Tag Archives: career

Lifestyle | How to become your most productive self and get shit done

IMG_2181Do you ever have that feeling that no matter how hard you work to cram everything in, you’re always running out of time? That ticking clock in the back of your mind is your worst enemy when it comes to getting shit done and can demotivate us in seconds. How often have you felt psyched up for the day, then you’ve seen your mounting to-do list, saw time ticking away from you and just figured “I don’t even know where to start so I’m gonna sit down, have a cup of tea and a biscuit.” We’ve all been there but it’s so easy when you’re travelling full time or working flat out to let the basic life admin slide. By life admin, I’m talking about all those basic things like cooking, cleaning, washing – all the things that make your house feel like a home you want to return to at the end of the day, the things that make you feel like you’re looking after yourself. These are so much more important than you think because looking after yourself is the first step – forget to do this and your motivation for achieving anything else will quickly drip away.IMG_2280For those who are working flat out but feel they are so overwhelmed with their workload that they lose any drive to get things done – this is the perfect time to change your outlook. I remember when I used to let work get on top of me – I’ll fully admit I still do at times because I’ll always be a workaholic who can’t say no to working more hours. But the difference is I’m able to recognise when life is getting on top of me and I make sure I take a step back and give myself the time to recuperate and relax before I tackle my to-do list, that way I know when I do sit down to work, I’m doing the best job I can possibly do. Because if you ask me, if you don’t give a job 100+% there is pretty much no point doing it at all. So this post is about sharpening your focus and making sure that the time you spend working is super productive so that you can spend more time relaxing and enjoying yourself.IMG_2273

Here are my top tips for boosting productivity:

  1. Figure out your time schedule and how much time you want to dedicate to working/living – figuring out what work/life balance you want to achieve is important because then it is your decision and you’re not just going along with what is expected of you. It’s okay to set your own boundaries and to refuse extra work if you don’t feel like you can cope.
  2. Make a list and prioritise according to your life plan, no-one else’s. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we “should” be doing instead of what we actually want to be doing. Your boss’ priorities might involve you working 60 hour weeks for no extra pay and no rewards, but if that’s not in your life plan then why should you? Likewise, your partner’s life plan might involve you sacrificing your passions to spend all your free time with them, but again, that’s just not fair and you might not want to do that.
  3. Work through your list item by item – don’t try and tackle several things at once, you’ll still get them done but you’ll only have worked half as hard on them so the quality of your work will suffer. Better to use all your focus on one thing at a time and then you will maintain a good standard of work and get the satisfaction of ticking them off your list one by one.
  4. Get the boring shit done quickly and then reap the benefits. My favourite time to clean/cook/wash is always either when I’ve just got back from work at 2am or as soon as I wake up – the feeling of finishing and being able to get on with my day or to sleep peacefully is the best. Plus then I’m super motivated to get on with the rest of the day.
  5. Plan in getaways when you’ve been working too much and feel like the walls are closing in, getting out into nature can heal all stresses and anxiety. I recently went away camping for the weekend with friends to a national park and it did us all the world of good to get away. I came back feeling fresh and ready to take on the world.
  6. Look after yourself – drink water, eat healthy, get plenty of sleep – you’re useless otherwise. This is easily forgotten but should always be your number one priority. I often am working too hard to bother taking a break and forget to drink enough water in the heat – it leaves me feeling ill and burnt out. If you don’t look after yourself, no-one else will do it for you and you only have one body, so take care of it.
  7. When you have to work, create the perfect environment in the office or at home. Think about your workspace and don’t just work from bed, find a desk or table with a open windows for fresh air, good light and a comfortable seat. Good motivation includes picking a great Spotify playlist – I’ve just discovered the Focus ones which are great for working to – and great snacks as a reward for making progress.
  8. When you’re lacking focus, exercise. Go for a run or do a HIIT class, it will clear your mind and release stress ready for when you start work again. This is one of my favourite ways to start the day after cleaning and cooking, an exercise class is a great way to give yourself energy and refresh before hitting your to-do list.
  9. Be honest with yourself about what is achievable and if you’ve been given an unrealistic workload don’t be afraid to delegate or say no – recognising your limits is good management of yourself and others.
  10. Have a hobby – when you’re relaxing and having time off from work, it’s good for you to have a passion to escape into. It’s so easy to get caught in that cycle of going out, getting drunk and being hungover on your days off. Reading, writing, painting or creating something – creative passions ignite a whole different side of our brain and give us a real release. Why else do you think I’ve kept this blog going for so long?
  11. Take time completely alone – it can be hard when so many people are demanding a share of your precious time. You’re surrounded by people all day long and outside of work your friends and family need you, but what about what you need? It’s important to take time alone to grow and develop as a person.

IMG_2193And most importantly? Don’t see failure as this big dark cloud hanging over your head all the time. It’s okay if you can’t do everything – we are not machines and we should never feel like failures for not being able to squeeze everything in. I should never feel like I have to apologise for being a 26-year-old who travels solo full time, works 45 hours a week at one job, works as a freelance journalist and travel blogger, who manages to keep her apartment clean, tidy, cook great meals from scratch but sometimes doesn’t manage to FaceTime her friends and family at home as much because of the time difference. Yes I’m failing big time in that respect at the moment and it makes me feel very guilty when I don’t know what is happening in all my loved ones lives because we are on other sides of the planet. But I’m working my ass off over here and getting shit done, and they understand that. Sometimes we go through phases where we have to sacrifice something in order to achieve other great things, and that’s okay. That’s not failure.IMG_2188

What are your top tips for being your most productive self? Do you ever feel like you’re failing because of the sacrifices you have to make?

