Name: Rebecca Berzins
What do you do? How would you describe your working life?
I have just launched as a self employed Travel Advisor as part of the Travel Counsellors network of home working agents. My aim is to use my 10 years + of travel industry expertise to take the stress out of organising holidays for my clients, whilst injecting a personal and memorable service in to the entire holiday planning experience.
It's early days (I've just launched on 22nd December!) and I know the juggle between work and family life will be a challenge but like most us that are self employed, I'm hoping that working for myself will bring me the work life balance we all crave and precious time with my 20 month daughter that I would otherwise have missed out on if I'd returned to full time employment.
Did you show any early signs as a child that indicated that you would end up where you are today?
From a very young age I always used to pour over the holiday brochures my parents would pick up to plan our annual summer holiday. I would flick through judging each hotel based solely on it's swimming pool - the more free form the better and I was obsessed with staying somewhere with a swim up bar.
I think the desire to explore the world beyond just summer beach holidays stemmed from one of my most memorable school projects - a Geography project about Japan. Even then at the age of 9/10 I thoroughly enjoyed researching all the different elements of the county whilst learning about the unique culture and I still get that same buzz from planning holidays today.
After that project, I always vowed to travel to Japan as my first big solo adventure however when it came down to it as a 19 year old student, I realised that destinations like Thailand are by far cheaper so I headed to South East Asia instead and still haven't made it to Japan. My husbands' best friend is currently living there there so hopefully 2017 will be the year I finally fulfil that dream.
Describe your morning routine
I usually get rudely awoken by my co-sleeping 20 month old daughter who climbs on top of me for a cuddle and then watches CBeebies whilst I check in with emails and social media on my phone. Ever since watching the great TED talk, Tiny Habits, I try to do three sun salutations immediately after getting out of bed. Then it's a shower and breakfast - usually scrambled eggs and a mint matcha tea. I harbour fantasies of emulating the "Morning routine tips for successful entrepreneurs" that I frequently read blogs about, but with a toddler ruling the roost I think my current routine is the best I can hope for for a few years.
Where do you get your ideas/inspiration from and when do they arrive?
My mind is often a jumble and I have an atrocious memory - thoughts pop in to my head at inconvenient moments and then in a blink of an eye disappear into an abyss that leaves me roaming around the house desperately trying to recapture it. Occasionally though clear ideas do appear, taking over my mind and when they do I am compelled to run with it there and then. I think I am quite impulsive - I know in my heart when something feels right. Having said that I do often go through the formality of checking, making lists, writing out pros and cons. But at the end of the day I do it anyway if it feels right in my heart.
When motivation wavers, how do you get back on track?
I'm motivated by other women, the way they craft out their piece of the world. Motherhood still sadly seems to close so many doors to women in the world of employment but with that comes an amazing resilience and resourcefulness in women that I never fully appreciated before having my daughter.
When it comes down to the detail, I am a master procrastinator and one of the ways this manifests itself is with obsessive list writing. If I ploughed as much energy in to the task at hand as I do to writing lists about what I have to do then I would no doubt get more done. But I can't help it, it's the way I bring order to my mind. Besides, I've always worked best to deadlines. You'll often find me running around screeching "I've got too much to doooo" but it is actually only that pressure that makes me crack on and do it.
What is the best thing about your job/lifestyle?
I now feel totally in command of my life and can now do everything on my own terms. Although I still have to deal with the demands of my toddler and clients there is a sense of ownership in running my own business that I find empowering. I have always been a bit of a control freak and working for someone else did not suit me. When I was 4 or 5 bosses in to my working life and had found complaint about all of them my husband stopped giving me sympathy over my rubbish boss and began to comment that perhaps it was me and not them.
If you could do something else for the day- what would you do?
I would be a travel presenter - think of a female Simon Reeve!
How do you overcome any challenges in your working life?
I've always been really hard on myself when I don't get things right. For a long time I thought I had to 'be there' as in, be at the end goal immediately, be the best right away. It's only since I've had my daughter that I've realised that it's the getting there that counts. Discovering this now is quite freeing and I am looking forward to building up my business slowly and ceasing each obstacle that arises as a new learning experience.
How do you celebrate your successes?
Not often enough to be honest. I think most Mums, most women, most people I know focus too much on the negatives and not enough on the positives. Maybe this is something to work on in 2017. Perhaps I need more Prosecco in my life!
Do you have any tools/resources or rituals that you couldn’t live without?
I have always been told that I'm an organised person and for a long time I went along with it, stating organised if ever I was asked to list my attributes in situations such as a job interview. However I've come to the conclusion that I am actually a scatty person who aspires to be organised! Did I mention that I am extremely forgetful? And as I am constantly making lists to try and bring some calm to the chaos, sadly and un-uniquely, I cannot live without my phone. It's where all my lists are stored. I set reminders for everything from prompting me to file a tax return to texting a friend on their first day in a new job. I would be totally lost without it.
Which books from your bookcase would you recommend?
Questions about books have always made me twitch a little bit uncomfortably. As a travel enthusiast you'd expect me to be able to reel of the names of countless fascinating travel memoirs, but my book shelf (or Kindle to be precise) is full of easy reads that don't quite portray the full range of my interests. I have come to terms with this though - reading to me is a way to switch off and calm my mind at the end of a busy day (I often fall asleep whilst reading). I have learned that I am just not inspired or motivated by books, my brain does not learn or absorb things by reading about them, I have to experience them. This is one of the reasons I think I love travelling so much!
What are your daily essentials to make you feel ready?
A shower! Everyone with a child knows how difficult it can sometimes be to find time to take a shower. But without my morning shower I never feel like I get going for the day and I value that 5 minutes of me time each day.
What advice would you give your teenage self?
I did some silly things as a teenager but I believe everything I did and experienced bought me to where I am now, a place of happiness and contentment. So I wouldn't give the teenage me any specific advise that would change the decisions I made - I would just say "Don't listen to the people that say your teenage years are the best years of your life, the best is yet to come"
Where would you like to be in 5 years time?
It probably wouldn't be much different from where I am now. The past 5 years have had their fair share of ups and downs but I've finally reached a place I aspired to me and feel quite content. Adulthood definitely brings you a sense of contentment that the teenage years lack! 5 years from now I'd love to have produced more children, to be making a success of my business, to have settled in to a new family home and maybe to have ticked a few more travel destinations off my bucket list - Japan and Canada perhaps.