all over again. For the notverygood, this means that if you’re in any job slightly above the level of cupholder, there never comes a time when you actually know how to do it, because what you know is constantly going out of date.

It’s an even odder fact that everyone is expected to enjoy this process, which has long been labelled ‘getting out of your comfort zone’ or some such. All very fine and probably what keeps the world going, but fairly alarming to those of us who don’t even have a comfort zone.

I wonder if the whole business of updating your qualifications and honing your skills and so forth would be easier if we didn’t have to pretend to love it? Or does everyone else love being offered a new hurdle to jump every time they thought they were getting close to being good at something?


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Low Achiever? Never Amounted to Anything? Congratulations!

Wonderful news!

According to the very latest research (well, it took me a few weeks to get round to finding it, but that’s a good thing as you will soon see) there is a reason why we notverygoods spend a lot of time staring into space, contemplating the meaning of life without ever actually working it out, and generally just idling. It’s because …. we’re clever! If you have the energy, do take a look:


Well, didn’t we know that all along? Admittedly it’s based on a small sample (they probably had trouble getting all those clever people to bother turning up) but I feel in my very lazy bones that it must be true. And it does explain such a lot, doesn’t it? So next time anyone confronts you with a list of all the things you haven’t accomplished, just give them a pitying smile and go back to thinking your deep thoughts.

Must be off, got a pile of work to smile serenely at. I’ll let you know how that works out … Have a good week!


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Can I Help You? No, of Course Not

For those of us who stumble along at the tail-end of events, wondering how we got there and how soon we can get out of it, there’s clearly an attraction in any promise to fix everything in one easy move.

It’s no wonder self-help books and the like have a loyal following, since there are quite a number of us who are always looking for help. The difficulty is in the ‘self’ part, of course: the whole point of being a notverygood is that you aren’t very good at helping yourself. This is probably why you don’t see a lot of self-help books with titles like ‘How to Succeed by Working Extremely Hard and Doing Things Well’.

No, what most of us secretly want is someone to come and put everything right. So I’m leaving you with a Monday thought: if a large number of people all appeared carrying banners that said SOMEBODY COME AND FIX THIS, what – if anything – do you think would happen next?

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So That’s Why They Call It Retail Therapy

You hear a lot about the way that shopping, once a lively experience rich in human contact, has gone all soulless now, what with online stores and automated checkouts and all. Well yes, there’s a lot in that, not to mention all the difficulties of getting anything to work (as whinged about in earlier blogs), but there is one rarely-mentioned upside: machines can’t laugh at you. At least, not yet. They can’t sigh, roll their electronic eyes or even gently offer to take you through the whole thing again.

We don’t usually think of ourselves as being either good or bad at shopping, but if you ask me it’s a skill like anything else. Starting with the basics: how many hands do you need to manage goods, cards, card readers cash, coupons, and any small people, confused elders and so on whom you may have brought along? I make it six at least, and you can double that at Christmas. Having only two feeble paws, I find it’s a rare day that I get out without spilling my change, upsetting the card machine or bursting a carton or two.

Traumatic, that’s what it is. No wonder we all need therapy afterwards.


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Taking It Easy Is Hard Work


By this time of year, there’s a fine online harvest of holiday snaps, anecdotes and the like. And they all look lovely when I trawl through them on Facebook. Sometimes I get quite carried away – except that, of course, you don’t get actually, physically carried away: and that’s the trouble.

It’s not like you suddenly find yourself swimming with a shark (or not in a way you’d like); or realise you’ve absentmindedly blundered into the Taj Mahal. You don’t set out for a relaxing stroll and then find yourself saying: ‘What, the summit of Uluru already? Well, fancy that.’

In other words, you have to do stuff. You can decide to stick to your nearest Butlins or go for the most inclusive of inclusive packages and you still have to get organised. You have to confuse yourself  online or go into a travel agent and be beaten over the head with brochures until you give in.

And yet we notverygoods need our holidays. We use up a lot of energy, what with finding everything a challenge. And clearly paying someone lots of dosh to arrange the whole thing for you has its drawbacks. So what next? (Got so tired thinking about all this holiday planning that it’s clear I  need a holiday. But then again …)


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It’s Really Very Simple, and Other Lies


There are some sentences I can’t see or hear without going cold all over. They include:

‘It’s really very simple.’

‘If I can do it, anyone can.’

‘Don’t worry, I’m no technophile either.’

‘Just follow the instructions and you’ll be fine.’

