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What My Previous Jobs Taught Me About Life

Draw Lessons from all of your previous job experiences—the good, and the bad.

I’ve worked in several different jobs throughout the course of my life. Not only did I learn various skill sets from each of my experiences, but I learned valuable life lessons that come from them.

Here are some of the biggest lessons I’ve drawn from my great and not-so-good job experiences:

Guess what? You’re not that special

It’s a competitive world out there and a lot of the times, you’re going to encounter situations where you think “It’s just not fair.” So and so was hired off the street and is just starting out in their career, while I have years of experience and should have gotten the promotion instead.

Well, I hate to break it to you, but you’re not that special. Neither is he. Don’t assume that just because you have an amazing work ethic and a masters degree that you’re expected to be “the chosen one”. A lot of the times, it just doesn’t work that way. Others have just as much experiences as you do (although not the same). They’re just as knowledgeable with unique skill sets and perspectives they can bring to the table. Advancing in your career is a combination of many factors: luck, education, experience, character, and network.

But, you know more than you give yourself credit for

Don’t ever forget your value and how capable you are in whatever role you’re in. You’re able to tackle any task and challenge thrown at you, you just need to be confident in your abilities. You know more than you give yourself credit for, and sometimes you don’t realize that until you’re thrown into the situation where you have no choice but to face it head on and just..do it.

And…you’re not alone

We’re all in this together. We all want to move up the ladder, better ourselves, and make an impact. And we all work hard. In honesty, instead of complaining about your job and someone else’s success, be grateful for your job and be happy for them. Let their story motivate you and inspire you to do better. Behind the scenes, they were probably applying to a handful of jobs or having multiple coffee chats per week for months. Sometimes it’s luck and sometimes it’s hard work, but unhealthy comparison doesn’t do you any good.

Start from the bottom and work your way up

Ultimately, work is work. There isn’t a one size-fits-all type of job for anyone. You could be content working in more than one job, but you just need to choose one (or a few) and commit to it.

You’re going to have to start from the bottom to gain experience and work your way up (especially if you’re in the beginning of your career or you’ve transitioned careers). And that’s perfectly okay. Create opportunities for yourself and go the extra mile.

Remember to…stay focused on your own path

Maybe this job is only temporary while you’re focusing on something else on the side. Or you want the best of both worlds—to have a stable job and to also do work that you’re passionate about, as a side hustle.

You might have a colleague, friend, family member, or a random stranger who doesn’t know you at all—give you unsolicited advice. Take others’ advice with a grain of salt. Stay focused on what you want. You don’t even need to explain yourself.

It’s okay to not be there yet. Just keep going.

As long you’re growing and learning everyday, and persistently working towards your goals, then you’re in a good place. Just don’t let yourself be too comfortable and stagnant. Make sure you always find ways to keep thriving.

Reality is…work is gonna suck. You’re not always going to love what you do.

I’m not saying don’t go after that dream job or don’t chase your passion. I’m saying take everything into account, all aspects of the job. You’re not going to love every bit of it, but do the pros outweigh the cons? Reflect on what you value most for work. Is it work-life balance? Work culture? Opportunities for advancement? Know yourself.

Patience is a virtue

Being stuck in traffic during my commute to and from work taught me patience. In the very beginning, I experienced road rage quite frequently. Over time, I realized that there was no point of me rushing and being angry. There’s nothing I can do, other than to be present. I enjoy watching the sunrise on my way to work. And to make my commute slightly better and more productive, I listen to podcasts.

So, the same idea applies to the workplace. Maybe you’re “too good” for your current job. You’re underemployed, underpaid, or not being fully seen for your work (and that totally sucks). But be patient and have faith that your time will eventually come. Every experience leaves you with valuable life lessons, you might just have to look a little harder to find it.

Resilience is key

You’re going to make a ton of mistakes, especially when you first start out. You’re also going to make mistakes every time you learn a new task. And even then, you’re going to keep making mistakes ‘cause you’re human.

You’re also going to get rejected again and again. Learn from it all. And learn to handle it through acceptance and persistence. Keep fighting for yourself. Years from now, you’re going to look back and laugh at all the times spent stressing over this, and how many tears you’ve shed (it’s okay to admit it).

It’s okay to change gears…

You’re likely spending more time at work than anywhere else. So you better make damn sure you enjoy it. If you’re seriously considering transitioning into something new, whether it be a new position, department, field, industry…or even to relocate to a new city or country—then do it. It’s your decision to live with the consequences… and the benefits! In my personal experience, I never go wrong when I’m being true to myself. Good things will come.

Embrace the chaos (this is all temporary)

You’re going to struggle big time. Literally, every single day. But it’s worth it right? Whatever the reason is for you to be in your current job, remind yourself of the reason “Why”. Make sure this why is worth struggling for.

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