50 things I learned in 50 blog posts
When I started blogging, I never anticipated where I would be just over a year later. A new job and career, connections, knowledge, learnings, friends, and the list goes on... The other night I noticed that a big milestone had snuck up on me. I've hit 50 blog posts here on Making It Up!
As some of you may know, I'm about to launch a new site.
[Update: I have now launched my new site Career Chronicles, thanks for dropping by! I've kept references to Making It Up here as it's a nice reminder of how far I've come...]
Making It Up was always about my journey. And while I am so thankful for this blog and everything that it has done for me, I've realised that the feelings that motivated me to start Making It Up are not unique. There's a definite need for a site where people are sharing real stories, and real advice for young professionals, and I can't wait to share my new vision with you!
In the meantime, in what will (hopefully!) be my last post on Making It Up, it's the perfect time to share what I have learned in the last 50 blog posts. And by 50 blog posts I mean career change, growth, learning, disappointment, fantastic times and much more crappy times...
- Get started. Don't sit around and wait for things to come to you. If you have an idea, or are really passionate about something, just do it! Who knows what could happen? And if it doesn't work out in the end, by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and trying something new, you have probably gained a whole lot more than you lost.
- Don't be afraid to ask. I'll be honest, sometimes even the thought of asking for help or advice freaks me out. While I still sweat some of the small things, I have been consistently amazed by what you can get if you just put yourself out there and ask. People actually like to be asked for help!
- ... just in case you need more convincing on points 1 and 2. (quote by Suzy Kassem)
- Perseverance. I think the motto of my Primary School was "Perseverance is the key to success". While this didn't mean anything to me back then, now I realise you just have to keep pushing. Your break through will always be around the corner, so don't give up.
- That said, know when to give yourself a break. As important as perseverance is, listen to your body and how you are feeling. The world isn't going to stop if you just wait until tomorrow. I definitely failed at this more than once over the last year. I desperately wanted change and threw everything into it... at the expense of my health and wellbeing. Now I'm focused on getting back on track, and in the future, I'm going to try and be kinder to myself.
- Focus on your tribe. I know it's trendy to discuss the benefits of your tribe, but it's spot on. Over the last year so many people have supported me, and there's no way you can go it alone. My aunt told me about this little book that breaks friendships down into friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for a lifetime. I really love this concept. Work out where people fit in your life, and stick with the people who lift you up, not pull you down.
- Cherish the small victories. This is definitely true with my blog. Every little email, tweet or note I receive from someone saying that I have helped them in some way, gives me a huge boost. It's the combination of all these small victories that pushes me to keep going and aim higher.
- Don't let your failures consume you. I have tried to be really honest as I share my career change story: there was definitely some low points. Not getting a job I really wanted, being overlooked for awesome opportunities ... (the list goes on) ... all really sucked. I think the best thing to do is to give yourself a bit of time to be sad (or angry!) and then just move on. I've seen bitterness consume people for weeks and it's not pretty. Don't waste your time dwelling on things that didn't work out, otherwise you will never be able to move forward. Lesson learned.
- Fight for the power to choose. Choice is a beautiful thing: in many ways, I was motivated to change careers because I wanted more options, and options that are right for me. I wanted the power to make my own choices. I hated feeling like my destiny was in someone else's hands.
Being able to make even the smallest of decisions can be super powerful, and I'm proud to say I had the guts to stand up for what I wanted.
- Which leads me to 10: don't be afraid to go the other way. Some people still don't understand why I gave up my career in the law, and it can also be tough when you catch up with people who are still consumed by what used to be your reality. I guess I need to keep reminding myself that this is a choice I made, and it's OK to be different.
- Life is not a meritocracy. About 40 or so blog posts ago, I sat down with Debra Tegoni to chat about her career and women in leadership. This was one of the pieces of advice that she gave me that I constantly return to.
- Don't sweat the small things. Near enough is almost always good enough.
- Find your passion, the rest will follow. Be smart about it though: use your passion to drive strategic choices and don't allow yourself to wander aimlessly.
- "There is nothing holy in complacency". I was at a seminar with Marianne Williamson recently, and this really resonated with me. Stop being apathetic and take a stand.
