My Life Plan

So where am I now and how do I feel about it? Honestly? I’m in a good place. I’m happy. Even typing this, I’ve had to stop and think “am I really happy or am I just saying it because I don’t want readers to think I’m a sad wreck?” I can hand on heart say, life is good. It’s not without its challenges, but life is good. I remember being a fresh-faced 16 year old, making what I thought were over ambitious plans for myself but not really having much focus. 10 years later and a mixture of life and love has seen me go down different paths. I’m a 26 years old, single mother to THE most amazing 5 year old (we’ll come to him another time), I have a great job and career that I love and am about to embark on the next chapter of my life that will see me finally go to university. As it goes, if I died tomorrow, I would be proud of what I’ve accomplished but I want more. For those that have read my post on “Starting a Business”, you’ll know I’m a massive advocate of writing a business plan and reviewing it regularly. As far as I’m concerned, my life is my business so you better believe I have a plan! I’ve reviewed it regularly, sense-checked my progress and often changed it in response to life events and different paths I’ve found myself on. At 16, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I was going to do A levels and wanted to work in either Law, Banking or Medicine so opted in to Maths, Chemistry and Biology. Although I’ve always been quite smart, I quickly discovered I lacked drive and motivation and only now realise it’s because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was stuck in that common rut of “I have to continue my studies but I have no clue what I’m doing”. Towards the end of the first year, I applied for a “summer job” at a bank and then decided to stay and take a gap year. That gap year lasted 9 years (whoops!) but my goodness I needed it! During that time, I set myself a goal that my salary must always be higher than my age. Simple, maybe somewhat shallow, but a goal is a goal and it’s kept me on my toes. In those 9 years, I’ve climbed and bank hopped to my current position and built up a nice little knowledge bank but also professional network. Whilst my work has given me a lot of exposure to the legal profession, I’ve found my interest in the law has come mainly from helping friends and family out of tricky situations so it was only right that I consulted my trusty “life plan” and see how I could further develop myself. To date, I haven’t documented my plan but as Habbakuk says, “write the vision, and make it plain…” and so this week, I’m off to buy a journal to write down my vision for my life that I can regularly review and support with affirmations and wise words. In terms of detail, I’m not sure how deep I’m going to go with it, but I’m trying a lil thing! 

Watch this space x

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5 tips for an effective C.V. 

So one thing I know I do well is interview, but often the hardest part is getting through the C.V. “sift” so I want to share a few tips that I’ve used to enhance mine over the years. 
At the beginning of the year, I did a volunteering session at a high school in south London where I helped a group of 15 and 16 year olds write their cv. Honestly, I was amazed that a lot of them didn’t know what one was or what the contents were; but let’s face it, a lot of adults don’t either! 

According to our trusted friend, Wikipedia, it’s “a written overview of a person’s experience and other qualifications. In some countries, a C.V. is typically the first item that a potential employer encounters regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview.” So it’s pretty important, yes?! 

Ok, so humour me for a minute: imagine it’s your friends birthday next month. She’s sent out the save the date along with a list of 5 restaurants to choose from and a copy of their menu. Any normal person would check the menu and shortlist the ones where the menu looks appealing and within budget. Think of your C.V. as your menu. Potential employers will pick it up and look for the characteristics that look appealing to them. This brings me on nicely to my first point. 

1. Review and tailor your C.V. every time you apply for a job

Whenever I’ve looked for another role, I always try to get a copy of the “person specification” and the “job specification” and cross check my C.V. against these. There’s no point lying as you’ll often get caught out. But any qualities on these documents that you feel you have and can demonstrate, add them in. 

I.e. 

Job specification – the role will involve complaint handling and resolution 

Person specification – the ideal candidate will have experience dealing with difficult situations 

If any part of your work experience involved dealing with difficult situations or customers, make sure you highlight it. 
If these aren’t available, often a browse on the company’s website will have a section about the types of people they hire and the qualities they look for. 

