Sometimes it really is the little things in life that can make a big difference to how your life turns out to be – it could be meeting a partner that makes your learn a lot about yourself; it could be that drunken chat with a stranger in the club toilets that sparks you to make a decision that has been at the back of your mind; or it could even be a coffee gossip session with a colleague that pushes you to change your career path. They call it the butterfly effect – the pieces of the puzzle to our lives end up fitting together so perfectly that one alteration of the past could break everything apart.
I was hanging out with some family the other day and we were speaking about moments we’d had in the past that really had changed the paths of our life, and in many cases – pushed us to make a change. It made me think about minor things that have happened in my life that have really shaped me today. And, well, what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t share all of my thoughts?…
The convenient timing of Sky Movies’ evening films kicked off my quest of top grades
For all of my childhood, the only determining factor for me getting good grades was my parents. They’d tell me to study/do my homework, they pushed me hard to pass the 11+ and get into a grammar school (the 11 year old me was not bothered), and whilst I was clearly doing well in my studies, I was very much coasting and to be honest, working below my full potential.
At the same time, I was super organised. I was having to balance building websites with school work, so I quickly learned how to manage my time efficiently (and it’s something I’m still pretty mechanic with today).
One random summer in Year 8 (or 9, can’t fully remember…), Sky Movies was showing a film that fit my demographic every day at 8pm. I felt that this time fit quite nicely into the exam period – if I knew I could reward myself with an evening film after a day of studies, it would push me to be more efficient and work harder during the day time. I thought I would see how well I really could do if I applied myself.
I went on to ace my exams and won an award from my school that year for good results. From then on, I really just continued down that same path. My parents never had to push me to study again – from that summer in Year 8/9 up until the summer I shook the hands of the LSE’s Director/President on my graduation day, I finally just got on with it and planned it around other things I wanted to do with my time.
Meeting my partner taught me about the world of self-development
I generally grew up as quite an ambitious person, particularly when it came to getting those strong aforementioned grades, but also when it came to always dipping my toes into creative ventures. That said, when I got to university, this side of me really fell away. To be honest, it was a few influences I had in my life at the time – whatever their narratives were, I copied and pasted into my own life. Certain qualities about myself that could have done with a tweaking I threw my hands up at and decided “well, that’s just me”; and although I had followed the rule book of getting my investment banking internships, when people would ask me what I was looking to do in this career path, my only concern at the time was whatever role was easiest with the least hours. I had lost a lot of drive for somebody who was just about touching 20.
I learned about the concept of self-development from my boyfriend Levi. He’d had his own previous “moment(s) that changed everything” that had led him down the path of self-improvement and he definitely got me on the wave too. Now this isn’t to say that I was picking out things I didn’t like about myself and feeling sorry for myself, but it was more about thinking about the kind of person I wanted to be. For example – I was naturally very quiet. I thought “that’s just me”… but why does it have to be? It was actually from this point and most significantly as I got further into my 20s that I grew so much in confidence that I can now look back and say, I feel past the point of “faking it ’til I make it”. It was also at this point that I started to think more about what I want to do with my life and career long term, what could genuinely interest me, and quite frankly what do I value when I start to weigh up time to myself, money, happiness etc. People often seem to think you can’t get into a relationship and work on yourself at the same time, but I’ve been continually working on myself throughout my 20s and I’m almost 7 years deep into this relationship – it’s possible.
How my job got me to switch my short term fitness goals into something more sustainable
Before I really got into fitness in summer 2017, I’d had one strong stint of it during the summer of 2013. However, the first stint was unsustainable in that I was only exercising to look the way I wanted to on my first girl’s holiday. Once I got back, regularly beef burgers and no concept of exercise quickly returned and engulfed my life again. After that, whenever I felt like I wanted to lose weight I just… stopped eating. I’d probably muster up < 1,000 calories a day for a short while until I reached my desired size, and then return to whatever I was doing before, until it eventually led me to feel insecure again (it was a constant cycle).
In 2017, I decided I wanted to lose weight again after my graduation dress from the year prior stopped fitting, and I had wanted to wear it to a work gala. I fell quickly back to old habits that I knew would work… that is – limited my food intake.
On day 1, I had 2 poached eggs for breakfast and a salad for lunch. However, now I was working in a 12h/day job vs. doing whatever I wanted in university, and the energy I got from these tiny meals literally could not sustain me – I could not do my work or concentrate with my belly so empty. So – I went back to the drawing board. I thought I’d try out this sustainable fitness thing instead. 4 years later – and I’m still absolutely loving it! The biggest change has without a doubt been improved consistency with my workouts and a relatively cleaner diet. Making this lifestyle change was one of the best decisions I can honestly say I’ve ever made – you could even say finding a passion for fitness has changed my life.
An unfortunate round of meetings allowed me to identify my working style
One thing my job involves is lots of client interaction, and lots of meetings. However, in the earlier days of your career in a banking role, the client vs. prepping presentations and analysing excels part of your career is tilted very heavily to the latter. If I ever was going to meetings in those early days of my career (which were very rare), I was more expected to take notes if anything. But once the tilt started to swing more into the other direction after a few years at the firm, I had to learn very quickly how to hone in this brand new skill set that didn’t exactly come naturally. I looked at how others did it around me, and the first thing I saw was the art of “winging it”. I was preparing the work after all, surely I could go into meetings with my team and totally wing it and still add value… right?
Being the overthinker that I am, I found it really hard to add any value at first with this “approach” – by the time I’d gathered my thoughts on one topic, we were already onto the next. It just didn’t work. I remember returning home once from a back-to-back day of meetings in Stockholm feeling totally deflated. I knew I had to go back to the drawing board – and that I did. I studied a different style – there was somebody else in my team did not take the “wing it” approach, and would on the contrary prepare everything to the absolute max, so I gave that a try instead. It worked a lot better.
From that one underwhelming day of meetings in Stockholm, I’ve since learned that (prepping to the max) is my working style and how I get the best results. No time to overthink when you’ve already thought about said topic in extreme detail 5 hours prior!
As time goes on it’s something I continue to hone in and of course I stick pick up new skills from those around me; but without a doubt, figuring that out totally changed the game for me.
These were the little events, people or experiences that prompted pretty big changes down this path of my own little life. What has been a moment that has significantly changed things for you?