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Lifestyle | Making life-changing decisions and taking risks

imageI wrote this on A level results day, a whopping eight years after I collected my own results and found out I was going to my first choice university to study English. After all the hard work I put in, my dreams had come true and I couldn’t wait to start my new life. Now eight years later, I can’t believe where my life has taken me – never could I have known that the next few years would see me interning at a fashion magazine, writing a column for a newspaper, gaining a 2.1 BA Hons, changing my career plans and becoming a journalist, working for six different newspapers, becoming the editor of an online festival magazine, starting a blog that would later win an award and feature in an industry magazine, travel round the world solo working with brands that are household names. It’s been a whirlwind few years and I can’t believe half the stuff I’ve done in that time, but that’s just my point, none of the students who have just collected their results have any real idea of what an amazing point they are at. Their whole world is about to change and they have no concept of what lies ahead. It’s exciting and terrifying, my favourite combination of feelings.

Anyone who has made a big decision in their life whether to do with relationships, careers, or even travel, will understand the feeling. That moment when you’re about to take the leap from all you have ever experienced into the unknown, but have no idea what will happen next. As a traveler and a bit of a risk-taker, I’ve experienced this feeling a lot – when I quit my job, when I broke off my nine-year relationship and traveled to the other side of the world solo. All of these moments have been absolutely terrifying and have filled me with a heart-stopping fear, but underneath the fear was excitement for what would come next. For a new challenge and a new way of life, for new people, sights and sounds. I remember sitting in the airport when it finally hit me that I had quite literally quit everything I knew to go to the other side of the world, by myself. It was nuts and totally overwhelming, I can’t deny a few tears were shed as I read the messages from family and friends, but then my flight was called. I pulled myself together, downed my wine and headed to the gate, and the rest is history.imageI’m currently in Berlin on my second solo trip, this time heading around Europe. But before I left I was getting that feeling again, like this little time in my life is over. I’m only off for a month but it’s the end of my time here at home and the start of something new, a whole new trip and a whole new way of travelling. I seem to get this overwhelming feeling that I need to leave every now and again, it plagues me, I never know when it will hit. Sometimes I can be perfectly happy in a place for six months, other times it creeps up on me after a few days, but when it hits I know I have to get gone. That it’s time for a new adventure. A lot of my friends aren’t travelers but they’ve experienced the same feeling – that desperation for a career change or eagerness to get out of a relationship that has gone sour. One of my friends has always had a “cut and run” theory that I share with her, when her gut instinct tells her she’s not happy she cuts her losses in relationships and gets gone. Another has found her passions overwhelmingly taking her away from her career and pushing her towards self-employment – a scary prospect but the most exciting thing to ever happen to her career-wise.

My point is we all have that thing that sets us tightrope walking along the very fine line between completely terrified and beyond bloody excited. But it’s whether we take that leap of faith that everything in front of us is just as magical as what lies behind, that is what decides our course in life. I read this quote the other day:

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” — Azar Nafisi

It just seemed so perfect for describing this feeling, the fear that you will never again experience this moment – I know I’ve had it a lot when I’ve formed incredible bonds with groups of people along my travels. That fear that by letting go of that perfect moment things will never be the same again. But more importantly, because every decision you make is shaping you as a person, everything changes you as a person. My decision to quit my job, relationship and life as I knew it changed me. Travel changed me. Just like the relationships and career choices of my friends have changed them. We are all learning and growing with every step we take in this world and it can be scary to let go of everything we know, but it’s only by doing that and leaping into the unknown that some of the best experiences of our lives will happen. So here it is, if you’re standing on the pinnacle of a life-changing decision, afraid that you will lose something precious, just take a second and think about what you could gain. By deciding to take the leap and grow as a person, you open yourself up to so many more incredible experiences – trust me, I’m a poster girl for this. Go for it and stop worrying, you have so much more to gain than you ever could lose.

Have you made a life-changing decision? How did you push yourself to take a risk? What is the scariest choice you’ve had to make?

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Lifestyle | How travel can impact how we view our success

10978699_10152600274507617_6471040226942334722_n (1)It’s now been a month since I touched down in the UK after 18 months of travelling. That’s nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it feels like a painfully long time since I last saw my Melbourne home, and the people who make it so special to me. I keep having that moment when people ask how it feels to be home, and I think to myself that home feels 3,000 miles away right now. That’s the hard part of being a traveler, leaving such big pieces of your heart all over the world that when you do finally come home it can feel a bit empty. That’s why so many struggle to deal with the comedown from travelling. I’ve had it much better than most – I’ve come back and walked straight into a great freelance job that works with my schedule, and I’ve instantly started planning trips away with family and friends, knowing my plan is to travel long-term again from September. It makes it much easier to know my situation is temporary, because after a year and a half of utter freedom, the thought of being tied down to one place gives me chills. It’s been quite easy for me to slip into the life that I’m living now – after working flat out in Melbourne, I finally have time to relax and catch up with friends. I have time to recuperate from the effects of long-term travel and I can still earn a good wage while I do it.

But as you guys will know, I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic, so it’s difficult for me to adjust to this lifestyle after pushing myself 110% in all of my previous jobs. Especially being back in the UK, I’ve noticed this incredible pressure since I arrived home and I’m not sure whether it’s coming from my own mind or society. My whole attitude to life was much healthier when I was travelling – I was relaxed and focused on having an incredible travelling experience rather than how much money I could earn or how many extra hours I could work. My priority was earning enough to live comfortably as a backpacker, so it never became more important than living my life. Before I went travelling, work took over my life in an unhealthy way and it was this that really pushed me to focus on something else that made me happy – travel. Since travelling, my bank account has been both the fullest and the emptiest it has ever been. But even when I was broke, I always found a way to make ends meet and to survive, even then I was happier than the times I was sitting on a stack of savings. So when I had learnt to live happily on so little, why do I find myself feeling this constant need to achieve since being home?10922497_10152558346202617_5171818434093257311_nI don’t know whether it is just in my own mind, or whether this is a common feeling for travelers returning to the UK, but I constantly have this feeling that I haven’t done enough. That I haven’t worked enough hours, that I haven’t sent enough emails, that I haven’t got enough views on this blog, and that I haven’t seen enough places in the world. I find myself plagued with worries that time is running out and I just don’t have enough left to achieve everything that I want to do in life, that the success I have isn’t quite enough. It’s such a strange feeling, but one I remember from before I went away. While travelling it was pushed out of my mind by the happiness of living life in the present, by the success of achieving everything I did on a daily basis. So why have these feelings all come rushing back now I’m in the UK? It’s easy to forget that everyone has insecurities, and it can be hard to identify our own. I never realised before I went away that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to enjoying success. Instead of relishing and enjoying the moment, I constantly push on to achieve the next thing, to push the next boundary. I love that about myself because it has driven me to make some huge changes in my life that led me to travel the world solo, and to leave a life that made me miserable. But at the same time, it can leave me feeling like what I do will never be enough.

