Young adulthood is an exciting time in one’s life. It comes with both exhilarating opportunities and daunting challenges. For much of their prior life, young adults were told they could do and be anything they chose to be. When faced with the decision on what to study and what to do for a career, young adults may feel unprepared for the future and unsure on how to decide on a path forward. Consider the following as you seek to council and coach your eager but uncertain young decision-makers.
Broaden your perspectives
As you explore your own abilities think of five professional people whom you admire. Talk with them to learn what they do and what they like and don’t like about their careers. If you take the time to interview people who have gained professional success later in life many will reveal that they would never have predicted their ultimate destination. Many end up in careers that bear little resemblance to what they initially intended. Their opportunities came to them as they worked tirelessly, stretched their skill-sets, took calculated risks, studied and learned new ideas, and pushed to add value to all their activities. Serendipity is defined as making fortunate discoveries by accident and is what often happens as careers develop. As you broaden your view of the world and explore your options for contribution, you will be amazed at what presents itself.
Pay the price
: Learning to pay the price is important when considering the direction of your education and subsequent career. Be prepared to work in a variety of jobs in order to gain valuable experience. At first, you should worry less about the specific job function. In fact, you shouldn’t expect to find the “perfect” opportunity on your first try. Make gaining experience a priority and be willing to learn from that experience. You might not love every job you have, but learn from every job.
Ultimately, you should do work that is meaningful to you. It is not good policy to pursue a career solely on the basis of earning potential. Your pursuit of excellence in the work you love as you seek to contribute, not merely “tend shop,” will bless your associates and bring personal satisfaction and in time will reward you with financial competence.
Know your values
: Living consistent with your values helps you build trust. Trust in yourself and others is essential to your long-term education and career success.
You will likely face several different employment options throughout your life. In fact, while your grandparents may have spent 30-40 years in the same profession — even working for the same company — today’s professionals will change careers an average of seven times or more. When faced with key decisions about your job, how will you make the right choice? In preparation for answering this question take some time to develop your decision criteria for determining your best options.
Develop your personal network
It can be extremely helpful when you are searching for a job to talk with as many people as you can. Few people do this. Instead of taking the time and effort to build a network, many send resumes out to potential employers en masse and then take the first job that presents itself. Networking can help you gain tremendous insight into what jobs might work, and what jobs might not be an appropriate fit. After a few years, some people find themselves stuck in a field of work where they have experience and earning potential, but they don’t like what they do. Networking can help provide a clearer picture of your aptitudes, inclination, and options before you officially begin your career.
Develop a personal mission
statement: Each of us has unique abilities and talents that can make a difference in the world. Often, however, our challenge is in discovering these abilities and talents. Creating a personal mission statement — or personal manifesto — will help bring your contributions into focus. Just as, the United States Constitution has directed the very structure of our government and is the basis for day-to-day life, your mission statement will serve as an important guide for what you do and for what you will become.
Be “results” focused
As you pursue your work, develop a bias for producing results. Don’t confuse activity with actual performance. Too often we get sucked into the “whirlwind” of daily minutiae — reports that have to be done, phones that need to be answered, endless email and pointless meetings to attend. Frequently, these activities have little to do with what really needs to be done.
Examine your motives
I love the maxim, “seek to bless and not impress.” There is great power in pure motives. If we make service to others a priority, we will find that all other aspects of our lives will be positively impacted.
Don’t give up. Stay the course
Don’t be afraid of failure. If you don’t fail miserably at some point in life, you are not trying hard enough. Sometimes these experiences are necessary because they teach you things you need to learn. And they are often the catalyst to move you toward what you really should be doing. Kay Sugahara said it succinctly, “The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.”
As you explore your opportunities, be sure to make a thorough assessment of your aptitudes, talents and passions. Broaden your perspective about the world and your options, and stay true to your mission and values. Be diligent in your efforts and go the “extra degree.” Strive to be results-oriented. Develop a passion for your work, and build your personal network and leverage it appropriately. Ultimately, if you do these things with diligence, persistence, and faith while maintaining clear and appropriate priorities, you will experience contribution, fulfillment, and success.
Shawn D. Moon is the Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Delivery for FranklinCovey Corp., where he is responsible for the Company’s U.S. and International direct offices, the Sales Performance Practice, the Execution and Speed of Trust Practices. Shawn is the author of two books: On Your Own: A Young Adults’ Guide to Making Smart Decisions, and Bill’s Christmas Legacy, and co-author of the forthcoming Unleash Talent.