Gemma Styles: What Does Success Really Look Like In 2016?
The Debrief: We need to move away from the current 'adult markers' that are giving us 'generalised life angst'
Photograph by Matilda Hill-Jenkins
This week I’ve been thinking a lot about work. Not only because I’ve barely gone half an hour in the past month without hearing Rihanna sing it, but also because I find it really interesting – and apparently it’s something we’re all stressing about. One of the 'markers of adulthood' is ‘working in a full-time, permanent job’ – but it seems that fixed term contracts (among other things) are making this unrealistic for the mid-twenties masses.
Understandably, this is a stressful situation. Recently I wrote about the worry of realising we’re not going to have any money when we retire. It seems like life has sped on by and at the age when we’re ‘supposed to’ be getting married and buying houses and having babies, instead our rag tag millennial gang is being crippled by extortionate rents on shared houses, job insecurity and a feeling of what I like to call ‘generalised life angst’.
I’m not saying that a sprinkle of pixie dust and a slide down a rainbow is all we need to live happily ever after – but I do think a bit of positive attitude training is important here. Everything seems to be a bit doom and gloom but that doesn’t mean you can’t change your situation, discover new talents, or even start over again.
Take, for example, the career of music producer Sir George Martin, who sadly died earlier this week. His legendary work with The Beatles earned him the nickname 'the 5th Beatle' and many say that through this working partnership he changed pop music – but he started his working life dabbling as a quantity surveyor, a war office clerk and a naval officer. Martin didn’t begin working with The Beatles until 1962 when he was 36 years old.
This may not be a perfect example. While he didn’t begin working with The Beatles until 1962, Martin had been working successfully in the music industry for some years before this fateful partnership kicked off. However, I think it does go to show that big things can happen for you at any time; a chance meeting or a relatively small decision can be life-changing.
I think it’s really hard to look forward and imagine what your life is going to be like in ten years time, or even five, or a single year's time. This seems especially true nowadays when the pace of life is so much faster. Years ago you would finish education of whatever level, start work, get married, have children and pretty much continue on the same path for your whole life, without giving it too much thought – that’s just what you did. Now we have more choices, and the internet and ‘global village’ enable us to find out about new possibilities and opportunities, this culture of settling down isn’t the same.
Speaking of online possibilities, I started a new project this week – a website called La Femme Collective. Working with friends old and new (all on a different continent, thanks internet) we’ve put together a careers website for women to hear other people’s business stories and hopefully take away positive messages. I’m passionate about finding a variety of stories to share, from a variety of women; I don’t think success in your career has to come from a specific marker of wealth, or brand popularity, but want to make sure we cover successes in various ways. Some people might have huge obstacles to overcome that mean it’s a struggle for them to work at all. Their success may be holding down a part time job. I think these stories are just as valuable as those about starting a company in your bedroom and becoming a millionaire; hopefully in having a space to discover what other people have been able to achieve, we can help people find new confidence in themselves!
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Follow Gemma on Twitter: @ GemmaAnneStyles
At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating