2014 marked the first year of my career that I had a full time job working in sports. It was an exciting, crazy, emotional year and I learned a lot. Here are some of the lessons I'll take with me for the future and I hope you do as well:
Use your voice: It took me nearly the entire year to realize that I have an important voice in this industry. My ideas are valid and can benefit the company I work for. I used to shy away from speaking my mind or sharing my vision. Now I jump at the chance. If you never share things with the people you work for/with, you miss out on opportunities. Grab the bull by the horns and go for it. You never know when your next idea could turn into something great.
If you don't ask, the answer is always no: I've been turned down so many times in my career, I lost count. But I also have had a lot of success. I would never have gotten where I am today if I didn't put myself out there. You will hear no and it will hurt. But you will grow from picking up the pieces and moving on. Each no will make you hungrier. Learn from the times you are turned down and use them to make you better. It will only be a matter of time before you get a yes.
Don't dwell on your shortcomings: Yes I'm the minority in my office. Heck, I'm the only woman on my team. For a while, I let that hold me back. I constantly thought the industry and my company were against me because I'm a girl. Once I stopped thinking about it and just did my job to the best of my ability, both myself and my team saw my improvement instantaneously and I quickly became a leader. Now I have so much confidence and I'll never let my gender hold me back ever again.
It's okay to show your personality: Yes you need to be professional at work, but you don't need to be a quiet drone that just sits at their desk and does their job. Tell a joke, laugh, get to know your coworkers. You will become more likable and bond with your peers. And if you are enjoying yourself, it will show in your production.
Focus on the positive: At one point this year, I wanted to give up. I started searching and applying for other jobs. I was unhappy because of the hours I was working and wasn't looking at the whole picture. Once I realized how lucky I was to have a job in this industry in the first place, and how many people would kill to be in my position, I was happier. I realized that nothing in life is permanent. If I keep working hard and proving myself, those things that made me unhappy probably will change. I didn't give it a fighting chance. If you dwell on the negatives, it will show in your work and you will never get where you want to be.
Find some way to do what you love: Working in sports is great and I enjoy what I do on a daily basis. My dream, however, is to write. I would love to compose features for Sports Illustrated or work for a team and be behind all their media. So I started this blog. It has not only become an outlet for me, but is something I can use in the future to market myself for jobs. I also got a part time job working with a professional team in their PR department, which is my end goal. Take a little bit of time each day to put towards your dream career. It could pay off big time in the future.
Don't give up: This is easier said then done. It's human nature to give up when something becomes too hard, but getting through the tough times will only make you stronger. If you give up, you will never forgive yourself. Keep pushing if it's something you truly want. Your passion, tenacity and drive will touch someone along the way. It may take 10 weeks, it may take 10 years, but sooner or later you will get where you want to be.