What would you say to your younger self?

I was pleased to be called this week, as I often am, by a young person asking career advice. I thought back to my school days and the advice I was given. This was mainly about studying for exams, going to university and finding secure employment. Whilst there are still merits in that path, employment is no longer as secure as it was, and people need to become more flexible and resourceful as a result.

If I could meet my young self here in 2015 (and she was willing to listen) I would advise her as follows:

1. Don’t be too focused on results. Your qualifications will matter much less than your attitude. Experience is more valuable than results on paper.

2. Trust your first instincts about people. They are usually right. Surround yourself with positive people.

3. Spend time with people you respect, both at work and in your free time. You can learn so much from other people, and they from you. Share information freely.

4. Think before you act. It’s great to be passionate about a big idea but think it through to anticipate all likely outcomes. Then go for it.

5. Treat bad experiences as development opportunities and don’t moan about them. A negative attitude reflects only on you.

6. Guard your professional reputation and use social media with care – always.

7. Don’t stay in an environment that doesn’t suit you. It’s a waste of life. 

Starting work life in 2015 is different in some ways than it was when I was young back in the 70s but there are just as many exciting opportunities. Career paths are rarely signposted or predictable and sometimes, when you feel you are treading water, another opportunity presents itself.  

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