5 Student Habits all Graduates Should Keep

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As a student I spent most of my time being reckless. I drank to much alcohol, I smoked to many cigarettes and my university blogs were completely uncensored. I knew who I was and I wasn’t scared to be myself. Throughout my three years at university I “found myself” in a variety of ways. I pushed the boundaries in my relationships, missed lecturers (choosing to plan party outfits instead) and spent hours with my friends. I was always told that university was the best years of my life and I was determined to make the most of them. Looking back, I do thing the uni years were the most interesting of my life so far but I couldn’t say the best. I think the best is yet to come.

The thing I miss most about university is the freedom. Knowing that you can do exactly what you want. Not caring about what others think and trying anything once. I found my first year of work very restrictive. I became caught up in the work syndrome. I would meet up with friends and spend a considerable amount of time talking about work. I would force myself to go to bed early and considered Sunday as a pre-work day. I couldn’t possibly go out when I had all of my food prep to do for the week ahead. My life had become obsessively structured and I found it difficult to be flexible. Graduate life had turned my into a “proper adult”. A person who struggled to dream, be spontaneous or take chances.

Working in a students’ Union is the nearest thing to freedom. I am constantly surrounded by fresh ideas, dreaming students and endless possibilities.  I have realised that freedom isn’t just for students. It’s a lifestyle, a state of being that only few people will allow themselves to experience. University opened us up to a world of possibilities, graduate life should continue to challenge and inspire us. Here are 5 student habits that I think are worth keeping…

 

Have a flexible schedule 

In our romantic memories of university, most of us forget that we had a schedule. There were lecturers to attend and coursework deadlines to meet. It’s the same with life. You are always going to have things on your to-do-list. For most of us that list is never ending. Between work, household chores and family duties, it can feel like there isn’t enough hours in the day. You shouldn’t spend your time trying to get everything done. You need to prioritise your tasks. This will give you more time to do the things that you love. Recently I have joined a gym and go at least two days after work. This is no easy task. My job is very busy and it’s difficult to leave on time most days. Despite this, I made a commitment to myself. I am a happier and more motivated person when I make time for myself. What is the one thing you would do if you had more time? It’s time to start doing it.

Maintain Your Social Life

When you work full time you can be tempted to spend most of your weekends at home. Don’t make that mistake. You don’t need to spend the whole weekend resting- you can do that when you sleep. Remember when you spent all night partying and still made that 9am lecture? This is a bit like that. You shouldn’t allow tiredness or money to stop you from having a good time. Why not organise a boozy weekender or VIP night out in town? It sounds strange but I find clubbing therapeutic. There is something amazing about dressing up, and dancing the night away with your friends. In all that laughing, dancing and drinking I say things that I find difficult to put into words. It’s also a chance to have some fun and be reckless. I always think excess is good in small doses.

Appearance is important

Is it just me or do people let themselves go when they finish university? Maybe it’s the pressures of daily life or added responsibilities of kids. It’s easy to lose interest in your appearance- I have many times. How you look is very important. It helps make a good impression at work and could even create life opportunities. Have you ever wondered why you can’t find success in certain area’s of your life? It might be time for a make over. Your appearance is one of the easiest things to change. This doesn’t mean you have to buy a designer wardrobe (I definitely can’t afford one), its just about being aware of what your appearance says about you. I find that I feel more confident about myself what I am happy with my appearance.  This is a touchy subject, let me know your thoughts?

Make Mistakes and Move On

How many mistakes did you make a university? I made lots but I started each day afresh, leaving yesterday’s drama’s behind. When I graduated I thought that I needed to be perfect. I was supposed to have my life sorted and if I didn’t, I thought everything would fall apart. As I’m sure you know, your life is likely to fall apart in the first few months after graduation. Everything you thought was true is a lie and you have lots of decisions to make. Some of them will be good and other’s won’t. It’s not a big deal. Every decision isn’t life changing and you shouldn’t think they are. I do my best to learn from my mistakes but sometimes I don’t. I often make the same mistakes over and over again. Why? I’m not sure, it doesn’t even matter. It’s all a valuable learning experience on our journey through life.

Keep Dreaming

Being a student taught me how to dream. Despite the challenges of graduate life, I continue to dream. My dreams motivate me to work harder on what’s important. I have lost friends since university. Some didn’t believe in my vision and other’s didn’t have dreams of their own. I surround myself with ambitious dreamers. They see the possibility while others focus on the limitations. This keeps me going on the hardest days. Do you continue to dream? You don’t have to share them with anyone, just hold them close. They might just come true.

Being involved in my Student’s Union Fresher’s week inspired me to write this blog. The new student’s looked so full of hope, ready to embrace whatever came their way. This is the kind of attitude we need to have in order to cope with life. The struggle is real but don’t allow the daily grind to grind you down. Your life is your own to live as you wish. Choose freedom.

Do you have any student habits that you think are worth keeping? Share them below.

