Decisions decisions. In your career, you constantly have to make decisions, hoping and praying that they are leading you down the right path. Old ways of thinking and behaving in the workplace have been passed down from generation to generation, and while these conventional pieces of wisdom are common, they can actually head you right down the wrong path. Be cautious of these morsels of career advice:
Income Matters Most
Many pick their particular career based on potential earnings. We choose to focus on Engineering even though our passion is Art, or to study to become a lawyer even though we truly want to work in Social Services. Often, our interests don’t align with our career path. Focusing on income will not satisfy you if your heart isn’t in it. Enjoy waking up in the morning. In the words of the late Maya Angelou, “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
Always Speak in Meetings
There is a need to look intelligent and competent in company meetings; nothing strange about that. But while it is understandable to want to be heard, if you have nothing substantial to contribute, it is actually better to sit back and stay silent. Think of it this way, company meetings are more or less universally despised. They are boring, they eat up valuable time which could’ve been spent being productive, they are boring, there is often no clear agenda, they are boring….see a pattern? Don’t get me wrong, meetings are a useful tool when executed correctly. Unfortunately a majority of meetings simply are not. In 2013, Harvard Business School professor Nancy Koehn estimated that there are about 11 million meetings per day, meaning 4 billion meetings per year. Interestingly enough over 50% of people surveyed said that half of the meetings they attended were unproductive. Based on these findings, an estimated 2 billion ineffective meetings are occurring every year. So if you don’t have something topical or valuable to contribute, please do your colleagues a favor and opt instead to listen and learn.
Don’t Job Hop
Older generations have been drilling this message into our heads for decades. Giving warnings such as, “it looks unstable” or “it shows a lack of loyalty”, and to their credit, they were right. Not too long ago it was common to choose one company, work there for 40 years, and then retire with a cushy pension. That’s just the way things were…but times have changed. Employees aren’t sticking with one company for their entire lives anymore. Yes, having several 1 year or less positions in succession on your resume is still heavily frowned upon, but investing a few years into a company before moving on to a better opportunity is not. There are now so many more industries, options, and career avenues, that it’s normal to want to see what else is out there.
Last year’s US Department of Labor report showed that the average number of years employees worked for their current employer was 4.6 years. This generation is focused on being happier and having a better quality of life then that of our parents and grandparents, causing them to hop around and try out new things. Life is too short to waste it away at a thankless job or in a career that doesn’t fuel your passion flame. Don’t be afraid to find a position that truly suits you.
Break the shackles of old career concepts and keep in mind that the most successful people think outside of the box, and stay clear of the straight and narrow.
Blaze your own trail.