As our associate career coach Fiona Reith approaches another ‘big birthday’ she’s written a letter to her 21-year old-self, reminiscing on life during her salad days and the lessons she’s learnt along the way.
Looking back from the perspective of 2021, below are five keys observations I think you ought to know…
Really enjoy and be proud of your apprenticeship in commercial roles. Every encounter and experience, including networking, selling, presenting, project management or innovation will prove invaluable should you ever need to pivot, start your own venture or advise others. As will a pension and other investments you make because they’ll afford you more flexibility and financial freedom in the future.
Listen carefully to wise advice from trusted contacts / mentors. When they say: ‘you should really start your own thing’ or ‘you can do whatever you want’, take the time to properly work out what the YOU in that sentence really wants next. Reflect and give yourself permission to experiment rather than follow traditional paths or do what others might expect of you, particularly when you know deep down there’s something missing. Working life is enmeshed with our personal life so understanding and honouring ourselves, our needs, personality and top strengths are key.
Learn to appreciate that it’s not about time management but energy. Track what gives you energy and do more of that; that’s where you’ll find work that is personally meaningful to you. Do less of the stuff that drains you and find ways to drop, delegate or pair them with activities you find more interesting.
Volunteer your time and / or skills and treat them as learning experiences or networking opportunities. And remember it’s also another great way to make a positive difference to causes that really matter to you. Your ideas about helping young people with their careers and developing community projects will become realities in time.
Acknowledge transitions are part of life and growing up. For some, they can be scary and trigger unhelpful thinking patterns. You’re likely to find some aspects of change difficult and even try to avoid them. Therefore, learn to trust your instincts as you’ll soon figure out what you need to do; we all do! Eventually, you’ll learn more and more about successful transitions and will by now have found your life’s work in helping others to navigate them too!
With hindsight and my best intentions!
Your future self
Ps – don’t look back with regret about opportunities missed. There are many ways to achieve with new ideas and opportunities continuing to present themselves if you stay open and curious.