Starting Work: 5 Things All Graduates Should Know

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On August the 15th 2013, I started my first professional job. I wasn’t going to be stacking shelves or scanning shopping. I was an actual grown up sat at a desk. I woke up at 5am and agonised over what I should wear. I got there an hour and a half early but sat in a near by coffee shop because I felt it would look weird if I arrived that early. After the awkward introductions I spent my day going through health and safety procedures and finding out what my job actually involved. The job description could never have prepared me for what would happen over the next 12 months.

Learning the job was just the beginning. I had to adjust to working with a wide range of people, get to grips with company strategy and learn how to manage my emotions. At times I wanted to cry because I felt so low or I was convinced that people didn’t like me. Working with students brought it’s own unique challenges. A big part of my job is retention which ensures that more students make it to graduation. It was great when I could prevent someone from dropping out. It’s still heart breaking when I have to tell a student that they have been withdrawn and there is nothing I can do to help them. Through these experiences I have learnt my weaknesses and strengths. I can sense when I am becoming too engrossed in the story and need to pull back. All of this wasn’t outlined on my job specification.

There are so many aspects to work and it’s likely that no one will tell you about them before you are thrown in. You need to leave your competitive student persona behind and be prepared to start at the bottom. Your a toddler who needs to learn the workings of an organisation and figure out your place in it. I hope these tips will make your transition from graduate to professional a little bit easier.

You have six months to learn a job

Six months is usually probation period for most jobs. In this time you need to learn about your role and how to do your job efficiently. This means you don’t have to worry about being sacked (unless you commit a major breach) during this time. I remember thinking that I was going to be sacked in my first month of work. In my student advocacy role, I struggled to speak up because I was intimidated by the university staff. In time I found my voice and enjoy representing students in disciplinary settings. When things get hard think about how difficult your first term at university was. Your new job is going to be a lot like that. You don’t have to be perfect and no one expects you to be. Ask lots of questions, especially from the people who have been in the organisation for a long time.

Understand the different personalities in the office

I know most CV’s state “enjoy working in a culturally diverse environment” but few know what this actually means. While you may enjoy experiencing different cultures on holiday or have a diverse friendship group, working with different people can be a challenge.  I like to call this one cultural conflict. Although we can enjoy and appreciate people’s differences they can also be a source of frustration. I have had a turbulent relationship with my colleagues (much like other relationships in my life) and it will always be like that.  When I thought I had hit resignation time ( I was fed up particular person in my team), my manager introduced me  to Bruce Tuckman’s “Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing” concept.

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According to Tuckman all teams go through these stages. The “Storming” stage is when you feel like work has become unbearable. Unlike other uncomfortable situations, you can’t just leave. You need to learn how to work with the people in your team. This means accepting them for who they are and recognising their strengths. In other words, how will this person help you get to where you want to be? This isn’t school and you can’t be in constant conflict with people you have to see every day. Get over it and focus on becoming highly efficient in your role. Learning how to deal with different personalities will be the most challenging part of any new job.

Discover what motivates you

This may be your dream job or a temporary position until you find something better. Either way, you need to understand what motivates you to go to work on those days when you want to stay in bed. Whether it’s the money or your need to change people’s lives, you must have one thing that makes your job worthwhile. Like most things in life, the excitement of work will fade and you will want to quit. Don’t do it! If we only live once, then we deserve to create the best lives possible. You can’t go on holiday or nights out if you don’t have a job. Think of that in your most desperate moments (believe me I have had many of those!) and you can keep going. The very concept of “job” is a financial transaction. You sign a contract to say you will fulfil certain things and you are paid in return. Don’t let work get you down.

A stressed employee is an unproductive one

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Don’t take on more then you can handle. When I first started work I thought that I needed to work harder then everyone else. I stayed late, took on extra work and would avoid work socials. I was desperately trying to prove that I was the best person for the job. This made me stressed and I got to a point were I was struggling to cope. Over the past year, I have learned that being a superhuman is impossible and no one appreciates it. In order to get the best out of yourself you need to have a manageable workload and learn how to leave work at the office. This will also help you achieve a better work/life balance.

I have experienced so many things in my first year of work and I wish someone had prepared me better. Like most things in life, there are no mistakes only experiences. Are you a graduate starting their first job? Leave your comments below.

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How to Make a Living while Creating a Life

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 Wouldn’t you love your office to look like this?


I never wanted to work the 9-5 but it happened. I always thought that working conventional hours would give me an ordinary life. In many ways my life is ordinary. I hate myself every morning when my alarm goes off at 6am. I spend my daily commute trying not to kill anyone and the best part of my day is spent sitting at a desk. I spent a year feeling like a failure because I wasn’t spending my days in a publishing house and my evenings writing a best seller. I couldn’t separate work and life because they had merged into one. I constantly thought about quitting my job. Why did I work so hard at university to end up living the life of countless others?