2. Remove your D.O.B and picture (unless applying for a creative role where you picture is needed). 

Age and race discrimination is illegal but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Give yourself every fighting chance by only including mandatory information. Let your qualities shine through without your age or looks creating an unnecessary barrier

3. Keep it to the point. 

I’m a very wordy person. Trust me, but your C.V. is not the time to test out your 2000 word essay writing skills. You want to sell yourself as best as possible, but recruiters sift through so many C.V.’s and many will admit to just scanning so keep your experience precise and to the point. I’m personally a big fan of bullet points. 

I.e. 

My main duties were:

– Be the named point of contact for a portfolio of large corporate customers

– Identify sales opportunities within the portfolio to grow P & L (profit & loss) 

– Negotiate contract renewals and new customer pricing

– Manage the recruitment and on-boarding of new business

– Offer advice and best practise concerning card scheme rules and fraud 

4. Summarise each role with an achievement. 

Show that you are a high achiever and give them a reason to keep reading. Again, keep it brief and don’t lie. 

I.e.

My main accomplishments at X were:

– Being signed off probation 3 months early and rewarded with a 10% pay rise because of my performance

– Being recognised 3 months in a row as being the top account manager in the region

5. Provide a brief summary at the very beginning. 

As I said above, recruiters often just scan and sometimes only read the first few lines. I think it’s good practise to provide a brief summary at the very beginning so you can get your best qualities across from the absolute get go. 

Mine is too good to share lol so the example below is one I did for a friend: 

– Experienced professional with a successful career in banking and sales 

– High achiever with proven track record of exceeding targets

– Line management experience 

– Confident in coaching and developing others 

– Proactive approach has resulted in outperforming peers

– Possess excellent interpersonal, analytical and organisational skills

– Excel within highly competitive environments 

– Excellent command of the English language 

– Comfortable delivering presentations 

So, I hope somebody finds this useful and good luck with the job hunting! 

X

A plea from me…

It’s 2015 – “fleek” is the new “on point”, “squad” is the new “crew” and we’re going a bit crazy over “curvy”. *eyeroll* 

Yes, I jumped on the wagon following various plus size Instagram accounts yada yada bla bla bla and honestly, I’m confused. I’m all for empowerment and feeling confident, but since when did being a fat (excuse me, curvy) confident woman mean half dressed? 

I can’t be the only chunk that doesn’t feel an overwhelming sense of empowerment when I see another big girl squeezing into the most unflattering jeans, or God forbid, baring the bulge in a belly top. I’m not going to post examples because this isn’t about shaming anybody – it’s less of a rant and more of a plea. 

5 years ago, I’d probably be more sympathetic. In terms of choice, it would pretty much be dress like a granny or rummage to the back of the rack for the biggest “standard” size and try and make it work. Times have changed. Aside from specialist plus size shops like Yours and Evans, common high street favourites like New Look and H&M have their own plus size ranges and whilst I cringe at some of the pieces, with a bit of self respect and a good eye, you can really make it work. Personally, I’m an ASOS chick but maybe we can look into that another time. 

I implore my fellow fatties to yes, be confident, yes be comfortable but please, be classy!

Peace x

Productive Mornings

For some strange reason, I’ve been waking up around 5am every morning this week with ideas for new blog posts.

To put this in perspective, I’m definitely in a ‘long term relationship’ with my bed. We’ve got a thing going on. Definitely. I recently discovered my 5 year old son can make his own breakfast and boy oh boy has this worked to my advantage! I don’t set an alarm because I’m cranky if woken out of sleep. Instead, I let myself wake up naturally, which prior to this week, has always been just before or bang on 8am followed promptly by me prodding my son to get up, brush his teeth and make his breakfast. Smooth. This little discovery has earnt me an additional 10 minutes in bed every morning! Not to be knocked! 