While I was travelling, I focused on nothing more than living in the moment. I focused on the beautiful sunsets, the laughter at work, the nights we won’t remember – I lived every second and everything else came after. I never stressed about work or money, just knew I would always figure it out. I didn’t think about blogging, just enjoyed the natural progression of reminiscing about my experiences and writing them on the page at my own pace. Put simply, life came first. But since being back, I find mentally that I’m struggling to keep it this way. I’ve managed so far, but can always feel the pressure and stresses of thinking about money, stats and figures. It’s true the UK is very financially driven when it comes to success, and I can only think this is mirrored in the way we view our own successes. I’ve only noticed this because I have been away from it and had to reintegrate myself, but how many others are left to feel this way without an escape? It’s just so easy to get sucked into worrying about money and how successful you are when there are constant reminders of how much we are failing. Every time I look at a magazine or newspaper, listen to the radio or watch TV, there is a stark reminder that there is so much I haven’t yet achieved, so much that I’m behind on.10993459_10152648999737617_4577910484438127599_nI shouldn’t feel this way, in the last few months I have had countless successes that I need to learn to just celebrate. I worked as a sales manager and built my own team, ended up as the highest paid manager in my last job. I was a finalist in the travel section of the UK Blog Awards two years in a row. I have made it onto a list of the top 15 travel bloggers of 2016, and I’m even being featured by other bloggers I love as one to check out. I have another huge success tucked up my sleeve, but that one will have to remain a secret for now. All this, and yet I still feel that craving for more, it’s soul destroying at times, endlessly frustrating. I just don’t understand why I feel it so prominently when I’m in the UK compared to Australia, or Asia, does the distance really chip away at these feelings so much? Perhaps it’s just something I’m better able to control when I travel, because it just becomes so much less of a priority for me, instead I use this drive to achieve great things in real life as well as on the screen. I guess when I’m in the UK, I use my laptop as a means for escape, by working on this little world I have created at www.absolutelylucy.com I can be transported to the worlds I have left behind. Work has always been the one escape for me when I don’t want to deal with my feelings, so perhaps it’s just my way of coping with coming home.

Speaking to some of my fellow travelers on the Girl vs Globe Facebook group, I found I wasn’t the only one who has suffered from these feelings. Ro Lee, who blogs at The Travel Captain, said: “Having lived in both NY and Dubai, you’re bombarded with constant reminders of how “important” financial success is. But as I’ve approached my mid thirties, I realize that true success is a measure of the strength of your relationship with others. Helping others succeed is equally important or “lonely at the top” is a saying which holds very true.” While Yoanna Guerra-Cuevas, who vlogs here, added: “After doing some travel around Europe and living in Spain for a few months, my whole mindset has changed. In Spain they have a saying “no pasa nada”. It basically means everything will be okay. I learned to stop worrying about expectations to succeed and just worry about being happy.” Amrine Obermueller Quint, who blogs at Dancing Around The World, said: “I think that if you’re feeling the pressures then sooner or later you just have to realize what is right for your life and try not to live it based on how everyone else tells you to. It took me about 10 years to figure that out…but here I am, so happy that I finally know how I want to live my life.” Great advice ladies, time I took a leaf out of your book and stopped stressing. Every time I start to feel like this, I’ll think back to that traveler mindset and ask myself What Would Traveler Lucy Do? (WWTLD)

Have you felt the pressures of home closing in after returning from travelling? Do you find it hard not to slip into old ways? How does your traveler mindset differ from your home mindset?

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Careers | Why you should always always answer when opportunity knocks

imageLife has been pretty busy since I arrived in Melbourne and although it has meant blogging has taken a bit of a back seat, I wouldn’t change the last few months for the world. I’m now just three weeks away from returning home and I can’t help but reminisce over the last 18 months of travelling. I’ve learnt so much about myself on this journey and have had the opportunity to experience things I never dreamt I would. There have been ups and downs, bumps in the road, some of the wildest parties and some of the most sobering experiences of my life but every second of it has made me happier than my wildest dreams. My time spent flitting between Asian beaches and mountain ranges was incredible, as were the memories and friends found along the East Coast of Australia. But while the constant movement and escapism of travelling was exactly what I needed at some points – to truly lose myself in the whole experience – I have also found such happiness in staying put, in developing a life, a career and a base.

During my time in this amazing country, I’ve had the chance to explore career options I had never previously considered and that in itself has been an invaluable experience. I’ve done plenty of the usual hospitality work in bars and theatres over here, but it was my job as a nanny that was a real eye-opener. I’ll be posting more about that job in the future, but for now I really want to share the job that has taken over my life since moving to Melbourne. When I arrived back in February, I was so happy to have escaped outback life and to be reunited with my Darwin friends that I couldn’t resist a few weeks off work – I spent these job hunting and enjoying life after working so hard for seven months straight. It was wonderful, having all the time to explore the city and to really enjoy it. But then I started to get impatient, I was ready for a new challenge and wanted to work. I had originally been looking for journalism or writing work, or some kind of office job, but my visa stood in the way time and time again. It was difficult to find a job that would take me on with a working holiday visa – especially when I had decided I really wanted to avoid hospitality work.13092046_10153463041812617_1559144075203980058_nI applied for everything and then finally one job called me in for a meeting – I had no idea what the job was having applied for so many, but I figured I had nothing to lose by going. It turned out to be an information session for a sales job – door knocking to be precise – not something I would ever have applied for had I known what the job entailed. I always hated the idea of working in sales, all the targets and pressure, and the lack of creativity just didn’t appeal to me. But with no other job offers on the horizon I felt I ought to give it a day to see if it could be a short-term option, plus I instantly liked the rest of the staff and found it a pretty fun place to work. Despite having no experience, I managed to make over 100 sales every single day in my first four days leading to an instant promotion. Within a couple of weeks I was managing my own team of people which ranged from 12-18 people, training others to do the job and developing their skills to eventually branch out and run their own buses. It’s now two months later and I’m one of the most senior members of the channel and a team manager who has just launched another team branched from my own. Last week I also had the second top selling team in the entire country and became the highest ever paid team manager in the channel, earning $2,000 in a week.

