If not now, then when?

Hi again. I’m finding myself fastened to some type of rut this evening. We can blame this on me making the executive decision to skip training this morning; this resolve weighing heavily on the fact that it is freezing hence harder to wake up earlier in the morning and also the mere reasonable certainty that my lingering ailments of injuries won’t heal properly if I don’t rest enough. But now we have it – lack of physical exhaustion from gym equates to free time which equates to wandering thoughts.

Currently, we are looking at the following facts:

  • I’m fully qualified to practice accounting globally.
  • I worked as a tax specialist for 3 out of 4 years in public practice.
  • Now I’m a temporary financial controller for an investment bank.
  • What does the above mean to me? Other than looking good on paper, absolutely nothing.
  • Let me repeat that – nooothhinggg!

I received lots of personal and career advice during my time in public practice, but only 2 have stuck with me – probably the most important 2 things I learnt there in my time. Ha – I make it sound like I did “time” there as if it was jail, but trust me, sometimes it really did feel like it. The first piece of advice was given by a Tax Partner on my first day via an induction speech to all the new keen-bean fresh faced graduates. He told us that everyone, from graduates to partners have things that they are bad at and things they are good at. We’re human. To succeed, however, dedicate a little bit of time working on the things you’re bad at so that you can get by, but spend most of your energy getting better at the things you’re already good at so you can excel right out of the ballpark. There’s no point spending copious amounts of time trying to improve on the things you’re bad at, because there will already be people better than you by the time you play catch up. The second piece of advice was given to me by my Partner on one of my last days in the office. I respect him a lot. He was trying to convince me to take a one-year career break rather than resign, and in our conversations about future employment he told me that if ever I did not like what I was doing, or it didn’t feel right, then quit. Don’t waste time hanging around trying to like something thinking you’ll get better at it. (I almost feel like he was alluding to men and relationships, but let’s just stick with the professional point of view for now.)

Both pieces of advice have a similar tone, and it’s funny how they came at the beginning and end of my career at that place.

Both pieces of advice conflict with my personality – I’m not a quitter, if tested, I will work at something until I understand it.

However, what I’ve come to realise on this cold, cold Autumn evening (it feels like Winter)… actually no, I take the world ‘realise’ back. This isn’t a new thought by any means, it’s more like a consolidated action plan. Spending 45-60 hours a week doing something I’m only mediocre at, is a lot of time wasted. My accounting expiry date is coming up real soon. Sitting in front of a computer screen deciphering which way debits and credits are meant to go burns a scorching hole through both my heart and creative membranes.

Perhaps I need to spend a little less time training and a little more time sorting my life out. It’s not a mess, nothing is wrong with it per se. I’m so grateful to have the people that I do around me, and to have the opportunity to be in London – which I know, couldn’t have been done with accounting behind me. It’s all about the journey and I just think it’s time for the next adventure. I don’t want to just be content, to plod along in the rat race trying to elicit the same sort of passion my peers have. It’s not for me. I want fire.  So here’s me, at the beginning of figuring out how to change this for a better me, and hopefully those I impact from my future decisions.

Alternatively, I should never skip training again. Teehee.

No, seriously.

Screw your excuses Jen, they’re not good enough for me anymore.

Do what you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

6 months

It only occurred to me whilst looking at the calendar for potential travel dates with AY for the rest of the year that it has been 6 months (+ 6 days) since our move to London. Though the first month was travelling so there’s still technically another month to go until we can say we’ve lived here for 6 months, I’d say it’s a momentous occasion regardless!

Cliche as this is, there’s no other way to put it – time has flown by. It feels like only a month ago that I left home, but that’s okay, because there’s only a month to go before I’m back for a whirlwind visit. The excitement is real. I’ve met some incredible people here, but I don’t think I’m crazy retarded around them yet, which is duly my natural habitat. It just takes a lot of time when everything, from stores to suburbs are so unfamiliar. Did you know that you could buy hot ready-to-eat jerk chicken from a supermarket? Neither did I. London Fight Factory (#lffteam) has been ever so welcoming in becoming my second home and I think my mma game has really stepped up with the detailed coaching I’m receiving. It’s a bit awkward when the guys you’ve been training with on the daily, at ultimately my most unattractive state ever, send you messages asking to go out sometime. After my gentle delicate declines, I really dread the next time I see them because I  coincidently always seem to get paired with them with them after this happens. Hardcore mma fighter, no. Queen of awkward, check. Staaahhhppp it.

Getting back to the main point of this post, I can say I’ve picked up a few things in my 6 months. Here are 6 things that have stood out to me/surprised me the most about London.

  1. Chivalry is not dead
    Australian men need to come here for a crash course on mannerisms. This point is proven with the simplest of examples (because I haven’t experienced anything Mr. Darcy-like) – men, regardless of age, race or professional status, always hold the door. They will almost always let a girl/woman board a bus first even if they’re ahead in line, and also wait until last to enter or leave a lift. I’m not sure if this a product of the schooling system, society standards, or home upbringing – maybe a combination of these, but it’s nice to see and something new to be appreciative of.
  2. Greenery
    Being one of the biggest economic hubs of the world, a concrete jungle of sorts, I did not expect London to have such a large array of parks and greenery. They take their parks seriously, and the vibes are so positive within them during summer.
  3. “You alright? You okay?”
    Whenever I was asked this in my first couple of months here, it left me completely baffled. One would think that this question would be posed if I looked like I was in trouble, or about to burst into tears. Alas, this is the local equivalent of asking “how are you/how are you going?” Even though I know this now, I still struggle with my responses and normally reply with a meek “..yeah..”. I mean, I don’t know, is it rhetorical? Are you meant to ask it back? Oh, the mysteries of the English language.
  4. Fashion
    I would describe London’s fashion as street. Comfort, a bit of urban attitude, and decent accessories to seal the package. I really like this, but again, it surprised me. I was expecting more high heels, more red lipstick and definitely more of a Vogue-esque dress sense.
  5. Coffee
    Contrary to popular belief – I’m looking at all of you back home who said I wouldn’t be able to survive here because of this, London does have good coffee spots! People here love coffee and competition here is fierce. Most of the big commercial coffee chains ie. Costa, Nero, Pret offer convenience rather than quality coffee, but independent stores make them just as good as back home. Starbucks has just introduced green tea lattes here (about time, London!) for Winter, though I hope it’s here to stay. As my go-to comfort drink on cold days, I am super happy about this! I’m going to slip another one in here because I’m running out of points, but I have to mention how amazing their fast food selection is. Move aside Subway, coming in hot are Wasabi, Itsu, Pret, Eat, Pod, Leon, ah I’m too spoilt for choice.
  6. The roads are very easy to drive on
    *Disclaimer – outside of central London only. Central London loves its narrow one-way roads and one lane roads that go both ways, I don’t even know how this makes sense, but there is a lot of giving way and patience involved. I would be very hesitant to drive in central London. However, what I’ve learnt in my experience of driving 10-ish hours on the outskirts of London and into the UK countryside is that you can’t escape traffic. You think there’ll be no cars driving in the country on the weekend? Think again. Road sign font sizes are much larger than necessary, but it makes for no excuses in missing an exit. There are a lot of roundabouts, and roundabouts with traffic lights, which again doesn’t make sense to me. But all in all, I think roads and signage here are very similar to back home (yay to left side driving) and it was really fun to drive and have the luxury of a car again for a weekend instead of relying on public transport. The speed limits here are quite lenient too, as the highways I drove on had a limit of 70-80 MPH which is like 110-130km!

I wonder what else London will teach me in the next 6 months.