Personal things I’ve learnt in 2013.
The importance of taking a break:
I know that talk by Stefan Sagmiester on The Power of Time Off always does the rounds at this time of year, but seriously, the man has a point. Taking time off to ‘unplug’ is becoming more and more important, not just for your sanity, but for your genuine health. Make sure you take regular days off to recuperate, and proper holidays to give yourself a treat. ‘Read more books’ kind of falls under this category, because going to bed early to read a book can have the same effect of taking a break. Simply by putting down the electronics. (And carry on working stupidly hard in between.)
Some friendships won’t make it:
I’ve never been able to admit to this because I genuinely always thought that friendships could fight through anything. The reality though, is that during our 20’s we change A LOT. We become different versions of ourselves, or we stay the same but other people change. Either way, compatibility from earlier years can sometimes become slightly out of sync, and people form different passions that they no longer have in common. Having said that, this is the exception, not the rule. I have old friends who is it impossible to drift from because of a life-long bond, plus friends who I have essentially nothing in common with, but they are my favourite people ever. 2013 has made me review which qualities I like best in people and how I myself can be a better friend.
Emailing someone is free but can be very rewarding:
I have always been a big fan of out-of-the-blue communication. It’s that thrill you get when you receive a letter from someone you haven’t seen for ages or someone you don’t know (not in a creepy stalker way, though. That also happened this year). I love getting emails, or when you click with someone new on Twitter or receive a LinkedIn message from a friendly stranger because it’s new and exciting, and nice, that someone has taken the time to say hello. This time last year I sent an out of the blue email to Emma Barnett, the women’s editor of the Telegraph. The result was a coffee and a chat, my own 6-month column for Telegraph.co.uk (a round-up of all the viral bits of the web and also longer pieces) and a new relationship with someone I professionally really admire.
The power of self-publishing:
I still find it amazing that we live in a day and age where we have complete freedom to write our thoughts, for anyone to read. If you have something you are burning to say, you can catch the attention of people all around the world with the right words and convincing point of view. I have had people email me from my favourite companies/magazines after a blog post I wrote because they agreed or disagreed with what I was saying, which then developed into a friendship or work opportunity. If you are looking for a job or you would like to write an opinion piece to invite new clients to your blog, now is the time to publish it yourself.
Don’t trust everyone:
Most people already know this one, but I am one of those people who completely over-shares (hence this blog and my daily tweets). However, I’m sad to say a few things happened this year that backfired on my nature of being open with everyone I meet. Now that this has happened I have decided to make sure I have some sort of filter, and only trust people near to me who I know won’t go on to share information that doesn’t need to be shared. It’s a shame that someone took the opportunity this year to use my open-nature to stab me in the back.
You can juggle:
Yes, yes you can!! It’s taken me a while to come to terms with the fact that it’s OK to juggle different things. Hey, if Richard Branson can do it, then we all should try, right? Everyone does it and most people worry about it. Everyone juggles things on a daily basis, work, life, friends etc. I juggle my job in the week, my freelance writing in the evenings and my personal projects at the weekends. I’ve now realised it’s not a problem, it’s a good balance – but you need to set your own boundaries for yourself.
Saying ‘yes’ can make you happier:
Earlier this year I got into a habit of saying no to a lot of things, just because it made my life a bit easier. Organising to follow up on things was tricky with a demanding job and I just turned things down if I thought I might be too tired. I then realised soon enough that THIS IS A LAME ATTITUDE! I get so many amazing opportunities to go to events/parties/talks through my blog and now I say yes to most things, and these things have ended up being the best nights I’ve had this year, and usually I end up meeting amazing new people.
Changing your mind is OK:
People tend to judge others on ‘flitting around’ and ‘not knowing what they want’. I did this a bit this year, I just wasn’t sure on what I wanted. Even though things were going well, I just didn’t want to settle on a lifetime of being unsure. So I uprooted, left a job that I once loved and moved elsewhere, to the big unknown. People may have thought I was running away, but I was just running to bigger and better things for me.
Don’t get complacent:
Never. Never. Never!! I’ve learnt this year that you are never the true expert in anything as you can always learn more. Things are always changing in the industry so you have to keep up. You can always learn more about something or work harder at something. You have to keep up with the latest trends, news, what’s cool changes hourly some days on Twitter. It’s also never a good idea to be complacent with your friends and family. Even if you are normally the one that always remembers all your family’s birthdays, the day you forget will be the one they remember.
And, remember, you are only as good as the last bit of work you do.
“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE
"Funny, honest, and nostalgic!"– The Debrief
“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic