Lessons from the past about hardwork

I often wonder how the nonchalant underachieving teenager I used to be grew up to become a go-getter. I went to high school in Nigeria and in my school, I was in a class of over 100 student. It is a wonder why I never quite understood what I was being taught. The only subjects I managed to make a bit of headway with was Mathematics and Further Mathematics, otherwise, I was just a very mediocre student. I had no real ambition and admired my classmates that seemed to know exactly what they wanted out of life.

All of this changed when my parents received good counsel to send me to the UK for my A-levels. I decided this was a perfect opportunity for me to start over. This was probably motivated by the fact my parents never let me forget how much money they were paying for my education as an international student. I was determined not to let their investment result in a waste.

My determination, coupled with the fact that in my new college, the biggest class size was significantly smaller than where I was coming from, and my teachers were extremely eager to help me, resulted in me becoming an A student. I studied hard and I asked questions when in doubt. I could not recognise the person I had become, but I loved the fact that I had become one of those annoying know it alls that always answered questions in class!

My main goal at the time was to get into my first choice university. My hard work paid off and this goal was achieved as at the conclusion of my A-levels, I secured a place at Imperial College London, which was and still is a top 10 university in the UK.

This achievement seems like so long ago, but I still consider it to be a pivotal point of my life as it set the pace and my mindset for my future. Here are some tips I learnt as a result of this experience. I still apply these at work and in my business endeavours. I hope it will give someone the motivation they need to move from status quo to the next level.

  1. Acknowledge where you are and set goals with measurable milestones
    Most of us have one big goal we will like to achieve. However, in most cases, it can be discouraging waiting to achieve this goal. Setting smaller measurable and specific milestones towards your big goal gives you the opportunity to make changes sooner rather than later where necessary and also motivates you as meet each mini goal.
  2. Put in the hours and the results will speak for itself
    As the saying goes, nothing good comes easy. It can be hard when you are working hard towards a goal and everyone else seems to be having fun. It is worth reminding yourself that attaining a successful result will be worth it.
  3. Ask for help
    As the quote goes, “No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” John Donne.
    We often get trapped in the “I want to do this by myself” loop. Asking for help does not take anything away from what you are trying to achieve. If anything, it gives us a different perspective and we can often learn from other peoples mistake, saving time in the process. It is important to build an effective support system, one you are comfortable enough to ask for help.

  4. Encourage yourself
    I probably should have listed this first, as I believe this is very important. It is nice when other people encourage us, but we really shouldn’t wait for that to happen. Get into the habit of encouraging yourself, pat yourself on the back when you achieve a goal, speak positively to yourself when you feel low. You are with yourself 100% of the time, whereas other people walk in and out of your life constantly. So be nice to yourself.
  5. Invest in yourself
    I know this sounds expensive, but it does not have to be. These days there are so many people online willing to share their knowledge for free or for a small fee (as little as £10 for a course). Obviously, the more research you do, you will be able to decipher what is good and what is junk. Investing in yourself also includes resting and recharging, taking time out to unwind. These all go hand in hand in improving your capacity deliver.

I did not want to write a sixth point as 5 is a nice number, but I will round up by saying, this. Share your knowledge. You will be amazed by how much you don’t know when you share. We all can learn from each other.



Dami Ajibade

Dami is a Chartered Accountant and Manager at one of the Big 4 accounting firms. She has an MEng in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College London. She is an Amazon Partner Seller and is passionate about good food. She started her career on a Tax graduate programme and is an International Corporate Tax expert.

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