How often do you read something that really changes the way you look at your career?
Because it happened for me today.
In a Forbes.com article written by Jason Nazar, a 34-year-old business owner who started his own company at 20, I learned tidbits about my own generation that apply to me, too. The article was titled “20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don’t Get,” and I highly recommend bookmarking it if you’re in your 20s. It wasn’t just about 20-year-olds — it applied to 25-year-olds and even, I’m sure, 29-year-olds.
Four years into my professional career, I know two things: I’m a better professional than I was four years ago, and I still have a long way to go. I’m smack in the middle of my 20s, and that means good and bad things for my career.
What I do know is everyone falls into a lull every now and then, and a well-written article can jolt me out of it.
Hopefully, it does the same for you, too.
I’d like to pull a couple of the tips Nazar wrote about and discuss them here, because some of them were especially important to me.
Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes
Excuses have been one of the hardest things to remove from my vernacular, but I’m getting better. One of the toughest lessons I learned when going from college to the professional world is that nobody wants to know why you didn’t get it done. Bosses don’t like when you don’t deliver, and it gets a whole lot worse when they are met with a barrage of excuses. I’ve always been able to “plead my case” growing up, and that changed mighty fast when I turned 23 or so.
You Should Be Getting Your Butt Kicked
Tough bosses are a major challenge, but they also make you a much better employee. I can attest to this — I’ve had bosses tell me that something I produced was weak. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it motivates you to never have that conversation with a superior again. I’m not saying it’s fun to work for someone who’s just a jerk to be a jerk, but when you have someone who pushes you as hard as you think they can, it’s a good place to be.
You Need at Least 3 Professional Mentors
I can’t say I have three, but I’ve had at least one at every place I’ve worked, and it’s been great. To have someone to talk to who has seen everything and can give professional advice is truly special. You should absolutely seek out someone in your office who can do the same for you. It’s just nice to be around successful people, and it’s great to know you’re no more than a phone call or email away from someone who can give you wonderful advice to solve any problem.
Spend 25 Percent Less Than You Make
In these tough times, this can’t be stressed enough. It’s tough with student loans and bills, I know, but it pays off to save as much money as you can. Not just because you need something to fall back on in case something career-related takes a turn for the worse, but also because you need to start saving now. Or else you’ll work until you’re 75. Unless you’re into that kind of thing.