Zara D’Cotta Interview

1. What was your dream job as a kid and why? I wanted to be a journalist. I’ve always loved telling stories and I had a fascination with watching the news – so much so I’d watch just about every news bulletin and knew the names of all the reporters. I sat both the journalism and public relations (PR) entrance tests at university – my decision was made for me when I qualified for PR and not journalism. I’m glad it worked out that way as I loved my PR career and now I get to be a journalist anyway!

2. What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made? The best decision was taking time out from my corporate job 1 year after my breast cancer diagnosis to focus on my health and doing the things I love. It’s so easy to get caught up in day-to-day priorities and forget about the bigger and the things that really matter. This time helped me discover what it is that truly lights me up inside and create a clear vision for what I want my future to look like. There is no such thing as a bad decision. The most important lessons we learn are often from the mistakes we make. It’s all life experience and it’s what we learn from them that shapes who we are and how we move forward.

3. Now that women can and are expected to ‘have it all’, how have you coped with the work / life balance?

I don’t think that women are expected to ‘have it all’, I think that’s an expectation we place on ourselves.

I think balance is something we are continually striving for and I’m not sure there’s a perfect formula. I’m often guilty at putting far too much pressure on myself, but I am getting better at recognising this and shifting priorities if I am feeling overwhelmed, because there is nothing more important than my health and wellbeing. It’s a constantly evolving process – learning what works for me at that point in time, paying attention to how I’m feeling and tweaking things as I go.

4. How has having breast cancer changed your outlook on being a woman?

I came out of my breast cancer experience relatively unscathed, but it has certainly given me an appreciation for aspects of my femininity that I previously took for granted.

It has changed my outlook on life in general, more so than being a woman. I can genuinely say that I now have a more positive outlook on my life as a result of my breast cancer experience and I am grateful for the perspective it has given me. It has inspired me to do things I wouldn’t have dreamed of otherwise, given me the courage to take risks. It’s brought me closer to the people in my life and made me realise how much I have to be thankful for. It’s also helped me learn to live in the present rather than worrying about the past or the future.

5. When things get tough, how do you keep yourself going? I’m an optimist. Life’s challenges shape who we are and they shape our hearts and minds for what is to come, so I keep going with the belief that things will only get better.  The power of a positive mind cannot be underestimated.

6. What was the best bit of advice you were given when you were starting out?

“Doubt killed more dreams than failure ever will.” The voice of doubt will always be there, but the more you act upon your intuition and the things that light you up inside, the smaller that voice will become. Learn to ignore it or turn the volume down so it doesn’t interrupt the flow of your life.

7.  Can you leave us with a quote that inspires you?

It is so important to be surrounded by the right people, so I particularly love this one by Wilferd Peterson:

“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground.” – Wilferd Peterson