The job field has evolved significantly over the past two decades. If you’re in your 20s and trying to plan for your future, it can seem like you’re trying to hit a moving target.
Since things are changing so fast, it’s hard to know what skills you need to focus on today to prepare for tomorrow. But the opportunities available to you are almost limitless!
As a professional in your 20s, your career is full of amazing possibilities. It can be confusing and even overwhelming to know how to prepare for the changes on the horizon.
These tidbits of career advice will guide you through the ever-evolving landscape of being a successful, young professional.
1. Every Connection is a Good One
Building your network early is one of the smartest things you can do. This will happen organically as you work on your reputation.
How you treat your colleagues, clients, and anyone in your daily interactions reflects on who you are as a person. Your reputation is going to spread, whether you want it to or not.
This truth is plain to see in viral videos and stories of celebrities who appear to be one way on screen and are the opposite in real life. You may not be a celebrity, but reputation is just as important in your business.
Word-of-mouth and reviews can be a make-or-break for your career. Think about your previous managers. Would they be more apt to give you a favorable recommendation or a warning to potential future employers? Be very careful not to burn bridges when you leave!
Treat every person you meet, from the janitor to the CEO, as someone important to your future. You don’t know when you might need them or be able to help them!
2. Follow Your Passion, Not the Money
As a child, what was your dream job? Why did you choose that particular career?
Chances are, at that age, it was because you could see yourself enjoying it. Unless otherwise influenced, most kids don’t pick dream jobs because they’ll make money at them.
Many children pick jobs specifically to help others. They want to be doctors, teachers, firefighters, police officers, and superheroes!
As you get older, though, you probably shifted your dream career to something more practical. You saw what happens with and without abundance, and you decided to follow the money trail.
This can be dangerous, though. Today’s daily grind is pressure-filled enough. When you decide on your future career, make sure it’s something you enjoy. If you’re following the money, you may find yourself burnt out early.
You might not be able to get your dream job right out of the starting gate. That’s okay! Everything you do and learn is bringing you closer to that goal, as long as you take jobs that prepare you for it.
In general, if it doesn’t serve your ultimate purpose — don’t do it. Don’t let the money tempt you, when you could find something more in line with your future career if you looked a little bit longer.
3. Never Underestimate the Importance of Balance
Yin and yang, dark and light, sun and rain. Everything in life has balance for a reason, and learning this lesson early will serve you well in the future.
Apply this to action in your own life. It’s easy to get caught up in work or family issues and sway the scales in favor of one or the other. While this is perfectly acceptable — even occasionally unavoidable — proceed with caution.
When you notice the scales tipped too long or too far in one direction, it’s time to adjust your schedule.
You might not even be aware that you’re overworking until one of your friends or family members points it out. If they do, try to avoid the knee jerk reaction of denial. Thank them for their concern, and then think about what they said before you respond.
If you know your imbalance is for a short period and is necessary, keep on doing what you’re doing. But if they’re right and you’re becoming a workaholic, go ahead and admit it to yourself! Then take steps to try to reduce your workload.
Remember that a work/personal balance is integral to your happiness, just like yin and yang.
4. Learn How to Accept Failure as Well as Success
The idea of success and failure can be a hot-button topic. People generally have one of two extreme views on the subject. One is that you’re either a winner or you’re a loser. Another is that any loss is a win because it’s a lesson learned.
The first option will cause you stress and anxiety for the rest of your career if you decide to keep that perspective. No one is perfect, and you are going to “lose” eventually.
You can strive for perfection, but be willing to accept that you might not always get it, and that’s okay. Failure is simply a lesson to learn to help you conquer obstacles later.
As you grow in your career, you’re going to collect accomplishments under your belt. Accept those successes humbly and learn from what you did to achieve them. They didn’t fall in your lap; you had a hand in obtaining them.
When you acknowledge both failure and success as necessary parts of career and life growth, you can learn a lot from them.
5. Educate Yourself on Healthy Living
What is your daily meal schedule like? Are you always on the run, grabbing fast food when you can? Do you skip meals in favor of shaving a few minutes off your schedule?
Both of these actions are detrimental to your success. Regardless of your career, you’re not going to get too far if you are unhealthy.
Yet, it’s likely that you don’t even know how badly your choices impact your health. Unless you grew up in an environment that taught you about nutrition, you might never have learned how the body gets its fuel.
Most school curriculums are sorely lacking in content on how nutrition works. You’re an adult now, so that’s no longer an excuse. Educate yourself on why you need to be exercising, eating healthy, and quitting bad habits.
The younger you are when you apply this knowledge to your body, the better the impact will be on your career and health!
We often hear the question, “What advice would you tell your younger self?”
You’re a professional just getting your feet under you when you’re in your 20s. You don’t have to wish you had the benefit of hindsight to improve your wisdom.
Let these nuggets of career advice propel you forward. Your future self will thank you for gathering up so many pearls of knowledge.
Aaron Hunt is the Property Manager of Prime Place UNL, a student apartment complex near UNL.