The Epiphany 

I knew I couldn’t continue to live like this. I was completely miserable and would day dream about my days as a student. They weren’t the greatest days but I did remember experiencing a freedom that I hadn’t felt since I started working. I decided to discuss my predicament with a close friend. A delicious meal and bottle of wine (or 2, I can never remember) later I had found the answer to my problem. I saw my job as a restriction rather then an opportunity. I work in a creative environment with a group of incredibly talented people. I have the opportunity to change the lives of others as well as changing my own. I could write in the evenings, party at the weekends and travel the world one country at a time. There was nothing stopping me from creating the life I had always wanted.

Create the Desk of your Dreams

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If your anything like me you have a ton of things you want to do, experience and buy. I have a very messy desk in my mother’s spare room and I love it. It’s a place were I can write without distractions and focus on myself. Lately I have been thinking about upgrading the furniture and turning it into a mini office. I will stick my vision boards all over the walls, buy a new desk top and surround it with sweet smelling candles. Everyone has a passion, a purpose or a goal. You spend everyday at your desk developing a business and a brand. What about taking some time to develop yourself?

Experience New Things

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I used to think “going travelling” meant spending a year battling the Australian outback while staying in grotty hostels. This doesn’t suit everyone and most of us couldn’t fund a year travelling the world. I have decided to start out small. I want to visit all of the major cities in the UK. I went to Edinburgh last summer and it was like stepping into another world. That city proved that there is beauty and culture just around the corner. When my daily commute becomes too much I remember that my possibilities are endless. Whatever you want to do, remember you are the only one that can make that happen.

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Accept that Work and Life can’t be Separated  

When I first started working I thought that I could switch my feelings and emotions off. I didn’t want to make friends and I didn’t want them to know anything about me. Why? I thought that was the best way to protect myself and look professional. In the end I just ended up looking unsociable and probably slightly weird. Whether we like it or not, work is a big part of life. Ideally you shouldn’t hate your job, but even if you do, see it as an opportunity. What skills could you develop at work that will make you a better person? I am a very emotional person and often take criticism personally. This is true in both my personal and professional life. By developing coping strategies I will become a happier and more relaxed person. This is just one way of looking at work in a positive light. If you can’t change the job, change the way you think about it.

The constant debate I have with friends (and myself) inspired me to write this blog. Is it really possible to create the kind of life you want while working full time? Most people think us Generation Y-ers live with our heads in the clouds. I know I do. I am an idealist and I will always try to live the life of my dreams. In the meantime I will have to dream part time.

What do you think?

One Year On: Living, Loving and Learning to Fly

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As the anniversary of my graduation approaches, I have been thinking about how my life has changed. Graduation was the happiest day of my life. I could never imagine how quickly that bubble would burst or how boring daily life could be. I will never forget the days I spent on the sofa, eating crisps and chocolate while watching day time telly. I will never forget the shame I felt walking into the job centre for the first time. I felt lower then dirt, the staff made sure of that. The one thing that kept me going was my daily job search. I was not deterred by the constant rejection and the endless application forms. I knew this was just part of the journey. Then I got a job in Students’ Union. I spent my days trying to improve the lives of students while I was struggling with my own. I loved my job but I found full time work difficult and my dreams had taken a back seat. The daily commute was draining and I spent my weekends at home dreading Monday. By January 2014, I was ready to give up. I hadn’t spent three years studying to have an ordinary life like everyone else.

I knew that things couldn’t continue like this. I started reading more and meeting up with friends. I was amazed to find out that everyone felt like me. University had not prepared us for the real world. I always thought I would be a full time writer. I’m no J.K Rowling but I knew that I had something valuable to offer the world. Despite having a good job I still felt cheated, like I had failed and I would spend the rest of my life miserable. The truth was,  I was living with an unbearable sadness and I didn’t know what to do. I became distant with family and friends and I always wanted to sleep. I was eating more and my clothes became tighter. My mind was clouded with negative thoughts and at times I thought it would be better if I wasn’t here at all. This was my lowest point. After a brief course of counselling (which I didn’t find helpful) I knew that I was the only person who could change my life. I have learned a lot about myself over the past year and I continue to learn. I know that I will never be perfect, my life will never be perfect. Despite this, I know that I can live a happy and fulfilling life. I want to share a few things that I have learned and that I hope will help you on your life journey.

Your thoughts create your life

I think this is the most important thing that I have learned. A bad mood is not invisible and the negative stories in your mind start to manifest in your life. I have always been a shy person and tend to think that people don’t like. This is also known as social anxiety. I have always had low self esteem and this made me think that others didn’t value me. This isn’t true, I am a popular person and people like being around me. Instead of repeating this negative thought in social situations I began to tell myself that people liked me and enjoyed my company. I began to become more interested in other people and tried not to judge people before I got to know them. This has changed my life dramatically. I see everyday as a fresh start to overcome challenges and create happiness. I won’t let something such as my daily commute dampen my spirits and ruin my day. What are the negative thoughts you keep telling yourself? You may have a negative thought that is true such as “I’m not attractive”. This doesn’t mean that you have to let this ruin your life. You have two choices, you either accept this or change it. Whatever you decide to do, you must take control of your thoughts.

