15 Pieces of Career Advice for Young Professionals
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People may tell you many things about life and impart their endless wisdom onto you. Some may be right, but others…maybe not so much. Here is some career advice that they may not give you but is still equally helpful for life. Now instead of making this wisdom endless, here are just 15 pieces of career advice for young professionals for you to chew on.
15 Pieces of Advice for Young Professionals You Need to Know
1. Don’t work hard
Many people hold strong on the idea that working hard is the key to success. The truth is that if you just work hard with no balance of play and relaxation, the hard work will become harmful and you will burnout. Also, take this term “hard” quite lightly because mindless hard work can often be unproductive. Instead, aim to complete planned, creative, and meticulous work. This may not be such ‘hard’ work if you can develop your skills in working this way. Regardless of how or when you work, always reserve a few hours each week for active free time. Do something that excites and revives you!
2. When life gives you lemons, learn to enjoy their sour taste
Within every season and stage in life, there will be horrible setbacks and moments. Get used to it; these are your lemons. The reality of it is, it’s great to make lemonade with your lemons, but you want to be able to be as resourceful each time. Sometimes you have to let go and feel the negative emotions that come with being turned away from an opportunity or being fired from a job. Take some losses for how they are: sour. You can learn to enjoy the bitter moment as lessons or opportunities for new directions. This is how you enjoy the bitter taste of life’s lemons.
3. Buy that $4 latte every day if it brings value to your day
If you love the taste of coffee, as I do, a nice latte in the morning could be as beneficial as a long walk on a beautiful day. Now $4 may seem like a lot of money when you calculate it into your budget, but rest assured that if this latte is helping you to give your 100% to your career each day and feeling empowered, it is absolutely worth the expense. Just make sure this is part of your budget. Your budget is not meant to shame you on how much you spent on coffee, it is meant to nudge you, saying, “Hey, you’ve been spending a lot of money on lattes, is this important for you to invest your money in?” If the coffee brings you value, as it does for me, then go ahead and buy those $4 lattes every day!
4. Count all your chickens before they hatch
I have …eight, nine, ten chickens. Well, more accurately, I have ten eggs that I hope will become chickens. I could count and hope all I want. When it comes to planning, it is okay to imagine the best-case scenario. However, I also have zero chickens and 10 eggs. Could I still be content even if I remain with only zero chickens? The answer is yes. I will find other ways to get what I need or want. Words of advice, it is great to hope for things and imagine your life with that thing, but also imagine your life without any of things you want and realize that you’ll be okay in that case too. Always be aware of the best and worst case scenario and reality will very likely fall somewhere in between. Counting your chickens before they hatch is just a metaphor that reminds you to look at the whole scenario and all of this potential.
5. Don’t be yourself
Invent yourself. Who are you? And who do you want to be? Are those the same people? For most people, it is not. You could and should learn to accept who you are as most would suggest. But why not try to invent and experiment with who you could be on your road to self-acceptance? Change your look, your routine, or put your money into something else. Who you are is determined by so many small factors and decisions made in your life. If you actively change a few factors every once in a while, you can realize that you may want to exude some parts of yourself more than others. If you buy or try something that goes against your preconceived image of yourself and you decide that you like it (and its positive for your life) you can decide to make it a part of who you are. Both your personality and the world around you are fluid. It is okay to change, rearrange and invent some parts of yourself.
6. Status does not equal importance
Now a status of ‘CEO’ does mean that a person has more ‘importance’ within a company (And yes, they EARNED that status). However, this does not define their importance as a person. Every individual is equal. Thus, if someone has a higher status than you, don’t think of them as more ‘important’ and become intimidated by their status, they are a normal human being, just as you are.
7. Fit the mold
You need to become part of the system to understand and/or change it. It is okay to be ‘different;’ in distinct ways that benefit you within the workplace or as you pursue your career. But don’t try to reinvent the wheel. You can and should do what other people do and fit their mold. From this mold, you learn what it means to be a contributing member within whatever career you are pursuing. From the mold, you can then deviate and find ways you show your uniqueness. In other words, the uniqueness that you have as an individual should always be paired with a deep understanding for the common traits of people in your career.
8. You’re not special
Again, you will always have some small differences, but among all the traits you have, most of them are quite average. This means that no one should be arrogant about themselves as a whole but rather be proud of the skills that you worked hard to obtain.
9. Your words are expensive
Talk is NOT cheap. Every word you express to someone will always be a reflection of who you are. Your self-image is expensive. Regardless of if your words align with your action, there will always be a cost for your words. Always be careful about what you say and who you say it to. Whether it is positively or negatively, you will have to pay a heavy price for the words you use.
10. Everything has a cost
It is not just your words that are expensive, it is also your thoughts, decisions, and actions toward others that determine the things that happen to you. Every action has a reaction and you will pay a relatively equal price for the decision you make. Always be intentional about what you decide and how you present yourself.
11. Dress to make a statement, not to impress
The associations that come along with your clothes are an important part of how people perceive you. Need a job after college? Dress the part. However, do not dress for other people. Dress so that you make the right statement about who you are and your purpose within a setting. If you are going for that job interview, don’t try to impress the interviewer, try to express that you are capable and professional. There is truly a difference, for sure.
12. Nobody cares about something unless it directly relates to them
This should be liberating! It is important to understand how you are received by others based on your outside characteristics and the extent to which it is important to most people. Meaning that, if you are, for example, very tall but insecure about it, you must understand that most people don’t care that you are tall. They see it as simply a characteristic of you. If you are confident with all of your traits, no one will know or even care that you don’t particularly like how tall you are. Did you quit your job and started traveling? Likely, nobody cares. If you make a mistake in your path of life, no one will truly define you as that mistake. Frankly, no one cares unless it directly affected them. Redeem yourself by moving on and doing better.
13. With nothing, you will make nothing
You must find, gather, and make use of the world around you. If you do not go out and get what you want, you will remain with nothing. Don’t think that you will make anything with absolutely nothing. If you have no formal skills, don’t try to ‘make it work’. You will not truly get to where you need to be. Strive to FIND the resources and the people that will teach you certain skills. Once you learn, you can create something with the resources you have sought out.
14. Do things you hate
This will lead you to either discover the paths you don’t want to take or it will be a means to getting your dream job. Never fret if you hate doing schoolwork. However, just know that it is necessary for getting your diploma and achieving your career goals.
15. Shoot for the top of the tallest building, not the stars, not the moon
Take life a step at a time. If you are (metaphorically) on the ground, first try to reach the top of the tallest building, which is more realistic for the moment than shooting for the stars. Now, no one is saying not to have the stars or the moon (your larger goal) in mind, but you have to take the first step and a tall building just seems less intimidating. Am I right? To apply this to a career, let’s say you want to be the manager of the company you just got hired within. Well, that is your ‘stars’ goal. The next step for you, or your ‘tallest building’ goal is to become the leader of a new project your company is working on. Then, work your way up from there. You got this!
I hope those tips were real enough to put you on a better path for your career. I just to let you all know- You got this! A fulfilling career is possible and attainable with the right leads, practices, and decisions.