And, worst of all: ‘Any fool can do it.’ (Sometimes followed helpfully by ‘Even you.’)

No idea why this should happen, but if I hear any of the above I can almost guarantee that I’m about to prove that person wrong. Which isn’t all that satisfying: we all like to be special, but not at the price of being told ‘Well, nobody else has had any trouble with it.’

Instructions for anything to do with computers are surely the worst. They always start very promisingly, but by point 2 or 3 there will always be something along the lines of ‘Just link to your gobbledegook, then simply obtain your Da Vinci code and paste it into your magic window’ – sometimes accompanied by a helpful video clip showing a screen that looks nothing like mine.

But I’m sure it’s all really very simple …






The Notverygood Guide to Time Management

I woke up this morning full of energy, bursting with ideas and all set for an extra-specially  productive Thursday. All seemed to be going well until, with a nasty jolt, I realised that it was in fact Friday.

Well, never mind. At least I could make it a super-productive Friday. Just need to check a few things and answer an email or two and then … it’s lunchtime.

Time to take the longer view. Let’s make 2016 the best year ever, because it’s only just started, right?

Well, in any case I’m sure I’ll be much better at this time management lark when I get older …. oh dear.

Have a lovely weekend, unless it’s already Monday of course.


How Does Anyone Get Anywhere?

Arriving on a station platform yesterday, I was greeted by one of those announcements along the lines of: ‘If you’re going to Destination X, you’re clearly a person of no importance and you can huddle in the front 4 carriages and be thankful.’

And was struck by the thought: how do people work these things out? For instance, if a train is in the terminal even I can work out that the front of it is going to be the end that isn’t pressed up against the ticket barrier. But if it’s just there, in the station, and you didn’t see it arrive, how do you know where the front is, any more than you know where to start feeding a tucked-in tortoise? And yet everyone else can be seen streaming confidently towards what does, invariably, turn out to be the right end.

This must be the same talent that allows everyone (else) to find their way back to their own coach after a ferry crossing. It’s one I don’t have; indeed, some of us would settle for being able to find our own car after a spot of shopping. I’d love to blame all this on age, and then I could look back to a carefree youth spent leaping on and off moving buses without ever once finding I was on the wrong one. Well, I can’t.

There must be a solution to all this, but clearly this page isn’t the place to find one…

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Not Very Good at Bluffing, or Is That a Bluff? No, It Isn’t

One skill you really have to develop if you’re not very good at anything is the ability to pretend you are good at things, or at least know what things are. There are bluffers’ guides now to all sorts of things, including meeting your in-laws for the first time (I am not making this up); in fact there’s even a bluffers’ guide to bluffing.

Which sort of underlines the fact that it is a skill, and one I at least have finally given up trying to master. It’s time to accept that I’m a very, very bad poker player.

The thing you never hear about bluffing is how massively it can add to your stress levels. Let’s suppose you do manage to get yourself mistaken for a wine expert, a top financial advisor or a desirable in-law: what’s the next step? Of course if this was a Hollywood film, the bluffer would turn out to be miraculously good at everything and it would all end happily.

But in real life, if you’re notverygood – and why else would you be bluffing? – you’re more likely to find you’ve blagged your way into a situation where blagging won’t help you.

So I’m pioneering an anti-bluffer’s approach. Something along the lines of ‘No, I don’t know a thing about [fill in blank]. Would you like to explain it me?’ Then you sit back and find out just how many people  around you were bluffing all the time.

Results to be announced – meanwhile, I’d love to hear from anyone who’s already a practising anti-bluffer …

A Job Description for the Notverygood

While still hammering out the perfect plan to work as little as possible, I find myself wondering: when did job ads get so frightening?

For instance: in my distant youth I can well remember blithely turning up to apply for bar, cleaning and catering jobs that basically stipulated you had to be alive, free at certain hours and able to find your way to the workplace. And on that basis, despite not being terribly good at any of the aforementioned, I took the jobs and did them until I was asked not to.

Now? I just wouldn’t dare. I wouldn’t have the nerve to market myself as a motivated, committed, self-starting individual who is passionate about everything from making coffee to cleaning out the bog. And what does giving 110% even mean?

Maybe some posts would be easier to fill if they were a little more honest; more geared to all the notverygood applicants out there.  ‘Low-paid but  undemanding work, would suit  mild-mannered individual who is unlikely to threaten anyone else’s position. Hours by agreement, but we promise not to wear you out.’

Hmmm, that really doesn’t sound too bad. It must be the weather …