We all find ourselves at a crossroads every now and then.
Stay or go? Spend or save? Start again or call it quits?
Some of us can make decisions without a second thought, reaching the goal no matter the cost as long as the end justifies the means. The rest of us, however, can miss out on opportunities because we ponder the consequences for too long. It’s a hard habit to break.
In both of these instances, whether we hesitate or rush, we can sometimes find ourselves completely alone. The sunshine will follow the rain, as they say, but how do you find a silver lining when everything around you looks so bleak? At a time when we fear letting others down or making a mistake, how can we lift the burden of the big decision?
Advice can come from so many places. We can look further afield than our closest family for guidance – friends, colleagues, career mentors, counsellors and even online resources can provide us with the encouragement we need.
Here, members of Indigo Swan tell us about the best advice they have ever received.
“Don’t let go”
My sister provided me with the advice aged 7 or 8. It was received while I was riding her horse. Hamlet started speeding up and I was getting panicked and she kept shouting “don’t let go”. Long and short of it, I let go and Hamlet cantered under a tree branch and I was knocked clean off. He was then charging round the field with his reins flying all over the place. Despite being pretty hurt, I had to get back up and help my sister catch him before he hurt himself.
The lesson taught me that even when life gets tough you need to hang on in there. If I had continued to hold on and instead ducked under the tree branch rather than taking it square in the chest, the situation with Hamlet potentially getting caught in his reins would never have occurred (and my sister wouldn’t have been so angry with me!). Life is full of obstacles and it is important to deal with them appropriately.
“Don’t spread yourself too thin”
This advice came from my Dad in my teens.
Like a lot of other teenagers, being ‘popular’ was important to me. Whenever I was invited to go out or to join in with something, I’d always say yes. I was neglecting other people in my life: my Mum who I lived with, my Dad who I didn’t, my family who lived close by but I never saw, and some of my oldest friends.
This was my Dad’s way of trying and give me a sense of self-worth. To remember it’s OK to not be at every event, and to take time for myself. I have used this advice ever since, especially when I’ve found myself stressed or exhausted.
Look after No# 1 and things will fall into place around you.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself”
I was inspired by this George Bernard Shaw quote whilst at university.
For me, in the filter of my brain, this means you are in control of your life. There is no magic formula and there isn’t an amazing life just waiting for us to happen upon it in. You have to work hard, make decisions, learn and grow and, just with any creative process, you should be proud of your efforts. There’s not one life for you, if you are unhappy with where you find yourself, don’t accept it, be brave & make a change.
This advice came from my Mum. I wasn’t cool at school – I wasn’t in the popular group, I took part in amateur dramatics, instead of playing football. I went to the bakery and brought a sausage roll instead of going to the off licence and trying to buy some hooch. You get the picture.
My Mum always told me to be myself and everything will work out just fine. I have always been myself and because of this I have faced a number of challenges and obstacles in life. Now you will ask how could being yourself have been good advice if bad things happened. My view is these things had to happen – if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t be in the job I am in, I wouldn’t have an amazing wife and I wouldn’t have the friends that I have. Life is a journey. It wont always be smooth but if you continue to be yourself, you will get to a point where it can be more than you ever dreamed it could be.
I learnt from a young age not to be somebody that people wanted you to be. Be the person you want to be. By committing to this at a young age I grew up not worrying what people thought of me and being involved in the things I wanted to be, having the friends I wanted to have and tackling the challenges I have had in life head on. This has given me confidence and an ability to help people understand that they are who they are and that they are special in their own way. Not everyone will like you, but if you like you the journey will be awesome.
“Rise above the daily noise and distractions of office gossip and politics and focus on your own agenda”
Came from an inspirational manager who despite being very good at his job, had so much more to his life to know how to put things into perspective.
“Do what you love”
It came from my Dad at varying stages in my life. I have used it when I have faced making a decision about school and then into my career. Those words have led me down the path I am on now and I can say I am ‘doing what I love’.
It can also be applied to most things in life – are you living a life that you love? Are your hobbies what you love doing – if not, what do you love doing and how can you do it?
“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice”
I once worked at a large window manufacturers as an admin temp one summer. The office had descended into chaos with windows fitters, admin staff, horrible managers and factory workers all shouting at each other, losing the plot, swearing and generally being really nasty to each other. A chap called Mick came in from another distribution office one day – not high up, just in admin. Things had started to kick off again so he took the fitters outside had a calm word with them. He figured out what jobs could be done and organised them, then did the same in the warehouse, then other parts of business. Then he had a word with the manager…
When he came back in it was just me and him, he sat down and said ‘Do you want to know something?’. Not 100% sure if this was rhetorical, I said ‘yes’ and Mick said ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.’ The nasty manager was gone within the week, and things had calmed & people were speaking to each other nice and normally. Never saw him again but good work Mick!
“It takes five seconds to change your life”
When I started commuting back to Norwich regularly I started listening to The 5 Second Rule as an audio book. Mel Robbins talks about how you can change your life one five second decision at a time. When you have a thought or an impulse to do something it takes just five seconds for your brain to shut it down so by making five second decisions you can push yourself to get out of the house, go to the gym or to speak up in a meeting.
I started using the five second rule to push myself to get out of bed and go for a run when I was training for Run Norwich. Five seconds doesn’t give you enough time to talk yourself out of it, so you just go!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?