By Zoe Holland
Periods of change and transition have always proven to be a thorn in the side of my everyday
experiences, be that my choice to travel alone after sixth form or returning home after graduating to start my career. Shifting responsibilities, new people and unfamiliar environments often leave a feeling of uncertainty and doubt; of not being good enough quickly enough; of drowning in the
contrast of what I desire to achieve and what is realistic in a certain time period.
However, without these transition periods we would be stuck in a state of inertia, lacking any
forward progression, and although it can seem the easier option the rewards for embracing and
celebrating change can be huge in comparison to the safe ticking over of what you know.
In my personal experience, moving home from University following graduation was challenging on a level far exceeding leaving to go in the first place. Moving back into a familiar environment at home but feeling like I had changed so much, whilst starting a role which was unfamiliar and involved large amounts of travel left me feeling unsettled - to say the least - and contributed to a lapse back into negative thought patterns and many a crisis of confidence.
In my case, I felt I needed to prove my worth by getting involved with company initiatives and
putting in extra hours in to ensure work was completed to my exacting standards. I have seen
friends and family go through similar emotions when starting a new career or following promotions, and fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with that approach, yet in my case I became a ‘yes’ person:
Can you do this extra piece?
Yes, of course! (Although it’s not my place to do it)
Can you get this out by tomorrow?
Sure! (Although it would mean working late by 3 extra hours tonight, for the third time this week)
Would you like to volunteer for this?
Definitely! (Knowing there would be other opportunities but not wanting to let anyone down)
In isolation, the acceptance of these tasks would not be damaging – I believe they demonstrate a
determination to help and willingness to get involved, which is something I pride myself on. But
when this started to encroach on my relationships, my energy levels to partake in hobbies, exercise or even to eat properly, a time came where I had to learn the art of saying no.
Although it sounds simple, it was a skill I had to work on and still struggle with, but by working out
the priority of the ask alongside the other party, you can decipher whether it is something that really must be completed, if it can be postponed, or if it really needs to be done at all.
As a result, I have now found a lot more balance and I am increasingly motivated when working
because I have had the time and energy to actually live in my own time!
Learn to say no. By setting yourself boundaries in both your personal and work-place environments, it can help you discern when to say yes and when to say no. This can either be written down or in your mind, but either way, decide what is acceptable for you and what is not.
For example, if you find yourself spending a lot of time in the week socialising, leaving you with
limited time for yourself (expanded below), agree that you will give yourself a certain number of
opportunities just for you throughout the week.
In the workplace, know what hours you are required to work and what you are actually getting paid for, and aim to stick to these the majority of the time.
Sometimes you will want to go out with friends and family more than that, and you may need to
work longer hours, but if this starts becoming the norm as opposed to the exception, that’s where
your boundaries need to pull you back in.
Carve out time which is just for you and don’t feel guilty for it! For me, this is very much easier said than done, but through using reminders on my phone to keep me accountable it is much easier.
Reading, exercise or even just time to be truly present and alone with your thoughts can be so
beneficial to your mental wellbeing. Let people around you know this is your time and the reasons it is important, and this can become even easier.
Roll with the punches. Change is inevitable, though being able to predict and fully controlling the
outcome is not. You cannot possibly control all the variables, and sometimes there are just not
enough hours to achieve what you would like to, and that’s okay! If the result is not quite what you
had hoped for, you can still hold your head high and get ready for whatever comes next.