I wasn’t really sure what I “wanted to be” when I first went to university. What I was completely sure of in these first 2 weeks there was that I intended to spend 80-90% of those days on nights out – the rest? …Well, I’d think about that later. Generally, growing up, I never liked to think long term about where I saw my life. Whilst I was good at putting my head down to study and get good grades, when it came to discussing where these grades would lead me, I buried my head in the sand. I really needed a lot of guidance from my parents to eventually get my head back out.
Whilst not wanting to think about the future may be unusual, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life was certainly not. I think a lot of us could and can relate to that. Because of this, I tended to go where he tides took me. At university, I saw a lot of people were applying to investment banking, consultancies, big 4 professional services firms and law firms. I decided to do the same. I narrowed down my choices to investment banking and consultancy due to some sort of high level criteria that told me these two sounded the most interesting, and then I sent through my first application hours before the applications for a Spring week internship were closing.
I got the it. After some interviews of course. And I know… very lucky!
That sort of defined a lot of my path to get to where I am now – working in investment banking.
At some point during my university experience, there was another, different, sparkly and elite job I decided I wanted to do later down the line. When this possibility started to feel as if it was sliding further out of my fingers as years went by, I asked myself for the first time – why did I want to do actually do it? My answer…? Because that’s what everybody else wanted to do. Was that a good enough answer? Definitely not.
Indeed, I spent a lot of my time noting what others were doing into a menu of options and picking whatever sounded the nicest to shoot for. As I’ve gotten older, as we all do, I’ve been able to better define what it is I actually want out of my life, the things I really care about, and what would be my .
I don’t mind working a bit longer
I don’t work a 9-5. Really, I work 10ish hour days, sometimes more, sometimes less. I wake up earlier than 9 and finish after 5. That said, so long as I’m not working until late at night on a consistent basis, then I don’t mind. A non-negotiable of mine at this stage in my life is not that I need to work 9-5 during the week. My hours still give me time to e.g. fit in a workout early in the morning or later in the evening. They still give me time to cook my own dinner most nights (easier whilst WFH of course). And look – it’s a Monday, my day was hectic, but here I am, writing up this blog post.
… But my own time is paramount
Whilst some extra hours in the day are okay to me, my own time is also very paramount. Some evenings during the week and days on the weekend. If you read this blog regularly then you’d know I like to do a lot of stuff with my free time. As well as enjoying myself with friends and family, I also like to work on a lot of my own projects – writing this blog right now is one of those things. I have always been somebody that has done a range of different things outside of whatever is my “main gig”, I guess I just like to stay busy and I have too many ideas. Being able to do this is something I really value when it comes to my “quality of life”. It’s a non-negotiable.
I’m still enjoying myself a whole lot!
I went through a few strange periods after finishing university. For a few short months, I was adjusting to full time work and feeling as though I was past my days of going out all the time. Whilst 3x a week nights out still isn’t what I’m up to, retiring from the clubs in my early 20s didn’t sound like a great idea either. I also experience a period of burnout. I was attempting to build a business for the first time and I felt that if I wasn’t working on in during every spare second I had, I would never know what success felt like. Going out for a drink with my friends brought more guilty feelings with it than it did enjoyment. Once I had climbed over this huge rock, I brought having a really good time onto my list of non-negotiables. And you know what – since the government first opened the outside in April, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Obviously, there are things outside of work that take up my time, but I don’t want that to completely limit me, especially at this time in my life when I have no responsibilities. Sometimes this will mean that I don’t tick off everything on my carefully curated to do list, and sometimes it means that I just organise my time such that I reach maximum activity mode in the hours around said enjoyment. It’s definitely something I’m a lot better at managing now than during my period of burnout in 2018.
And gym time is also “head space” time
I’ve been on my little health & fitness journey for quite a few years now – and I probably love it now even more than I did when I started. The endorphins are great, of course. I also find the gym to be a great source of headspace when I’m stressed or even upset. Perhaps most importantly – I love seeing progress. I love setting myself goals and hitting them, and I love getting stronger and fitter. Working out provides so many benefits for me that one way or another, I’ve got to fit it in. It’s exactly why I went through a period (pre-covid and WFH), of going to the gym at 6am in the morning. 6am in the morning at some point became the only hour I had to myself, whilst my evening gym sessions were constantly getting disrupted, and going to the gym wasn’t something I was willing to compromise on. Finding time for the gym is 100% a non negotiable for me.
There are only a few people I really value – and I value them a lot
I don’t need to have all the friends in the world or a girl group of 20. But what I really do value are my close friends and family. The closest people in my life are my parents, brothers and boyfriend. And even within my group of friends – some of these girls I’ve known for near 15 years. These are people I value, and relationships I won’t be quick to throw away. What I’ve learned over time is that your friendships groups will settle into a natural equilibrium. There are times when you’re closer to some people more than others. There are friendships that will naturally drift. I’ve even had friends that I’ve drifted from and come back together with again later down the line. Life with naturally slot in the correct puzzle pieces when the time is right.
Over time, as I’ve learned more about and better internalised what I consider to be non-negotiables, and what I see as essentials. I’ve become just a lot more satisfied with what I’m doing and where I feel as though I’m going. Right now, I am tunnel vision on a long term goal/goals… but those are some cards I’ll keep close to my chest for now!