A “dream job” doesn’t exist 

Since I wrote my autobiography at 10 years old (ironically called Golden Memories), I always thought I was destined to be a writer. I spent my whole life reading books and writing diaries. When I started university, I realised 300 hundred other people had the same dream as me. Many of them were obsessed with reading and writing and English had been their best subject at school. I must have realised then that I wouldn’t be a full time writer. It’s only when I left university that I realised that there are different types of writers. The novelist is the most famous and celebrated writer. Just because I didn’t turn into a novelist overnight does not mean that I am not a writer. What is your dream job? You may not be working in your chosen industry but I bet you are using most of your key skills. I think having a job where you can use most of your skills/talents is all that you can really ask for. For most people, work will never bring ultimate fulfilment. In order to enjoy your time at work you must accept it for what it is.

Living in fear is not living at all

As we get older we become afraid of life. When I was younger I would live without consequence. This wasn’t always a good thing but I was living. I didn’t have the adult concerns of money or work. When I started working I thought about money all the time. I was constantly afraid of running out of money and this meant I started forcing myself to spend less. I missed out on many experiences because I believed I should be saving for a rainy day. Then I realised I lived in England and most days were rainy days. It is impossible to be prepared for every eventuality and I just wanted to live. You should do the same. All fear is real but your danger is often imagined. What fears are holding you back? It’s time to look at these and make a positive change. It won’t be easy but when you live without fear everything becomes so much more exciting. It’s time to take control of your life.

When I graduated I believed that I could fly and when I fell I struggled to stand again. I have realised that flying is a privilege that only few people will ever have. Life will always have ups and downs and things will happen that I don’t always understand. I am learning to accept this. I hope that you will continue to follow my journey and learn to fly.

Further Reading/Watching 

For those who are interested in personal development have a look at Tiny Budda. This website has amazing articles on the big questions we constantly ask ourselves.

My strong belief in dreams and personal fulfilment came from reading a book called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Why not have a look at this short Youtube video.

 

5 Things Every Graduate Should Know

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It’s nearly a year since I left university and I find myself thinking about this year’s graduates. The class of 2014. I can see them now, celebrating with champagne, shots and even the odd bottle of cheap vodka. No one has told them about the frustration of completing a 14 page job application form or the shame of walking into the job centre for the first time. University doesn’t warn you about the challenges that lay ahead or prepare you for starting work. Like me, you will have to learn from experience. What they don’t tell you is learning from experiencing is slow, painful and tiring. You are going to have times when you wan’t to give up but you can’t. You have a degree, now you must create a life.

It’s time to detox all social media profiles

I never realised how important social media was until I started working. It has created a 24/7 lifestyle that we all get sucked into. It’s not enough to talk to colleagues in the office. They also spend their evenings commenting and liking your Facebook statuses. The noisy ones will just enjoy getting an insight into your private life. Ignoring a Facebook request from a colleague, is just as serious as ignoring their good morning greeting. You are expected to show that you are social in all aspects of your life. This means there should be no pictures of drug use (yes weed is a drug), delete that drunken twerking video and any racist or discriminatory updates. You are supposed to be a educated individual with a view on current affairs and company strategy. Ok, I might have taken it a bit far but you get the picture. When you enter the working world, social media is suppose to expand your network and create opportunities. You should start to think of yourself as a brand. Why would someone want to buy you and what makes you unique? Use your social media networks to create and improve your reputation in the real and virtual worlds.

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If your looking for a job it’s equally important to have a professional online persona. Companies may search for you on Facebook and you don’t want them to cross you off their interview list because of your profile. You might be thinking, “this doesn’t apply to me, my profile is private”. Nothing is private and there is always ways to find out information about someone. Privacy settings have lured most of us into a false sense of security. The best way to think is, if you post it, it’s public. Don’t let your social media activity ruin your job prospects or your career.

 

Learn how to complete a job application

 After three years of essay writing I’m sure most of you think you know how to write. Unfortunately, good writing skills can only get you so far- you need to learn how to sell yourself. You need to do more then mention the traditional buzz words. If you are a team player prove it. What makes you think your creative, have you ever shown this before? You need to create an interesting life that exaggerates experiences and shows a great level of self reflection. You also need to show that you are willing to learn. No manger want’s to hire someone who is likely to replace them in a few years. Even if you do, you need to pretend that you live for this role and there couldn’t be anyone better for it.

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Take your time to carefully read and analyse the job specification. If you don’t have two years experience then you shouldn’t waste your time applying. It’s good to be ambitious but it’s also important to be realistic. Can you see how this role is integral to the company as a whole? It’s time to do your research. Find out the origins of the company and their core values. Do they have a staff page on their website? If they do have a look at their social media profiles. You might be able to pick up a few clues on the type of working environment that company has. This could be particularly useful in a company with a young team or a media focus. When you have finished your application send it to a friend to proof read and critique. Listen to their feedback and make the changes. It should take you at least three days to finalise an application form. If you have any friends who have recently got jobs ask them for tips, these could be invaluable. This is a time consuming process but if your lucky you might get a job at the end of it.

