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7 Of The Greatest Career Lessons We Learn Too Late

7 Of The Greatest Career Lessons We Learn Too Late

    “If I had the experience I now have, I would’ve acted differently back then.”

    How many times have you thought that? We usually have those regrets when thinking about relationships. However, we can also translate them to professional success. When we are young and inexperienced, we tend to make mistakes we later regret. That’s because we haven’t learned the most valuable lessons.

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    Shannon McDaniel, a career expert working for Careers Booster, has an important piece of advice to give: “First, learn and gain some experience. Then, you can take important actions. I recently read a book by an author who is a completely anonymous, but was trying to convince everyone he was a PR expert. Why? If he was successful enough, we would recognize his value and he wouldn’t have the need to brag about his exceptional virtues. My only thought was: ‘too soon!’ He wrote the book too soon. He’ll learn the lesson sooner or later: you first get the experience, then you share it.”

    What are some lessons we usually learn too late? If we know them, maybe we’ll prevent the regrets we’d have about them later. Here are 7 career pearls of wisdom that usually require more time for processing:

    1. You Have No Time to Waste On a Job You Don’t Like

    When we’re young and we need a job, we’re willing to take any job. That’s a mistake. We are wasting our time working just for the money and we’re not getting any valuable experience in return. This investment, or lack thereof, results not only with a waste of time, but with a waste of nerves and patience as well.

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    • Don’t like your job? You thought it would be temporary, but you ended up spending years in the same office? Here’s a drastic solution: quit! There’s no progress without risks.[1]
    • If you really have to work just for the money and you’re not ready to quit just yet, then try to learn as much as possible while you’re there. Analyze the industry. Try to make progress within that company. Take part in different projects. Take online courses! Do anything to spend your time in a way that gives something back.

    “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs

    2. Mind Your Health

    This is the hardest lesson to learn. When you’re after great career success, you don’t mind working until you’re completely exhausted. You want more money, more success, more everything. You’re not concerned about your health. It takes a large hit from life for you to start thinking: “I should’ve been more mindful about being healthy.”

    • Don’t wait for that moment of realization. Without your health, you can’t reach ultimate success.
    • Stay fit. When your body is healthy, your mind is more focused.[2]
    • Eat well. Instead of ordering a pizza when working late, make yourself a healthy meal. It doesn’t take a huge investment of money and time to change your eating habits. You’ll get tons of benefits in return.

    3. The World is Worth Experiencing

    The progress in any profession comes with a lot of work. Life is what happens outside that frame. Your job is an important part of your life, but it’s not your life.

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    • Never skip the holidays and vacations, no matter how much work you have. If you have so much work that there’s no time for a vacation, then you’re doing something wrong.
    • Get more space for yourself and your family. Otherwise, you’ll regret being too committed to a single aspect of life while missing everything else that’s worth living for.

    4. Social Networking Matters

    You might think that Facebook is wasting your time. It is, if all you’re doing is scrolling down the feed looking for time-wasting updates. If you’re using social networks for making valuable connections and building your online reputation, they are not a waste of time.

    • Become an authority! Comment on important updates and share your opinions on crucial events and trends related to your industry.
    • Connect with people from your job market. Nurture those connections; they will help you become more successful.

    5. Learning Matters

    All industries are changing with the speed of light. Technology influences the way we work and it’s constantly making progress. We have to keep learning so we’ll never lag behind. However, our learning potential shouldn’t be limited to mastering new technologies. There’s a whole world of knowledge waiting for us to explore.

    • Find the time for an online course.[3] Pick something you’re really interested in. Even better: pick something that’s not related to your profession. That’s how you’ll expand your viewpoints.

    6. Blogging Matters, Too

    Don’t be one of those people who will grow old with the thought, “I should’ve blogged.” You have tons of stories to share. Speak up! The blog can help you cement your status as an expert in your niche.

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    • Build a blog with a precise posting schedule.[4] Find out what your target audience wants to know and answer their questions. Help them solve problems. Be useful for the community! That’s how you’ll leave a trace in the online world.

    7. You’ll Make More Progress With The Right Team

    You can make progress alone. No one can deny that. You can hire people when you need support, but you’re not obligated to keep them in the long-term. If you’re too attached to an employee even though they are not doing the best job, you don’t have to fire them. However, both of these extremes make you weaker than you could really be.

    • Teamwork makes you stronger. Always try to make your team better and more effective.
    • If there’s a weak link, you either replace it or you do something to make that worker better.

    “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

    Why wait to grow old to learn the most valuable career lessons? If you get these things on time, you’ll have nothing to regret when you’re experienced enough to reflect. Stay smart, strong, and persistent! That’s the most important lesson to learn.

    Featured photo credit: NIIT via niit.com

    Reference

    [1] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/237092
    [2] http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit/
    [3] http://www.bestcollegereviews.org/50-top-online-learning-sites/
    [4] http://coschedule.com/blog/plan-a-blog-schedule/

    More by this author

    Eva Wislow

    Career Coach

    7 Of The Greatest Career Lessons We Learn Too Late

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

    Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

    Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

    Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

    Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

    Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

    How to Know if You Need a Career Change?

    The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

    You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

    Physical Signs

    Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

    It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

    In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

    Mental Signs

    One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

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    I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

    Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

    • The tension in your neck
    • Difficulties with sleeping
    • Unable to concentrate
    • High anxiety
    • Depression

    If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

    Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

    Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

    The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

    Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

    Desire for an Increase of Salary

    The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

    At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.

    Overnight Decision

    Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.

    Rejected for a Promotion

    I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.

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    Bored at Work

    Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

    A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

    • How long have you worked in your career?
    • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
    • Do you receive recognition?
    • Can you consider working in a new department?

    If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations can help, then it’s time to make a career change.

    How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

    I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

    One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

    It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

    A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

    You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

    • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
    • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
    • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

    How to Make a Career Change Successfully

    The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

    1. Write a Career Plan

    A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

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    You can learn how to set your career plan here.

    2. Weigh Your Options

    If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

    You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

    3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

    It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

    A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[3]

    • Economic factors
    • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
    • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
    • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
    • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

      A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

      4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

      A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

      • What is required to be successful in the role?
      • What certification or educational development is needed?
      • What are the challenges of the role?
      • Is there potential for career advancement?

      A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

      Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

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      5. Research Salary

      Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

      It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

      6. Be Realistic

      If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

      For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

      Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

      7. Volunteer First

      A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

      Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

      Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

      8. Prepare Your Career Tools

      I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

      • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
      • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
      • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.
      • Cover letter: A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

      Bottom Line

      It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover the role in a career field that is the best fit with your skillsets.

      Master these action steps and changing career paths will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

      More About Career Change

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

      Reference

      [1] Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
      [2] MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan
      [3] Creately: Personal SWOT Analysis to Assess and Improve Yourself

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