Advice to Ourselves

Sometimes, when I am talking to young professionals or in a reunion with old college friends, I begin to reflect upon what changes I would have made in my career choices or my approach to decision making. We learn so much after decades of living, and many times, I wish I had the benefit of that experience when I was in college and early in my career. This is the goal behind our “My Career Path” interview series, started earlier this year, and the foundation of the coaching we provide to our team members and candidates.

With this in mind, we created a survey to poll our community on what advice they would give to their younger selves – and how we can all learn from that advice, no matter where we are in our career journey.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

According to a study conducted by Clemson University, most adults think about this question randomly at least once a week.

Here are our survey results:

What advice would you give to your younger self? (single answer)

  • Take risks, be more bold 29%
  • Have a mentor 27%
  • Take more time for yourself 27%
  • Set goals and pursue them 17%

We are surprised to see the almost even results between the top 3 voted; take risks, have a mentor, and take more time for self-care. According to the results, taking risks and being more bold is the top advice. The risks don’t always have to be extreme, but can be untraditional paths and saying “yes” to more opportunities that align with one’s goals. Often our perception of risks is misguided. Many years ago, an executive said to me that the best way to evaluate a perceived “risk” is to think, “what is the worse that could happen?” and often that “worse case” scenario isn’t actually that bad. So, that is a “risk” that truly is not so “risky.”

Having a mentor and taking more time for self-care are the second most voted – both at 27%. We completely agree that forming relationships with mentors whom we can learn from and grow with is a strong factor in career success. Often mentors have a longer-term perspective, or can view decisions from a different perspective that really adds to one’s own thinking. We obtain the benefit of years of experience without having to live it! While there are formal mentor programs at many companies and professional organizations, we also encourage professionals to identify people whom they admire and reach out to them and begin to build such relationships.

The foundation required to be our best and do our best is to take care of ourselves. Self-care means something different for each of us. At a basic level, it is health – are we eating well, exercising, sleeping? Then, it could be enjoying nature, staying connected to family and friends, giving back to the community and a host of other activities and pursuits that help us recharge and approach each day with positive energy.

What other advice would you give to your younger self? Please share with us!

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