Advice for life and work: Alex Young - Founder of Favourite Positions
Alex Young is the Founder of Favourite Positions (this platform dedicated to helping people find what they love to do).
She has built a career around connecting people with one another and to initiatives that enable them to develop personally as well as professionally.
Hear about where the concept of Favourite Positions came from and what she plans to do with it in the future, too.
Find Alex's life and career advice below.
Alex's life advice
01. Find how you love to learn and start with learning you
Forget what you’ve been told about learning, it is completely individual. Forget categories and labels and personality types (even if you feel they benefit you, please try this just for a moment). You are completely and utterly unique. There is no other person in this world currently or who has been before or who will be who is just like you. We find similarities in others and we develop so much of our understanding of the world from our connection to those we meet or hear of and that’s beautiful, we aren’t here alone after all. That said, who you are and how you are is completely one of a kind. You were born unique, a combination of two people at that moment, a DNA that cannot be replicated, a soul that belongs only to you
For all the systems we have created to build and maintain a ‘functioning’ society, we have failed endlessly to remind people of this very fact. The failure is then made so much worse as we attempt to train people into thinking alike, acting alike, maintain alike. Our personal gift to the world around us is our independent thought, our ways of being that no one else has and our personal path of development, our evolution. We’ve been conditioned through parenting techniques, schools and other systems we’ve been involved with from a young age, work and laws to social norms, labels and diagnoses to believe that we are a certain type of thinker or learner and it can feel an impossible task to unpick that and rediscover our uniqueness but it’s so doable, not just doable but it’s the key to living a harmonious life with yourself
For until you take the time to get to know yourself for who you really truly are, you are blind in world full of the most intense and glorious colours, guessing what is what and missing the greatest joy of seeing what is. Listen to every emotion you feel, be it strong or subtle, negative or positive. Notice it and ask yourself why it is that you’re feeling it. It won’t always come to you straight away but trust that being conscious of your feelings is the way to learn your own language, the language of you! And once you begin to master it, you will be able to work out what it is that you want to learn and how you want to learn it
The possibilities are endless and there are more opportunities available to you to experience the greatest joys than you could ever know, but you must start with learning yourself and never giving up practising
02. Plan ahead + plan nothing
There are so many well written pieces of literature on this topic and it’s undoubtably that you’ve heard this before in so many words, probably so many more times than you care to remember but here it comes again: Time is a gift. Use it wisely. Plan in the things you love and need to do (for yourself to be the happiest version of you). Plan rest time too because constantly doing things will lead to less enjoyment in the things you actually do enjoy. It’s such a common occurrence that realising down time is essential happens after burning out and that is such a shame because it can be prevented but only when prioritising productivity in its most recognisable form and productivity in its hidden but just as vital form (rest) in equal measure. Don’t work more than you live, even if you love what you do. Your work and life will be better in countless ways if you don’t!
