New Year, New Challenges


We all know what time of year it is, the days are incredibly short, the temperatures are continuing to dip and the chaos of Christmas is finally over. Thankfully, the year 2018 has begun, the traditional period of reflection is nearly over and it’s time to start doing. Going into my 20th year at Pitman Training, I’m looking back on my time with a feeling of nostalgia and appreciation, and I’m also looking ahead to the future and how I can build upon an already fruitful career. So, this year, I’m not following the old cliché of ‘new year, new me.’ Instead, I’m leaning more towards ‘new year, new challenges.’ I’ve devised a list of tips and advice on what I’ve learnt throughout the years and I’ve also added some things I’d like to focus on. Some of these points have really helped me during my career so I hope they will be just as useful for you.

  • Luck: is it a myth?

In my opinion, luck is nearly always a myth. Not many people in business get to where they are because they were in the right place at the right time and believe it or not, not many have had success handed to them on a plate. We all know, it takes hard work, perseverance and dedication to achieve success. Not everything is plain sailing and that’s why you must face challenges head on and, if things don’t quite go your way, brush yourself down and keep going. Don’t count on luck changing your fortunes. Remove the phrase “I was just lucky” from your vocabulary, you’ve worked hard for your successes. Work with a strong, assertive mind-set. Operate with tenacity and willingness to carry on no matter what obstacles you hit. These traits are what make good business owners and employees.

  • Focusing on the Competitors

In my experience, it’s always good to have a bit of healthy competition in business. However, it’s sometimes too easy to fall into what I call, ‘the obsession abyss.’ Occasionally deafened by the background noise that other companies make, your own ideas become stifled and restricted by the messages being sent out by others. Market research and competitor awareness is a good thing but becoming obsessed with their activities, their figures, their market share etc. can hinder your own progress and reputation. One of the amazing things about setting out in business is that you’re full of enthusiasm, excitement and original ideas. It’s vital to find a way to keep that drive and retain your passion for as long as you can. So, if you notice your boss or yourself obsessing over what others are doing, offer a gentle reminder to have faith and confidence in your own ideas. You won’t go too far wrong if you trust your own voice.

  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

There’s a common misconception that to be successful, you have to do everything right from the get-go. This is unachievable and just piles extra pressure on. Things go wrong, you may have to make difficult decisions and not everything can be perfect, that’s just the way it goes in life. It’s simply unavoidable. In the words of John Maynard Keynes, “It’s better to be imprecisely right rather than precisely wrong” and that’s something I wholeheartedly agree with. If you’re working on a task, or managing the every-day workings of a place of employment, try and keep a good sense of perspective. Rarely are things 100% perfect and that’s okay, let it go.

  • Accountability

Remember that you’re accountable only to yourself, so do things that you believe are right. Go with your gut and empower yourself with the confidence that you know you have. The only person that’s stopping you from achieving your goals, is you. Push yourself forward, be proactive, tackle those important tasks head-on and not only will you prove your worth to yourself, but also your fellow colleagues. If things go wrong, own it. Stand up and show you’re accountable. Good or bad, you’ll earn respect.  Remind yourself that mistakes made are lessons learned, lessons that will deter you from doing the same thing again. What I’m trying to say is summarised perfectly by the late Steve Jobs: "Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations." Again, reputable words to live by.

  • Two Sides to Every Story

It’s always a good idea to try and keep a clear line between your working life and personal life. You need to be able to put two different hats on but that’s not to say you need to pretend to be someone you’re not. One of the best aspects of our working lives is the relationships we build with our colleagues, but here I mean it’s more about distinguishing where your personal life stops and professional life begins. There’s nothing worse than pondering over something upsetting or distracting that has happened in your personal life, at work. This only ruins your productivity and motivation. If you have a tough day, the best remedy is to get stuck into a task and keep yourself busy. Work can often make you feel better, especially if you’re surrounded by a team with high morale and comradery. It’s difficult to tackle this with others around you that struggle to keep personal issues from impacting them at work but if you maintain that line yourself, it might permeate to others around you.

  • Respect and Empathy

You’re sat there thinking ‘of course I always do this!’ And yes, it does sound simple but that’s exactly why it’s always worth consciously, and honestly, checking in with yourself to ensure you treat everyone fairly, with empathy and with respect. We all know you meet the same people on the way up as you do on the way down so we need to be aware of our actions. Actions have consequences, and they’re not always good. Implementing a tyrannical regime into your workplace or being dismissive of those you encounter is nothing more than counter-productive. Be patient, a good listener, praise regularly, encourage, be polite and be reasonable where appropriate. Admittedly, this is a long list, and one you might think you do automatically all the time, but it’s always worth re-evaluating your approach. We know no-one is perfect all of the time, but if you can be more mindful and demonstrative in these areas, your workplace environment is likely to be a more harmonious environment with people happier in their job. Happy staff means they produce better, and effective results for the business.  

  • Figures, Figures, Figures!

I originally trained as an accountant so I’m naturally drawn to the numbers and, in my position, I know the importance of keeping an eye on the figures. The finances are key to the overall running of a business. They shine a light on how the company is doing and which areas need attention. Even if you’re not in a position that has direct involvement with the accounts, I’d still recommend you make yourself aware of the financial position of your organisation. Knowing and understanding the figures can help you to be proactive rather than reactive. For example, if you spot areas where you think savings could be made or equipment you know will require investment to be budgeted for, you can bring this to the right person’s attention. This proactive approach will enhance your effectiveness.  Financial awareness skills will keep you on your toes and gives you platform on build on.

  • Never Settle

It’s never a good idea to settle. Becoming comfortable is okay for some, but you don’t want things to get tedious and repetitive. Setting new challenges and aims is what makes me leap out of bed on a morning. Always strive for more, keep busy and you’ll rarely get bored. I don’t necessarily mean you need to be leaving your job or changing career completely. You can set smaller goals that all contribute towards a more satisfying work life. Things such as covering someone else’s role whilst they’re on holiday to broaden your knowledge of their job, take on additional responsibility, commit to professional development, join a networking group etc. Again, if things aren’t quite what you hoped or expected them to be, take the advice of one of the most influential entrepreneurs ever, Steve Jobs:

“If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”


 By Claire Lister, Managing Director at Pitman Training Group Ltd.




Call us now and transform your career today

0161 907 6724

Connect with us on