A few life/career lessons…

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Earlier this week, I got to attend a ‘women in leadership’ panel discussion hosted by my school’s alumni association. Even though the event catered specifically to women, that wasn’t really my motivation for attending. I simply wanted to go so I could gather a few words of wisdom. Although I’d heard and read similar words of advice before, I realized I needed to write it down in order to truly internalize and act upon it. So here they are:

There is no such thing as balance. You can’t expect to perfectly balance out each week or each month. What you have to focus on is the bigger picture so when you look back, you can say you lived a balanced life.

I honestly had an ‘aha’ moment when one of the panelists said this in response to a question about maintaining a balanced life. It was so true! Since I’d written my post about maintaining a balance, I was going crazy trying to make it happen. You just cannot predict how your week is going to go… things always come up without any prior warning. But what I realized later that night was this: even though each week can’t be perfectly balanced, you have to recognize and be aware of any imbalances on an ongoing basis. Without such awareness, it’ll become tough to achieve that balance in the long-term. 

There is no ‘ decision table’ so don’t wait until you get to the table in order voice your opinion. Decisions are being made everywhere and at all levels. Take initiative and seek out those opportunities. By the time you make it to the table, all the major decisions will have been made. 

The idea is to not wait for someone to give you a certain responsibility or to reach a certain position. The best thing to do from a career perspective, is to seek out those opportunities yourself and to act upon them now.

Don’t be afraid to take things on even if you don’t know anything about the matter or are not sure if you’re capable of partaking in it. You’ll figure it out as you go.

This is something I’ve started implementing and honestly, it’s so much easier to do this now than it was before. Who becomes my best friend in such situations? Google. And of course, there are always people willing to help as well.

Learn to say no. Know that there will always be new opportunities and if you can’t take on a certain thing right now, something better will definitely turn up in the future.

I am personally terrible at this. I constantly fear that if I don’t do something now, I’ll never get such an opportunity again.  I guess as important as it may be to gather all the experiences you can, if you don’t say no at times, you won’t truly gain from the few experiences you do have on your plate.

Yes, barriers exist; whether that is a barrier based on colour, sex, religion or something else. But they will only impact you if you let them. Stop defining yourself based on those barriers and start believing in what you can offer and what your value is.

As an immigrant, I’ve definitely faced a number of barriers and I know my parents still do. However, fairly recently, I realized the same thing one of the speakers had mentioned. If you think of something as a barrier, it will most definitely impact your confidence and eventually, your performance. If it doesn’t matter to you, it won’t matter to other people. Even if it matters to them in the beginning, they’re eventually look past it if you do.

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