15 Important Career Lessons to Live By

Reviewed by Melina Theodorou

Illustration of a woman explaining a chart to a sitting man

Many of us spend our entire careers, enduring many setbacks and ruining relationships before we get to learn these vital career lessons. So, to spare you the heartache, we’ve listed 15 essential lessons that you need to learn early on in life to boost your career development.

Regardless of your job role, these are the mottos you should follow throughout your professional career.

1. Happiness is key to success

To be successful in life, you must love what you do! So, if you dread going to work, either because of the job itself, a colleague or your boss, you’re going to need to make a shift to ensure that you love your work. You don’t want to get close to retirement and regret your entire career! According to Yahoo! ’s former senior executive Tim Sanders: ‘People who love what they’re doing, who love to learn new things, to meet new people, and to share what and whom they know with others: these are the people who wind up creating the new economic value and, as a result, moving their companies forward.’

2. Developing strong relationships is vital

The most successful people tend to have strong relationships inside and outside of work. They genuinely care about those around them and will offer their assistance without expecting anything in return. So, if you’re at the start of your career, aim to make a bond with those that cross your path - you never know when you will need their help or advice!

3. Having a positive mindset is everything

If you haven’t noticed already, Negative Nancies get nowhere in life! To be successful, you must sport a positive attitude. If you’re having a bad day, don’t let that get in your way of success. You must form a thick skin and push past it and continue with a positive mindset; it’s easy to fall into the negativity trap and think that the grass is always greener elsewhere, but don’t let other people’s opinions bring you down!

4. Learn from your mistakes

Nobody is perfect, and you’re bound to make a mistake at some point in your career. It’s an essential part of the process for you to learn and develop as a professional, so don’t feel worthless when you’ve made a mistake at work. Instead, learn from it and use it as an opportunity to do better next time.

5. Don’t give up

Similarly to the point above, you shouldn’t give up when the going gets tough. You must believe in yourself, accept the challenge and conquer it. Move outside your comfort zone and push yourself to do something different and succeed! You’ll feel much more satisfied and content in your role once you get past the barrier of fear.

6. Fuel your body to fuel your mind

Success starts from within, so to have a healthy and active mind, you’ll also need to have a healthy and active body. To be successful, you’ll need to take care of your health and be mindful of what you consume! Although it’s fine to indulge from time-to-time, you’ll need to eat healthy and balanced meals to ensure you have the energy to work at your maximum capacity.

7. Keep your social life private

If you’re someone who lives to post your successes on social media, then you have it all wrong! Live to make vital connections with others instead of simply living to get a picture for the gram. Although it’s beneficial to have a strong social presence, you should spend more time forming key relationships before being able to share them to your online platforms.

8. Never stop learning

With such a fast-paced world, it’s essential to continue growing and developing with new and emerging trends. Even if you’re the CEO of a company, you should never stop learning and taking in new information. Take Elon Musk for example: he dedicates a large portion of his day to reading and development to ensure he is one step ahead of the rest, and it has indeed paid off.

9. Small wins deserve to be celebrated

Managed to beat last month’s sales target? No matter how small a figure it is, it deserves to be celebrated! We often fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others and convincing ourselves that what we have achieved isn’t good enough and that we should do better! That said, it’s essential to take a step back and give ourselves a little pat on the back from time-to-time.

10. Teamwork is essential

Succeeding as a team is far more important than individual success. While you might think that you can achieve greatness on your own, you’ll be very mistaken. Even great artists like Beyoncé have made it to the top because they’ve had a strong network and support unit around them. They have people who inspire them and offer ideas to help push and improve their craft.

11. Don’t be afraid of the setbacks

At some point in your career, you’re might endure a job that will knock your confidence; whether it’s a bad boss, the wrong role or poor company culture, there will be a reason to make you doubt yourself.

However, it’s important not to be afraid of failure and to welcome it when it does happen. As mentioned above, everything is a learning curve in life, and you should be able to look at your setbacks constructively and use them to your advantage.

12. Nothing is provided for free

Generally speaking, nothing will be handed to you on a silver platter, and you’ll need to work hard to be successful. If you’re job searching, for example, you shouldn’t expect the jobs to come to you. Instead, you should make an effort to seek out roles at companies that you admire and spend time preparing your application to ensure you have a chance of securing a job there.

13. Don’t burn any bridges

If you’re leaving a job that you hate, it can be easy to let loose and tell your boss what you really think of them on your last day, but you never know when your paths might cross again! To ensure that you’re on good terms with everyone, bury any grievances with past employers and be kind to everyone you meet!

14. Reinvention is key

In today’s digital world, you’re going to need to roll with the times, which often calls for some form of reinvention. Stay competitive by adapting to new technologies, trends and expectations to ensure that you’re always on the top of the list when it comes to new opportunities.

15. Create your own story

Your background isn’t important when it comes to success. If you’re determined and motivated, you can create your own success story. Start from the bottom and work your way up - if you have the drive, you’ll achieve anything that you set your mind to.

Enjoying a successful career requires hard work and determination, but by learning these lessons early on, you’ll definitely be able to avoid a few bumps along the way!

What career lessons have you learnt throughout your career? Share them with us in the comments section below!

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 3 January 2018.