Ab Brightman joined Worthwhile in 2016 and worked for Student Hubs at Oxford Brookes.

The following is taken from an email I sent round to my colleagues upon moving on from my jobs at Student Hubs. I decided to reflect upon the last two years of working — and living, to share with the rest of the team.

Being as genuinely friendly to as many people who cross your path as possible will never be a mistake.

Life is an adventure playground full of twists, and navigating it through friendliness will open up way more fun. You never know whether that stranger who just walked into your office, or cafe or whatever, could be the best friend of your whole life. So say yes to drinks, invite new people and old friends to things, tell people when you’ve enjoyed spending time with them.

Some of my own highlights were getting an invite to stay with my colleague Rachel’s sister in America, moving in with a great friend, Freya, who I made through working in our office building (TSK), moving in with another great friend, Miriam, who I also met there this coming month - and making a new really good friend, Tessa, from a partnership company my manager, Sara, was working with for a few months.

Fill your life with people who push you forward in life, not just people who are fun.

People who encourage you to try new things or deep dive into your passions, who inspire you through their own choices and who will challenge you when your actions fall short of how you’ve told them you want to live. It doesn’t matter how much positivity or energy you start out with if you’re then mostly around people who are a bad or even neutral influence on you.

Seek to be the best role model you can for other people in your life.

This is the other side of the above — you are always a role model to your family, friends and colleagues so I like to question my own behaviour, anything I do, through the frame of would I want them to see it and be encouraged to replicate it?

The most precious resource is time.

Be generous when other people request it from you, but ruthless in cutting anything out of your life which is draining it without necessity or pure enjoyment. Cutting out facebook messenger two years ago probably gifted me back 20 hours a week. Being ‘too busy’ is a choice of priorities, not an excuse — and sometimes it’s the right choice, and sometimes it isn’t.

The second most precious resource is energy.

It’s natural to feel tried at the end of each day and sometimes there are health conditions or other issues going on which affect — but what is in your control is how well you feed yourself, keeping active and how much quality sleep you give yourself. I feel I can get way more out of my days since I started staying properly hydrated, learning about nutrition and eating enough protein and vegetables, not building up a ridiculous sleep debt by giving myself enough reflective time at night and in mornings and trying to be much more active.

Just because you now get paid to make social change working for a charity, don’t forget to make time for yourself to volunteer still.

This isn’t about it being an ‘obligation’ just that it was clearly a passion of yours before you started work, it makes a different kind of impact than the day job, and if volunteering got you to where you are now then it’s probably not a bad shout to keep it going.


This post was originally published on Ab's blog.