Wisdom//

4 Lessons for Navigating Your Career

Step one: Learn the power of saying no.

Sebastian Julian/ Getty Images
Sebastian Julian/ Getty Images

While we all have our own paths and must take our own journeys, I would have done a few things differently when it comes to my career. I am grateful for the success and the failures that have both shaped who I am today.

However, I only wish that I had been more attuned to some of the lessons that life was trying to teach me at the time. Ultimately, I want to share some of the biggest lessons I have learned over the course of my career. I hope that this wisdom is helpful to you, and empowers you to navigate the turbulence and transition that come with a career.

Pay more attention to what is happening in the marketplace. As many of you know, I came out of college right when the market was collapsing. It was a terrifying moment for someone like me: a finance major who had a stellar academic record. I went from having a plethora of prospects to total uncertainty, all in a matter of weeks. In fact, I even spoke with my academic advisor about totally shifting my career path. This was not something I could have prepared myself for, and I found myself in an absolute panic. What was I going to do? What was my alternative plan? I had studied finance and the markets for years. I read The Wall Street Journal every morning. I knew that the signs of a recession were all around me. However, for some reason, I felt like I was exempt from the recession personally impacting me. One of the things I would have done differently is to have paid more attention to what is happening in the markets. No, I would not have been able to prepare for everything. However, I would have been able to come up with a more solid plan and strategy for navigating that season of my life. You should always prepare for the unexpected.

Always believe in yourself and know your value. I started my business in my twenties. I shared my vision with people whom I should have never spoken with in the first place. I allowed critics and skeptics to tell me what was possible and what I was capable of. Ultimately, I allowed so many people to make me question myself and discount my value. I was young and inexperienced, and I turned to toxic people for assurance, advice, and validation. One of the things I want you to understand is that you do not need acceptance or validation to fulfill your vision or accomplish your goals. Preparation is one of the greatest defenses against fear and anxiety. I knew about business and the world of finance. More importantly, I knew the direction that I wanted to take my business, and I should have trusted myself more. Second-guessing myself cost me a lot of time, and even robbed me of some opportunities. You must believe in yourself and know your value. After all, nobody will ever advocate for you like you can advocate for yourself.

Learn the power of saying no. While there are a number of things I could have done differently, I had a bad habit of saying yes to everything. If you are familiar with my work, then you know that my business almost collapsed on three different occasions. However, I was able to develop a strategy that turned the business around, garnered massive media attention, and positioned me as a highly respected thought leader around the world. When you have gone through turbulence in business, you can start to embrace a survival mindset even after your business has experienced success. I was winning all kinds of awards and thriving in my industry. However, in the back of my mind, I believe I was still fearful that the company would collapse again. So I found myself saying yes to every interview, every meeting, every project, and every opportunity. What I discovered is that as your business grows, you should become selective about the opportunities that you take. Saying yes to every opportunity that comes your way is noble, but it robs you of the opportunity to build, grow, and expand your business. One of the greatest things you can do as an entrepreneur is learn the power of saying no. It may appear to be a great opportunity. However, if it consumes your time and takes you away from the core functions of your business, then it may not be the right opportunity for you.

Embrace the sacred power of rest. Arianna Huffington is a dear mentor to me. I have spoken with her about how her book Thrive changed my life. I can relate to the workaholic complex perfectly. I have always been an overachiever, and I brought that same mentality into business. I was committed to being the best in the world. However, I was tired, exhausted, and burnt out. My best friend was really concerned about me. He kept telling me that I was working too much, and that I needed to pull back. Unfortunately, I ignored him and I continued to work at an extreme pace. Then I had a health scare that changed everything. I literally thought I was having a heart attack. Thankfully, I was okay, but I knew at that moment that something had to change in my life. I could not work seven days a week, and I could not continue to put myself last. I had to make health, rest, and vacations a priority in my life. In an era where work has been glorified, I want you to know that grinding without boundaries will cause your life to collapse. I have nothing against hard work and hunger to advance in your career. On the other hand, sacrificing your health and your life for success is an absolute failure. Your wellbeing must be a priority and pillar in your life.

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