There is so much stuff I would tell my 22-year-old self.
But this article from Shane Rodgers, author of Tall People Don’t Jump, summed it up well, in regards to career stuff.
Here are some highlights and my thoughts:
1. A career is a marathon, not a sprint
I remember my first job out of college. My eyes were wide open and my body was full of energy. After 6 months, I felt like I was ready for a promotion (little did I know).
A lot of 20 somethings these days are so impatient (myself included). Everything we want is at our finger tips. If you want that new album, click iTunes. If you need organic gluten free stir fry with grass fed beef, click Seamless. You are lost with no way to get home? Try Uber. Instant service with minimal effort.
Unfortunately, there is no easy button that you can click for career success. It took me a good 3 years to get promoted (36 months to be exact). Meaning, it took 6 times as long as my initial expectation. It was disappointing at first, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise.
To be honest, I was not ready. It forced me to relax and chill.
“Always rushing only leaves you empty, and tired. It is fine to give yourself permission to take some time in the slow lane with the hat people. You will find yourself seeing things on the journey that you didn’t realize were there.” – Shane Rodgers
2. Most success comes from repetition, not new thing
I wish I knew this from the beginning. I didn’t have a “bread & butter” skill set. Rather, I did a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. My skill set was pretty average; I was not an expert at any one thing. Things recently started to click for me in the past couple of years, however. Maybe I hit that 10,000-hour threshold Malcolm Gladwell talked about in his book Outliers. I am not sure.
While writing Money Proverbs, I found that having noticeable skills and expertise is valuable in the marketplace. As Cal Newport says, “skills trump passion”. I noticed over my short career that everytime I got a promotion, it was due to me becoming an expert at some aspect of the business. I became the go-to guy. This almost always happened by chance.
Every so often, I would find myself stuck on a project for months on end. Doing the same thing over and over again. I remember saying to myself “I am bored” or “I am ready to move on to the next thing.” Well, these jobs ended up turning into a blessing in disguise.
“The lesson here is to get good at things before you try to move to the next thing. Genuine expertise belongs to an elite few. They seldom have superpowers. Usually they have endurance, patience and take a long-term view. They also love what they do. If you find that, don’t let it go.” – Shane Rodgers
3.If you have skills, commitment and passion, careers tend to take care of themselves.
I have found this to be true in my relatively short 8-year career. Consistency and reliability tend to pay career dividends in the long term. In the short term, it is hit or miss. But that is ok.
I hear stories all the time of people working their way to the top. Emphasis on working. Not networking or politicking. My boss started as an intern at my company 20 years ago, and he worked his way up to being the Associate Director.
My career is in its early stages, but putting things in proper perspective will help me take minor setbacks in stride.
4. Over the long haul, it really doesn’t matter if you have a few years when your career is in chill mode while you prioritize young children.
This one hits home for me in the present. I have 2 kids in diapers. I am working through how this new season of young children will look like as I balance family, career, and blogging.
As I approach almost a decade in the workforce, I am starting to realize how true this is. Your working years could possibly be 40 to 50 years long.
There is a lot that could happen during that time. You could have seasons of enormous career growth and then have seasons of being stagnant. It is in those seasons where you really hold on to your long-term goals and values.
It is easy to stay motivated when things are going well and much harder when things are going badly.
“Almost nobody laments on their death bed that they didn’t spend enough time at the office. This seems obvious. Yet still, we let contrived circumstances and fairly trivial issues keep us from important events like school sport days and kids getting badges for picking up rubbish. I can remember every sport day and certificate presentation I missed. I can’t remember any of the reasons I missed them.” – Shane Rodgers
Steady Your Career with These Tips
Your career will ebb and flow but keep these tips in mind. Just to recap, here are the four tips:
A career is a marathon, not a sprint
Most success comes from repetition, not a new thing
Careers take care of themselves, if you have skills and work hard
Chill when your kids are young
If you could go back in time, what career advice would you say to yourself?