- Don't write outrageously long to do lists. In my experience, they will just freak you out to a point where you become completely unproductive! Break your lists down into high priority action items, longer term goals, whatever works for you... but don't get so carried away that you can't find a starting point.
- Don't forget to look within your own networks for support. And by this I mean re-connecting with people from throughout your journey you may have lost touch with. You never know what advice an old mentor might give you.
- "Blog for cause, not applause". A more blog related quote that has a great applicability to everything we do. Do it because you love it, and have a purpose. If you are just after glory, it will probably never come.
- You are more than your CV. Even if you have a good CV, it's unlikely to be enough. I find it insanely frustrating when I am chatting to someone who desperately wants a new job, but is just sitting at home on the couch randomly sending their CV out in response to ads on Seek. I hate to say it, but it's simply not enough. If you really want a new job, go the extra mile. Meet people for coffee, send emails, start conversations, sell yourself! And if you are the lucky person who gets a job after replying to a Seek ad, think about the good will you have earned by getting out there anyway.
- Think about what makes you unique. Be the purple cow!
- Don't forget to listen to your instinct.
- Be stubborn about your goals but flexible about your methods. I love this quote. Don't give up on what you want because it seems too hard, or someone tells you it's impossible. I couldn't list how many massive setbacks I've had in the last year. With each setback I've learned how to pick myself back up, get back to track... but perhaps try another way.
- "Anything is possible if you've got enough nerve" - J.K Rowling. This relates to point 21. Be stubborn and stand up for yourself. I'm sure you have heard the stats about how many times J.K Rowling was rejected before Harry Potter became insanely successful. This lady knows what she is talking about.
- Trust the timing of your life. I knew that I wanted to leave the law (or at the very least, my job!) a long time before I actually resigned. It took me a long time to work out what I wanted to do, and at times having to go to work when I knew I didn't want to be there, killed me. In hindsight, I am glad I pushed through and kept working towards what I really wanted - who knows where I could have ended up in some moments of extreme frustration and desperation!!!
- Work hard and be nice to people. Perhaps the best advice I have been given. I was interviewing Tina Tower for Leaders in Heels and snuck a sneaky little question in about the best advice she has received and this was it. Short, simple, spot on.
- Haters gonna hate. Like it or not, everyone is going to have an opinion about you. Taylor Swift knows her stuff.
- Clean up your attitude. Negative thoughts are going to get you nowhere, friend. If you miss out on the job, an exciting opportunity or something you desperately wanted, of course you are going to be disappointed! Give yourself a small period of time to deal with the disappointment, then turn a fresh page. Don't let the anger or sadness consume you... a negative attitude is blatantly obvious to everyone.
- "Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life" –Steve Jobs. This one applies to me leaving the law. Deep down I think I knew that it wasn't me, and I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. Don't lose track of what you want because you are living the life that everyone else wants (or expects) you to live.
- Learn, learn, learn. Don't think because you have finally got your qualifications that you are done learning. We live in a world with so much knowledge right at our fingertips, don't waste the opportunity.I love this quote from Simon Terry, who was one of my 50 coffees:
The future will not judge you on what you are today. The future will judge you on how well you used your opportunities and potential.
- Perfection doesn't exist. Everything can always be better, so stop waiting until things are perfect to get started. This was a really tricky one for me, particularly after I was told as a young lawyer, that perfection isn't rewarded, it's the minimum standard. Yikes. Obviously for big business, perfection can be critical, but seriously, don't be so hard on yourself!
- You are going to need a LOT of grit and determination: do what others aren't willing to do. Work harder, work smarter. Sometimes it sucks when you feel like you are being pulled in a million directions, but if you want to make your goals a reality you have to work for it.
- No matter how you feel, get up and show up. Unless of course you are focusing on your health and wellbeing (see point 5). Make the effort and don't be flaky. People always notice your effort.
- It's OK to Make It Up! I certainly don't have all the answers, but once you get started, you are one step closer... a great example of this is Damon Klotz, he has achieved amazing things, but never knew where his journey would take him starting out as a HR grad!
