Only you can shape your future, both professionally and personally, says Sharon Fleming, owner of Thompson Travel

As my daughter gets married on Monday, I have started to reminisce on her birth and childhood.

I must be getting old (although I don’t feel it) as I’m beginning to sound like my mother – it all seems like yesterday.

Natalie won’t be much older on her wedding day than I was when she was born. My career started in travel when she was only a year old and sometimes I have no idea how I did it – built a business, raised my kids, got divorced twice (well, I understand those) and still have the most wonderful career and life to date. Of course, I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way – if I was perfect, I would have had nothing to learn.

Work hard

When I was asked to write this comment, Travel Weekly double-checked that I could squeeze it into my schedule after I’d told the newsdesk that I was preparing for a wedding, working until a few days before it, fitting in a few runs and preparing to walk 100km of the Camino Way in Spain.

But if you ask a busy person to do something, they will always get it done!

Let’s face it, I run so I can eat. I’m doing the Camino for the fresh air and scenery, to clear my head and spend time looking at where I’m heading in life – we all need to do that.

I work to pay the bills and take every opportunity that working as a travel agent affords me. Targets are set and reached with hard work and many hours put in. Managing a business and reaching those targets affords this time to go off on Camino. Setting yourself a personal challenge helps you meet work challenges with a fresh perspective.

Look ahead

As I reflect on the speed of the last 25 years, I wonder how I should prepare for next 25. As well as living for the moment, the best way to plan for your future is to create it, whether that’s your professional or personal life. Here are my tips, plus some of a well-known author’s:

1. If you hate what you do, change it.
2. If you love what you do, stick with it.
3. “Plan for your future, it’s where you are going to spend the rest of your life” – Mark Twain.
4. “Never put off to tomorrow what can be done the day after just as well” – Mark Twain.
5. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” – Mark Twain, again.

This article isn’t about business. It’s about what we want from life. When we figure that out we will all do better in our careers. My man Mark Twain had a failed business, but never let things get in his way. He paid his debts with his speaking talents. In fact, his failures gave him the experience to be a success, and I admire that.

Another Twain quote: “The two best days of your life are when you are born and when you find out why.” What a quote. It’s only in the last few years I have taken the time to consider it, and  it took him a long time too.

There is no point stressing, regretting or analysing – it gets you nowhere. Everything is a life lesson. Don’t look
at the past, you’re not going that way.