Letter To Your Younger Self

Dan Thomas

Dan Thomas - RAF Physical Training Instructor

Currently working in the RAF as a Physical Training Instructor.

Dear younger Dan,

You do not know it yet but once you are all grown up (sort of), you will be enjoying a career that you never could see yourself doing and grasping the bucket-load of opportunities that it constantly throws your way.

Present day Dan is currently working as a Physical Training Instructor in the Royal Air Force. I have come a long way since I was a shy, quiet boy from South Wales all those years ago with not the slightest clue of what I could (or should) be doing in life after school. Below I have outlined some of the most important things that I learned as I progressed in school and grew
into life. I would like to give you the heads up before you rush into life without the faintest of clues as to where you are headed.

1. Do not rush.
Without doubt one of the most important things to keep in mind. Whether you are 21 or 31 getting into your dream career, who cares? What matters is that you take the time to trial different jobs, consider different options and trust that when the time is right you will know what you want to be doing.

It took me three years after leaving school to start in the career I wanted since I was 18. Within those three years I worked different jobs, some I hated, but each one developed me as an individual and made getting into my desired career all the more sweeter.

2. Find what you love doing and throw yourself into it.
Ever heard the saying “Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life”? Well it is not entirely true.

“A 5 am alarm clock hurts all the same whatever job you are in, and every job will have its bad days. But that is life.”

However, if you know what you love doing and you can forge a career in that industry then it will make your day-to-day life so much more enjoyable and it will feel far less like ‘work’.

Towards the end of school I was massively into anything fitness related. So to say that I am now in the military promoting fitness, I think it is fair to say that the majority of the time I do not realise that I am in ‘work’.

3. Do not let anyone tell you what career you should be doing.
This one is huge. If I had listened to other people telling me what career I ‘should’ be doing I guarantee you that I would now be working as a mechanic or possibly on a building site somewhere. Are these good careers? Potentially. Would I be happy in these careers? Absolutely not.

If you discover a career that you feel suits you down to the ground and is something you know you would enjoy doing, promise me that you will go out and get it, despite what anyone else tells you to do.

4. University is not the be all and end all in life, despite what your teacher may tell you.
I stand by this one 100%. Do you need a university degree to be a lawyer or a doctor? Yes. Do you need a university degree to be an electrician, bricklayer or even the career I am in now? No. We need electricians and bricklayers as much as we need lawyers and doctors.

Why if the career you so desperately want to do does not require a university degree what would you be going there for? You do what you got to do, not what your teacher tells you to do.

This is not a dig at teachers. To be a teacher you may need a degree so if that is what you want to do then go out and get that degree!

5. Setbacks happen.
This may be a cliche but I do feel that a lot of people nowadays crumble at the first sniff of a setback. You would be amazed at the number of ‘celebrities’ who had to try more than once to get into their careers and it is the same for the likes of us ‘non-celebrities’ (who knows you could be a superstar many years from now). The point is no matter the setback, if what you missed out on was something you really wanted, then learn from it, improve at it and then go and smash it the next time round.

When I left school I failed a medical to get into the Royal Air Force through injury. I could have just quit there and accepted that was that. Instead, I turned up almost three years later and made sure I passed every single test they had prepared for me.

If I had crumbled at the first setback then who knows what I could be doing for a career now? I am pretty sure it would not be doing something I enjoy as much as I do now.

6. Be you.
This is the one. In every job in the world there are different personalities and qualities, and not all are well liked or agreed with. Do not let that stop you. Within my job there are hundreds of different types of people but do you know what they all have in common? They are able to do the job. People may tell you that you are ‘not suited’ to a particular career or ‘not cut out for it’. Prove them wrong. Make sure that you are good enough to cut it in that career because if you are good enough then you are ready. Instead of changing to suit someone just develop and improve your skills and qualities. Be an improved version of you. Be the best you.

Well I think that just about covers it. I may only be 23 but have had to grow up pretty quickly and I believe that realising these six statements have got me to where I am today and will continue to take me through life. Just remember, take your time, find what you love, do not let anyone tell you what you ‘should’ do when you grow up, do what you got to do, embrace the setbacks and just be you.

Have a blast,


Dear Dan Thomas