 

Depression is real

Depression is more then having a few bad moods and feeling down. If you are depressed, you will feel upset/sad/distressed most of the time and life will begin to feel hopeless. The graduates who struggle to find work may find themselves getting depressed. If you are in this situation try and keep yourself busy by maintaining your hobbies and visiting family and friends. Depression can really take hold if you start to feel isolated. I remember when I realised I was starting to feel hopeless. My parents were leaving for work and I began to cry, clinging to my mum like a child. I didn’t want her to go into the world when I felt like I couldn’t participate in life. There’s nothing you can do about these feelings, you will just have to feel them. The important thing is to remember that negative voice in your head is lying to you. You are not useless and it isn’t your fault that you can’t find a job. You are doing the best that you can and you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.

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Some graduates may think starting work will eliminate all their problems- wrong. If anything work can make your problems more apparent. The jump from student to professional is massive and I still find that hard to deal with. You have spent the last three years working on your dreams, partying and sleeping in until noon. Now you have to get up, get out and spend your best hours working. You might hate your job or love it. Either way you are unlikely to feel completely fulfilled. This is because work is unable to fulfil you as a person. In order to feel content you have to have a good work/life balance. To get this there will be much trial and error. This could bring you down. Again, go and speak to someone. A close friend or family member is the best place to start. If things don’t improve you should visit your GP and they will go through your options. Through this dark stage in your life, you should use your good days to push you forward.

Dreams take longer to achieve

When I was studying I used to dream about getting a secure job and earning a proper wage. That has happened and I still don’t feel that I have achieved my full potential. There is so much I want to achieve in my life that it can feel overwhelming. One of my first mistakes was thinking that my job was a barrier to my dreams. All jobs (no matter how crap) enable you to earn enough money to live and save. Going travelling may seem like a big dream but it will become impossible if you are unemployed. You shouldn’t stop living just because you are not where you want to be in your life. It is important to experience life and find meaning in each day. Life is made up of a series of moments and each one is important. If your working, take your lunch break to get some fresh air. If your lucky enough to be unemployed try and get your wildest ideas off the ground. Think about what you want and how you will get there.

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Don’t let go of your dreams just because you can’t achieve them in a day, week, month or year. In order to get to where you want to be you will have to work hard. That might mean being the last one in the office, the first one awake in the morning or giving up your weekends to develop your ideas. Some days are going to be more productive then others. You might have months where you don’t work on the dream. This doesn’t matter, it means that you have chosen to fully experience life instead. Personally, I don’t have any goals for the rest of the year. I just want to live. You have to do what’s right for you.

You are in control of your life

When life gets hard, it’s easy to feel like it’s everyone else’s fault. This isn’t true. Your life is created by you and you should take responsibility for it. You shouldn’t compare yourself to others-although I know this is hard to do. I find limiting my social media use helps me feel like I have better control of my life. I don’t want to waste my time thinking about unattainable things or watch other people living. You need to create a life that you can live with. You should surround yourself with positive people because they tend to be more in control of their lives. They won’t do things to please others or spend time complaining. Complaining about your life is the worst thing that you can do. I used to do it all the time and it only made me feel worse. Write down your fears/complaints and share your joys. Spread happiness and you will get it back. In these hard times you must learn how deal with disappointment and moments of unhappiness. You must keep going and remember that things will get better.

This blog is filled with all the things I wish someone had told me when I graduated. Real life was a shock to my system and I still have days where I think I may never recover. I know I will recover and so will you.

Are you Prepared for Success?

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What is success? Success is this ambiguous term that people love to throw around. It could be financial, career based, personal achievement or finding the love of your life. I believe that success is a series of moments rather than a state of being. In order to experience these moments you must consistently achieve goals. Despite this being common knowledge so many people fail because they are not prepared to achieve their goals. When I was at university I become anxious every time I posted a new blog. I was convinced that people would hate my views and I would receive abuse because of it. One thing did come true- I often received abuse because of what I wrote. I had times when I wanted to quit ( I didn’t want people to associate me with my blogs) ultimately I was scared of success. Despite this I kept going, I live to write and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me. By taking the very public backlash I become a successful blogger on student issues.

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This was only possible because I never gave up. I consistently blogged. I would constantly discuss student issues with friends, so that I could find new material. I never gave up, even when I become alienated from the biggest student group on campus. If you want to be successful you have to take risks. Remain focused through the set backs ( and there will be many) and you can achieve anything. In order to be successful you need to overcome your biggest obstacle- yourself

Invest in yourself

If you don’t believe in yourself no one else will. You are no longer a student, you can’t expect praise at every corner. If you choose to spend your weekends developing a business/ writing a novel/painting, you shouldn’t feel unsociable or boring. Going to clubs are fun but what do you really have to celebrate every weekend? Working on your ideas are time consuming and you will have times when you feel like your working constantly. Ask yourself this question. Do I want to be successful or ordinary? I’m sure we didn’t go to university to become like everyone else. Your a lifelong learner, never stop learning or progressing.