Why am I telling you this? Not to boast I promise, I am very proud of what I have achieved since being in Melbourne – this job has given me a wealth of new experiences, skills and a fantastic reference. But my point in sharing my own experiences is to make others realise what I have – you should never judge a book by its cover, nor should you ever turn down an opportunity without good reason. Had I known what the job was before attending the information session, I never would have gone. I would have missed out on a invaluable two months and some amazing friends along the way. I always felt so stupid when I first started and had to tell people what my job was, but now I announce it with pride and happily recruit people from everywhere, even on nights out! I have people requesting to be in my team because it is the very best of all the teams, and I’m proud to lead a group of people who work their asses off, who are all filled with ambition and positivity. I never once thought I would end up working in sales and I may never do it again, but I will be forever grateful that I answered when opportunity came knocking on this occasion. This job has definitely taken over my life at times and has even brought me to the verge of breakdown because I was exhausted, but it’s also been the most rewarding experiences I could have had career-wise in such a short space of time.11822272_10152959995477617_5291704052004368303_nSo many people, myself included, let silly things stand in the way of opportunity. Letting things like pride, greed and urgency prevent you from trying something new or unexpected can life-changing, in all the wrong ways. No matter what point you reach in your life, it is so important to always remain open and accepting of all new ideas and to always try. The fact that you put yourself out there and tried in the first place sets you apart from the rest, it makes you brave and automatically more likely to succeed. Those individuals who let embarrassment or fear of failure stand in their way are just setting themselves up for a fall, or they just avoid even putting themselves out there. But if you never take a risk, you’ll never get that feeling of butterflies in your stomach, that excitement that you don’t know what will happen next. I’ll tell you something, that butterflies feeling is my favourite in all the world. Why? Because I associate it with all the happiest and most successful moments of my life. The moment when I met my first love, the moment I quit my job, the moment I hopped on that plane and the moment I realised I had achieved the life I dreamed of. I realised earlier that I’m the happiest I’ve felt since travelling and I’m putting it all down to following the butterflies.

Have you found a whole new career through a fleeting opportunity? What moments in your life have given you butterflies?

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15 ways to feel like you’ve got your shit together

imageEver had one of those moments in your life where you feel like everything is falling down around you? Those times when you suddenly realise that you’re nowhere near where you hoped you would be in life and yet everyone else seems to be giant strides ahead of you. We’ve all been there, we’ve all felt like shit because we don’t think we’re doing as well as everyone else looks like they’re doing on social media. But that’s okay, it’s okay to feel like you’re failing a bit. Why? Because it’s these moments that help us to really view our lives clearly, to make cut-throat decisions about where we want to be, what we want to achieve and who we want beside us. I definitely had a moment like this just before deciding to come travelling – it was one of the hardest times of my life and yet now I look back on it as the deciding moment that changed my life. My career, relationship, home were all gone in a second and yet I’m now happier than I’ve ever been – it took rejecting all I knew to achieve all I never knew I wanted. But trust me, that’s the hardest decision to make. It’s so much easier to carry on as you are and bury your head in the sand.

It’s been almost eighteen months since I left the UK to travel Asia and Australia, and it’s now been over two months since I arrived in Melbourne. For the first time in a while, I actually feel really settled and like I’ve actually got my shit together. It’s an amazing feeling after living such an unsettled existence for the last two or three years. I have a home, a steady job that challenges me, a great group of friends and a plan for the next six months – its an odd feeling but a great one. For a long time all I wanted was a life of excitement and uncertainty, of adventure and of freedom. But now, after over a year on the road it’s really nice to be able to live a different way and to have a whole new adventure – living abroad – and to tick another item off the bucket list. Finally having a routine again and being in that familiar cycle of work/fun/sleep/repeat really gives me the opportunity to reflect on my 18 months away and to think about how far I’ve come, what I’ve experienced and where I’m going in life. I feel like I’ve got my shit together and it’s a great feeling – so now I want to share all the tiny things that help me feel like I’ve got it together. Tiny changes can really make a difference to your whole outlook on life.

