10 Career Tips That Are Also Great Life Tips

Linda Le Phan

We get it, building a successful career is tough work. And not only that – how are you also supposed to have work-life balance if most of your waking hours are consumed by either job searching, interviewing, career development, or just straight up work “hustle”?

It’s all about making smart choices that affect your work-life AND your personal life.  After all, a successful career is built upon strong character and purposeful choices – the same factors that drive a happy, fulfilling personal life.

Here are 10 career tips are also great life tips – they build your character and drive your purpose.

 

Let the hedgehog guide your choices.

Your main mission while growing in your career (and in life!) should be based on what your “one thing” is according to the hedgehog concept.

The hedgehog concept is a favorite of ours and it comes from a famous essay by Isaiah Berlin called “The Hedgehog and the Fox”; when you put the fox and the hedgehog against each other, the cunning fox tries many things and is just okay at each one, while the hedgehog sticks to its one great thing – the hedgehog wins.

To use the hedgehog concept for your own career and life growth,  think of your one thing as the intersection of these three concepts:

  • What you’re good at
  • What you’re passionate about
  • What you can do to earn money

Evaluate each professional opportunity against that mission by asking, “Does this role support or detract from my mission? Is this leading me closer to my end goal or pulling me away?”

Likewise, you should have a mission in your personal life to better enable you live with purpose and leave a lasting mark on the world.

Follow the 24-hour rule.

When you’re ready to lose your cool – no matter how bad they have it coming to them – commit to waiting 24 hours before sending that response. There’s a good chance that in those 24 hours you will come to your senses, cool down, learn more information that changes your perspective, or come up with a much more productive way to address the problem. In any case, you’ll be better prepared for the discussion.

(This works in relationships, too.)

Show authentic interest in others.

Dale Carnegie – one of the most influential people in the world – has influence down to an art. And the most important component of influence according to Mr. Carnegie himself? Genuine interest in others. Showing sincere interest in those around you opens uncountable doors for you; it makes you more likely to be promoted, more likely to be followed by those you lead, more prone to growing friendships and relationships, better in sales, and more.

Interest can’t be faked; in order to come off as genuine you have to be genuine. Work on how you feel about those around you and start by asking about them before volunteering information about yourself or your own experiences.

Give yourself permission to fail.

The only way you’ll ever take a risk in life is if you’re permitted to fail. And though many leaders give their employees permission to fail because they understand the critical nature of failure in success, human beings are much less likely to give themselves the same room they give others.

Allowing yourself to be wrong, to mess up, and to fail from time to time obliterates crippling defensiveness and opens your mind to new perspectives and wisdom. Additionally, it allows you to take career- or life-changing risks.

Believe the best about others.

When you believe that each person you lead, work alongside, or report to in an organization has the very best intentions to back their actions, you’re able to experience a rewarding career marked by productive, empowering relationships and remarkable results.

No message you share will ever be well received unless you believe that those listening want to be the best at what they do.

Own your own mistakes.

Don’t play the blame game at work; not only will it prevent you from ever growing and improving, but it’ll alienate those around you. When you find an error, ‘fess up despite the consequences. Every mistake comes with valuable lessons learned and even an opportunity to show those around you that you’re human, you’re honest, and you’re willing to admit when you’re wrong.

Eat the frog first.

If you’ve never heard of this phrase before,  the basic idea is that if you do the worst thing (the frog) on your plate first thing in the morning, the rest of the day is a cake walk.

“Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain.

Whatever task you dread the most when you punch that clock in the morning is the first task you should complete. If you allow the most dreaded task to be delayed until the end of the day, the dread will hang over you like a dark cloud, preventing you from tackling other tasks with the gusto and creativity they deserve.

Shut it off when you leave.

Worrying doesn’t resolve problems. Before you leave at the end of the day, take a quick glance at your calendar for tomorrow and decide what small steps you can take right now to better prepare yourself for the next day. Likewise, look at your list of tasks and ask yourself if any of them require completion before you leave. This ensures that when you walk out the door, you check out both physically and mentally.

This applies at home, too. Consider any problem you’re facing and ask yourself, “What small step can I take in this moment to move toward resolution?” Take that small step and check off the box for the moment. Worrying won’t create results.

Go above and beyond.

Whatever you do, do it the best of your ability whether at work or at home. This improves your chances of getting promoted, yes – but it does so much more that. When you put your best foot forward every day, you begin to build character that defines and empowers you.

Know when to say no.

When you overextend yourself at work, your colleagues, clients, and superiors face the consequences. Either you can’t meet timelines, you can’t give those around you the connection and attention they need, or your personality and affect suffer from being overextended for a long period of time. When you know you can’t do a project justice, be honest. And if saying no is too hard, try another way like, “I can take this one but I’ll have to delay another initiative. How does October sound for that project?”

Key takeaway: Both your personal and professional life benefit when you focus on continuous improvement and purposeful living. 

 

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Linda Le Phan is the Content Marketing Manager at kununu US, a place where job seekers can get an authentic view of life at a company and where employers have a trusted platform to better engage talent. When she’s not creating content about the modern workplace, company culture, and life & work hacks, she is probably going out to get an iced coffee (even in Boston winter), raiding the snack drawer, or jamming to kununu’s Spotify playlist.