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9 Career Lessons Most People Learn Too Late In Life

By Charles Ebert
Updated May 18, 2017

The success you attain in your career life is directly proportional to the foundation you lay from the get go. As you begin the journey all the way from school, always have this fact in mind. Everything you do plays some intricate part in your success.

In the past, the assumption was, being busy and always working meant career success. But is that really the case? Well, not really. A successful career allows you to have a balance in your life. That means you get to engage in other things too.

Are you happy with your job? Do you derive satisfaction from doing your work? A fitting career gives you the challenge, satisfaction and drives you to be the best at your job. Let’s face it, the majority of us feels stuck in our careers. Mainly because we have responsibilities that dictate us, such as paying rent and generally taking care of our needs. Interestingly, we all have a choice but we ignore our options.

If you desire a successful career, check out these nine lessons that may help you in your journey. Personal experience may be a good teacher, but in this case, it may not be the best. Therefore, you can learn from other people’s’ experiences to save yourself.

1. Learning Is A Continuous Process

The best university is the University of Life. Don’t limit your learning to just getting an education in a classroom. That would be grievous. You learn something new every day, all you have to do is open up your mind, and you’ll see. Your personal experience with the outside world plays a significant role in your career. You also get to learn from other people.

Realize that learning doesn’t stop once you get that certificate or degree, but rather you still continue learning in the outside world. You may not get an award for it, but it will help you grow your career. Many individuals miss out on this as they realize too late in their careers that learning never stops. You can never be perfect, and new things always come along.

2. Failure Is Part Of The Journey

No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. It’s what we do with lessons learned from these mistakes that count. If you’re afraid of failing, then you may as well bid farewell to career success. Your career is just as good as the ventures you decide to undertake.

When we’re afraid of taking steps because of the fear of failure, then we’re not helping ourselves. You must be ready to have both successes and failures.

When we fail, it doesn’t necessarily become the end of you but rather the beginning of a new journey. What counts is the fact that you took a chance. Not taking any steps will not help in any way. Taking chances is what will drive your career to success. If you didn’t take any chances, then you’ll be stuck for fear of failing.

3. Diversify

Things don’t always work out in our favor, and we end up being faced with difficult situations. Dealing with such situations always boils down to how well prepared we are. Therefore, you need to diversify yourself regarding career.

The best way to do this is by always updating your skills to stay relevant and by not limiting our scope. You don’t have to be a jack of all trades but have other skills too. Your preferred career may not work out for you but if you have other skills you can venture into them. Plus, you need to supplement your income, don’t just rely on your job. Have other sources too!

Your CV at this point should highlight all your skills and achievements. This means that it can be more than just one or two pages. A professional level resume differs from a normal CV as it allows you to express yourself and your qualifications in more detail. As you diversify, highlight so in your CV, but ensure that it’s relevant to the job that you’re applying for.

4. Teamwork

Your career success may appear to be a one-man journey, but in reality, it’s not. Other people play a role too! Your family, employer, work mates, etc. have a hand in whether you succeed or not.

Your family, for example, will give you the support and peace you need to execute your work, while your employer gives you the opportunity to prove yourself. Maintaining a good working relationship with the people you work with will help you grow. You get to learn from them and them from you.

Remember you may go faster alone, but if you desire to go further then, you need to work with a team. You also get to share ideas and encourage one another.

5. Build A Social Network

You will need connections for you to grow your career. Create a social network that gives you the chance to meet others with similar goals. Employment opportunities also arise from such connections. This social network should be meaningful.

Thanks to the internet, forming social networks has been made easy, with online platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. at your disposal.

However, be keen not to lose sight of your goals. Also, ensure that you get to meet people in your social network in person – virtual relationships may not be 100% helpful.

6. Create Your Opportunities

Don’t wait to be given a chance to grow but rather create these opportunities yourself. You have to make an effort to progress in your career.

In every step of your career, how well you perform determines your success. You have to take every opportunity seriously.

Take for example an intern, what determines if you get that job, in the end, is how well you performed. Getting a promotion or a raise works the same way – how well you excel in your work.

So, don’t imagine you’ll get it all on a silver platter, you have to earn it yourself.
You may not always end up getting that job, but you can acquire the necessary experience on your own. You don’t always have to wait to get that promotion or raise; it may never come, therefore build something for yourself.

7. Success Is Not Straightforward

Career growth and success don’t happen overnight. Talk to successful individuals and they all have a story to tell. A story of failure and success that molded them into who they are now. Your career journey isn’t as linear as you had presumed.

You’ll have to take detours and experience challenges that may discourage you. What’s important is for you is to try to always to find solutions to get yourself back on track. At the start of your journey, you don’t need to have it all figured out, be flexible and don’t let your errors define you.

8. Do What Makes You Happy

At the end of the day, the reason we do everything is to be happy. Ancient philosophers such as Plato and Socrates suggested that human beings do everything with one goal – to be happy. Therefore, don’t get into a career that doesn’t give you joy.

Do things that ultimately give you happiness. Your job forms more than half of your everyday life.

If you’re unhappy that means won’t be able to deliver or will be working begrudgingly. Do something that makes you happy, something that makes you want to do more and more.

9. Your Health Is Just As Important

We all tend to get carried away in our work that we forget to give our bodies a break or the necessary care.

How healthy you are will determine how well you perform. Strive to maintain a healthy body. Create time to have enough sleep, exercise and eat well. Your success depends on it.


Your career success all depends on you and the choices you make. In short, your choices define who you are.

Success doesn’t come easy, and we will be faced with challenges that may break us. How well we handle everything thrown our way is key.

The lessons are simple.

Just remember that the journey will not be as you anticipated but rather be flexible, willing to learn and adapt to whatever comes your way. Have a social network to help you, diversify and be a go getter. Nobody wants a lazy person.

However, don’t lose yourself in your work and miss out on other life pleasures such as spending time with your family. Have a balance and take care of yourself!

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Katherine Hurst
By Charles Ebert
Charles is a career mentor, motivational speaker and human resources consultant with over 10 years of experience in HR sector. When he isn't career mentoring, he loves photography and football.

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