Ignore the talkers, love the doers

There are two people in life, people who talk and people who take action. I prefer the latter because they inspire me to become a better person. The road to success is hard and your going to need like minded people around you. Get rid of the people who live in the past ” I could have done this…if only given the opportunity”. The “talker” is unable to see today’s potential but chooses to focus on yesterday’s failures. They also try to convince you that your too ambitious or that you should be content with the way things are. You define your own success. You have to be brave enough to follow your own path.

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Focus on number one

One thing all successful people have in common is that they put their needs above others. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make time for your family and friends. You need to know when to put your needs above others. For example, I didn’t attend an after work event a few weeks ago. They wanted as much staff as possible to help out. It’s not that I didn’t want to, I just realised that my own needs were greater then the needs of my company. I was feeling tired, overworked and stressed. I needed to look after myself and I did. You need to show yourself the same care. You can’t have it all no matter what you might think. There are only so many hours in a day and your best hours are usually spent at work. Your free time is precious and you should spend it making yourself happy. For me, personal happiness is achieving my goals. If you take anything from this blog it should be this- take more time for yourself.

These are tips that I have found useful in my graduate journey. I don’t use them all of the time, sometimes life gets in the way. However, I do enjoy my moments of success. They give my life purpose, a sense of direction and help keep me motivated. How do you define success? Leave a comment below.

The Insecure Professional : How to build confidence at work

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Do you remember all the group work you were forced to do at university? I do. I didn’t care about the content of the PowerPoint and I would usually be hungover on presentation day. Thankfully my studious group members would cover for me and I would end up achieving a decent mark with minimal work. At the time I couldn’t see the point of group work. I was usually forced to work with people who I didn’t know and hated listening to other peoples ideas.

Now I realise how important those group sessions were. In most jobs you are required to brainstorm collectively and work on projects. I have always been very outspoken, so I was shocked to realise I struggled to present my ideas. This wasn’t pointless uni work and these projects were helping build my organisation. I thought people would dismiss my ideas or that I would come across as bossy. After a few months I realised I had to speak up. I wanted to help shape my organisation and improve our reputation. In order to do this I had to work on my confidence. Here are my top tips for building confidence at work.

Socialise with your colleagues

I am a private person and I like keeping my personal life separate from work. Unfortunately this is almost impossible – 90% of my office are 30 and under. This means they enjoy frequent socials- after work drinks, wild club nights and even the odd lunch. Social media has made us nosy and we want to know intimate details of each other’s lives. Work is no different. You need to get to know your colleagues on a personal level. Take an interest in their hobbies and relationships. This will automatically improve your work relationships. As you get to know them better they will seem less intimidating. If you have a group brainstorming session coming up send a preliminary email with your best ideas. This will allow you to gauge a response and help you come up with more ideas.

I always think it’s best to be honest and open with your colleagues. It’s always best to address problems early. There is nothing worse then building quiet resentment towards someone. It will only make you feel uncomfortable around them and you are less likely to engage with the team. This is the key to confidence.

Have one-to-ones with your manager

My manger is very big on personal development and progression. In our one to ones we often discuss personal/professional barriers to success at work. He also helps me mange my work load and shows me techniques to help manage stress. I find these sessions invaluable and they help me become more confident in all aspects of my life. I believe you should be completely open with your manger, they will respect you for it. You will also become someone they can trust. This will bring you opportunities and greater freedom within your work. If you have low confidence discuss this with your manger. They will be able to help. Talking to a senior manger will also build your confidence in talking to senior members of staff. This will help you as you progress throughout your career. If you don’t have one-to-one sessions with your manager already you can request them. As a new graduate you need help making that transition from student to professional.

Work past your limiting beliefs

A limiting belief is a negative thought you constantly tell yourself. For example, if you constantly tell yourself that your crap at presentations you will start to believe that. Even if you have had a bad experience in the past you shouldn’t obsess over that. Presentation skills can be learnt like many other things. If you have identified a weak spot make an effort to learn more about it. You are now a life long learner and should relish challenges. Limiting beliefs are very damaging and can stop progression. It’s important that you learn how to mange your thoughts. Replace limiting beliefs with positive ones. I know there must have been times when you were studying that you thought you wouldn’t make it through- I know I did. But you finished. Allow your past successes to motivate you. If you would like to learn more about limiting beliefs check out How to mange your limiting beliefs.

I think many of us struggle with low confidence and this can make life feel overwhelming. These tips can only help you improve your confidence at work. If your low confidence is linked to deeper issues this may be something you want to explore with a counsellor. Whatever you do, in all things choose happiness.

