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


  1. January 26, 2018 / 12:31 pm

    Love this!
    I am a big believer in saying “I can do it!” professionally, even if I’m unsure exactly *how* – what better time to learn and upskill!

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      January 26, 2018 / 4:37 pm

      Totally agree! It’s a scary prospect but my mission this year is to role with it 🙂

  2. January 26, 2018 / 12:41 pm

    There’s a quote that goes something like “whether you think you can, or you can’t, either way you’re right” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s always hard to push ourselves and focus on what we actually can do. I do the exact same thing and I’m always feeling like “I’ll be better when I get an actual camera” or “I can go for those opportunities when I’m more prepared” instead of actually giving myself a little credit for what I can do now, so I can completely relate.
    As usual, your post was really motivating and made me feel a bit more human because hey, I’m not alone on this either!
    I’m planning on getting out of my comfort zone this year, and see what that brings. I’m sure it’ll be good!
    Anyway, I enjoyed your article 🙂 and I’m sure you’ll find great things in 2018, Alice

    P.S: I love this outfit and the way you use colour!

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      January 26, 2018 / 2:59 pm

      Yes, love this quote Michelle! I look forward to seeing what exciting things we both get up to this year 🙂

  3. Dannii
    January 26, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    Great post and something I can relate to. I stopped saying I can’t and changed it to I can’t right now. Then I found a way to do it.

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      January 26, 2018 / 3:01 pm

      Love this approach! Thanks for sharing, Dannii x

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      January 26, 2018 / 7:19 pm

      Haha, that’s exactly it! x

  4. Gemma L Hirst
    January 26, 2018 / 7:37 pm

    I needed to read something like this today 🙂 thank you for spurring me on.

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      January 26, 2018 / 9:18 pm

      I’m so glad it helped, Gemma! x

  5. January 27, 2018 / 11:55 am

    Love this post! I feel like you should always give something a go, you never know where it may lead you!!!

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      January 28, 2018 / 2:29 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed 🙂

  6. imogenroseblogs
    February 1, 2018 / 7:33 pm

    I’m TOTALLY guilty of this too so I can really relate to this post! I often feel as though I down play my skills which is so ridiculous! We all need some self confidence and believe in ourselves a lot more! Great post Alice xx Imogen

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      February 4, 2018 / 5:42 pm

      Thanks Imogen! I do think as women we’re pre-conditioned to play down our strengths which is just wrong! I’m glad you can relate xx

  7. February 5, 2018 / 9:10 am

    I can definitely relate to this! I find it really hard to have confidence in my abilities but I am definitely going to try harder at believing in myself.

    Thanks girl! x

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      February 5, 2018 / 1:27 pm

      I’m glad you found this post useful. You should absolutely believe in yourself! You’re a talented lady 🙂 x

  8. February 8, 2018 / 6:57 pm

    You are so right! Sometimes you need to just wing it and go for it. And yes, I think us women are too quick to judge ourselves! And to back down from something, we need to just bloody go for it! Well done for saying yes to that video LOL Im hoping to learn to say yes more this year. And to try and create more opportunities for myself.

    Hayley xx

    • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
      February 8, 2018 / 7:02 pm

      I’m glad you agree! It’s so important to say yes – you never know what’s round the corner x

      • February 8, 2018 / 7:05 pm

        As mama Ru says, you gotta just go for it! Put yourself out there, the worse that can happen is they don’t ask you to do it again lol but sometimes nerves push you to your full potential… xx

        • twentysomethinglifeandstyle
          February 9, 2018 / 2:53 pm

          Yes, this is so true! x

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