It seems like everywhere you go, people will try to give you advice on how to succeed in your career and your life. I don’t need to tell you that not everything you read on the web is true, but it’s hard to ignore advice that not only sounds right, but is also motivational. Sometimes, though, these “words of wisdom” are much too optimistic or otherwise ignore the reality of your situation. I’m not saying these pieces of advice will lead you on a certain path to failure, but you should never blindly agree with any of the following because the truth is, only you know what’s best for you.
1. Take What You Can Get
“In this economy, blah, blah, blah.” You’ve heard it a million times by now. If you’re just entering the workforce, have recently moved, or are reinventing yourself, it can be tempting to cast a wide net and take the first position that’s offered to you. I mean, you’d be crazy to turn something down “in this economy,” right?
Stop thinking in the short-term, especially when analyzing your career path. Sure, you need money to pay the bills, but -assuming you’re fresh out of college or otherwise looking for a new career- you most likely have some debt as it is. Not that you want to let it get out of control, but is it really worth taking a job that doesn’t pay well and you’re not going to love just so you can afford to pay the monthly minimum on your loans? While you should definitely keep your options open and not resort to tunnel vision when it comes to the job hunt, don’t trick yourself into being desperate enough to take a job that makes you miserable.
2. Do What You're Good at
We’ve all heard the saying “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” But your talent and your passion don’t necessarily gel, and that’s perfectly fine. Just because you’re naturally good at something doesn’t mean it’s what you want to do with your life. Rather than following in your parents’ footsteps or starting out on a career path you’ll find easy but not rewarding, discover how you can harness your skills and abilities to succeed in the area you want to succeed in. Note that I didn’t say you should blindly follow your passion -we’ll get to that later- but you should definitely take your passion into consideration when looking for a job.
3. Follow Your Passion
On the other hand, you should have realistic expectations about where your passion will take you in life. You might love to play football, and you might have been pretty good in high school. But you need to realize that only 0.03 percent of high school football players make it to the NFL. While this is an extreme example (I mean, most people know they won’t go pro in a sport just because they love playing it…right?), it gets the point across clear as day: just because you love to do something doesn’t mean it will pay the bills. Think of the term “starving artist.” I know people who are absolute musical geniuses, and would have loved to end up playing shows for a living. But they realized it wasn’t realistic and found “real jobs”. That doesn’t mean they stopped playing music altogether; they just have found a way to balance their business life with their hobbies.
4. Go for the Money
It’s no secret that money makes the world go ‘round. Or at least that’s what we’re told. But money is only one of the many factors you should consider when taking a job. Is it going to take up all your time? Is it going to take you away from your family? Is it going to jibe with your other life goals? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” than take a step back and realize that money is absolutely meaningless if you can’t do what you want to do with it. While you definitely want to be able to pay your bills and live comfortably, you should never find yourself in a position in which your wallet is full, but your life is not.
5. Do Your Best to Fit in
Obviously, you’ll be happier working within an organization in which your colleagues, boss, and clientele all live similar lifestyles and share overall life views, but sometimes fitting in comes at a price. If you’re doing your best to fit in, it means you don’t naturally fit in. There’s nothing wrong with that, but take a moment to consider whether that’s the job for you. Regardless of the reason -whether you feel out of place, or the job makes you question your morality, or you’re just plain uncomfortable- realize there’s definitely something better out there for you. The longer you stay with a company in which you don’t fit in, the more you’ll suffer.
6. Be Comfortable
It sounds great, right? But think about it: when you’re comfortable, you’re stagnant. You’re not living; you’re just existing. Comfort is for those lazy Saturdays after you’ve completed all the work you need to have done and can take an hour or two to recharge. When you’re working, you should be using every second of your day to improve upon your former self in some way or another.
It might sound hard to believe, but the Warren Buffetts and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world are rarely comfortable. In fact, these successful people actively search for ways to push their comfort zone in order to improve themselves. If they simply opted for a comfortable job, they never would have done the amazing things they’ve done in their lives.
7. Always Say "Yes"
This is another piece of advice usually spouted to the younger generations as they graduate college: never turn down an opportunity. It goes along with the last point, as saying “no” to a new experience is usually said because you’d rather not take on more responsibility than you already have. Though you definitely should never completely shut the door on offers that could potentially help you grow and move you up in your career, you shouldn’t blindly say “yes” every time someone comes to you asking for something. First of all, you don’t want to completely burn yourself out by going too far above and beyond your scope of duties -especially if you won’t be compensated in some way. Second of all, your performance will suffer if you end up with too much on your plate. Instead of juggling five different responsibilities in order to show you’re a hard worker, focus on one at a time, and do your absolute best in all you set out to do.
8. Hard Work Pays Off
I just spoke about taking on too much, and how it might not be worth it in the long run. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but even if you put in 100 percent every single day of your life, and completely dedicate yourself to your career, success is not guaranteed. There are so many other factors -many of which boil down to luck- that can affect how far you go in life. This isn’t meant to discourage you from doing your damndest each and every day to push yourself forward. It’s only meant to give you the realistic notion that where you end up in life depends largely on circumstances that are beyond your control and that no amount of hard work on your part will be able to change. Don’t let it get you down, but don’t expect anything more just because you think you deserve it.
See Also: A Lack of Sleep Can Ruin Your Career
Like I said in the intro, these words of wisdom are great pieces of advice. But they aren’t meant to be read as the gospel. Surely, you should take all of these suggestions to heart when starting out on your career path, but there are so many other things you need to consider as well. Take this piece of advice: Make your own decisions, and follow your own path. No fortune cookie is going to help you get where you want to be.