Universities Sell Dreams, People Create Lives

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selling dreams

 

How does this picture make you feel? It makes me think back to a time of complete happiness. Future graduates live for this moment. Do you remember your graduation ceremony? Despite the nerves I was bursting with pride. My family spent the day glorifying me. I felt like my potential had been fulfilled. I honestly hadn’t considered life after university. I expected to be treated as a superior member of society because I had a degree. In my job interview the panel didn’t even ask me about it. As the months pass I feel more like a person and less like a graduate. Being a graduate has taken on celebrity status. Everyone wants it and people are willing to pay thousands to have it. When the cap comes off and the pedestal is snatched away, you realise that the graduate club isn’t exclusive at all. The graduate is ridiculed in the media. We are unemployed, lazy, entitled and on top of it all a lost generation. It’s time to stand up and be recognised for the intelligent and unique individuals that we are. We are not London’s tragedy.  It’s time to reclaim our lives.

Redefining the Self

Before you are a graduate you are a person. Over the past year I have had no idea who I am. I’m not on a module pathway and my life isn’t defined by an academic year. I don’t have milestones to structure my life and I can no longer pretend that binge drinking doesn’t matter. Who am I, who are you? We change daily. One day we can feel like we know ourselves and the next we are just lost souls. It’s time to discover old talents and lost hobbies. What do you love and what do you want? This is the first step in redefining yourself. Your degree does not define your personality, job prospects or your destiny. It’s time to stop trying to live up to this impossible ideal. Name one thing you do because you think you should? I try and keep up with current affairs because I thing that’s what I should be doing. Surely any decent graduate should take an interest in politics and culture? Wrong, I hate reading about politics so I am going to stop. My life won’t get graded and no one is really watching. It’s time to start again.

Finding Happiness

What is happiness? A promotion at work or a luxury holiday. Happiness is usually defined by material things. I think happiness is a place you reach when you are comfortable with life. When you wake up in the morning and feel happy just to see another day. We are unable to experience happiness because we constantly want. Universities are partly to blame for this. We were promised financial success and this hasn’t happened for most of us. Maybe it never will. Despite this, our happiness shouldn’t depend on it. In all things I try and seek happiness first. That is the only thing that will sustain you through life’s journey.

Live without a Purpose

Do you need to know what’s happening tomorrow or next week? We have spent our whole life sticking to a schedule that someone else has created. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up and just see where the day takes you? Most days I try to live from moment to moment. I have scrapped all my goals until I reach a time when I feel able to achieve them. I think we put to much pressure on ourselves. You are suppose to get your dream job, buy a house and find the love of your life all before your 30. It’s to much pressure and we are setting ourselves up for failure. I’m not saying that you can’t have ambition or dreams but what about just enjoying now? We are never going to be this young again, lets have fun. I think our idea of fun have been distorted as well. Fun doesn’t necessary mean being reckless, it  could mean creating experiences. Travelling, eating out and dance until the sun comes out. That’s what I call living.

I felt that I need to write this blog to express how I have been feeling. Does anyone else feel that post uni life has become difficult/depressing? It will when we are constantly trying to live an extraordinary life because ordinary is no longer good enough. At 22 years old I can’t say that have seen much of the world or done anything really interesting. Trying to live the dream has become too tiring, I want to live life instead.

How to Accept the Life you Have

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never ending to do list

Do you want to achieve everything at once?

 By Daniella Nzekwe

Is it just me, or do other graduates feel dissatisfied with life? I work the traditional 9-5 (even though I swore I never would), I look forward to Fridays and I spend my evenings and weekends at home. This sounds like the existence of a middle aged women who has long given up on her dreams. What happened to all the glitter and excitement? I spend money on clothes for that “special occasion” that never comes and I dream of tomorrow. A pointless dream because tomorrow is usually very similar to today. I’m tired of waiting for something to happen.

It was only after a bottle of wine and a deep conversation with my cousin, that I realised what the problem was. We are not celebrities who have glittering parties to attend. We don’t have enough money to create the kind of experiences we obsessively view on Pinterest or Instagram. Then there is the competition from our fellow graduates. There is always that one person who has landed that dream job but instead of being happy for them we cry into our morning coffee. Life has become a round of jealousy, resentment and depression. Life is far to precious to survive each day and wait for a better one. It’s time to claim back the present.