So back to this early morning thing. I feel as if I’ve given myself a reason to wake up early in the morning and honestly, I think I like it. In a post further down about my imminent university start, I mentioned that I need to plan and get organised and you know what, my body agrees! I’ll be working full time and going to uni full time in the evening and was getting some advice from a solicitor friend of mine. She told me that by the time I get home from uni after also having a long day at work, my brain will probably need a break and I might find it more beneficial to go home, chill and get up early in the mornings to study with a fresh head. Whilst I absolutely loved the idea in theory, I just couldn’t see myself ‘breaking up’ with my bed. We’ve been through so much! But in all seriousness, this blog has given me a reason to wake up early. It’s kickstarted a new routine for me and I intend to fully embrace it! 

So whatever goals you’ve set yourself, think about what needs to change or improve in your life to make it happen and then more importantly, effect that change! We have all been given a purpose and a design for our life but it’s up to us individually how far we go towards reaching our true potential. Whether it’s changing your morning routine like me, removing certain people from your life or even healing broken relationships, start doing what you need to do to make your ambitions a reality. 

Next on my list: eat breakfast before leaving the house. Pray for me looool. I’m on a journey

X

A new low

A new low!
Tonight, I have reached a new low! I’m casually sat in my living room, catching up on social media and tidying this blog up with the TV on in the background. Now I’m first to admit that my taste in TV is somewhat varied and questionable. To give you an idea, I’ve listed a few below:
Eastenders

Pretty Little Liars (don’t judge!)

Gossip Girl (now finished)

Suits

House of Cards

Teen Mom (Originals and 2)

16 and Pregnant

Hollyoaks

Masterchef
You get the gist. So I’m tapping away and suddenly wonder why I’m hearing SOOOO much swearing and shouting, only to realise I’ve been unknowingly polluting my mind with the horror that is Geordie Shore! The fact this is even ON in my house has dragged me to a new low. I’m really trying to take in whatever insignificant drama is going on but I genuinely can’t get past the scary accent (reminding me that I am in fact almost a northerner. Ha ha! – born in Derby), copious amount of swearing and slack conversation.
Verdict: Geordie Shore, you’re fired!

Lets talk interracial dating…

I recently saw a post from a fellow sister talking about her experiences of interracial dating and her fear of being more of a fetish to white men that saw her as an opportunity to almost tick a box. This I definitely understand! Of the white men I’ve encountered that have been interested in me, they often commented on the shape of my rear or how “womanly” I was and I too have been unfortunate enough to be described as “exotic”! Heaven help me! Some might say I’m “nit picking” but why is this ok? I wonder if it would be equally acceptable if it were the other way round?

For me though, interracial dating goes deeper than just skin colour. After being in a relationship for 5 years with my sons dad who’s Nigerian, I realised that it’s a cultural thing aswell. Coming from a Jamaican background, I quickly learnt that whilst there were times our different cultures complimented each other and even mirrored, there were also far too many that conflicted. The whole experience has put me off interracial dating for a long time to be honest but I really do believe that when you meet that person that God has ordained you to be with, regardless of race, colour or culture, it will work. In the interview I listened to, she talked about the importance of finding common ground and that might not necessarily be hobbies or interests but simply morals and values. I’m learning to look past race and see people for who they are individually but I also think it’s naive to think a persons race or cultural background is irrelevant because as I found out, it will become very relevant at some point.

Communication from the very beginning is crucial. It’s all very well having the “Think Like A Man” style questions at the ready but it doesn’t stop there! I don’t believe in casual dating so when I go into a relationship, it’s because I genuinely see something in that person that makes me think, “yes, I could see myself marrying him”. I don’t know about you, but for me, marriage is the goal! Get married and STAY HAPPILY married! I want to see his parents marriage

– are they happy?

– is it a partnership or hierarchy?

– how were you raised?

Let’s be real. There are some amazing men that come out of single parent or dysfunctional homes, but if you get an idea of the environment they’re coming from, it might help you to understand areas that need discussing and clarifying as a couple. If daddy was “the boss” and mummy had to literally ask permission to leave the house, I’d want to know what he understands a relationship to be and what form he sees his marital home to take. Better to find out sooner than later if your boo wants to rule his home like a dictatorship.

I think it’s important whoever you set up home with to stick to 2 rules: Pray and communicate

X