Despite my mum never telling me that life was like a box of chocolates, I love this analogy because life really is a colourful mix of great and not so great that when put together is hopefully more good than bad! My mum always tried to focus on the positives and she continually reinforced four key messages that I think are great career lessons for anyone.
I didn’t always think my mum was wise, especially as a teenager! As a mum myself now, I often wonder if the guidance and support I’m providing my children is enough. It got me thinking about the lessons I’d learnt as a child and young person and how they influenced my career decisions later in life.
- Never look back: “The only time you should look back is to see how far you’ve come”. Dwelling on the ‘what could have been’ is no good for anyone and definitely a career killer. Focus on the future and what can be, rather than worrying about what you should have or could have done in the past. Commit to making some changes today that will impact on your future success.
- Always try your best: Every day, across almost every aspect of our lives, we have the option of ‘doing our best’ or being satisfied with something less. Regardless of the result, my mum was always more concerned about whether I’d tried my best. There will always be an excuse as to why you shouldn’t or didn’t give something your best effort, but when it comes to your career – it really does matter. If you’re not doing your best, then you’re operating at a lower level, you’re compromising your standards and you’re setting yourself up for consistent achievement of a lower level performance. So give it your all – with 100% effort (and no lies to yourself about the fact that you tried your best when really you didn’t), not giving up after just one attempt, and seeking help where you need it.
- Learn from your mistakes: Mistakes are made to teach us. We make mistakes every day, some that matter and some that don’t. The fact is, most mistakes are great learning opportunities – especially when it comes to your career. Mistakes can:
- Help us determine what works and what doesn’t
- Clarify what’s important in our life
- Teach us how to tell the truth (by being honest about our failures)
- Increase our capacity to change and grow
- Help us take responsibility for our actions rather than shifting blame
- Identify the need not to over-commit
- Make us understand the importance of focus to achieve success.
So embrace your mistakes, and turn them into a learning opportunity – just try not to make the same mistake twice!
- Happiness is a journey: It’s not a destination that once reached is put aside. In philosophy, happiness translates from the Greek concept of eudaimonia, and refers to ‘the good life’, or flourishing, rather than simply an emotion. In psychology, happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being with positive or pleasant emotions. People often think they’ll be happy when they “lose the weight, get the job, are in a relationship, buy the car etc…” but this is often not the case. The fact is, happiness is a choice with different people approaching the same situations with vastly different attitudes. If you approach your situation with positivity, you will be happier. See our article Choosing to be happy at work for tips on workplace happiness.
There are many other life lessons that can be translated to career success – you can’t please everyone, money doesn’t buy happiness, you don’t always get what you want, there’s no shame in not knowing the answer, your health is more important than anything, and the list goes on. What did you learn growing up which has influenced your career success?
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