#SMH: 9 Career Lessons People Learn Too Late

Career Lessons Learned too late, and going back to college

Do you ever look back and say (or moan), “I wish I would have known that sooner!”

Plenty of us do. And wishing we had “known something sooner” often goes double in our careers. When it comes to the working world, there are many lessons we all wish we would have learned just a liiiitle bit sooner. A big life step, like going back to college as an adult, is the perfect time to look back at those smack-your-head moments and do what you can to prevent other similar ones from occurring. How many of these career lessons have you learned?


Lesson #1: YOLO

Yes, we know, YOLO is sooo 2011. While we don’t recommend going around yelling YOLO, the motto is a great reminder that this is your only life, and you should make the most of it. Putting up with jobs that make you unhappy, bosses that treat you unfairly, or companies that don’t match your values isn’t worth it. We all make excuses that keep us in crummy jobs: We need the money. We don’t want to update our resume. We won’t be able to find a new job. But those are just excuses. Commit to making a change – even if it’s a small one – if you’re in this situation.


Lesson #2: Make a Connection (IRL)

Nurturing your network is important. People who build connections are often happier and more successful. But there are two rules to making connections people often overlook: favor depth over breadth and take the relationship offline. With social networks as popular as they are, it’s easy to keep relationships solely in the digital space. But those relationships can only be so meaningful. Make sure to develop offline relationships with your co-workers, people in your community, and by attending professional events.


Lesson #3: Enjoy Drinks with Umbrellas More Often

We often see career success as something that takes great sacrifice. So, we put our nose to the grindstone and never look up. But taking a break and, more specifically, a vacation, is actually good for your career. The group Project: TimeOff found that people who don’t take time off are less likely to get a raise or a bonus than people who do. When you take the time to recharge, you’ll find you have even more energy to focus and take your career where you want.


Lesson #4: Overnight Success is a Fairytale

It’s easy to think that success happens overnight. But that’s mostly malarkey. Success happens bit by bit and, like any good thing, it takes time. When you can learn to celebrate the small wins that come in between big career jumps, you’ll feel more successful overall. So, enjoy the journey. The ups and downs of a career help make you who you are!


Lesson #5: Avoid the Safe Zone

There’s a great deal to learn in failure. In fact, if you don’t fail every once in a while, you’re probably not trying hard enough. As Oprah Winfrey said, “Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” That’s an important lesson, but one that if you learn sooner rather than later can help you be brave and make the most of missteps.


Lesson #6: Be Agile

Let’s be real, everything in this world changes. So you can bet that the industry you’re in will evolve at some point in your career. Be ready for that change by diversifying your skills. Flexibility and agility are two great skills to develop in your career so you can shift as the world does.


Lesson #7: Be an Old Dog Who Learns New Tricks

Speaking of shifts, flexibility and agility are fueled by learning, so become a lifelong learner. Getting an education is no longer something that happens only once in your life. The good news is that not only is it easier than ever to go back to school as an adult, but there are also a ton of informal learning opportunities. From webinars to conferences, podcasts, and even good old fashioned books. Keep looking for opportunities to learn and career success will follow. If you’re thinking about going back to school, talk to our admissions team about the online degrees and career programs Ashworth College offers.


Lesson #8: Give More than You Take

To make a fire, you need three components: oxygen, heat, and fuel. Without each of those elements, you’ll never reach your goal. Finding career success is the same. It might seem like the best thing is to act in your self-interest but recent research has shown that people who are givers and good team members often find more career success than those who just take.


Lesson #9: Don’t Sweat It

Worry can put more of a drag on our careers than we think. We worry about what people think. We stress over what someone said. We’re afraid to speak up or go after a sort of out-there idea. But worrying never achieved anything except maybe regret. That’s a proven fact. A survey of people over 65 found that their biggest regret was that they worried too much in their life. Sure, things might not always go your way, but the best way to turn that around is to make a plan and act on it.