Professional Development

Career Lessons Most People Learn Too Late In Life

Written by Peter Jones

If I had only known then… How often have these words echoed in your head when you looked back on a less experienced you, and the choices you made then? How many times have your remembered a piece of sage advice and wished you’d taken it at the time?

Spare yourself the end-of-career regrets and commit these few lessons to memory. If you internalize this stuff now, you stand a very good chance of avoiding the usual pitfalls—and the twinges of regret later on!

1. Life is short.

No really. It is. Your workday may feel eternal, but workdays bleed into other workdays and, before you know it, you’re decades into your career. If you’re working a job you hate, or for a bad boss who demeans or disrespects you, or you’re just not challenging yourself to grow, then make a change. You will regret it otherwise. It’s way too easy to get stuck in bad situations thinking it’s the safer option.

2. Your health matters.

You may think sacrificing sleep, exercise, and nutrition in service of pushing yourself to work longer hours and take on more responsibilities would be a good call in the short term. But short term has a way of turning into long term and your health will eventually disappear. Don’t sacrifice your body or your health (even and especially your mental health) for success. You want to be able to enjoy that success when you achieve it, right?

3. Your network matters.

Think you can gamble and not put as much into your social network as the next guy? Think again. Stay connected. Become an authority in your field. Grow a robust and diverse network full of connections you can call upon at different stages in your career. Give back! Very few successful people succeed without following this advice.

4. See the world if you can.

Time off is important. Getting out of your comfort zone is too. But so is turning off your email, putting down your phone, and logging off for a while. Take a trip. Travel. Experience another culture. Unplug and go for a hike. The best moments of your life will not be ones spent hunched over your computer or your Blackberry.

5. Keep learning.

The minute you think you know enough to stop actively learning, you’ve gone stale. Keep pushing yourself to learn new things, to stay on the cutting edge of your industry, to be topical and prove yourself an asset. Invest in the future and in yourself. And make sure to diversify. Don’t put all your eggs or skills in one basket. Spread yourself wide enough to always have a variety of options and avenues open to you to keep moving forward with your dreams.

6. Teamwork is dream-work.

Finding the right team can be the magical solution to finding success. Find people that you can work with and notice how much stronger it makes you all to be a part of a dynamic team. You’ll get much farther working together. The lone wolf entrepreneur thing is almost always a myth!

7. Worrying is not productive.

You won’t ever actually achieve anything by worrying. If you’re anxious about something, take one proactive step instead. Start hustling. You’ll usually find a solution or a breakthrough and realize you were wasting time worrying about nothing.

8. Failure is productive, too.

A failure is not an end, it’s a beginning. It’s an opportunity to tweak, to learn, to bank experience, to do better the next time. Think of each as the beginning of a new phase. Then kill it with that phase!

About the author

Peter Jones