I met Emma Flaherty, aka MoneyGirl, at a Blooming Founders event held in London recently. I was impressed by her enthusiasm for educating and supporting women with their financial futures – and even more impressed when I read some of her work, particularly as she is only 25! So I am delighted to share one of her posts with you today – even though she originally aimed it at the millennial generation, there’s a lot of useful information for older (and younger) women too. Enjoy!
“Nothing will ruin your 20s (or 30s!) more than thinking you should already have it all.”
This article is for anyone who has at some point found themselves over thinking about things which they probably don’t need to, comparing themselves to others rather than using that energy on themselves, or feel like they should be ‘something or someone’ by now.
The press have done a great a job in promoting how the ‘millennial generation’ are so different, how we are under immense pressure to succeed and how social media has given us a sense of false hope. It has also created a generation of super confident, high achievers that spend a lot of time worrying. At times, this will be an unforgiving, emotional decade of confusion and nativity but I want to show you how we can cope better with it and use it to our advantage.
Start focusing on your own journey and I promise you will feel much better for it. I want you to take one thing from this article if nothing else, and that is that you aren’t alone and things aren’t that bad.
What are you proud of about yourself? There is still a lot of time to influence and control things. Start where you are, with what you have and try your hardest. That’s the best you can do. Below are some ways to start feeling more in control and more content with your current situation.
1. Stop comparing your beginning to somebody else’s middle.
I think this is what we have all been guilty of and I am no exception. I can quickly come up with the conclusion that I am not doing as well as I thought I would by the time I reached 25 by foolishly comparing myself to someone who is a different age or in a different situation. It might not even be the age gap, it’s also personal circumstance. How hard did the person you are benchmarking yourself on work to get to where they are? How long did they try for? What or who helped them to get there? What was already at their disposal? What obstacles did they face? Please try to not get caught up in other peoples’ achievements. Focus on your own. Where were you a year ago? Have you developed? Are you nearer to reaching your goal? This is much more constructive in the long term. I’ve also limited the amount of time I spend on social media unless it’s to drive my business because I found myself comparing myself to fabricated lifestyles and not being grateful for what I have worked hard for around me.
2. Make time to celebrate you
Because we feel like we haven’t got it all, done it all etc. we overlook the daily, weekly and monthly achievements and can be our toughest critic. But, every now and again I have to give myself a pat on the back. It might be getting some positive feedback from a colleague at work, or saving a certain amount of money, or losing a bit of weight. Refrain from ‘waiting’ to celebrate until you hit the promotion, buy the house or hit your savings goal entirely. Remember that the journey is just as important and you should try to enjoy it. Identify what you like, what makes you happy or what your idea of fun is – you don’t have to tell anyone what this is but do yourself a favour and do it from time to time. Make time for yourself; you’re doing great.
3. Breathe more
This is one of the most important techniques you can try. Do you sometimes get to the end of the day and just feel like you’ve run out of steam? I would recommend starting and ending your day with a 10 minute breathing session. It’s as easy as setting aside 10 minutes when you wake up to just lay in bed and focus on your breathing. Inhale for 7 seconds, hold for 3 seconds and exhale for 7 seconds. You tend to start your day in a much clearer state. Do the same just before you go to sleep as it can also help you unwind and sleep better. Rest is important to leading a successful career, having fun and generally juggling everything so listen to your body and look after yourself.
4. Talk to people older than you
When I was at university I ran a small project team whereby we ran sessions in local schools on the subject of money and finance. Our project mentor has become a good friend of mine over the years and I have asked for her advice on a number of occasions. She has pearls of wisdom that I can learn from and I would encourage seeking a mentor as soon as you can. It might be to run an idea past them, a chat about some of their experiences from their career or it might be something more personal. Find someone you can trust and that you aspire to but make sure they are comfortable being honest and upfront with you. They’ll be able to say if you’re doing what you need to be doing in your twenties to reach your goals as they’ve been there. I have met a number of inspirational women through networking events which could become a mentor of mine one day. It could even be someone that you work with or a family friend. Don’t be afraid to ask for their time.
5. Organise yourself
It can sometimes feel like you’re all over the place. This is completely normal, especially when you are going through some changes. You’ll feel much happier if you were on top of things like your documents, outgoings and time. If you haven’t done so already, buy yourself a filer/document wallet and store all of your important documents in a safe place (insurance policy, bank statements etc). For your outgoings, make a quick spreadsheet with what you spend your money on every month – it may even show you where you can cut back a bit and save some more each month. And sit down with a tea/coffee and a notepad and work out where you could use your time better. Do you wait in a 30 minute queue to get your lunch? Bring in something from home and save yourself some pennies in the process. Do you always watch TV in the evenings? Change it up some evenings and read instead or attend a networking event to connect with that mentor. There are lots of ways to feel more organised which ultimately give you a clearer mind and help to rationalise where you are in respect to your goals/plan.
Just remember that this is the decade to be a bit selfish and focus on yourself. There’s no secret to being successful; it’s based on hard work and consistency. It takes time. So get your head down but remember to come up for air once in a while and celebrate your successes. You’re doing great, girl!
This post was originally published on EmpoweredYoungWomen.com on the 6th February 2016.