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Looking Ahead to 2017: My Career Advice For Young Professionals

Over the past few years, I’ve had many young professionals and their parents ask me for career advice. And, recently, I’ve found myself giving more unconventional insight to young people during their professional pursuits.

So for this post, instead of providing a long list of resume and cover letter tips, I thought I’d provide some seemingly basic, yet critically important things for young professionals to remember. And, though I wrote this post with young professionals in mind, the same principles can easily be applied to anyone looking to advance their careers and find more meaning in their lives.

So, here it is. My 2017 career advice:

1. Live up to your word. If you say you’re going to do something, actually do it. Sounds simple right? Remember, actions speak MUCH louder than words. One of the easiest ways to make a positive impression on others is to follow through with your promises. In a digital age filled with constant and superfluous communication, your actions are all you have to stand out from the crowd.

2. Invest in yourself. It’s easy to spend your paycheck on new clothes, concert tickets and other materialistic items of instant gratification. But spending money on your professional growth and development is one of the best investments you can make. Put some money aside each month to attend a networking event or industry conference. You’ll expand your social circle, learn from others and make a name for yourself in your field.

3. Do it alone. The reality is that you’re not always going to have your best friend or mom to go with you everywhere. Gain the confidence to walk into a room alone and talk to people. At the young age of 18, I challenged myself to attend professional events of all types by myself. People twice my age thought I was crazy – maybe because they would never dream of doing this as a teenager. This has by far been one of the best skills I’ve acquired during my career. Not only has this been an empowering experience, but I’ve walked away from many situations over the past several years having made hundreds of new professional contacts and friends.

4. Show gratitude. It doesn’t take much to say thank you, yet so many of us don’t express gratitude on a daily basis. Whether it’s the person handing you your morning coffee or a co-worker who helped you meet a deadline, showing gratitude never goes out of style. When you project positivity, good things are sure to come back your way.

5. Accept that life isn’t always fair. There are going to be situations in your life that just don’t seem fair. Remember that life doesn’t owe you anything. Rather than harp on the negatives, accept what you can’t change and move on. Using your time to change what is in your control will get you much farther ahead than complaining about what you can’t change.

6. Remember the gray. One of the best parts about life is that it’s not always black or white. There’s a lot of gray in between. For example, if you don’t get a job you interviewed for, don’t look at the rejection as a negative circumstance. You never know when a person who interviewed you will reach out with another opportunity in the future, or simply be a valuable reference for other jobs.

7. Love your work. This is a tough one, as I know many young professionals have not yet found work they truly enjoy. My advice is to keep exploring your interests and taking advantage of all opportunities afforded to you. One of the worst regrets people have is not pursuing their dreams and passions. Don’t settle for the expectations of others. Work on building a life you love and keep searching for what it is that makes you tick every day.

Finally, all of the above won’t guarantee anything unless you trust within yourself that your actions will lead you down a path to success. One of my favorite quotes by Steve Jobs puts it this way:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.”

If you haven’t noticed any dots connecting in your life, you’re probably not living by the seven principles above. Give them a try in 2017 and I guarantee you’ll start connecting the dots in no time.

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