03. Talk to yourself with kindness
The words you speak become the house that you live in - a quote that hits home (no pun intended). Not only must we be more gentle, intentional and kind with the words that we use because our world needs that from us to create a society we actively want to be part of but we need to start by being thoughtful with how we talk about ourselves, to ourself and to others
Next time you catch yourself saying ‘I always …’ or ‘I can’t…’ or ‘I never…’ ask yourself this: would you speak about your loved ones in this stagnant way? Would you be more open to them being capable of change than you are to yourself? Would you encourage them to overcome things they believe they can’t? Would you provide them with an open minded rhetoric and remind them of all that you love about them? And if you answered yes to these things, surely you must know that your words are powerful and that expressing love to those around you can be done effectively through how you talk to them? Well, the way you talk to yourself follows the same path here
In fact, the chances are that the kinder you are to yourself in the words that you use, the kinder you’ll enable yourself to be to those around you because your state of being will be even more filled with love. This isn’t something you can crack once and forget about, it’ll take training and forgiveness when you fall into old habits but the benefits of you speaking to yourself and about yourself with love at the forefront will be transformation
Alex's career advice
01. Emphasise relationship building
There are things you can learn from every person, be those obvious or subliminal. When it comes to creating a network of people around you that you can use to support you in your work, start with complete openness. Sometimes people place the largest emphasis on ‘networking’ with others in the same circles as them or with those in positions of authority because they feel that’ll help them the most in the long run
Alex’s advice is to treat every interaction as an opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship that could lead to mutual support. You have no idea how someone is connected to someone else and so by making time to get to know your barista or your colleague’s partner at after work drinks or the woman you always see on your dog walk, you could end up being introduced to someone you had always dreamed of meeting because the network of your network is an unknown treasure chest. You will also find that listening deeply, speaking from the heart and leading with kindness to all of those you meet ends up ensuring you create wonderful friendships, that you become known for your authenticity and therefore trustworthiness and that you learn more from those around you and about yourself than you could ever anticipate
02. Time block + befriend your calendar
On an extremely practical note, if you have a job which requires you to juggle multiple tasks (which pretty much every job does), you’ll need to find a system that works for you so that your brain is not the only home for all the information. Alex has developed a set of tools she uses to ‘download’ her work brain each day to a digital format after years of trial and error and now knows what works for her. She blocks time in her calendar for every task, from replying to emails to lunch, deep focused work to meetings, her calendar is where she plans her day and that always includes all that she needs to do that day (not just things that involve others). If she can’t get to everything she has in her calendar for that day or week or month, which does happen as she’s only human, she’s able to reprioritise and move tasks around so that the most pressing ones are completed first. This works extremely well when it comes to reporting to a manager or client about when work will be handed in as she’s able to have an overview of what’s next
03. Don't let your job make you unwell
The final piece of advice for this write up is the most important and there will be plenty more on this site on the topic so search for burn out and delve as deep as you’d like to go: don’t let your job make you unwell. No matter how much you love what you do (or don’t love it at all), no job is worth you sacrificing your health for. Flex Jobs report that 3/4 of all workers say they’ve experienced burn out. This just isn’t okay. We aren’t here just to work and we certainly aren’t working to harm ourselves
Alex talks in her episode of the podcast about burning out.
I felt I needed to prove myself to everyone at work all the time and I was not saying no enough. I was in the Han it of cancelling annual leave, working double the hours I was supposed to, sometimes not going to the loo when I needed to because my meetings felt more important and I felt I didn’t have time to call my family. I kept going like that for a year until it got to the point where I was too tired to hold conversations outside of work, I was hurting myself through stupid accidents like resting my wrist on my straighteners when I was sleepy or bumping into things and I was so stressed by people wanting to talk to me, it felt like my brain was on overdrive. The physical symptoms came too, I had night sweats and experienced the loss of my period. It was those 2 things really that made me see that I had to make a change
I vowed to get back to feeling good and never to get in that state again. I knew I had to not work late so often, I had to take my over-time back in lieu, I started saying no to things that weren’t important or could be better handled by someone else so I could deliver my best work without being side tracked
It didn’t take long to feel calmer and so much happier, a few weeks into making changes and I felt like a new person
Here are my 3 ways to prevent a burn out:
1 - talk to those around you to help them hold you accountable for making changes, you aren’t alone and the people that love you genuinely want to know how you are
2 - write down everything that is stressful, get it all out and then underline what is time critical and write next to it who can support you. You alone should never be responsible for the success of something, we are pack animals and need one another to reach the highest potential. See what can be crossed off the list entirely as it just isn’t going to contribute towards you getting where you need to go - this may bring up difficult conversations but approach them with kindness and you will not be disappointed in yourself. What is remaining is important but not time critical and therefore can be pushed back, again just communicate clearly with those concerned
3 - most importantly, address your self love and self care practises. What matters most in the world to you and how can you make sure you can be the best version of yourself to then fulfil what makes you happy
The key take away from this episode is that life is short and should be filled with happiness at every opportunity. Our health is never to be taken for granted and work should be focused wherever possible on one of our passions, trust it’ll all work out if you follow what feels right in your gut!
Big love, thank you for your support