2017 for me was a year of very mixed feelings, as outlined in my previous blog post “Making the Leap”, and as I write this I feel really grateful to be able to say I’m standing in a better place right now looking back at it.
2017 was a year where way more things didn’t go as planned versus went as planned. 2017 was a year of feeling really really lost and a year of feeling very frustrated at myself – a year of highs and lows.
However, 2017 was also a year of huge change for me, a year of much needed self discovery and a year where my personal drive, my determination and my ability to power on towards my end goals, shone more than ever before and did me very proud. For the most part of the year I worked silently in the background on my personal goals and I’m happy to say I smashed them.
2017 was a year where I learnt more than ever I am lucky to have amazing friends and family and it was a year where I had the privilege of traveling and exploring Milan, Venice, New York, Croatia and Montenegro.
2017 was the year where I made the biggest decision of my life to date – to move to New York, a decision I do not regret one single bit, despite it having many pros and cons as detailed in the post below.
2017 was a year where I really learnt to put myself first. A year where I learnt that you are in control of your own happiness and that anyone who doesn’t contribute to this or – (a really important one), anyone who doesn’t fully respect you, is someone you don’t need, because you are better than that.
You have got to be yourself
This is literally crucial. I’m sure you were expecting me to come out with some inspirational pieces of advice that came to me in a lightbulb eureka type scenario, but no, all I’m doing is reverting back to the basics. That’s also how I learned to detach power from my anxiety – by stripping things back and going back to basics.
“Just be yourself.” For something that sounds so simple, it’s actually really not once you delve into it. I started to take a step back from situations and look at them from the outside in – try to understand why I acted the way I did in certain situations and came to the realisation that I was changing myself sometimes to try and impress the other person / trying to be someone I thought they would want me to be, instead of just being me. Instead of saying to myself “No, I’m going to be me and nothing but me, and if they don’t like it it’s their loss.” This is the thought process I now try to act by, but it took me a while to realise that I hadn’t been doing this all the time before. You perform best when you are yourself and nothing but yourself, and people will recognise that. Most people can tell very early on if someone is not being themselves. This is important in every situation, especially in a professional context.
Tip: Become more conscious of yourself and your behaviours and you will start to be aware when you’re not being fully yourself or feel you are switching into character mode – into a character that you think you “should be” in the particular situation. Pro tip – if you feel yourself in this situation around “friends” you should really evaluate who you are spending your time with. Funnily enough, you might find that they’re actually not your friends. Similarly, if you feel yourself in this situation in your work environment, you also need to evaluate some things.
Nobody is going to achieve your dreams for you
This one is fairly self explanatory but it’s something I really learnt when I moved to New York. I’ve always had a strong work ethic, I’ve always gone the extra mile with things, I’ve always had massive ambitions for myself and I’ve always worked hard to get what I want. I guess it’s partially the way I was reared, my siblings and I were taught that you have to work for what you want and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is no doubt New York is an amazing city but in order to do well here and reap its rewards you need to be prepared to work your ass off ten times harder than you ever have before. For every pro there is an even bigger con. Once you crack the code you will do very well here. For example; Yes there are unreal skyscraper views from insane rooftop bars, but there are also dank, disgustingly packed, stuffy subway trams where you can sometimes spot the occasional rat. Yes there are brilliant job prospects and opportunities for amazing career development here, but there are also 100 other people applying for every job you are, and many of whom are probably more skilled / experienced than you. These are realities. It’s just the way it is here.
Tip: You need to go way out of your comfort zone and put yourself out here. Networking is huge. When I was looking for a job, I would spend all day during typical work hours researching companies, going through jobs websites (LinkedIn, Angel List, builtinnyc.com, Indeed, to name but a few), messaging contacts of contacts, tailoring my cover letter to applications, having calls with recruiters, and then in the evenings I would try to attend any hot networking events I could get a free ticket for. It was mentally exhausting but you need to be persistent and maintain a very positive, driven approach to it. Do not be fooled. Looking for a job in New York is a full time job in itself. It’s a highly competitive city. Nobody was going to make me sit down and apply for jobs every day, nobody was going to encourage me to go to these networking events by myself even though I knew nobody, nobody was going to encourage me to chase up with recruiters. If you want something you will put the work in. Simple as.
Identify broken links
This one goes back to self assessment and self development. One of the best things I ever did for myself was to map out where I was and where I wanted to be and highlight the gaps or things that would hinder or slow down this process. In this post I’m going to refer to these gaps as “broken links”. I did this self mapping straight after college where my priority or broken link was to get to the bottom of my anxiety. Since I worked on that I then redid my map and my next goal was to make a long-term dream of mine happen – to live in New York City. Your personal map of where you are vs. where you want to be will change every time you progress upwards. Every single person will have different “broken links” in their chains, whether it’s a shitty boss not enabling you to grow further, a skills gap in an area that you need to be more proficient in, or maybe it’s something non work related altogether, the list goes on. Very rough explanation below but hopefully you get the general idea.
“In order to get to X, I need A, B & C.”
“Starting with A. How do I achieve A?”
Devise a plan of action to achieve A. Once A is achieved, do the same exercise for B and C and D and E and however many other “broken links” you need to do it for. Once you’ve achieved A, B, C etc they will conjoin together to create a smooth chain for you to travel upwards on and you’ll probably find that things will start to fall into place. (This could take a few months or it could take a few years. It depends on the extent of the identified goals.)
I feel like anyone who is not superhuman, which is 99% of us, will always have some broken links, life wouldn’t be life without them. I ahave some broken links and concurrently I have some plans in place for 2018 to work on these. One of these plans is to work on my public speaking skills because I now know it is a large anxiety provoking trigger for me. I love interacting with people, but for some very frustrating reason, public speaking makes me very anxious. 2018 goal: I plan on taking some public speaking training classes to tackle this.
If 2018 is going to be your year, identify your own broken links and instead, turn them into strong, solid links.The only way you can go is up once you put your mind to it and progress is always progress regardless of the size of the step.
This last one is something I’ve had the not so nice privilege of experiencing more than once here and I feel is absolutely essential to make you aware of if you are new to the city or are currently a New York virgin. If Google maps tells you it takes and hour to get somewhere, give yourself an hour and a half and nothing less. Simple as. The subway at rush hour is like feeding time at the zoo, except all the people are the zoo animals. And I wish that this was an exaggeration, but it’s not.
Thanks for reading!