  1. Sleep – erratic sleeping patterns really affect your mindset and your motivation. Getting a good night’s sleep can really help you be productive and feel like you’re on top of things.
  2. Eat well – healthy food, healthy body, healthy mind. By looking after your body, you feel better and that gives you the energy to take charge of your day. Eating rubbish makes you feel sluggish and lazy.
  3. Drink lots of water – this is something that affects me more than anything, I get dehydrated really easily and hate the headaches that come with this, drinking lots of water helps you think clearer.
  4. Build a home – whether it’s a temporary home or something long-term, having your own space makes a huge difference. You can have a home anywhere you can feel comfortable – in a huge house or a busy hostel – it’s what you make it.
  5. Make goals for your career – whether it’s short-term saving for travelling or long-term career progression as you climb up the ladder. It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve or you’ll stay in that job far too long.
  6. Clean up – just having a tidy, uncluttered space can make a world of difference. I can’t cook in a dirty kitchen, and I can’t stand to live in gross conditions. Just wiping surfaces and cleaning the floor can make my mind clearer.
  7. Exercise – running helps me clear my head when I’m stressed or indecisive, and the endorphins you get from working out can affect your mood more quickly than anything else.
  8. Look at your behaviour – if you’ve stopped having fun but feel like you’re always partying then perhaps you’ve slipped into a rut. It’s easy for one night of fun to become a vicious circle when you’re surrounded by certain people. Make a decision whether you want to behave like this or whether you’re just wasting time and money. The same goes for those who are working all the time and are having no fun.
  9. Make a list – I swear by to-do lists. For the food shopping, for work, for jobs at home, for my bucket-list, for books to read, the list goes on. They keep me focused, simplify things so they seem less intimidating and they help me stay on track. Often I don’t even write them down, I just make them in my head, but there’s nothing more satisfying than ticking everything off.
  10. Make a plan – if you’re not happy then think about why, what is stopping you from being happy? The remove the obstacles one-by-one, it’s not hard when you break it all down to a few steps and it really can change your life.
  11. Play your favourite song – every day when you get out of bed, or when you’re on the way to work, listen to your favourite song and feel it changing your mood. Music has an amazing way of affecting the way you feel and it can change your whole attitude.
  12. Take time out – it’s so important to give yourself time to think, to just be. Whether you meditate, read, listen to music or do yoga, it’s a great way to soothe your mind of stress and worry. It really does help you to put things in perspective.
  13. Get away – head out of the city or just explore somewhere new, whether it’s for a few hours or a few weeks, it really helps you to clear your head and think about what you want to do in the future. A bit of space and distance can change your whole outlook.
  14. Talk about it – often just uttering the words that something is wrong can take a weight off your mind. Talking about it to friends or family can often make you realise that actually you have a lot more going for you than you think.
  15. Cut yourself off from social media, or see it for what it is – no-one actually has their shit entirely together, the sooner you realise that, the happier you will be.

What tiny things help you feel like you have your life in order? When you’re struggling, what helps you stay on course?

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18 things you learn from working in the Australian outback

imageSo after three amazing months of living and working in Darwin, it was time to move on and get my regional work done – I was determined to get that second year visa signed off so I could come back and do it all again. I had been hoping to move down to Tasmania or hit up Western Australia, but then a job came along that I just couldn’t turn down. More about the job itself in another post, this one is going to focus more on what it was like to live in an outback town in Central Queensland, if you like, a real Aussie experience. I arrived in Charleville after a full 24 hours of travelling by car, plane, train and bus took me from the Top End, out to Brisbane and then nearly 800km west. As the 12 hour bus ride ticked by, I dozed between spurts of gazing out the window as we drove further and further away from ‘civilisation’ and further into the bushland that dominates the centre of Australia. It was a strange feeling to not only be so far away from home, but to be so far away from the family I had created along the way. It was actually the first time I had been entirely alone in Australia, despite having been here for around six months. A pretty empowering and terrifying feeling at the same time, this feeling was something I had missed from travelling solo – that thrill and adrenalin rush you get when you know you can only rely on yourself if it all goes wrong.imageI arrived at around 7.30pm to a pitch black town, just a few useless streetlights were dotted around. I was the last person on the bus and the bus driver jokingly offered to take me back to Brissy if I was having second thoughts, but I laughed, hauled my bags off the bus and prepared myself to meet the people I would be working for. This week my three months will come to an end, and with three months of working in the Northern Territory, I’ve learnt a lot about what life is like in the outback. So if you’re thinking of doing the same to get your visa signed off, or just for fun, read on to find out what you need to know about bush life. Here are 18 things you learn from working and living in the Australian outback:

  1. When Aussies say outback, they mean it. There is literally nothing there. No shops, just a post office, a bank and a supermarket if you’re lucky. Sometimes there’s even less than that and you can be hours away from the closest shop. When you buy supplies, stock up on everything you need and even the things you don’t realise you will need.
  2. The lifestyle is totally different – gone are the days of doing something every single night, gone are the cinema trips, dinner dates, after work drinks. In the outback people work all week and save it for the weekend.
  3. Any event is a huge deal. The races, a Christmas party – anything like this that involves the whole town will be a huge affair and people will plan for weeks, or even months for it.
  4. Phone signal and wifi become huge luxuries – sign up to Telstra who seem to be the best – but don’t expect to rely on your phone for anything. Even electricity can be unreliable at times – as I write this I’m glad I charged my iPad as the power has just cut out!
  5. The landscape is something incredible – at first you see it as this dry, barren desert but soon you start to see the beauty in it, the gorgeous, deep red of the earth contrasted by the intense blue of the sky.
  6. The flies – the further into the centre of Australia you get, the more flies will swarm you. I was warned, and I’m glad they’re not too bad here in town but I’ve heard some horror stories from other travellers who ended up in the centre.
  7. There is not much to do around work, so naturally, people in the outback love to drink at the weekends. But don’t expect those bottle shops to be open as long as they are in the cities. Stock the fridge up and you’ll be sorted.
  8. Fear for your life. Well, not quite that extreme but do be careful and remember that this is the place you are most likely to see all those dangerous snakes and spiders people warn you about when you come to Oz. Always kick the toilet seat and check your boots if you leave them outside.
  9. The stars at night are some of the clearest and most incredible you will see. With so much less light pollution and clearer skies, you’re bound to be spellbound by the night sky, I know I am.
  10. You’ll be loving the simpler way of life and the break from city living, and simultaneously hating it and counting down until you can leave and return to life as you knew it.
  11. The people are amazing, you’ll meet some great characters and really have the chance to see how real Aussies live. You’ll never find a place more welcoming.
  12. There’ll be animals everywhere! Horses, goats and cows in the fields, dogs, cats and chickens in the houses. And they’re just the ones that the families invite in, don’t forget all the bugs, bats, birds and more that will be lurking outside.
  13. Everyone drives everywhere. The distance from the house to the shop, to a friend’s place or the post office will always be so great that everyone will just drive. Gone are the days of walking everywhere as a backpacker, you’ll be back on the road and probably in some real outback vehicle.
  14. Everything will be trying to eat you alive – there will be mosquitoes, sandflies, midges and many more. Sometimes itchy lumps will spring up on your skin and you won’t know why – don’t worry, most of the time it’s impossible to tell because there are so many things it could be.
  15. The weather is intense and hot, it’s a heat unlike any you have felt elsewhere. Often it feels like the heat is radiating up from the very ground as well as shining down on you from the sun. Plus when it rains, which it will do at times, it will be serious, tropical showers.
  16. You will always be dirty and sweaty, the breeze is constantly blowing around dirt and dust, and no matter how you try to keep clean, you will never feel it. You’ll soon accept it and come to enjoy being a bit grubby, especially if you’re doing farm work – trust me, no shower feels better than that one at the end of the day.
  17. There are so many opportunities to get out there and embrace the Aussie lifestyle and to get to try out things that you never thought you would. On your days off try helping out at a nearby cattle station, learn to ride a horse or shear sheep. It’s a skill you’d never get the chance to try in the city.
  18. That outback life isn’t for everyone, but everyone can give it a go. There’s nothing more satisfying than being a total girly-girl who loves make-up and shoes, but giving it all up to live rough for three months. Proving to all your friends and family at home that you can do it, and giving you a new appreciation of life when you return to city slicking.

