The 10 best career advice tips you haven’t heard
Think about the best career advice you’ve ever received. What was it? Who said it? In what ways did it help you move up the professional ladder?
And how much would you have paid to have known it much, much earlier?
That’s the thing about the best career advice: it’s so valuable, so useful, and so essential to your development that it’s almost worth paying for. It helps you skip over otherwise painful career mistakes and start earning the respect, admiration and (most importantly) paycheck you actually deserve.
A lot of us here found the career advice we learned as young professionals extremely important—so important, in fact, that we decided to compile what we learned into a list of the 10 “best career advice” tips we’ve heard so far. If you’re a young professional looking to supercharge your career, keep reading for the best career advice most people don’t tell you out of the gate.
Don’t settle for a toxic career environment just to “get ahead”
This first piece of career advice sounds simple, because it is. So many people settle for a work environment that’s toxic, unfulfilling, boring or inhumanly stressful simply because they’re waiting on a better opportunity to come down the road.
In the real world, this looks like college students who’re breaking their backs just to get a degree in a field they hate. It looks like someone at an entry level job who’s miserable but keeps hanging on because they think things will be better when they get a promotion. It looks like someone who sticks around in a “flashy” position to impress friends and family when in reality, they’re extremely unhappy.
You know people like this. Maybe you are someone like this. If you are, don’t buy into the sunk cost fallacy. Things will NOT be better if they’re already bad. Chase what you want and don’t put up with what you don’t want.
You don’t have to accept the culture of “work-life balance”
By now, every social media influencer and their mother has gotten fully onboard the work-life balance train. Unfortunately, that’s a train that goes to nowhere—and the sights along the way are boring and dull.
Let’s be clear: we are NOT suggesting you throw your mental health and personal wellbeing out the window just to succeed at work. What we ARE suggesting is that looking for balance in anything—work, life, friendships, family, romance—is ultimately flawed, because these things are impossible to balance anyway.
Life has a funny way of throwing us out of equilibrium whenever it likes. So, instead of trying to find balance and getting upset when it doesn’t happen, look for the beauty in imbalance.
Choose a career you love so much that you don’t feel bad when you have to stay an hour late. Choose a personal life that’s so fulfilling you don’t mind when your original career path gets upended. Stick to your guns and create the kind of life that flourishes when it’s somewhat unbalanced… you’ll find it’s a much more realistic AND satisfying way to live.
Quiet your ego
Our ego stops us from doing things we think are stupid. It’s not a bad self-protection mechanism, but it can prevent us from sticking our necks out when we really should.
Your ego is that little voice in your head that says “don’t speak up in the meeting” or “don’t tell anyone about your new creative business idea.” Your ego says “don’t start that restaurant,” “being an entrepreneur is too risky,” and “you’ll never make money as a professional artist.”
Want to know something? It’s okay to tell your ego to settle down. You can let it kick and scream in the corner—meanwhile, you’ll be trying new things that’ll take your career to new heights and places.
Let go of goals
Goals, goals, goals. It seems like all anyone talks about these days are #careergoals.
Don’t get us wrong. Goals are great. But one of the best career advice tips we’ve ever received is to stop thinking so much in terms of goals, and start thinking more about happiness.
What kind of career would make you truly happy? What amount of money would let you live peacefully? What job would let you feel centered, at ease, and content? Let the goals take a backseat for a bit while you mine those deeper questions.
Happiness is not money, promotions or accolades
Raises are amazing. Promotions are cool. Accolades rock.
But none of those things equate to true happiness.
Sure, improvements like these will make you happy for a while. And they should! But they are not the end goal of your career.
Your career end goal is to be happy.
And what is happiness?
Happiness is freedom. Happiness is the ability to experience joy regardless of outside circumstances. Happiness is finding tranquility even when life is a rocky boat. Happiness is living up to your truest values and being proud of who you are at your core.
So yes, go for that promotion. But remember: keep your eyes on the real prize.
Don’t “right fight” your way to success
Ever been in a relationship where the other person always has to be right? We call that “right fighting.” Instead of focusing on the importance of the relationship, the other person is focused on winning.
As with love, “right fighting” your way to the top in a business setting is a sure-fire way to make enemies. So, say this out loud to yourself now.
Don’t focus on how other people are wrong.
Don’t focus on how other people aren’t skilled.
Don’t focus on how other people don’t work like you.
