2016: THE YEAR OF REALISING THINGS
Last month I half-jokingly tweeted about one of the most spot-on predictions about how this year would unfold having come from none other than Ms Kylie Jenner (stranger things...), and I obviously wasn’t the only one who found this fairly amusing - as the year has drawn to a close, the now infamous video clip of Ms Jenner’s unnervingly prescient prediction for 2016 has gained something of a second wind, and has been recirculated on social media in a slew of memes, GIFs and viral tweets. What was a fairly unremarkable pop culture moment even at the time probably wouldn’t have been worthy of resurrection were it not for the fact that – more so than any other year in recent memory – 2016 truly has felt like a year of ‘realising things’, of truths being uncovered, and of a whole host of momentous and life-changing events coming to fruition.
So, inspired by Kylie Jenner – something I never thought I'd write on this blog, but here we are – I’m sharing a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the past year... or to stretch this fairly laboured analogy to its logical conclusion, the Things I’ve Realised. Hopefully you'll find something here that will help make your working life that little bit easier, more productive, or fulfilling in 2017.
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
Albeit sadly not one that I naturally possess in abundance – but I’m working on that! Learning to be patient, and to be comfortable working to other people’s schedules is something I’ve had a crash course in this year, particularly since becoming self-employed and launching Women Who. I’ve had to train myself to become (moderately) comfortable with just… waiting. Waiting for people to respond to emails, for people to make decisions, to get paid… the list is endless. Twelve months ago, an email left unanswered for longer than a few hours would have been a source of real anxiety (and frustration) for me, which I think might be a hangover from having started my career in the world of advertising, where things tend to move at lightening speed. Becoming more cognisant of the competing demands on other people’s time is a quality I’ve learned to embrace this year, and something that I hope to improve on in 2017.
The best way to make things happen is by putting them out into the world, and to realise that there will never be a ‘perfect’ time or an ideal set of circumstances for you to launch that idea, business or project that’s been at the back of your mind since forever. If you’ve talked about an idea more than three times, it’s time to act on it.
NOTHING WILL WORK UNLESS YOU DO*
After a talk I gave about Women Who last week, a woman in the audience asked me whether I’d encountered any common traits amongst the women I’ve met and worked with over the past 6 months. I often think when people ask this question (or at least when I do!) it’s in the vague hope that there’s some sort of secret sauce or Da Vinci-esque code that once cracked, will turbo charge careers and put them on the road to riches – but the truth is there is literally no secret route to success, besides working really bloody hard. The main trait that the creative women I’ve met through Women Who have in common is simply that they’ve put in the hours – and not over a few days or weeks, but for months and years on end. When I think about how much work I’ve put into Women Who’s relatively modest achievements thus far, my mind boggles at the colossal amount of work that has clearly gone into the careers and businesses of the successful women that I either know or admire from afar. But, it’s also incredibly motivating – a reminder that real, sustained success doesn't happen as a result of stunting on Instagram. In order to succeed, you need to do the work.
*Especially if you're self-employed!
NOT EVERYONE’S GONNA CLAP FOR YOU
This one’s a quote from my mum, one of the wisest women I know. Whether it’s a failed job interview or a rejected pitch – if you do creative work, you’re going to hear ‘no’ a lot. Not everyone’s going to like, appreciate, or be into whatever it is you’re doing. And that’s okay – rejection or disinterest, in all of their frustrating and disappointing guises, are things all creative people have to deal with, no matter how successful they are. The important thing is not to dwell on that for too long (or to take it too personally), and to focus on reaching the people who are into what you’re doing. They’re out there.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
Every single time I’ve gone against my gut instinct when it comes to decision-making, I’ve regretted it. Your intuition is a powerful thing – don’t ignore it, ever.
REMEMBER YOUR VALUES
If you always endeavour to do the thing that you think is of genuine value to yourself and to others – whether creatively, professionally or socially – you can’t go wrong. For me, the politically explosive events of 2016 have highlighted how important values are in a world that increasingly seems to be run by people who are devoid of any, and have reminded me of how indivisible wider social and political issues are from the day-to-day hustle of being a working woman.
That’s it from me! What are the important lessons 2016 has taught you?