Dear women tourism researchers,
I am honored to write this letter to you – you are future leaders, thinkers and collaborators.
When I was asked to write this letter, I wasn’t really sure what to write. I thought and I thought and I hummed and I haaaad about what to write.
I then went down this mental thought path:
- Why would I be asked?
- Did I have anything to contribute?
- Weren’t there smarter, more successful women out there who had more amazing stories to share?
I thought about it and then wrote it down on my TO DO list… then looked at it every week for about two months. Today I woke up and realised why it hadn’t happened… and that’s when I realised what I needed to share with you.
My first tip is don’t procrastinate. Don’t do what I just did regarding this letter! Don’t hum and ha… procrastination is a killer and completely counterproductive. I don’t often procrastinate so this was a good reminder for me how useless and futile it can be. The time I wasted writing it down, thinking about what to say and then thinking some more – could have been spent actually doing it and I would have been finished weeks ago!
In academia, it is rare to have someone hold your hand, tell you what to do and when to do it by. It is up to you. I have colleagues who procrastinate, then get anxious. When they get anxious, they fall into a tail spin and don’t get anything accomplished. No matter how insecure you feel, no matter if you aren’t sure what to write, no matter if you feel like you aren’t good enough – just start! The famous author, Earnest Hemingway, got up every day and wrote until he had one true sentence… sometimes he would accomplish only that one sentence in two hours but other days he would write pages upon pages and keep working. The key is that every day he scheduled a time and stuck to it. He wrote at least 24 books!
My second tip is don’t second guess yourself. Second guessing yourself doesn’t help you – it hinders your productivity. We, as human beings, all want to be seen and be heard and be wanted. As women we have often taken the back seat to men because they seem more self-assured and assertive. It doesn’t matter what everyone else does, it is what you do that counts. You have to wake up and look yourself in the mirror – so be proud of you. Only you can achieve what you achieve. If you are a researcher then chances are that you have already obtained higher education – a feat less than 5% of the population has done. You are already amazing! It is true that we all have doubts – but focusing on the negative doesn’t help our self-confidence. Forge ahead, finish what you are working on and then review it – rather than not starting due to fear. I have long realised in my career that there are so many people who are smarter than me, who are better writers than me, who have more to offer than me… but I also realise that I have got to where I am today because I just get stuff done… if I have to correct it afterwards or change course I can but if I don’t try, I will never improve!
My third tip is do what you love. I remember being in an interview once for a job that sounded amazing and paid well. The interviewer asked me “what gets you out of bed in the morning?”. At the time, I couldn’t answer the question. I thought a lot about that question for the next couple of days and when I got a call and was offered that job, I turned it down. Why? I turned it down because it wasn’t my passion. I didn’t believe in marketing a country which I thought was not taking care of its communities, who was trying to increase numbers and focusing on growth rather than development. I realised I cared – A LOT – about sustainability and that is what I needed to do. Sustainability is a buzz word and it has been renamed about a million things but essentially means achieving a balance of environmental, social and economic principles. Trying to make the tourism industry more sustainable is what excites me, drives me and gets me out of bed each morning. I am never bored of the topics I research and I truly believe it is because it’s my passion. Find your passion and your work will be enjoyable and you will always be able to get out of bed in the morning!
Finally, do something for others. We work, we make money and we live but that is not enough. There are others in this world who are not as fortunate as us and we need to remember the world only becomes a better place when we help others… the rising tide raises all boats. Take time for your kids because they grow up so fast. Take time to volunteer in your community because that is where you live. Take some of your money and give it to others who don’t have as much as you. Do projects that are pro bono or sit on committees that you believe in, even if you don’t get paid. Being useful and helpful is the best payment I have ever had. Also remember that you need to do something for you. Life is more than just work. Have hobbies, have a passion and have fun.
Advice is always easier to give than to receive and I am now off to organize a charity drive.
Thank you for reading.
Ryerson University, Canada