1 Simple Way to Effectively Plan your WorkLife Learning and Development 

2 Steps to Look to the Future and Present with Confidence and Optimism 

Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning
Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.

On a cold snowy night at the beginning of January, Aisling boarded the Night Riviera sleeper train at Paddington, London, on her way to St. Ives in Cornwall. It was exactly one year since her original intended trip. One she had planned to go on with her closest friend Norma; but sadly and unexpectedly, Norma passed away a few weeks before their trip. Feeling unable to take the trip without her dear friend, so soon after her death, Aisling vowed to take it in her memory, and to do the things they’d planned to do by way of remembering and celebrating the joy that Norma brought to life, her own and other people’s. Norma had a joy of living, and indeed had a Joie De Vivre list of places she wanted to go to, people she wanted to be with, and things she wanted to do. Aisling also had a list, and they’d cross reference joys they both wanted to experience, then plan and scheme to make them happen to enjoy together.

1 Simple Way to Effectively Plan your WorkLife Learning and Development 

2 Steps to Look to the Future and Present with Confidence and Optimism 

A Case Study: A Personal Off-Site, and a Joie De Vivre List of Places to Go, People to Be With, and Things to Do. 

Together with remembering and celebrating the joy that Norma brought to life, Aisling was also going to take time on her trip to think about what she wanted in her WorkLife. Her intention was to create space to think long term about what really matters in the greater scheme of things. And in the knowledge that life is short, she also wanted to think about the short term to ensure she was living her life fully at every moment.

Book Wisdom

Aisling had brought the book Your WorkLife Your Way: Make Your WorkLife Work For You by Carmel O’ Reilly on her trip to work through.

Having already completed Part I: Getting To Know Yourself and Part II: Your Superpowers, Aisling picked up at Part III: Setting Your Intentions, and began from where she’d left off:

Chapter 10: Creating Your Shorter and Longer Term WorkLife Plan.

Words of Wisdom

“You can’t predict. You can prepare.” Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance.

Because of everything that happened over the previous year, first losing her friend Norma, then the pandemic hitting, and the impact that had to Aisling’s WorkLife and way of living, this quote at the beginning of the chapter resonated with her. And it reminded her of the:

Sage Wisdom

You live only once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Joe Lewis

Aisling started with the Creating Your Longer Term WorkLife Assignment by beginning to think about her dreams and aspirations. She did this by asking herself:

  • What will I be doing at the pinnacle of my WorkLife? – when I’m feeling challenged, engaged and not wanting anything else. 

Her answer was that she wanted to be making a living from her writing, and she wanted to achieve this by following her dream: “To spread the power of WorkLives lived with Passion, Purpose and Pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning, development and growth programmes that are accessible to everyone, everywhere, at all times.” As well as the books and online programmes she wrote, Aisling also had ideas for films and TV shows she wanted to write. This is what she believed would give her the sense of feeling challenged, engaged and not wanting anything else.

To help her understand her dream, her aspirations – her bigger picture, she asked herself:

  • What size company do I imagine working for?

There was a time when Aisling thought she would grow her business into something big, but that had changed over time. She now knew she wanted to keep it small, to work independently, and to collaborate as needed with other independent workers or small businesses in their fields. It wasn’t that Aisling was against working with big companies, she just didn’t want to grow her own company big. And she wanted to create books, programmes and resources that were accessible to individuals who managed their own learning, and development, which of course companies of all sizes could offer to the individuals that made up their workforce. The key was to keep her products — books, programmes, resources and services — online courses, and in time (hopefully) live-streaming films and TV shows, affordable. So that even in the hardest of times, through downturns in the economy, individuals could still afford to access them, and companies could still offer them to their individual employees, without draining their learning and development budgets, because they were still affordable.

  • What industry do I want to be in?

That was easy – Education.

  • Do I want to be in a very individual contributor-type role or a management/director-type role?

Definitely a very individual contributor-type role. That was the role Aisling had always navigated towards. In recent years her work had demanded a more management/director-type role in some aspects, and Aisling really didn’t like it. It wasn’t that she couldn’t do it, or that she was bad at it, she simply didn’t enjoy it, and it would at times cause her to be slightly anxious at best, and totally stressed at worst. However, she did enjoy collaborating with people on various aspects of her work — just as long as they self-managed/directed their work.

Aisling then moved on to think about her shorter term WorkLife plan to ensure she was living her life fully at every moment. Thinking about her Joie De Vivre List of Places to Go, People to Be With, and Things to Do, enabled her to bring her meaningful personal touch to her plan.