Reduce your Drug use

When I talk about drugs I’m referring mainly to coffee, alcohol and sugar. Obviously if your taking something stronger then that you should think about seeking help. I think coffee, alcohol and sugar are the most abused drugs and that’s because anyone can buy them. My fellow 9-5 workers understand the importance of coffee. It keeps us up and helps us work longer. Sugar is like coffee’s bitch, we need sugar to perk us up. I used to snack on sugar all day because I felt unable to cope without it. This meant that I was constantly experiencing extreme highs and lows. I loved and hated my life all at the same time. That wasn’t healthy and that’s why I hardly have sugar now. You shouldn’t use coffee and sugar as a way of coping with life. If your tired go to bed earlier. If you have worked hard pat yourself on the back, don’t reward yourself with sugar. You would be surprised at how these things can affect your body and how you view life.

life 2

Binge drinking is one way to accept your life for an evening but it won’t last. Most of us say that we drink because we want to relax or have fun. I believe that we drink because we want to escape something- life. I used to drink because I was so unhappy with everything that was happening in my life. I wasn’t in control and as things got worse I drank more. Life looked even worse with a hangover. If your upset feel it, if your unhappy with your life change it. We can only accept the life we have, when we truly allow ourselves to be present and fully experience it.

Stop Comparing Yourselves to Others

We are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others. There is always going to be someone who has a better job, car or house then you. There is nothing you can do about it. Everyone has their own troubles and challenges to overcome, so you shouldn’t compare your lives. Some people have more then you because they are willing to work harder for it. It’s time to recognise and appreciate all the things, people and opportunities you have in your life. What have you managed to achieve in the last year? If you working, you are one of the lucky few who have managed to find a job. Whether its a stop gap or your dream career, you should be grateful to have this opportunity to develop and grow as a professional and a person. Over the past year I have realised that life changes are gradual. We will have to live similar days over and over before anything exciting happens. These average days don’t mean that your life is boring or that progress isn’t happening. You just need to be patient.

Work on one goal at a time

One of the main ways to accept the life you have is working on the life that you want. We all have things that we want to achieve and goals can help us stay motivated but to many can make us stressed. It also means that you end up achieving very little. This makes us even more dissatisfied with the life we have. What is the one thing that you really want to change? Once you have a goal you need to make a plan. You are most likely to achieve a goal if you work on it at least once a week. Doing something for yourself will make you happy and daily life will become much more enjoyable. I spend most of my week helping people and sorting out their problems. The least I can do is show myself the same attention. By accepting your life, you will also realize the power you have to change it.

Life is a daily challenge and there is so much we don’t have control of. Social media means we are constantly tracking the lives of others, which means we often neglect ourselves. If you take anything from this blog it should be this- Accept the life you have, in order to get the life you want. 

Extra Bits

I thought Extreme Acceptance was a really interesting article on the Huffington Post. It’s all about acceptance being a state of mind. Does anyone else have trouble expecting their lives? Leave a comment below.

 

Money or Success?

 

I’ts been almost a year since I graduated. I have an interesting full time job and I’m going on a 5* holiday in the summer. I have a large disposable income which I spend on small moments of pleasure- clothes, jewelry, eating out and other forms of entertainment. I call this spending small moments of pleasure because that’s all they give me. After the goods are bagged and they have found a home in my draws, I’m left with my thoughts and this feeling. This feeling that I was unable to describe until now. I’m not fulfilling my full potential. I have fallen into the dreaded cycle of work=money=things. The more I buy is the more I want. The more I want, is the more I feel that I need to earn. Everybody thinks that i’m successful because I have a job that pays a decent wage. But does money really equal success?

What is success? 

Success, this ambiguous term people seem to throw around. I don’t believe that success is defined by how much you earn. How many people go home to empty house? Family and friends have been forgotten while they chase a better job, a bigger house and a more exclusive credit card. Some may say this is the “poor person’s” definition of success. I couldn’t agree. Money doesn’t keep me warm at night and doesn’t comfort me when i’m upset. We need a certain amount to live but I don’t think major life decisions should be motivated by money.

What is your passion?  

What is the one thing that you can’t go a day without thinking about? Sometimes, while i’m at my desk I wish I was writing a best seller or giving talks to university students about the evils or undergraduate life. This gives me a clear indication of what I should be doing. But sadly I can’t live on dreams, so I had to grow up and get a proper job. This doesn’t mean that I have to give up on what I truly want to do. My passion motivates me to keep going and it should motivate you too.

What about my “proper” job?

In this job market nothing last forever. You could be made redundant, the company could go bankrupt or maybe you job becomes unworkable because you are being bullied. You never know whats round the corner and you need to be prepared for change. I have always said that being self sufficient is an important skill to have. Create your own job/career/lifestyle. No one has the right to tell you what to do or how to feel.

If you are still an undiscovered talent (unemployed graduate) try not to be to hard on yourself. Ask yourself “am I applying for jobs I am passionate about or am I chasing money? We all have to start somewhere and that is likely to be a 9-5 job were someone else sets your schedule. This could be how you spend the next 40 years or it could be a useful stop gap.

And the Moral of the story is…

Whatever you want to be. I can’t tell you how to live or how to think. I am committed to the student/graduate movement and passing on any knowledge that I have. Although  we are the first generation to have so much personal and political freedom, we are still living the same life as our parents. I’m sure they sent us to university so that we could change the world. You can’t do that if you aren’t willing to risk everything.

This blog is dedicated to Miss Raymond Williams. Thanks for never failing to see my potential.