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Have you ever worked on the Australian outback? What kind of work did you do? Where were you based for it? 

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The Decision: Travel or Love?

love mapAs you read this, my travels will have already started and I thought it was important to write this post and share what has probably been the hardest part of my decision to leave. The first thing everyone has asked me upon finding out I was going travelling was “are you going with your boyfriend?”. When I replied no on each occasion, I saw the same surprised blank faces in front of me – particularly when I announced I was going it alone. I’m not sure why it is such a shock to people as I’ve always been quite an independent person – but clearly it seems quite odd to a lot of people that we would be able to go without each other for any length of time. To paint a picture for those who don’t know us, me and Wolfy have been together for well over eight years. We’ve survived all sorts, including me moving away for university for three years, and defied all those who said we’d never last or that we weren’t suited – amazingly there were a lot of people who felt that way. But we made it this far and we seem to be doing better than okay. So I can totally understand why people think “they love each other, therefore they must not be able to live without each other”.

Relationships always face difficulties at some point – a hurdle that pops up out of nowhere, whether a problem between the two of you, or interference from outside sources. But when you’ve been together as long as we have, and from as young an age, sometimes the problems that crop up are actually just dreams that pull you in opposite directions. We’ve all got dreams, big ideas and hopes for the things we want to achieve, see and do – but what happens when they clash with those of the one we love? Well we’re faced with a big decision about what to do. This is actually something that’s been playing on my mind a lot lately because I have a few friends who, although in slightly different situations, have struggled with similarly big decisions. I guess it is a common theme in our twenties that we will be faced with big choices over our relationships – our teens are the easy time, although they may not feel like it, when nothing really tests us other than ourselves. Even the separation of university is something that can be easy to live with because to an extent we still have a choice over distance and whether we want to go the distance. But by the time we hit our twenties, we are looking at careers, new homes, marriage and babies in some cases, and travel. There are so many more factors that will affects our relationships and we will be forced into difficult decisions.markI’m not the only one who has found this, I actually know several people who have found lately that they have had to choose one aspect of their life over another. One friend has chosen to move two-and-a-half hours away from all of her friends and family, leaving behind a job she had worked her way up to, in order to follow her boyfriend. He was moving to a much better job and she had to take a pay cut in order to be with him, but for her the decision was the right one for her because she loves him and wants to be with him. Now they are able to live together, instead of breaking up or living hours apart. A couple I know came to an end after the subject of travel was broached, they had been together for years but he didn’t want to travel and she passionately did – so they finished and she started planning her trip. I know of another couple who broke up because the guy wanted to settle down together, with big plans for marriage and babies, but she wanted to keep her freedom and to work on her career first, so they broke up and moved on. What do all of these couples have in common? They’re all in their twenties and their lives are ever changing and evolving – sometimes couples are on different wavelengths and that can mean different directions.

For me and Wolfy, I know that we are on the same wavelength but that after eight-and-a-half years we are being pulled in different directions. For me, I’m in a job that I just can’t do any longer and I’ve reached a point in my life where I want to experience something new. It was a choice between moving away for work or travelling, and that decision was a simple one for me. For Wolfy, he regrets not putting in the time and effort for his studies and has realised he needs a change of career, so for him, the move is to retake his A-levels and go to university. The timing for us isn’t great and we don’t want to be apart, but we also both realise that we have to follow our individual dreams in order to be happy together. Neither of us should have to put our individual dreams on hold at this age, surely we will only end up resenting each other if we try? I’m not saying it’s going to be easy – because I know it won’t be. Saying goodbye earlier this week was the hardest thing I have ever done. But for us, this isn’t a break up, more like hitting pause on things until we can resume play. We hope that it will be just six months until we are reunited in Australia – that might be naive on our part, or it might be a mature decision that works out really well. Either way, all we can do is hope that things work out for us. I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason – I’m not always sure what that reason is but I know that it will all work out in the end. And I’m treating this just like that – it doesn’t mean being separated is any easier, but it does mean we can hope that if we are meant to be together that it will work out.sgp 4

I’d love to hear your stories of when you’ve been forced to choose between love and your career, or family, or even travel, like I have. Did it work out for you? Or do you still regret the one that got away?

Ab Lucy sign off

From the darkest days to the happiest new year

cheersAs New Year approaches, I wanted to take the time to write a post about how thankful I am to be ending the year on such a high. It hasn’t been the easiest year for me, and it had a pretty rotten beginning that even forced me to take a time out from blogging. I remember feeling the lowest I ever have back in January and February, wondering what the hell my life had become and desperately looking for a way out. It was pretty horrible, and I won’t lie, it makes me pretty sad to look back on it now because for a short while I became a very different person. Over the months that followed, I gradually got my life back and started to be happy again – how did I do it? I started making plans for my future, I threw myself into work and saved hard, and then, I booked a ticket and planned to travel the world. It’s not an option that is available to everyone, but having that goal and that hope of a better 2015 was really what got me through and I’m so happy I made that choice.