She did this by asking the following questions that have helped her to focus on every future off-site: 

  • In the coming three months: Where do I want to go? Who do I want to be with? What do I want to do?
  • What do I need to build into my day, week and month to achieve this?

Aisling’s immediate answers were:

I want to take one short-trip to France. 

Aisling loved to travel and to experience the culture of new places. This also played into her longer term plan. This is because her dream was to live in another country. She hadn’t decided where yet, but France was a country high on her list, and taking time to explore it at least once every three months would help her long term decision when she was ready to make the move to fulfil her dream.

Aisling wanted to spend more time with the people most important to her – her family and friends. Being self-employed had, at times, prevented this because she had thrown herself into her work, leaving little time to spend time with those dear to her. She began to list those people and to think about ways to connect with them that would be fun and meaningful. For example, taking her grandsons to the cinema was something they had enjoyed doing together. The pandemic had brought an abrupt halt to that, and for no good reason, they hadn’t gotten back to it. Aisling shared a love of Super Hero films with the boys, and so she began to look at what was coming soon.

Thinking about what she wanted to do, brought Aisling to her love of theatre, art galleries and museums. Again, the pandemic had brought an abrupt halt to that, and again, for no good reason, she hadn’t gotten back to it. The wonderful range of performances and exhibitions in London meant that, too, was easy to get back to, and so, she also began to look at what was happening now and what was coming soon. This also played into her longer term plan of creating learning resources (as did seeing films with the boys). This is because Aisling loved to incorporate the Arts into her work. Going to the cinema, theatre, galleries, and museums always gave her ideas and inspiration for what she could do. 

As directed by the book assignment, as she went about her daily WorkLife, Aisling continued to reflect on what all of this meant. She did this through the thoughts and ideas that came to her, together with the self-feedback she gave herself as she mulled things over by writing in her journal every day. Having begun her outline from the key points she’d gleaned from answering these questions, she then took whatever clarity that came to her over the remaining days of her short break – her off-site with herself to add more details to her outline. 

Aisling did this alongside remembering and celebrating the life of her dear friend Norma. She had re-booked Carbis Bay Hotel for her stay, which Norma had recommended one year earlier because it was her favourite hotel. She had re-booked lunch at Porthminster Beach Cafe, another recommendation and favourite of Norma’s. Every day she walked along the beaches of St. Ives and explored the galleries, museums and shops of the town, discovering cafes, pubs and restaurants along the way. Everything she would have done with Norma, she did in her memory, to which she raised a cup or a glass at every watering hole she stopped at before she caught the Night Rivera sleeper train back to London, ready to look to the future and present with confidence and optimism, determined to continue to self direct her WorkLife learning and development.

Aisling was already planning her next quarterly personal off-site, and until then, she had her Joie De Vivre List of Places To Go, People To Be With, and Things To Do to work (and play) through. To help her live her life to the full in the short-term, in the knowledge that these actions would help her, in time, to achieve her long-term dreams and aspirations.


To remind her of what she wanted to achieve and how she wanted to go about achieving this, by ensuring she lived her WorkLife to the full. Every day Aisling recited the poem:

Don’t Just

Don’t just learn, experience.

Don’t just read, absorb.

Don’t just change, transform.

Don’t just relate, advocate.

Don’t just promise, prove.

Don’t just criticise, encourage.

Don’t just think, ponder.

Don’t just take, give.

Don’t just see, feel.

Don’t just dream, do.

Don’t just hear, listen.

Don’t just talk, act.

Don’t just tell, show.

Don’t just exist, live.

Roy T. Bennett

Today’s featured book is my book: Your WorkLife Your Way: Make Your WorkLife Work for you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.



The Continuing Story …

The WorkLife Book Wisdom stories led me to write WorkLife Book Club, which takes you on a journey through the streets of Shoreditch, East London, as the members share culinary experiences, while discussing WorkLife struggles and successes through the wisdom found in the books they read. 

Tap the book image to see a preview of what’s inside and to purchase from Amazon. The book is also available to purchase from your favourite book shop.


School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning? 

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

How To Plan Effectively: Professionally and Personally

How To Use Turning Points to Start Something Different and Better

How To Build Your WorkLife Around What Engages and Inspires You  

Tap The School of WorkLife Book Series to view the complete collection of books. From here, you can tap on each individual title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of www.schoolofworklife.com My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.