It’s easy to get overwhelmed when making decisions about your career. Am I doing what I need to do to be successful? Should I change jobs? Is there a better opportunity I’m passing up?
It’s also easy to wish you had a crystal ball that could give you a glimpse into the future, show you how things work out, and illuminate what you should be doing now.
Well, unfortunately, there are no crystal balls. Sorry! What we do have, though, is advice and wisdom from people further along in their careers, people who can tell us what they’ve learned from their experiences.
On the Career Curves podcast, we interview people who are successful in their careers to find out how they got where they are. We dig into key decisions they had to make and how they made them. Not every decision works out the way they’d hope but many do.
One question we ask every guest is, “What’s the one piece of career advice you wish you could go back in time and give your younger self?” Here’s some of the advice we’ve heard:
Don’t be afraid.
“You might not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Make the most complete picture you can with the information at hand and move into a direction that feels right based on that.” Manny Hernandez
“Don’t be afraid to take risks. I pushed myself from day one, but sometimes I was forced into it. There were a lot of fearful moments. So less fear, more excitement.” Burak Cakmak
“Things are going to be okay; quit worrying so much. Don't be so hesitant and don't be so afraid.” Rick Welts
Focus on the right things
“Focus as much on being effective as you focus on being right and you will be one of the most powerful leaders.” Kellie McElhaney
“You are just as important and relevant as anyone else at the table. You are there for a reason. You should absolutely be giving voice to your perspective.” Hydra Mendoza
“Remember you have a voice and use it. Find your own voice early on.” Susan Leal
“Invest in relationships and don't do so when you're looking for a job, but really find people that you like working with and deepen the relationships with them.” Wade Crowfoot
Persevere through the ups and downs
“Be patient. There have been two long periods in my career where I felt lost and hopeless. The first being during the recession and the second during the 18 months I was in a role that didn't fit me super well. And so I would just tell myself, ‘Just be patient. Things change so quickly. Again, stay the course and things will happen.’" Corey Lambert
“Life’s going to have a lot of ups and downs. Just don't take it so hard. It's okay if someone who graduated with you is now a millionaire and you are not, or they joined a startup that went public or someone who started with you on the same day is a couple levels higher than you. Because at the end of the day, each of us have our own journeys and they all ebb and flow. Just keep working on the things you like and enjoy it. Don't stress.” Anu Shultes
“Breathe. If you are truly genuine to yourself and if you work hard, things really do work out. And, be open to changing the definition of working out.” Arpana Vidyarthi
Go for it.
“Go for it, honestly. Just keep trying. Anything is possible in living a life that is fulfilling.” Anna Beuselinck
“Just go for it. Don't hesitate. Jump in.” Daniel Lurie
It’s okay if the path isn’t clear
“Whatever you do, it's not going to be the last thing you do. Our stigma is that you're going to pick a career or job, and you better love it because it's the last thing you can do. That alone can be paralyzing. So be bold. Take chances. Things are always reversible. There's less permanency in life than we think there is. And there's less time in life than we think there is. So, just go for it.” Rodney Fong
“Following what you think is important will lead to a rich and meaningful career where you can make a difference.” Darryl Knudsen
Advice like this is golden and while these quotes stand on their own, they make even more sense within the context of each person’s career story, which you can hear on the Career Curves podcast. It’s free and available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, YouTube, and just about everywhere else podcasts are found.
Not quite the same as a crystal ball, but pretty darn close.