- Think outside the box when it comes to learning. When I changed careers, I was adamant that I could do it without going back to studying full time. I actually like working and didn't want to go back to Uni for another few years (five years and a double degree is surely enough for now, right?). Instead of heading back to conventional study, I chose a more unconventional route, signing up to MOOCs, events, networking events, lunchtime classes, panel discussions, webinars, podcasts ... (you get the picture!). I'd love to do a full post on this, but some of my favourites are events at General Assembly and Trevor Young' podcast Reputation Revolution. At the moment I am also loving The Nectar Collective for great blogging and business tips. Opportunities for learning are everywhere, don't be afraid to find inspiration from unconventional sources!
- Don't go it alone. I was so lucky to meet my coach Andre at a networking event (see 33) and he immediately told me that I needed coaching. He was right. Think that you can get enough guidance from a mentor? Check out my post on coaches v mentors here.
- Don't forget where you started. I recently read my first blog post again. Wow! Things have really changed. If you don't believe me, check it out here.
- WRITE! Lists, notes, ideas, quotes. Write it down in a book, or Evernote, a note in your phone... whatever! It took me a long time to feel creative again, but being open to ideas as they enter your head and taking the time to write, journal, blog, whatever has been so valuable. I recently read a post on Medium about why you shouldn't just consume information, you should also create content, whatever that may be. It's a pretty compelling read, you can check it out here.
- Commit. If you have decided to keep your goals, don’t stray from then unless a better opportunity comes up. I nearly made this mistake so many times... I could actually write a blog post just on this point!
- Get organised. Think about your “destination” first (ie where you want to be in the short/long term). If you are organised, you can see where you are going. You are in control.
- Conduct a life audit. At the start of my blogging journey I read about conducting a “life audit” and loved the idea. It can really help identify your goals and where you are heading.
- Remember that your work life and your personal life don't have to be separate. A while back a friend told me that she had always thought that our professional lives and doing something that we love are two separate things, and that she was really struggling to change this mentality. Work on ways to bring your passion to your 9 to 5/whatever time.
- Embrace vulnerabilities. Or perhaps you can use the gift of imperfection to your advantage. Acknowledge your weaknesses, and ask for help. Find someone whose favourite thing in the world is what keeps you awake at night and seek their guidance. Use your weaknesses to build a network of support – you will be amazed by what you can achieve. In case you need more convincing, check out Berne Brown’s TED talk on the power of vulnerability.
- It is hard to make mistakes in the first ten years of your career. A wise person told me this when I was being interviewed for a job! While the job was completely wrong for me, I like his point: keep moving forward and making the right decisions for you. In ten years time you will have created your own journey that makes sense to you, whatever that journey may be.
- Give!!! Always be generous with your knowledge. It's incredible how many people have got back in touch with me since I started blogging from all different aspects and stages of my life. I also find myself helping a lot of people with their own careers/branding/social media - whatever! I won't lie: this can often be extremely time consuming. That said, I have learned so much from helping others - from consolidating my own knowledge, to identifying trends and common problems amongst my peers - and I know this will be super important in the next stage of my blog and career.
- Embrace change. Read Who Moved My Cheese, it's a quick and useful read!
- Stay true to your values.
- Speak out against injustice. This is something I wish I did more. I won't lie: there's a lot of things that I'm not happy about in the working world. Gender pay gaps, challenges for my generation entering the work force, bullying, people looking to get a leg up by pushing others down... and the list goes on... in the future I'm going to make more of an effort to talk about challenges as they arise.
- Listen to your own advice, ie point 15: don't write outrageously long lists... if you are still with me, thank you!
- Stop multitasking. I am absolutely terrible at this, and it's definitely something I'm working on. I won't lie, I'm definitely a work in progress on this one, but knowing that you can increase your productivity by 40% simply by focusing on one thing at a time is great motivation to stop multitasking and start getting things done.
- 50 is a lot of dot points. Don't expect a 100 lessons in 100 blog posts post!
- At the end of the day, just do what you love.
Wow! That was a killer list. What's the biggest lesson you have learned in the last year? I'd love to know, comment below or get in touch using the social buttons at the end of this post.