Stop saying ‘I can’t’ and start getting ahead in your career

Stop saying ‘I can’t’ and start getting ahead in your career

I’m terrible for saying “I can’t”. “I can’t produce professional video content”, I tell myself. “I can’t ask people for work opportunities”. “I can’t make money as a freelancer”. But if 2017 proved anything, it’s that actually I can.

I’ve had a great few weeks to kickstart my year, and it’s made me realise that I need to focus less on what I don’t think I’m capable of, and more on what I can do in order to get ahead in my career.

I’m terrible for always looking for ‘more’ from myself. I always think if I sign up for another training course, or buy another piece of kit then I’ll be able to do a better job. Instead of focusing on my talents, I like to hide behind qualifications, plenty of research and the latest tech.

Twenty-Something City at Central Library Manchester wearing purple trousers on why you should stop saying I can't
Trousers: New Look (similar here); Biker jacket: New Look (similar here); Stipe top: Zara (similar here); Boots: Boohoo (similar here); Laptop bag: STM; Neckerchief: eBay

But something I have recently realised is that everyone is winging it and there’s always more to learn. Businesses these days move so quickly that the real winners are the people who say ‘sure, I can do that’, rather than those of us who like to be cautious and play things by the book.

When it comes to my personal style, no one could describe me as lacking in confidence. So why do I struggle to put myself forward in a professional manner?

I was discussing this with a friend recently, and we realised the inability to wing it is a very female trait. Studies have shown¬†women only apply for jobs when they feel they meet 100 per cent of the criteria, whereas men will apply if they cover 60 per cent of what’s been asked for. We like to read the instructions, don’t we girls? While guys – you’ll just start pressing buttons and see what happens. Kudos.

Blogger Twenty-Something City at Manchester Central Library wearing purple trousers

If someone thinks your capable of something, don’t question it. I actually had an experience in my last internship when the whole Video team was out the office, but our manager needed a video edited quickly to post on Instagram. As I sat alone at my desk, she came up to me and said, “well you know how to edit, don’t you darling?” (Note: at this point she didn’t even know my name)

What happened next? I said I could, and I avoided the caveat of “not very well” or “I should be able to do it”. It was only a small task, but I felt so nervous. But I did it. And not only did the manager learn my name, but I was given more editing opportunities (which I love) and ultimately I was kept on past the end of my internship as a valued member of the team. I’m not saying my one little video achieved all that. But if I’d said “oh sorry, I can’t” I’m confident I wouldn’t be where I am now.

Blogger Twenty-Something City wearing purple trousers and STM Grace Deluxe sleeve in coral at Manchester Central Library

I’ve written before that if you say you are something then it’s true: I’m a freelance journalist because I’ve worked hard and put in the time and effort. I need to accept that I’ve earned my career. And you do too.

Never get complacent, and always accept you have more to learn. But at the same time, us youngsters have skills older people find totally baffling. Things we take for granted are often really valuable in the world of work and we should own that. And all the other stuff that you find tricky? That comes with practice and life experience.

Blogger Twenty-Something City wears purple trousers at Manchester Central Library

We are the business owners and industry leaders of the future. Let’s make 2018 the year we stop saying “I can’t” and start celebrating our talents.

I’d love to hear about how you plan to kick butt in your career. Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.


I was gifted the STM Grace Deluxe laptop sleeve in this post, however all views are my own