I love the saying “you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” I think it’s so true, and I’m constantly turning to the people around me to help me grow—especially in my career. At The Reveal, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by smart, successful women in all stages and walks of life, so I asked the team—what’s the best piece of career advice you’ve received?
In your 20s
My best piece of advice is to remember that everyone is trying to help you! After sailing through college without a care in the world, entering the job force and receiving constructive criticism was a rude awakening. My dad was the one that reminded me that everyone was offering feedback to help me get better at my job. It was a great reminder and made me appreciate the feedback and my co-workers much more.
I (like many other people) love to be where I’m comfortable—especially when it comes to work. I prefer to be in an environment where I’m known and feel confident. Until a former boss communicated the importance of being uncomfortable, I was convinced I’d stay in a familiar workplace forever. I was reminded that the unfamiliar is where I learn and grow best. Being fresh out of college, joining the work force is intimidating and also an opportunity to say yes when I feel most comfortable saying no. Some of my biggest growth opportunities have come from doing things that feel awkward at first.
I was feeling exhausted and on the edge of burnout from several years of hustling hard since graduating college. My aunt—who has enjoyed a very successful but taxing career—told me to take care of stress. I’d been trying to power through stress without a regular routine to decompress. With to-do lists a mile long, taking time every day to unwind seemed like a luxury instead of a necessity. I was wrong, and it caught up with me in big ways. Today, I’m still not perfect at it, but I see the value and importance of striving to take this time each day so I can show up as my best self personally and professionally.
In your 30s
Seasons. Life is full of seasons. My mom always told me—friends will come and go, jobs will change, nothing is permanent, and that’s okay. You just need to go through the seasons. When I decided to take a break from work in my late 20s after having kids, I felt liberated, yet powerless. I knew it was the best decision for my family at the time, but it took a toll on my identity. Once my early 30s hit and the kids began school, I knew the season to work had returned. I felt creative, recharged and excited to be a part of something that was my own—not in relation to being a mother and wife. And so my mom was right, the seasons changed and my life evolved, as it should.
Take a break in the middle of the day to prevent burnout; work out, go for a walk, go shopping, sit down to a nice, screen-free lunch, meditate—do something for you.
I worked crazy hours and felt immense pressure through my 20s and burned out at 27. I began to interview at other agencies to realize how much more I liked the company and job I had. Around the same time I started running during lunch a few times a week during winter. The idea was to get an hour of daylight and workout when I had the energy because I was too tired after work and it was dark. It felt like a risk—taking time for myself in the middle of the day—what would people think? However, the professional benefits were huge. I immediately noticed how much more productive, decisive, creatively inspired and patient I was afterward. I didn’t care if I ended up working until 9 because I felt great and had owned a little piece of my day. And the truth was, I rarely had to work late because taking this break made me so efficient and even better at my job, something my manager noticed and was supportive of. It also made me feel happy vs. stressed. It was a huge turning point and something that I kept up the next 5 years where I continued to climb the ranks of that same agency faster than most.
In your 40s
Take something from every experience and everyone. You’ll find yourself in many situations—conferences with experts, networking events with strangers, lunches with colleagues, and pedicures with friends— where you are engaging with people who know something that you don’t. Try to leave every one of those situations with a new learning or finding. And, frankly, work your ass off. It’s your early years where working hard will pay off and give you professional flexibility and the opportunity to shape your career moving forward.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Share it in the comments!