So today I am doing a little bit of celebrating because it is officially my three year blogging anniversary. Thanks to everyone who has already sent me their congratulations. When I first started the blog, I really didn’t put much thought into it. I was head-smashing-against-a-brick-wall bored in my job and I missed having creative tasks. I had also just split up with boyfriend and wanted to prove something to myself. So instead of getting a terrible haircut I started Practically Perfect PA. I thought maybe my mum would read it, possible my best friend who is also a PA… she might read it if she didn’t have anything else to do. My brother certainly wouldn’t read it and most of my other friends preferred my other creative outlet – alcohol.

Happy 3rd birthday Practically Perfect PA

As it turned out quite a few of you began reading the blog. Every day I would check to see how many hits the website received and I couldn’t believe my eyes as it quite quickly reached 100 page views per day. I was absolutely chuffed! I was also pretty terrified. It isn’t easy putting yourself out there, particularly as I come from a background of very much being behind the scenes. But, I thought to myself, this is my opportunity to do something different and although there have been times I thought about going back to “just being an assistant” I have forced myself to keep going with Practically Perfect PA and embrace everything that the blog has thrown my way.

Happy 3rd birthday Practically Perfect PA

I must say I do tend to indulge in self-reflection on anniversaries. I once spent a birthday listing all the terrible choices I had made up until that point (I was 21 and very dramatic). I don’t often blog about myself specifically so I thought I’d give you a little update on what I have been up to over the last three years.

Within a few months of starting Practically Perfect PA I was out looking for a new job. I had been writing about my experiences as an EA and encouraging other assistants to stand up for their career choices while I was actively hating my job. So I took my own advice and decided to look for something better. My first job interview was slightly worrying – the interviewer had read my blog and was asking questions relating specifically to things I had written. I didn’t get the job because I had written about a personality type I found difficult to work with. Turns out the Executive was that exact personality type. I was worried the blog was going to scupper any chances of getting a new job. Either I had to tone down what I was writing, hide the fact I had a blog or stop it altogether. I didn’t want to do any of those things so I decided to keep going and hoped that something would eventually come along. I was right. Skip forward 6 months and I had the opportunity to live in Barcelona, work for a newly established events company and move Practically Perfect PA into a fully functioning and paying part time role.

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Moving to another country, away from everything you know, is really hard. Learning a new language and adapting to a new culture is not easy but it has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve become much more proactive – I thought I already was but I had no idea! I’ve also had to be really organised and focussed so that I spent quality time enjoying Barcelona and not just working all hours. Task management is my new mantra!

In 2013 I was asked to speak at the Office Managers and PA Exhibition and Conference. My immediate reaction was to say no and then hide under my desk. I hated speaking in public, not just public speaking but speaking out loud – in general. If I wasn’t comfortable around people I tended not to speak. If I had to speak I would usually go bright red and a horrible red rash would creep up my chest and throat. I spent a lot of time wearing scarves. It was awful. As I got older I became a little more confident and was able to speak up in meetings and voice my opinion but I still had to fight every instinct not to speak. So back to receiving that invitation to speak, despite my head shouting ‘NO!!’ I said ‘errr yeah sure…’

When the day eventually arrived I was absolutely petrified, but guess what? I did it. I got through it and I was okay. I have quite a few public speaking gigs under my belt and I get more confident with each one. I still get ridiculously nervous but I can stand up in front of people and tell them what I think and I can pass on what I have learnt over the years. That is a massive achievement for me.

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I wish more assistants had that push to try something completely out of their comfort zone. I think many of us don’t get the opportunity and if we do we don’t always take it because we are so used to being behind the scenes and not wanting to push ourselves into the limelight. If you ever get the opportunity – grab it with both hands, what is the worse that could happen? Even Beyonce has fallen off a stage or two!

Happy 3rd birthday Practically Perfect PA

Moving abroad was something I always wanted to do but could never figure out how exactly to do it. This decision took quite a few months to make but one I am so glad I said yes to. Personally as well as professionally it has changed my life. I am now a full time blogger, writing about an industry that I am incredibly passionate about. I am also happily settled in a great relationship, I have a baby on the way and I am moving to Edinburgh in a few months to start the next chapter of my life. Edinburgh is another city I’ve never lived in before and I’m sure it will bring its own challenges – mainly the cold.

Happy 3rd birthday Practically Perfect PA

I look back on the last three years and I am so pleased that I got off my ass and changed something I wasn’t happy with. More often than not, it was me that was holding me back because I just thought eventually that great opportunity would present itself. It didn’t and it never was, I had to find the courage to go for it. I try to pass this wisdom on to other assistants. The only way you are going to advance your career is if you make it happen.  Nobody is going to give it to you, I’m afraid!

Happy 3rd birthday Practically Perfect PA

So what does the future hold? Well Practically Perfect PA is going from strength to strength. We now have over 40,000 page views per month and for me it feels like a real community of engaged assistants who are smart, driven and seriously impressive. We are holding our first conference next year, which is something I have wanted to do for a while and I am really excited about the programme and speakers. The first Practically Perfect PA baby will arrive at the beginning of March so there is that to look forward to as well. Expect lots of maternity and pregnancy blogs in the next few months!

On a final note I want to thank all of you lot for your support over the last three years. I really do appreciate all of your kind words, your opinions and your constructive criticisms. If working on Practically Perfect PA has taught me one thing it is that we can achieve so much if we work together and stick up for each other.

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10 comments

  • Edel Quinn October 20, 2014   Reply →

    Congratulations Nicky and well done! I have absolutely loved reading your blogs over the past three years and they have really helped and inspired me to ‘just go for it’ too! Wishing you every success in your future endeavours!

  • Monika October 20, 2014   Reply →

    Congratulations Nicky! I found Ur blog just few months ago and still going haven´t read all the posts, but ur blog is already in my favourites list 😉 I llike the way U write. I am working as a secretary now, in Lima Peru, I am from Poland, I moved to Lima 3 years ago, I am married to a Peruvian guy 🙂
    Wishing you a lot of success and all the best for the upcoming future. Congratualtions on Ur pregnancy, and I am sure Edinburgh willbe fabulous! 🙂

  • Pamela Saling October 21, 2014   Reply →

    Cheers to everything new and to what you have accomplished in such a short period of time, you are truely likeable!

  • I am SO glad you were so bored that you started this blog! I’ve been following you for almost two years and I just love the tips you give, how down to earth you are and enjoy so much hearing about your life. I still find myself referring back to some of your posts to read about practical tips. Congrats on the big news!! Wishing you all the best always Niki 🙂 Thank you so much for having this space on the net for us assistants to seek refuge.

    With love.

    Saba

  • Noreen Christmas October 21, 2014   Reply →

    Nicky I am so proud of you, all that you have achieved with ths blog. I know you have worked very hard through some tough and distressing times but you always kept going. Just to let your readers know I am your mum who you thought would be the only person reading the blog. Wrong, you have very loyal readers who also appreciate you. Once again so well done, luv mama

  • David Christmas November 3, 2014   Reply →

    Congratulations Nicky, great to read all the comments back from people that you have helped and inspired over the last 3 years… you might have even given your Brother the odd pep talk too!! Keep up the good work!

  • Simone December 27, 2014   Reply →

    Many congratulations Nicky! You are truly inspiring and a good example of what an assistant can do if they put their mind and many skills to it. Your blogs have been so on point.

    It was great meeting and working with you on ACE CONNECTS and I look forward to support your first conference in February.

    Kind regards

    Simone

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