I’m not alone in this, I know so many people who seem to have found this year a bit of a struggle. For some it was horrible and totally out-of-the-blue break-ups, for others it was a crisis at work or even redundancy, and for some, it was just realising that they weren’t where they wanted to be in life. Everyone has dealt with it in different ways, and every single one has made it out the other side with a smile on their faces.

I’m really proud to know so many people who have not only survived a difficult year, but who have made it their bitch.

I hope that I can count myself among them, and that’s why I have thrown myself into blogging and saving – my main two pastimes for the year. I like to think it has really paid off with huge blogging milestones like being recognised by a complete stranger on a night out, being chosen as Blogger of the Week for two large blogging publications and being shortlisted out of over 2,000 entries for the individual travel blog section of the UK Blog Awards. I’m really proud of all this, and it is a wonderful feeling to have all your hard work pay off, but it wouldn’t have happened without your support.

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So I’m saying goodbye to 2014 – the year of survival and hard work. And welcoming in 2015 – the year of success and happiness. I’ve done nothing but work hard and pay my dues this year and I plan to take back 2015 as my year of following my dreams and pursuing what I really love. It’s time I did something that is just for me, not for anyone else. I think it’s time we all did the same – have you been putting something off because you’re scared to jump? Well no more. This year let’s all take a risk – let’s all go after that dream and make it our reality. Life is short and this year has flown by, so why let another year disappear without reaching that goal, or even setting one? Everyone I know seems to be setting themselves goals at the moment – some are getting engaged and planning a wedding, others are heading off to university, or are planning a big move and a new job… all very inspiring individuals. Me? I’m planning to be happy, to see things I haven’t seen before, to experience cultures and see the world. But without an amazing group of friends, family and blog supporters, I don’t think I could have dreamed I would be in this position a year ago. So this post is to say thanks to all of you guys for all those times you listened and all those times you gave me the push I needed to start making my dreams a reality.

How do you feel looking back on your 2014? And what goals have you set yourself for 2015?

Ab Lucy sign off

10 day countdown to being unemployed

new beginningIt’s finally starting to sink in. As you’re reading this I have just 10 days left at work… and that includes today! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone since I handed in my notice, but it really has flashed by. It’s certainly been helped along by me still having holiday left over, so even though I have just 10 days left, they are to be scattered over the next two-three weeks. Everyone in the office has been firmly on countdown for me over the last month, they almost seem more excited about it than I do… not sure if I should take offence at that! But it was going to a launch event at the local college on Monday that really made me realise this is actually happening. As I arrived, loads of people came over to wish me well and say good luck on my travels – it seemed so odd to me, because for the longest time this has just been something in my head. Just a passing daydream of something new and exciting, but now it is really becoming a reality.

So with 10 days left at work – what am I doing and what do I have left to do?

1. My countdown starts with those frantic emails out to every contact I have ever had, made, met or spoken to in my time here. I’ve been trying my best to make sure everyone is aware I am leaving and where they can send emails in the future.

2. Trying to find a replacement for me, and trying to find out what will happen to my entertainment section when I leave.

3. Making sure I get the opportunity to write any stories I have had lurking in the back of my notebook, and to plan in time to write any others I’ve had in the pipeline.

4. Interviews – I love meeting people and talking to them face-to-face, so I’m trying to make sure I get the chance to do as much of that as possible before I leave.

5. Training others in the office up on the technical side of our system and making sure they all know how to work the website when I leave, as up to this point I have been mainly in control of it.


I won’t lie, it’s pretty chaotic and I’m starting to worry I won’t get time to do everything I want to do before I leave. But then I remind myself it doesn’t actually matter if I don’t – much as I would love to leave the team with the next four What’s On sections ready and waiting: 

That is not my responsibility and I can only do my best.

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I’ve also been reminiscing about my most memorable moments at the newspaper – trust me, there’s been quite a few! After three years of working here, and loving it, I’ll be taking some very fond memories away with me.

I wanted to share some of them with you:

1. My week of work experience – realising I wanted to be a journalist and getting the front page after just five days at the paper.

2. Being asked to take on writing a weekly column for the paper and causing a bit of a stir – I loved the complimentary letters, but the complaints sure gave me a laugh!

3. Being challenged to write about all sorts of topics – from fuel prices to train services, from bomb scares to charity efforts. Plus all the random stories like the cow that escaped from a field, went on a rampage and ended up tearing through someone’s living room.

4. Being trusted by all those families to write tributes to their loved ones, particularly those I already had a personal connection with.

5. Taking on control of the entertainment section of the paper and completely turning it around – even doubling it in size after showing how good it could be.

6. Taking on responsibility of managing the website and social media output for the newspaper – a huge role in a company that is all about “digital first” and one I performed very well.

7. Getting to interview the likes of Adam Ant, UB40, Deaf Havana, national production company founders, West End stars, soap stars and many more – for a town in Norfolk, I’ve done pretty well.

8. Reviewing huge events, festivals, gigs, theatre productions and much more – I have loved every event and will really miss getting to see this cultural side of the town.

9. Working with some amazing PR/Marketing whizzes who have become great friends as well – you guys have made my life a hell of a lot easier and I really enjoyed working with you.

10. Working with all my amazing friends in the office – we’ve been under a hell of a lot of pressure particularly during the last year, and time and time again we’ve pulled together and managed to get the paper out. Those outside the office have no idea what work goes on behind the scenes, and we would never have made it through without sticking together. That includes our “rivals” who quite frankly are under just as much pressure as we are.


