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I’m a completely different person to who I was last year. I’ve gone from being afraid of answering questions out loud in lessons, to being confident enough to do talks at schools and get interviewed by the media as part of my work as a WhiteHat Influencer. This is a big change from that shy kid who didn’t say a word for the whole year at school when I was in reception. To put it into perspective, my teacher didn’t believe I could actually speak, so I was recorded at home and it was played back to the teacher.
Some days I can concentrate a lot better than others. But when I have days where I keep getting distracted by every little thing, I like to take a walk around the office, find a snack and sit away from my desk for a few minutes. This has worked on multiple occasions, where I find my productivity is so much better after I’ve taken a self-induced break.
Nothing more to say here. If you don’t ask you’ll never know if that ‘something’ could have been a possibility. It could be as big as asking to shadow a different team at work for a few days to have a change of workload, or as small as asking for a biscuit from your fellow colleague because who would say no to that?
I always used to (and still do) get nervous during the build up to public speaking. However, that feeling of accomplishment when I’m done drives me on and it’s something I always look forward to. There really is nothing to be afraid of - no one is going to give you a hard time if you’re telling your story to a group of students, or if you’re being interviewed for an article. They asked you to speak for a reason, because they're interested.
I left school at 18 and went straight into full-time work. This sounds like a big jump, and it definitely was. All of my colleagues have university degrees and years more experience than I do. We’ve all got different lifestyles, meaning we should have different values, right? Wrong. We share a lot of the same morals, views and values, which makes for good conversation. Just because they may have experienced life in a different way to me, doesn’t mean we have to disagree on everything.
While I may not disagree with my colleagues and peers on all things, not everything can be agreed on, otherwise we’d be living in a world where everyone agrees all the time, and that would be a bit abnormal. A disagreement that’s dealt with in a respectable manner is normal. It’s better to be honest than to change your opinions just for the sake of fitting in.
I used to avoid challenges at all costs. If I was asked to present in class, I’d make an excuse and say I had a sore throat and couldn’t speak properly (I know, lame). But now I like to say “yes” to any challenge that’s thrown my way. Whether that’s speaking on a panel, or learning how to use a new piece of software in just one day. Some people call me a “yes person” because I very rarely say no.
This could be as simple as taking a different route to work by walking to the station instead of getting a bus. I easily get bored of doing the same thing everyday, so a little change always puts a bounce back in my step. Sometimes all we need is a change from our regular routine.
Everyone always says you’ve got to make a good first impression but that just isn’t true. I was more quiet than I normally am when I first started working, mainly due to nerves. A few weeks on and I started to voluntarily ask my colleagues if they wanted to grab a coffee, as opposed to being asked. If you think you made a bad first impression, don’t give up, make a second impression and a third, fourth and fifth one until you’re satisfied that you’ve given people a good idea of who you are.
There’s nothing more important than putting yourself first. If you have to say “no” to an opportunity because you already have so much work to do, say it. If you feel overwhelmed with your workload, make a timeline of your week and work out what you’re going to and when. If you feel like the work you’re doing everyday is like a continuous loop, reach out to a different team and ask to work with them on a rotation. Sometimes it’s necessary to be selfish and focus on yourself. Remember - sometimes it’s all about 'me, myself and I'.
I have a full list of songs that cheer me up when I’m having a rough day. Even just listening to a few songs would improve my mood instantly. One song that has to be on every feel-good playlist is Lizzo’s ‘Good as Hell’. If you haven’t heard it yet, take two minutes to have a listen. You’ll thank me later.
Some days just don’t get off to a good start and that’s okay. Occasionally taking a mental health day is just as important as eating your 5-a-day. Take the time you need for yourself, even if that’s staying at home, turning off all your email notifications and surrounding yourself with snacks, a fluffy blanket and a Netflix series. In the words of Mabel: “It's fine, you're allowed to break. As long as you know, everything's gonna be okay.”