Look to the Future with Confidence and Optimism By Taking Control of Your Own WorkLife Learning, Growth and Development Through Personal Off-Sites, and a Joie De Vivre List of Places To Go, People to Be With, and Things to Do, by Carmel O’ Reilly

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.

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 future. Her intention was to create space to think long term about what really matters in the greater scheme of things, then work backwards from that to make it happen.  She was embarking on the first of what she planned would be ongoing quarterly off-sites with herself. Time and space to work on her Go, Be, Do list, her Joie De Vivre for all areas of her WorkLife. 

Look to the Future with Confidence and Optimism by Taking Control of Your Own WorkLife Learning, Growth and Development Through Personal Off-Sites, and a Joie De Vivre List of Places to Go, People to Be With, and Things to Do. A Case Study:

Look To The Future With Confidence

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 on 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 she will be doing at the pinnacle of her WorkLife – when she’s 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, she 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 and programmes that were accessible to individuals who managed their own learning, development and growth, 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, 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-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-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 out at worst. However, she did enjoy collaborating with people on various aspects of her work – just as long as they self-managed their work.

Aisling then moved on to the next assignment: Create Your WorkLife Action Plan

As directed, as she went about her daily WorkLife, she continued to reflect on what all of this means through the self-feedback she gave herself. She began her outline from the key points she’d gleaned from answering these questions, then she 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 (https://www.carbisbayhotel.co.uk). She had re-booked lunch at Porthminster Beach Cafe, another recommendation and favourite of Norma’s (https://www.porthminstercafe.co.uk), and everyday she walked along the beaches of St. Ives and explored the galleries, museums and shops of the town, discovering cafes and pubs 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 (https://bit.ly/38may5j) ready to look the future with confidence and optimism, determined to continue to take control of her own WorkLife learning, development and growth. She 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 remind her of what she wanted to achieve, and how she wanted to go about achieving this, 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 book of the blog is: Your WorkLife Your Way: Make Your WorkLife Work For You by Carmel O’ Reilly.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog 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 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. 

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.