I’m not someone who sets New Year’s resolutions although I do have goals (some in my head and some I write down) which I work towards. Some of these goals are short-term and some are more long-term. Some of them are very specific and measurable (build my blog to x number of followers by x date) and some are much more general (aim to be positive in all that I do).
Above all else, I’ve learnt over the years that it is important to choose the kind of life you want. Decide what you want from your life, be realistic about what it will take to obtain it and, most of all, work hard to achieve it.
For different people this means different things; a successful career, owning your own home, marriage and kids, travelling to new places, having time to spend with family, dedicating time to voluntary work, learning a new skill, being happy. We all strive for different things to differing levels of importance in our lives.
Of course you can’t avoid the bad things that happen in life but you can choose how you deal with them (in most cases anyway).
Every week, I see social media posts from friends and followers declaring their desperation for the working week to be over and the weekend to begin. Sadly, it’s often the same people every week who express their frustration in this way. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the weekends as much as the next person but I don’t live clinging from one to the next, dreading my work days and desperate to get out of the office. I enjoy going to work. It isn’t just a means of earning money for me to blow on the weekend. I actually really like having a job, going to work every day, working hard, and seeing my efforts turn into success (for me and for the organisation I’m employed by).
It wasn’t always like this though.
A month before my 27th birthday, I was working as an admin temp on a long-term contract. I had an interview scheduled for an in-house recruiter role with a big energy company (my background was HR). Whilst preparing for the interview, I thought about some of the questions I would be asked, including “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and considered my response. My honest response was that I didn’t want to be in HR & recruitment in 5 years and my even more honest response was that I didn’t want to be in HR & recruitment in 12 months’ time.
So I asked myself these questions: What aspects of work did I enjoy? What would I like to develop skills in? What were my interests away from the work place? What could I see myself doing long-term? What did I dislike about my current situation? How could I improve my life? What would make me happier? What would I need to do to achieve any of these positive things?
Wednesday 12 September 2012
At the time, my Mum was living with me as she had recently moved back from Kenya and was waiting for my Dad to come back too before they found a more permanent place to live. I came home from work one evening and blurted out my anxiety about my current career path and my frustrations about not knowing what I wanted from my life. I talked out loud about the questions above and Mum helped me focus my thoughts and gain clarity on what I could do in the short-term which would affect the long-term. It became apparent that having left university after one year (2005-2006) and having never regretted that decision once in the 6 years since I made it, I came to the realisation that getting a degree would be a big help for me to move forward on the path I chose for myself. Unlike when I applied to UCAS as a 6th Form student in 2004, I was now much clearer on what I wanted from a degree programme and what I would aim to get from it to help me in the future.
Thursday 13 September 2012
The following day, I called some universities which had places on the course I wanted to do (being mid-September, clearing places were available and the semester was imminently due to start). To my delight, University College Birmingham (UCB) had spaces on their BA Sports Management course and were amazing at providing me with relevant information about applying and enrolling. Going to university in Birmingham would also mean that I wouldn’t have to move house or commute very far. As I only worked till 1pm on Fridays, I agreed to go in the following afternoon with all my paperwork to get signed up.
Friday 14 September 2012
After work, I went to UCB, filled in various forms and showed them my A-level and GCSE certificates (a little long-winded but that’s because I hadn’t applied through UCAS which is the standard route). As it was soon to be Freshers’ Week, course enrolment was already taking place so I was advised to get that sorted and save myself another trip. Off I popped to complete my enrolment, pose for my student card photo and become a full-time university student at the age of 26.
What happened next?
Well, the following day I went to Spain on holiday for a week – it was already booked. I then came back, went to UCB for an induction on the Monday morning, went to work for the rest of the week and went to my first university lecture as a mature student on the following Monday.
Three years later and after holding down four jobs and working my behind off to complete my degree, I graduated with First Class BA Honours in Sports Management.
With a relevant and useful part-time internship and another part-time job keeping me afloat, I applied for vacancies which would fit the goal I set for myself 3 years’ previous. I was soon appointed as Marketing Manager for a manufacturer with close ties to the sports industry and I’m now 18 months into that role.
I don’t love every single aspect of my current role; like anything in life, it has its ups and downs. More days than not though, I really enjoy going to work. Whilst I love the weekends and the Friday afternoon feeling that another week is almost over, I also like Sunday evenings in equal measure knowing that tomorrow I get to go and do something I enjoy a lot too.
It isn’t going to work for everyone to change your life so drastically in 48 hours but, rather than set New Year’s resolutions, have a think about what you can do to make your life better; what you can do to help you enjoy every day and not just the weekends.
It might be a small change or you might follow me and make a huge life-changing decision. Either way, give yourself 48 hours, ask yourself the same questions I did and decide how you will change your life for the better. You won’t regret it!