I can’t imagine what my last day will be like in the office. I imagine it will be pretty strange, as I have never actually left a job that I cared about before now. But I don’t regret my decision for a second, and I know the whole office are really excited for me to start a new adventure. A huge thanks to the team for everything they’ve taught me over the years. I will be firmly making the most of these last 10 days in the office.

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And I couldn’t finish this post without a tribute to the best Bridget Jones moment – when she quit her job!


Have you left a great job behind to move on to other things? How were your final days of work – did you feel happy or sad to be leaving friends and that part of your career behind?

Ab Lucy sign off

Hindsight: What would I say to my younger self?

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I like to live my life with no regrets, and I’m happy to say that up to this point in my life, I genuinely don’t regret a single thing. Everything that has happened up to now had led me to this point, and I’m pretty happy with my lot in life. I’ve got a great job, amazing friends and family, a pretty special boyfriend and big plans for the future. I may have struggled along the way to getting to this point, and I may have had some tough times – but that makes me value what I have more than ever and I can’t help but be grateful for that. Throughout my life I have always strived to be the best version of myself as much as possible, whether that means going out of my way to help people or working hard for my degree or job. I have to admit, putting my all into everything does mean I’ve turned into a bit of a perfectionist and my high standards have meant that I’ve been left disappointed by others over the years. But I’ve learnt to accept that I have no control over the actions of others, that I can only focus on my own actions because they are the only thing that is within my control. Trust me, that’s not an easy thing for any perfectionist to deal with – I’m sure there are those who know and are nodding at the screen right now.

Regret is a funny word. It can be meaningless to a person, or it can be everything. With phrases like “carpe diem” and “live for the moment” tattooed on peoples’ extremities, plastered across inspirational images posted on Instagram and engrained on our brains – it’s no surprise that everyone says they live a life of no regrets. A conversation with a friend really got me thinking about this, whether I would do anything differently or whether I am actually really happy with the way things have turned out. I’ve always been very much of the viewpoint that things, to a extent, happen for a reason. I think if we don’t feel a certain drive to act in a certain way, we can’t really regret it, we can only learn from it. We can always wonder if things would have turned out differently, even though we know we can’t change things. I guess my regrets come more in the form of things I would love to tell my younger self, glimpses into the future I would have liked to have shared and to have known at the time. You’ve got to admit if you could go back in time and warn about a nasty boyfriend or a bad haircut, you would definitely do it…

So what would I say to my younger self?


Advice to Lucy, age 5-10

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My favourite spotty dress

  1. Really revel in staying up past bedtime reading books under your covers, and building whole cities for your Barbies. Soon will come a time when you don’t get to do either any more.
  2. Persevere in maths – it’s hard and it’s horrible, but it’s better to learn it all now than having to catch up and I promise your hard work will pay off before high school.
  3. It’s not nice to fight with your sister, but soon a time will come when it’s considered GBH and she won’t find it quite as funny. Make the most of it while you can.
  4. Don’t breathe in when that teacher comes over to read your work over your shoulder. Chugging instant coffee and chewing gum is a combination that will make you gag.

 

 

 


 Advice to Lucy, age 10-16

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At a film premiere in my acting days

  1. Friendship groups change more often than your socks, but identify the keepers and hold them close. Stick to the ones who have been there through think and thin, you’ll be fine.
  2. Don’t be afraid to work hard, what’s not “cool” is living off benefits for the rest of your life and not getting to go to university because you didn’t pass your exams.
  3. Boys are great as friends, unreliable as boyfriends at this age. Flirting is fun, but don’t waste your time – you’ll have more fun with your girls and someone very special is on the way.
  4. GCSE’s don’t actually matter!! All that work and they don’t actually amount to anything past a pass in English, maths and science to get into Sixth Form – still make sure you do well but don’t stress yourself out.

 

 

 

 


 

 Advice to Lucy, age 16 to 18

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Before the Sixth Form leavers do

  1. Don’t be afraid to speak up sooner. Those friends who have let you down repeatedly, been nasty and contribute nothing – they don’t deserve to be in your life.
  2. Don’t listen to the haters and the worriers – they know nothing about your relationship and you’re still going strong over seven years later! Dive in heart first and enjoy it.
  3. Don’t be pressured by your parents and others into choosing a university you know isn’t right for you – you’re making the right decision and you’re going to have the time of your life!
  4. Think about other options for careers and do some more research – think about journalism and media as an option instead of just teaching.

 

 

 

 


 Advice to Lucy, aged 18-21

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On my 21st birthday

  1. Partying hard will never stop you achieving your goals – enjoy, you deserve it after working so hard and no-one should stop you.
  2. Stop wasting time and accept that no matter how much you want to save friends, you can’t. They have to save themselves and all you can do is be there to pick up the pieces.
  3. Not taking a dissertation module will not affect you, but getting more journalism experience will only benefit you. Get involved with the student newspaper.
  4. Start a blog. You’re going to do really well in a few years, but that will only make you regret not starting earlier when you had more time on your hands.

 

 

 


Advice to Lucy, aged 22-present

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Before a night out aged 22

  1. You’re making the right decision to come home and take the job at the paper, but don’t expect to finish that journalism qualification – some big changes are coming.
  2. Save, save, save, save. No matter what you think you’re saving for, understand that at some point you will want to escape and you need a fund behind you. No matter how little you earn, you can always save.
  3. Don’t be afraid of a big change – you can live in denial for a year or you can make a snap decision and face up to what you have known all along – travel is the way out.
  4. Becoming editor of This Festival Feeling is one of the best things you will have done up to this point – enjoy it and really squeeze everything you can out of it.

After a request from a fellow blogger, I’m turning this post into a blogging tag! My first one, and I’m hoping you’ll all enjoy writing this post as much as I have. I want to all to share the advice and things you would say to your former self – then nominate five bloggers to do the same. My nominations are:

     Charlie          Holly          Jasmine          Aftab          Antoinette

Enjoy ladies!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Ab Lucy sign off

PS. Don’t forget to vote for me in the UK Blog Awards travel and lifestyle categories!! Click here and here to cast your votes xx