Giving Yourself Advice | Write Here Wednesday
Your career lessons for a past version of yourself
How often do we heed good advice? There’s something in me — and in most people, I believe — that’s resistant to the notion that someone else might know what’s good for me, even when that someone knows me well and wants only the best for me. Unsolicited advice can feel patronizing and paternalistic, and even advice that you seek out can be hard to put into action. As Oscar Wilde said,
“I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.”
But what if you received advice from a future version of yourself? Would you take it more seriously?
Earlier this week, I suggested a set of prompts urging you to draw on your professional life for story material. Many of you appear to have gravitated to the first of these prompts, offering career advice to a younger version of yourselves. Keep them coming, and tag them with #Writehere
You have it in you to work harder. You know where you want to go in your career and personal life, so make sure that happens. Spend as much time as you can muster to follow that dream. You are in charge of whether or not you achieve it, so put your best foot forward and follow that dream.
Some of this advice still applies to me today as I’m still working to figure out where I want my career path to go. But I know now that I have the motivation, I just need to start.
Perhaps the greatest piece of advice I’d give to my younger self, and to the students I have now, and to anyone who’s trying to carve their path in a new career, is to be unafraid to pursue a mentor. The older I get, the more I see that mentorship is often lacking in the workforce. Once we graduate from school, we tend to move about our careers independently, without the guidance of anyone else helping us along our way. And yet, there is something to be gained when we’re able to learn from an older professional in our field, someone who can give you the tips and tricks they have discovered and collected along the way.
We like to think that as we get older, we get wiser. But the thing is, as we get older, the world only gets noisier, and our lives faster. Capitalizing on your strengths sounds common sense. But amidst everything we’ve ever been taught, believed, and observed about how other people approach and succeed in their careers — which, then, often leads us to think we should be competing in the same way — we’re hard-pressed to remember our own leverage.