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Advice to my younger work self... what I wish I knew then that I know now...

Updated: Mar 8


It's International Women's Day and I find myself reflecting on how much I have to celebrate and be grateful for with regard to my career and life now. However, it wasn't always that way...


I spent almost two decades of my adult life chronically stressed, working myself to exhaustion and ultimately severe burnout with two major illnesses and surgeries thrown in... I had a deep need to prove myself and suffered extreme imposter syndrome. I sacrificed so much that life has to offer and found myself constantly running but feeling like I was getting nowhere...I was pleasing everybody but myself... I climbed the ladder fast, in a senior leadership role at a young age, but I had never slowed down enough to see it was the wrong ladder...


Thankfully I learned a lot from these experiences and love working today to help others prevent or step out of this kind of cycle... So here's what would I tell myself I could back in time...

  • I'd encourage myself to be courageous to be myself more, to not feel the need to 'always fit in'. When you wear a mask and spend hours being someone you are not, that is heavy and exhausting.

  • I would tell myself ‘strong’ doesn’t mean what you think it means. You do not need to work until you physically can’t function. Being vulnerable, open and caring for yourself is strong. Setting boundaries and saying no is strong. Standing up for yourself is strong. Asking for help is strong.

  • I would advise myself to start building a list of my core achievements and contributions and top it up regularly, so I could remind myself easily of how much I was accomplishing and not need to wait for validation from others.

  • I would stop comparing myself to others and remind myself that people think I am more confident than I am, maybe they’re just masking it too and just trying to do their best and get by also.

  • I would learn some techniques to help me not be so nervous to speak up and share ideas and really recognise that the person judging me most is in fact myself and to work on letting go of that.

  • I would encourage self-care more and actively plan it in my days so that I kept my glass topped up rather than waiting to be so depleted it was forced upon me.

  • I would make more time for joy, for fun, for laughter so that I could keep in touch with who I really am.

  • I would give myself permission to slow down and reflect so that I didn’t end up climbing the wrong ladder but instead recognised the path I really wanted to be on.

  • I would no longer wait to feel ready…wait to feel confident…wait to feel motivated…wait to feel happy… I would take small steps to support myself, my goals, my dreams…

  • I would not sacrifice everything else I wanted in life for so long.

  • I WOULD REMIND MYSELF DAILY THAT I DO ENOUGH, I GIVE ENOUGH AND THAT I AM ENOUGH

  • Oh and I’d advise myself the heels aren’t worth it…your knees will thank you for losing them!!


Thankfully I did the work and invested in my healing, my growth and my transformation and this exercise is one that today I invite many of my clients to explore together. With an invitation of compassion and self mentoring, to be the woman to yourself that a younger you maybe needed. So if you can give yourself some time... simply ask... what advice would I give my younger self that would help me be closer now to where I truly want to be, what I really want to feel....


And if you need some support, reach out anytime.


If this resonates, I am excited to share news of a NEW TWO DAY RETREAT this Autumn to help women go from surviving to thriving - for more information please pop me an email at hello@clairekelly.ie as spaces are limited.


Group of women at a retreat
Upcoming Women's Retreat





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