Top 5 tips, I would give my 16 year old self

Other than Kajagoogoo want their wig back……here’s my top 5.

2021 – the year I turn 50, so as I reflect on my journey to this milestone, I want to look back at what I have learnt.

Let’s go back to 1987, the year I left school, look at the fear in my face. I had NO idea what I wanted to do as a career, but what I did know was, I no longer wanted to be in education. You see me and education weren’t the best of friends I’m not an academic I didn’t flurry at English literature. I was good at maths and music but the thought of going on to do more education, to go on to college, to university …. well I always thought that was for intelligent people (👈 the start of imposter syndrome). My other thought was it meant I wouldn’t be able to earn money so I got a job, with Midland Bank (I always loved the Griffin adverts) now known as HSBC.

I spent five, very happy, years working at Midland bank but I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I enjoyed meeting the customers, I enjoyed counting the money, I even enjoyed encoding the little numbers on the bottom of the cheques (wow, that takes me back) but what was it as a career for me? Did I want to stay in the bank forever ? No I didn’t but what did I want to do? 

Back to 1987 and my last year in school – the only piece of careers advice that stuck with me was that I would “come to nothing because I talk too much” now that’s not very supportive of a child looking for advice from the teachers.

But this article isn’t so much about my careers advice on what I’ve done for a living it’s more about looking back and looking at the advice I would give to that scared looking 16-year-old:

Here are my top 5:

No.1 Don’t listen to the negative comments 

Other people are always incredibly quick to judge you, to make comments, to give their thoughts on your decisions, and there are times in life when we need advice from other people but quite often I found looking at all of the voices that I’ve listened to over the years, I tended to hear the ones that were negative over the ones that were positive. When you put on a picture on social media we now hunger the “likes” the “comments” and if we don’t get them, do we feel disappointed. I’ve learnt to “just post”. 

Motto: Negative comments will only hold you back and feed imposter syndrome.

No. 2 It will all be okay in the end 

Let’s just look at 2020 – a year of disruption for all of us and like many on the 23rd March my diary and cashflow emptied. I didn’t roll-over, I look for opportunity to change my offering, I engaged a business coach, I went on training courses and yes, 2020 ended as a year of growth for me 

Motto: Hard work pays off, no one is going to GIVE you growth, you earn it.

No.3 Trust your gut – it’s there for a reason 

Hands-up I have made mistakes in my life. Hands-up, I have gone against my gut instinct and it was wrong. I rationalise my decisions, the pros and cons, the good and bad and then even when you think you are making the right decision, that little voice in your gut tells you you’re wrong, but in black and white its looks like the right decision. Have you gone against your gut?

Motto: Millions of nerves and neurons run between your gut and brain, hence gut-instinct, it’s your 2nd brain, trust it.

No. 4 It’s okay that you don’t have children

Back in 1987, I thought I would lead a “typical life”: “Work, fall in love, marry, have children”.  I can’t say I was hugely maternal, I didn’t live life with a “baby machine radar” tuned in, but always thought it would one day happen but it didn’t. After a nasty miscarriage at 39, I made the decision motherhood wasn’t for me. BUT, when people asked or said “there’s still time” I felt guilty, I felt ashamed, I felt wrong for saying “no, thanks, i don’t want children” Even now, there are so many “mum things” on social media, i get that feeling of FOMO – then Covid and homeschooling happened and i get a feeling of “thank God, I didn’t have them”. I am blessed with my step-daughter Shannon, we have a great relationship and I am thankful everyday for this.

No. 5 You will marry your best friend

I could actually write a novel on mine and Mark’s relationships, but in a nut-shell: We met when I was 25, there was instant chemistry, but at 27 and just getting divorced the last thing Mark wanted was to be in a serious relationship. We danced around but I wanted to get married and have children (see point 4, I thought this was how life was). So I married someone else (that didn’t work). Mark and I started to dance again but never committed. Finally on my 40th birthday, we married. This year I am celebrating not just my 50th Birthday but our 10th Anniversary.

Motto: LOVE concours all and will find a way.

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