When you are starting out, you may have an idea of what your professional life would be and have detailed plans for how you would navigate it. The things I have learnt in my long career my 20 year old self would have a hard time anticipating. I recently had a chance to talk to a few college students about their career plans and their questions made me want to pen a few nuggets of wisdom based on my own experience. 

It’s OK to Take Your Time: I am what you call a late bloomer! I didn’t know what I wanted from life until much later. You may be surrounded with influencers, entrepreneurs but you could also be one of those people who is not sure yet. It’s ok to not know what you want out of life early on. You can let your experiences guide you. Keep an open mind and pay attention to what you are naturally good at and let your next opportunity reflect your strengths. 

Don’t Focus Too Much On Titles: At least in the beginning try not to focus on a particular title. You would be surprised how titles can be misleading. Something you are very good at can have a title you never thought of. Don’t be afraid to venture out.  

Don’t Internalize Feedback That’s Not Constructive: Throughout your career you will continue to receive feedback, some that serves you and some that doesn’t. Ultimately you are the one who knows you best. Write down feedback others give you in 1:1s or interviews to reflect on, improve, deep dive into and ignore anything that doesn’t apply. 

Choose a Company That Serves You: Where you work really has a big impact on you as a whole and not just your career. You end up spending numerous hours with the people you work with. Choose a company that serves you as a whole and aligns with your values if you have that choice. 

Soak Up Your Surroundings: Do multiple things beyond your role in your company that would help you grow as a person. There is a learning experience around every corner!

Pour Yourself Into Whatever You Take On: Give your entire self to whatever role you take on. Your success in the current role will pave the way to future opportunities. 

Invest In Relationships: Bring a genuine curiosity when meeting new peopleand invest in building lasting connections. Some of your coworkers become friends for life, they end up referring you to new opportunities or think of you years later when there is a need. As much as it’s a business world, it’s really people you are working with at the end of the day. 

Defining Your Identity: This one is huge! A big part of who you are comes from work. When you let your job define your whole identity it may become harder to navigate curve balls like a layoff or a promotion miss. Define your identity based on all the things that matter to you (your job, your hobbies, philanthropy,  parenting, etc).

Focus On Your Own Journey: It’s easy to compare yourself with others and be jealous. Can you be a cheerleader instead? It’s a whole new feeling when you are rooting for others and celebrating their success. Focus on your journey and your own growth. 

Look Back and Be Proud: We can get so caught up in where we want to be that we often lose sight of how far we have come and all the personal barriers we crossed to get there. When you are feeling that you still have a long way to go, look back and be proud!

Career Success ≠ Happiness: You can get to C-Level and still be miserable. Career success does not equate to happiness. Identify what brings you joy, things that nourish your soul and continue to make them a priority.

The work you do goes beyond the company you work for. It reflects who you are and the passion you carry. There is a special joy in working with a group of people to accomplish new and exciting things. 

Whether you are a young or seasoned professional, you may have been able to relate a lot of these. Would love to hear your nuggets that shaped you in your professional life. 

Originally published on https://shilpakapilavai.com/