. A CHALLENGING YEAR MEANS A WHOLE LOAD OF LEARNING .
At 27 years old I feel as though i’ve had a lot of experiences in my life already which have shaped who I am, what I believe and what I want to achieve in my life. Of course though, there’s still a lot to discover, to learn & to experience, and so there are always times in my life where I feel like i’m going through something new or experiencing a new challenge or adventure.
Whilst this year on paper might seem the same as every other year, in reality this year has been an exceptionally challenging year, both professionally and personally. This year has been one of the most demanding on my career to date, with significant change to adapt to, incredible pressure, demands on my time that i’ve never experienced before (almost 5 months of working 16 hour days, 6 days a week), important deliverables on my shoulders and finished off with the biggest opportunities and career decisions i’ve had to make to date. I’ve found myself reaching new limits, having to learn new coping mechanisms & adapt to the challenges that a rather strained work life balance can have, on my relationship, on my social life, on my wellbeing, on my blog and just generally on my life. I’ve been trying to push my blog to a new level, from a complete re design and shift to a self hosted site back in January (and all the woes that come with that), to really trying to up my game with content, quality & my photography. I hit 4 years of blogging daily. All the while juggling my personal life on top. It’s been quite the year.
But the difference between an adventure and an ordeal is mental attitude they say … and so looking back on this years adventures, I can see i’ve learnt a lot, i’ve changed a bit & overall I’ve learnt some new things about me! Today i thought i’d share the lessons i’ve learnt this year, perhaps you’ve had the same experiences and can relate, or perhaps these might prepare you if you ever experience similar times in your own life.
. 5 LESSONS I HAVE LEARNT THIS YEAR .
#1 HARD WORK PAYS OFF
When you’re going through a period of extremely hard work, to the point where you don’t even see an end in sight, it’s hard to see and believe the value of your efforts. It feels like survival. But actually one of the biggest things i’ve learnt this year, is that even though it may not feel like it at the time, hard work always pays off. Sometimes it pays back in ways you may not even realise immediately, but whether it’s new opportunities, recognition, achievements or simply just new learnings & skills that will help you in the future. Hard work does pay off. So don’t ever doubt your efforts & what it might mean for you in the future.
#2 KNOW YOUR OWN MIND
When you’re going through difficult periods, facing change, perhaps having to make big decisions or take significant actions, it can feel a little overwhelming to deal with, but if theres one thing i’ve learnt about myself this year, it’s that knowing your own mind is essential. I’ve always believed in gut instinct, but when life throws you a seriously tricky curve ball you can find yourself doubting your gut, your decision making, your ability etc. The end of this year has bought me 3 incredible career opportunities (proof that hard work pays off), but with that it’s bought me the biggest career decision i’ve had to make to date. Knowing my own mind, knowing what’s important to me, knowing what success is to me, and what I want from my career and life has been a huge learning curve. When it comes to making huge life decisions, you really do need to know your own mind. It’s okay to lean on friends, colleagues, family or mentors for support, validation or simply to talk things out, but ultimately you must know your own mind, in order for you to make the best decision for you, right now!
#3 JUST KEEP SWIMMING
There are times in life when you genuinely feel like your drowning, whether it’s due to work, life or emotion, things can feel a little too much. Feeling like you can’t cope, can’t deliver, can’t keep going is normal … but having the right mental attitude to keep pushing yourself forward, and to not give up, is key. In the words of the ever so wise Dory, you simply have to ‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming …’. You’ll amaze yourself when you come out the other side, just how capable you really are.
#4 WORK LIFE BALANCE
This year has been my most awful for work life balance, from a seriously crazy year at work & trying to juggle a full time blog on top, i’ve found myself putting my own wellbeing and my relationships last. For a short period of time, every now and then this is okay, but when you sacrifice your work life balance for too long it can be really detrimental to your wellbeing, your happiness, your relationships and your social life. The thing i’ve learnt this year, is that I will never let me work life balance become so unhealthy again, because whilst my career is unbelievably important to me, my happiness isn’t just from work, it’s from my hobbies, my boyfriend, my friends, my family, from shopping & photography to snuggles on the sofa & time to read a book. When your life becomes 100% work, you lose a really important part of yourself!
Of course in those periods its difficult to see a way out, a way to reign your work life balance back in, but actually if i’ve learnt one thing, it’s that sometimes saying NO is actually a good thing.
#5 SUCCESS IS SUBJECTIVE
Much in line with knowing your own mind, this year has taught me how important it is to define your own success. My own career success, my own blogging success and my own life success. Its quite easy in todays society to get swept up by social norms … what society, what business, what tradition tells us is ‘success’. But actually in reality that’s absolutely irrelevant, whats important is your own measure of success, what is success to you, and not just in one silo’d area of your life, in your life in totality. Knowing what your own success is, will give you such clear direction for your life, and it’ll make things around you (like other peoples successes) irrelevant, and that genuinely is so important for happiness.
WHAT IS SUCCESS TO ME?
For me i’ve really had to think a lot about what success in my life looks life, for me, not based on what is expected. I’ve accepted that I am an ambitious person, very ambitious in fact (it’s the reason I do manage to juggle a full time blog, a full time career and my life), and so getting to the ‘top’ of my career is really important to me. But what i’ve also learnt about myself is that there will never be a ‘top’, I believe i’ll always keep working towards the next thing, wanting to learn more, grow more, experience more. Whilst CEO of a major agency is something I want to achieve, even if I get there, I have no doubt i’ll then focus on the next thing, perhaps a global ex co position or founding my own business. It’s okay to dream big, having ambition and passion and drive to succeed is something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
My blog is something so personal to me, it’s a passion i’d never be willing to give up, when it comes to blogging success it’s perhaps even more subjective than any other area in my life, but really success for me is continuing to develop content that people love to read, love to share & perhaps that gets recognised by peers in the industry, to earn money from my work, so that perhaps one day when I want to take more time at home for a family, it could become my sole business focus! And i’d be lying if I didn’t say some of my measure of success comes from ‘numbers’, whether it’s page views, followers or income. But knowing that numbers aren’t the only factor is also really important … simply producing content makes me happy!
Finally life, living my life to it’s fullest is also a huge huge huge factor in my definition of success, travelling and seeing the world, spending time with my loved ones and my friends, having a home and a happy set up! I’d love to own my own house soon, to have my own little doggy at home with me and Jase and just a stable set up which forms the base for our own family in the future.
But ultimately what it all comes down to is balance … work, life balance. Knowing what success means to you, in all areas of your life, and finding the balance in what you do, to help you achieve that success!
“Successful people are not gifted; they just work hard, then succeed on purpose.”
“Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure”
So there you have it, the 5 things I’ve learnt this year! I’d love to hear if you can relate to any of these, of if you personally have learnt any lessons about yourself this year too?