Listen up! I am about to give you the best career advice ever, and it’s short, simple, and absolutely free.
1) Do something.
Take a wild guess at something that might provide a good paycheck or you might enjoy or you might be good at. Do some research on how to get trained, how long it takes, how much money it will require (and how much money you’ll gain), the growth opportunities, and what you could transition into later. Borrow money if you need to, but only in reasonable proportion to your future salary. Get trained for it and then get hired to do it. Don’t hesitate or second-guess yourself, no matter how disillusioned you become. There will be some aspects you don’t like; its okay, don’t stop.
Just do something.
I’ll tell you a secret. Most people aren’t doing the work they thought they’d be doing at 18 years old. To think so is absolutely ridiculous. Everyone takes their best guess, chooses a path, and figures it out … as they do something.
And as we do something, sometimes we change – and that’s normal and expected. There are variations within our path like choosing between technical expertise vs. management. Sometimes we create our own fork in the road with additional education or take a calculated risk like starting a business. On the other hand, forks are sometimes created from business closures, lay-offs, or family needs that we cannot always anticipate or control.
However, doing something helps you figure it out. You realize via experience what you are naturally talented at, what you need to work at, and what you enjoy doing.
And in the interim, you have something to put on your resume. You become a person who completed something and stuck with it. You become an adult, like the rest of us, just trying to figure it out.
2) Don’t be stupid.
It is stupid to play a game without knowing the rules. Every game has rules, and so does your job. Learn them. Every boss has rules; watch and study your boss. It doesn’t matter how fast you are if your boss only cares about accuracy, and rewards staff based on that. You could accept every new assignment and pitch-in to help your team in every crisis, but if your lead gives raises based on the number of weekly status emails she gets – then vigilantly turn in your status on time. Have the common sense to learn from your mistakes; at a minimum, strive to avoid making the same stupid decision twice.
It is stupid to think that your company isn’t monitoring your phone calls, emails, and social media. They may or may not monitor regularly, but all you need is one co-worker who complains to your boss or HR, and suddenly your time-card, your social media, and your emails are all being reviewed. So don’t look on the internet for your next job while still at work, don’t use work email as your personal social media, and quite simply – act like a professional. Don’t email or post stupid things.
So, there it is:
- Do Something
- Don’t Be Stupid
Not surprisingly, this is also what is expected of us on an eternal scale.
Do Something – Do something good, kind, generous, or simply try to be better than yesterday. This is something you’ll need to do your entire life. Do repent, do get baptized, and do endure to the end.
Don’t Be Stupid – Don’t lie, cheat, or steal. You will eventually get caught. Don’t assume the world or God owes you anything. Don’t make stupid decisions in your life that have long-term bad consequences (you know what I’m talking about – the “I know this is really stupid, but I just can’t help myself” kind of decisions).
Melbourne Metro Trains put out a public service announcement with a song, “Dumb Ways to Die”. Someone eventually made it into a game. My kids love it. This is also the kind of stupid I’m talking about, and there are some analogies here to both life and work. “Poke a stick at a grizzly bear.” “Keep a rattlesnake as a pet.” Hmmm, I’m sure we’ve all poked a “bear” when we shouldn’t and kept around a few pets/friends we shouldn’t. Dumb.
Now, let me answer the next question:
If the key to career and eternal happiness is so simple, why do so many of us fail?
I don’t know. Let me know when you find out.
Molly A. Kerr
Molly is on a life long quest to figure herself out. Born to be and educated as an aerospace engineer she is also blessed to be a wife and a mom of two in the present, previously served as a full-time missionary, is consistently called to teach the youth in her ward, is eagerly though slowly doing home improvement as money and time allow, all while gradually learning how to be herself and find peace and balance somewhere in between. Despite her attempts to make “the right” decisions in her life, she has learned to deal with some unexpected challenges over the last two decades. Total tornadoes, really. What she has discovered is that her career has taught her a lot about the Gospel and being a better mother, and the Gospel, when applied to challenges at the office, has made her a better professional. She has also learned that it is okay to be herself, and God still loves (and forgives) her for it.