Above all, don’t focus on what you don’t want.
If you’re always focused on being right, then you’re always thinking about how others are unqualified, unskilled or imperfect. In other words, you’re assuming the worst about others—and if we’ve learned anything from our careers, it’s that what you focus on grows.
People will disappoint you if you think they’re going to. The REAL successful people focus on how they can work with others despite obstacles to achieve goals beyond their wildest dreams.
Don’t let anyone tell you that your dreams aren’t valid
You want to be a huge bigshot CEO? Heck yeah!
Now, buckle up and pay attention. When you have a lofty goal or dream, countless people are going to tell you how it’s unrealistic. When that happens, the best career advice is to smile, nod, let them say what they’re going to…
…and then keep on doing whatever you want.
Dream big. Dream HUGE. Don’t let anyone stop you from pursuing something you really want.
If you do, you’ll always wonder what type of person you’d be if you didn’t listen to others when it mattered most.
Read as much as you humanly can
Want to know the best way not to screw up at work?
Read about how other people did screw up. Read books about your career, the important players, the big thinkers and the great “ideas people” who came from nothing.
More than that, read things completely unrelated to your career. Read fiction. Read fantasy, sci-fi, romance, thrillers, the classics. Read deep and read wide.
Reading is the number one way to learn things beyond your years—so get your library card and get started.
And, speaking of which…
Journal as much as you humanly can
Do you know who kept a journal? Nobody important, except for:
- Barack Obama
- Margaret Thatcher
- Winston Churchill
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Thomas Edison
- Benjamin Franklin
- Steve Jobs
- Marie Curie
- Mark Twain
- Frida Kahlo
- Anne Frank
- Lewis Carroll
- Sylvia Plath
- Charles Darwin
- Marco Polo
- Ludwig van Beethoven
- Beatrix Potter
- Oprah Winfrey
- Richard Branson
- Lady Gaga
- Warren Buffett
…Need we go on?
Keep a journal. All successful people do it. Better yet, journal with someone else. It’s the second easiest way (after reading) to supercharge your career. By knowing yourself better through the act of journaling, you’ll discover so many things about your work, your life, your ideas, your relationships and your dreams that you didn’t know before.
Play the “no” game
Our final piece of the best career advice you’ll ever get is simple: play the yes game with as many people as you can.
What is the yes game, you ask?
Simple. See how many people will say “yes” to you in a day, a week, a month. Ask for things you think you’ll receive. Ask for things you don’t think you’ll receive. Ask for anything and everything and see what happens.
What does the yes game do? First—and perhaps ironically—it helps you get comfortable with the word “no.” So many people build up rejection as this terrible, horrible thing. For lots of people, hearing “no” to a new idea, a salary increase, a promotion or anything else feels like having one’s heart broken.
But is it?
No! The word “no” is just a word. It doesn’t mean anything at all. And getting comfortable with that word allows you to ask for things you really want and should ask for.
Because sometimes, people say yes.
And that’s the second thing the yes game does. It shows you how often people actually say yes to what you ask for. Sometimes you WILL get that raise. Sometimes a coworker WILL step in and take your extra workload off your shoulders. Sometimes that two-week paid vacation to the Caribbean WILL be approved.
Sometimes quitting your job and asking for more money from the same company to work as an on-call freelancer WILL pan out. (If this feels like a specific example, it’s because it is. The author of this blog did quit his job to become a freelance writer, and he makes more money now than he ever did as a full-time agency content creator. Now he sets his own schedule and works for a host of amazing clients that consistently show him how amazing it was that he played the “yes” game in the first place.)
Read more for the best career advice—and life advice—you’ll ever get
Alright. That’s it for this list of the best career advice you’ll receive as a young professional. If you want more advice about your job, your love life, your friendships, your family… we’ve got you covered on that, too.
Book a call with one of our coaches now, or browse our blog for more tools on making your way through this wild thing we call life.
We are a coaching company with expertise in lots of different areas like mental wellness, career, relationships, parenting and a whole lot more. While coaching in The Journal That Talks Back™ can help you to take a deeper look at the above topics, we recognize that there are times when other resources, like therapy and/or counselling, may make more sense. As such, we have begun to develop a Mental Health Directory with well over 800 resources and we are investing time and effort into really growing it. It is also developed in a super user friendly way (we hope) so that it's easier to navigate than say another government website. Click the button below to check out our Mental Health Directory.