You’re sitting there, worried about a miner’s strike that threatens to destroy the livelihoods of many people in your community up there in South Yorkshire. Mate (as my Aussie friends would say), let me tell you, that’s nothing. I’m not going to spoil it for you but there’s a lot more turmoil ahead. 2020 is particularly interesting.
What can I say that will help?
Those A levels you’re fretting about? Well, they’re important, and of course you should work hard, but a. they’re not the be all and end all (remember this if you have an eighteen year old by the time it gets to 2020) and b. you have a lot more learning to do in the future.
By all means, study for a degree, take professional exams, fill your brain with new information in the next few years but please don’t leave it there. Change is incessant – economic, cultural, technological – you’ll need to keep learning in order to adapt and to thrive.
Having said that, avoid over-specialising. Looking back from this distance, I can see how many jobs have become commoditized, or even obsolete. Range and breadth are good, particularly if you’re able to keep adding new skills. Unlike technology, people skills will never go out of date.
Make friends. Choose them wisely and they’ll carry you through all sorts of trauma. They’ll also enrich your life. At some point someone will drone on about building your network. Have the right circle of friends and this is easy.
As for you? At the moment, you’re the centre of your own life. It’s all about you. Trust me, this won’t last, especially if you have children. Be prepared to play many roles: a parent, a sibling, a friend, partner, carer, confidant, coach, nurse. Be generous with your time and kind to others. Don’t be self-centred but do be centred: keep hold of who you are, and what’s important to you.
And finally. Have some fun. Don’t smoke (anything), don’t marry the first person who asks you, and certainly don’t think you need to have “made it” by 30. Or by any age for that matter. Walk away from people, jobs or circumstances that pull you down, follow a path that’s going to make you happy. As Oscar Wilde may or may not have said a long time ago “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”
Lisa is a former management consultant and author of She’s Back: Your Guide to Returning to Work. She’s also CEO of the Reignite Academy, an award winning business that helps female lawyers return to the profession after a career break.