Life + Work

How to Get Ahead in Life and Work

The road to where I stand today has been an interesting one. After a three-month internship at Style at Home following graduation, I was the only one chosen from my group of interns to be kept on as an editor. Within six months of my first job at the magazine, I was promoted to a […]

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How to get Ahead in Life and Work

The road to where I stand today has been an interesting one.

After a three-month internship at Style at Home following graduation, I was the only one chosen from my group of interns to be kept on as an editor. Within six months of my first job at the magazine, I was promoted to a senior editor role. A year after that, I was asked to join the web team and help grow that part of the business. Following a press trip to Italy, I was sought out by the hosting travel company to join their PR team. Within two years of working in travel PR, I was asked to move to the UK to manage the brand’s global PR and brand partnerships. And since I left the corporate world and started up This Renegade Love, it’s taken less than a year to acquire a loyal and engaged following online.

When I type it out, yes, I see that I’ve done a helluva lot since I entered the workforce eight years ago. It’s taken a lot of hustle and it hasn’t been without tears or taking a leap of faith on a massive risk. I’ve had some slip-ups along the way and of course have made some bad decisions (mostly dating, uggggggh), but life is a learning process and each stumble gives me an opportunity to get back up and try again.

So if you’re struggling with keeping focused on your job or creative passion or even your friendships, here are eight simple rules I’ve learned to live by in order to get ahead in life and work.


1 Find a mentor.

Starting out in my career at Style at Home magazine, I was lucky to have not just one, but two mentors to guide me through my beginning years in the workforce – one on the print side and one on web. Their years of exerience were invaluable to me as I navigated my way through the industry, and to this day I still look to them to bounce ideas off of. So whether it’s for work or fitness or a life coach, find someone whose opinion you respect and can offer insight that will propel you forward.


2 Set goals… but don’t get down on yourself if you don’t meet them.

This is a toughie. So often we get frustrated and disappointed in ourselves when we don’t achieve goals by a certain date, whether it be weight loss or a promotion at work or a growth in our social media following. If you want to get ahead in life, don’t dwell on what you haven’t yet achieved –  simply readjust and keep working towards those goals. Persistence and positivity is key, friends.


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3 Make time for the people who make you happy.

It’s soooo easy to get caught up in the wrong circles. You know, the ‘cool kids’ who are successful and well-known and always in the spotlight… but who would also throw you under the bus without hesitation in order to get ahead. Instead of buying in to someone else’s success at the cost of losing sight of your own, spend time with the people who make you happy, boost your spirits and encourage you in your quest to achieve your goals. Surrounding yourself with positivity is a straight path to getting ahead in life.


4 Look to others for inspiration, but not replication.

It’s impossible to create something entirely original these days. Even technology looks to different forms of design, art and communication techniques that came before it. But you’ll never get ahead if you’re simply replicating someone else’s success. When I was building This Renegade Love, I spent weeks scouring the internet for inspiration, then went offline completely for a few days to bring it all back to me and my vision. Stick true to yourself instead of aspiring to be someone else.


5 Spend money on experiences, not things.

Travel. Music festivals. Networking conferences. Sunday brunch. The moments we experience have much more of a lasting impact on our lives than the items we buy. Sure, a brand new TV is great and all, but the connections you’ll make at SXSW or a blogger conference, or the new cultures you’ll encounter when visiting a foreign country? These experiences will help you learn and grow as a person and create new opportunities in a way that tangible things cannot (and really, all that new TV will do is feed you garbage like The Bachelor).


6 Don’t assume you know everything.

Because you don’t. Always be growing, always be learning. Read books, listen to podcasts, subscribe to daily news e-mails. Ask questions and look to your peers for guidance in areas you’re not familiar with. Every entrepreneur I’ve profiled has said that their success was attributed to bringing on specialists for parts of the business they weren’t experts in. Be forever curious and you’ll only continue to grow.


7 Take care of yourself.

If you’re not your number one priority, you won’t be a priority to anyone else either. Someone who is tired, burnt out and constantly doing things for the benefit of other people instead of themselves will be taken advantage of. Recognize when you need a break and don’t be afraid to say no when life gets overwhelming.


8 Be nice to people.

Because it’s the easiest thing to do and will make the biggest lasting impression (if you’re a dick to people, that’ll make a lasting impression too, but not the kind you want). If there’s anything my mum taught me that has stuck throughout my life, it’s to always treat everyone how you would want to be treated. I can remember freaking out in university if I got a bad grade or if I didn’t make the Dean’s List, and my mum would tell me, “Grades don’t mean anything in the real world. Yes, skills and knowledge are important, but at the end of the day, people are going to hire someone that’s easy to be around.” And it’s true – every promotion, freelance gig and free coffee has come from simply being nice to people (with a little sprinkle of hustle, for good measure).



What rules do you live by in order to get ahead in life and work?
Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. Thuy says:

    I felt proud reading what you’ve accomplished so far in your career. I’m happy you had great mentors. Now that I think about, while unorthodox, I did have some mentors in my first job at an ad agency. Now I’m onto bigger and better things and I hope to be surrounded by a LOT of people who are better than me that I can learn from and at a company that I really really believe in.

  2. Nicky says:

    You’ve had a great run in your 20s. I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, because all the points you make are good ones, but advancement opportunities tend to dry up in your 30s and 40s so it’s important to work hard in your 20s and stay humble. There was nothing worse than having to work with interns or new grads who thought they were entitled to make 70k+ a year after graduation and complain all day long instead of learning on the job (even if you think it’s beneath you). And if you haven’t been fired or laid off once you haven’t been working long enough.

    • Nicky says:

      By dry up I meant that in your 20s you are expected to jump from job to job, gaining news skills and experiences along the way but later that’s not as encouraged. You’ll never have as many opportunities as you did in your 20s.

  3. Riley Nowlan says:

    This was so helpful to read right now! I graduated in December and the transition has been less than easy and this for sure put things in perspective.

    Thanks for sharing,


  4. Carmy says:

    Um wow! Congrats on your major career advancements! I totally agree with the spending money on experiences and not things. I’ve been trying to cut down on materialistic things (mainly running gear…) and am saving for a nice post graduation vacation.

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I'm a Brand & Content Strategist with 15 years of experience in helping businesses craft their brand story and build trust through authentic storytelling.

I'm Lauren, the creator of This Renegade Love and your new brand BFF.


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Creative branding strategies and solutions for small businesses and influencers.

Lauren McPhillips

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