With age comes the wisdom of experience. I worked throughout corporate America before embarking on a successful career as a freelance writer. Along the way, I’ve had successes and failures. Here are 7 life lessons I learned from working that I hope will help you overcome any obstacles in your career path:

1. Choose an Occupation You Enjoy

When we’re younger, everyone hears the advice to follow their dreams. The problem is many people don’t understand how to do that. We end up graduating from college expecting a career to unfold for us without understanding the reality of the situation. You can have all the skills and talent in the world, but how you apply them and how hard you’re willing to work will determine your success.

There’s a possibility you’ll be an actor, rapper, athlete, etc., so don’t listen to people who tell you to give up on your dreams. People who don’t make it in the entertainment industry fail because they didn’t put in the work. If you suck at something, research how to get better at it online and implement that knowledge into your practice routine.

Networking is a vital component of success. When you work at a job you don’t like, you’ll be less likely to socialize with your colleagues. We’ve all heard people say, “I’m here to work, not make friends.” That’s cool. Plenty of worker bees keep their heads down while they work, and I’m sure someone successful will hire you one day…

2. Even a Temp Job Deserves Your Best Effort

It’s not uncommon in the workplace to meet people who are working their “secondary career.” The guy sitting in the cubicle next to you may look like just another low-level, data-entry schmuck, but he’s actually a secret agent. The mailroom clerk is an aspiring rock star, and your supervisor sells candles and timeshares for some pyramid scheme. Everyone’s going somewhere else besides where they are.

Your retail job may be a stop along the way to fortune, or some unexpected life event may force you to stay (or even worse – come back) to that dead-end job. A customer you help may end up being a valuable contact in your desired career. You may meet the love of your life or have an epiphany. Just because you’re not going to be working there forever doesn’t mean you should slack off.

Always put forth your best effort, and be the best person you can be. You may hate your McJob, but a lot of fat and lazy people need you to provide them with clean, quick, and edible food so they can get back to their own McCareer. Stop thinking of yourself and put a little effort into contributing to the human race. No job is beneath you. So shut up, clean a toilet, change a diaper, mop a floor, dig a ditch, fix a car, wash a dish, wash your hands, take my money, and serve me my meal, turbo. I work hard for what I have.

3. Money Is Overrated

Everyone wants money – everyone needs money. Cash doesn’t rule a damn thing around me, though. Despite what your parents may tell you, dreaming is important. Rather than focusing on how much money you’re making for your time, focus on doing what you love. When you’re happy, it won’t feel like work, and the progress will seem to happen almost automatically. Following your dreams instead of the money will make you more money in the long run, and you’ll have a smile on your face much more often.

Understand that most people are exaggerating what they have. Millions of Americans lose their homes and jobs, but I never seem to meet any of them. When you talk to people on the streets, they’re all the one person in the entire world who hasn’t noticed any change with the economy. Money’s tight, but I’m fine. I can assure you all of these people are in debt.

So if money can’t buy happiness, how can you get happy? Discover: 20 Definitions of Happiness You Need to Know

4. Learn How to Utilize the Internet

The internet is a valuable resource; everyone has it in their hands. Being internet-savvy (and computer-savvy in general) makes you a valuable resource in the business world. If you’re searching for a job, computer skills sell.

One of the most valuable business-related internet skills I learned is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the science of link-building. By strategically placing links throughout the internet, I’ve learned how to manipulate search rankings for different terms. With everyone having an internet-access device in their hands (in the form of smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.), knowing how to drive traffic is a valuable skill.

The internet is like a car – people know how to drive, but they don’t often understand the engine nor the companies designing each individual part. Knowing this structure made me resourceful enough to survive the bank’s retaliation machines.

5. Don’t Give Up on Your Passion

Things are going to get difficult, regardless of which path you choose to walk. Nobody’s life is easy: we all have issues. When you fail, get back up and start working even harder. Learn something from the experience and come back that much stronger.

People are going to doubt you when you tell them your plans – keep working…

People are going to ask you to come out and play – keep working…

People are going to act like they’re better than you – keep working…

You’ll eventually succeed, but that doesn’t matter. On the journey, you’ll realize you’re already living your dreams, and you’ll feel like you already succeeded. At the end of our lives, we only have our memories, and yours will be happy.

1210-1242157886dp0Q

6. You Can’t Avoid Politics

No matter how much you hate playing office games, you’re going to have to play the game sooner or later in life; that’s the only way you’ll ever win. There’s simply not enough success for everyone, so as much as you grab, someone’s going to come along sooner or later to take it from you; that’s just how the world works.

If you don’t like playing politics, get used to mediocrity, and be very vigilant in saving money. You’ll need enough to cover at least a year’s worth of living. No matter how careful you are, you’re not working for yourself, and you’re not in control of your paycheck. Even the best salesman loses his job when the manufacturer goes bankrupt. I’ve lived on various rungs of the corporate, social, and economic ladders. Sometimes you have to let go and fall in order to climb up. Be prepared for that which is out of your control. It can, and will, happen to you.

7. Making Plans Is Easy; Executing Them Isn’t

Everyone has plans. Everyone has dreams. What separates those who do from those who don’t is taking action…

Get started now. Learn: How to Actually Take Action on All That Reading

Featured photo credit: Playful little girl hiding behind colorful umbrella outdoorsvia Shutterstock

Love this article?