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The Top 7 Pieces of Career Advice I’d Give My 22-Year-Old Self

Four years post-grad and my number one piece of advice is it's not about the money

Graduation day in 2014

When I got out of college I had no idea what direction I wanted to go in my career.

I had so many passions: marketing, PR, journalism, design, and fashion, etc. and I put so much pressure on myself to know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life that I couldn’t focus on the present moment. I didn’t give myself the gift of patience to figure it out.

I’ve still got a way to go but since going through the initial growing pains of trying to figure out what I wanted to do and how I was going to get there (it was a winding road, I’ll tell you), I’ve learned a few lessons.

This is the advice I would give to my 22-year old self. Read on for deets.

1. It’s Not About the Money

The number one lesson I’ve learned is that without passion your desire to succeed can dwindle and you’ll just have a job, not a career. Happiness is worth a lot more than money.

What’s interesting, though, is the people I’ve observed as doing what they’re most passionate about end up being the most monetarily successful. They also end up being the best at what they do.

If you want to be stellar at something you’ve got to stay focused on one thing. The one thing that makes you truly happy. It’s too hard to maintain laser focus when you’re daydreaming about what you could be doing.

2. Know Your Intrinsic Value

Girl (or Boy), you may be young but you bring a lot to the table.

You bring a fresh perspective. Managers, VPs, CEOs all have more experience than a fresh-outta-college grad. True. And that’s worth a lot. However, the ideas and information they have are all filtered through their experiences. For example, they might think a new initiative won’t work because they’ve “seen it done” already.

That’s okay, but first ask why. Seek to understand because this is a great learning experience. Also, try to strategize on how you can do things differently and possibly give the initiative another shot.

If you really care and want to succeed within a company, don’t be afraid to speak up. It’s alright if you don’t hit the nail on the head every time. You’ll never fail as long as you learn.

3. TEST. TEST. TEST.

My mantra is “Test. Test. Test.”

As a kid, I always said “no” to many things my mom wanted me to try. Looking back, I realize how many missed opportunities I had. Now, I will test everything within reason – from new marketing initiatives to seafood (I’m half-Japanese and I hate fish. I know, the irony is real).

I tested working with my mom remodeling homes as my first job out of school. I tested working at a SaaS company doing PR and marketing. I tested working at a real estate technology start-up. I’ve lived in Dallas, San Diego, San Francisco and now I’m in Denver. I love trying new things.

Today I work for The Discoverer a company made up of daring, talented entrepreneurs. What we’re creating is magic and it’s an exhilarating place to be.

4. Surround Yourself with good Peoples

When I first starting working at 16-years old in a coffee shop I just showed up, did my job and got a paycheck. The people I worked with were awesome but there’s a different mentality with hourly jobs. It doesn’t impact you as much because there is minimal stress.

A career is a huge part of your life. You spend ~60% of your time at work and/or working. Think about that in terms of how you invest your time. You’re also spending ~60% of your time with those same people. It’s advantageous to like them or at least be productive with them because you could end up investing your time in complaining about coworkers than actually getting work done.

This lesson really hit home with me at The Discoverer. Because we’re truly a team, we get things done faster and more efficiently. We push each other to do our best without even saying anything because we know that’s what we all want. Plus, the people are talented AF. No mediocrity there.

5. Don’t Let Fear Get in Your Way

I was always so afraid of ruining my entire career in one fell swoop. As if one campaign mistake I made was going to put me on the blacklist in the professional community. While doing things that are careless will be taken note of by your peers, making a mistake is HUMAN.

Fear can be a powerful inhibitor of success.

As long as you’re being mindful and doing the right thing, your mistakes will eventually be forgotten but your integrity will not. Own up to your mistakes and learn why they shouldn’t be repeated. Being vulnerable is a powerful thing.

6. Know That It’s Okay to Not Know Everything

There’s nothing wrong with asking questions. If you don’t know something, then ask because if you pretend to know and you don’t you’ll likely look foolish in the end. A career is a learning process… and a fun one if you keep a positive attitude about it all.

Humility and integrity are rare these days. I’m still working on upping my game, but I’ve recognized that those are two qualities that I want to embody heart and soul.

Have you thought about the qualities you want to be known for?

7. Celebrate Every Single Win

Life goes by too fast. Celebrating my small wins, especially in the last year, has helped me focus on the good and not what I haven’t done. The attitude I bring to work is so much more positive. I don’t have scientific evidence but I’m telling you right now that if you’re happy and have a positive attitude you’ll be able to do anything.

Acknowledge your triumphs: from running a successful marketing campaign or landing your “whale” in sales to watering your desk succulent on schedule for four weeks in a row. These large and small things aggregate into this larger picture we call life.

Originally published at www.vidavico.com

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