In a year like 2020 many of us have felt, at times, like we're "failing". But what can we do with that feeling to turn the tables in our favour?
2020 has been a strange year so far to say the least. Unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a lack of job recruitment, redundancies and job offers and naturally has had a knock on effect on trainee recruitment.
As a result, many people may have felt like they "failed" this year. In this article, our Trainees Sanchita Agrawal and Lucy Bowdery talk you through their "failures", what they learned and how they came out stronger.
Let's begin with a summary of our failures:
When I still lived in Canada, I first went to university for Science to eventually become a Doctor, which is what had always been expected of me. After one semester, it became clear to me that Science was not my forte. I, then, made the move to Business, but it still took me 2 semesters to take my first Business Law course and realise that Law is what I wanted to do.
I had just moved down to London from Yorkshire and was working for a Firm who transferred me from a northern office down to London as a paralegal. A training contract (or "TC") in the Manchester office was then announced and I applied. My colleagues thought it was a done deal that I would get the job. I went to the offices for an assessment day and interview but I didn’t get the job.
What did we learn from these experiences?
1. "FAILING" HURTS
Lucy: This is not really a tip just a reminder that 'failing' hurts and it's OK to take time to deal with it, pick yourself back up and go again. There is no shame in it. You might see peers reaching career goals sooner than you which can also be hard to cope with. Just remember that everyone is on their own path and that "failures" aren't always what they seem, as you will see from the rest of our tips below.
2. "IF IT'S FOR YOU, IT WON'T GO BY YOU"
Lucy : That's the saying my Grandma always told me. It means that if it's meant to be, it'll be. I've found this to be a great way of looking at things when they don’t work out. It helps to stop any unhelpful thoughts of blame about what's happened. For example, when I wasn’t offered the TC in Manchester it would have been easy to ruminate about my assessment day performance and how I should have done better. However, thinking back, that TC wasn’t right for me anyway as it would have been a big upheaval from my life in London and away from friends and support networks.
3. "IF YOU JUDGE A FISH BY IT'S ABILITY TO CLIMB A TREE, IT WILL LIVE ITS WHOLE LIFE BELIEVING IT IS STUPID"
Sanchita: Just because you are not good at one thing, doesn't mean that there isn't something better out there for you. I went into science because that was what was expected of me. And then I switched over to Business because that is what my friends were doing. Neither of which I was good at or enjoyed. I spent so much time thinking that I must just not be good enough, until I realised how much I enjoyed the Law.
Similarly, not every firm is going to be right for you. Never be disheartened if you don't get a TC! It could simply be a difference of values. Use the process of elimination to find a firm which aligns with your own beliefs and values.
4. IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED, TRY, TRY AGAIN
Lucy: It's easy to think about giving up when you are faced with rejections or adversity in your career. However, if it's something you really want to do, it's important to try and try again. It's also worth remembering that in every round of TC applications your application will be getting stronger as you fine-tune the skill of writing applications. And, if you're working at same time, your experience will be adding to your CV. So you might be really close and after all that hard work, you wouldn’t want to give up now.
Imagine yourself climbing this mountain. The cloud covering the summit reflects the uncertainty you might feel about ever reaching your goal. But what you can't see is just how close you actually are.
5. DON'T FALL INTO THE TRAP OF ESCALATING COMMITMENT
Sanchita: In one of my business courses, I learned about the concept of "escalating commitment to a failing course of action". As it sounds, this refers to the tendency for decision makers to persist with failing courses of action. There is a fine line between persistence and escalating commitment. In my case, I crossed that line, until I stepped back and reflected on my journey to realise that science was not my forte.
As Lucy says above, keep trying yes, but also make mindful reflections on your TC applications. Ask for feedback, make changes to your approach, learn from mistakes made, and don't make them again.
If your 2020 isn't going quite to plan, remember that failing like a champion will help you get where you want to go in the end. We hope that sharing our "failures" and our tips will be helpful for you.