8 Things I’ve Learned in My Career…So Far

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As you may know, I’m starting a new job tomorrow. I wanted to take a minute to reflect on the things I’ve learned during the past 5 years.

1. Think ahead. This can be tough to do especially in the beginning when you’re learning process and get situated. As time goes on, always be thinking about the next step in the game. How can we get there? What do I need to complete in order to get there? How can you check in and help?

2. Always Double Check. I’ve learned this one time and time again. Each time before I send something out to a client, vendor or colleague. I like to double or even triple check. There have been SO many times where I’ve said I know I got it right I’m not going to waste time looking it over again. There is usually always at least one error. A second set of eyes helps too. We often get blindsides by something we’ve looked at too many times. Measure twice, cut once.

3. Collaborate damn it! When I first started out in design I didn’t want anyone stealing my ideas so I kept everything pretty under wraps. Now I’m confident in my skills and abilities and am ready to bring what I have to the table. And am willing to admit I don’t have all the answers. Collaboration makes for some of the best work. We can’t do it always do it all alone. I can point to countless projects where I worked closely with my team to develop something 1000x’s better than I would have on my own.

4. Ask for help. I would often wait until the last possible second to admit I didn’t know how to do something. I didn’t want to seem weak or unknowledgeable. The fact is, if you don’t know it, you should want to learn it. Take your pride out of the situation and focus on learning new things. It can only help your personal and professional growth.

5. Know your boundaries. It’s great to always be up for a challenge and willing to go the extra mile. Clients, managers, colleagues are always going to be asking something. Can you stay late? Can you have me this in a hour? It’s great to be helpful but know your boundaries. I’m the type of person is uber dedicated and likes to take on WAY too many things. Knowing what you can and can’t do is one of your biggest assets. People will respect you more, knowing that you have boundaries and they can’t be constantly crossed.

6. Don’t over promise. Be realistic. There is nothing worse than making a promise you can’t keep. People loose trust and faith in your ability. Ever heard the saying, ” it’s better to under promise and over deliver”? It’s ok when someone asks for something, to tell them you will get back to them with a timeline. You don’t have to immediately agree to what they’re laying down. This gives you time to think and come back with a well thought out scenario.

7. Lighten Up. It’s ok to have a personality at work. I spent YEARS being a work robot. I figured there was no time to bring humanity or personality into the mix. It’s go time and those things would only get in the way. WRONG! Personality and humanity are the two things that bring you closer to clients and co-workers. Ever heard the term, people not projects? Learning to read people and connect with them is just as valuable as any amount of perfect award winning work.

8. Don’t be a yes man. No one wants a yes man (well most). People are hiring you for your expertise. If we did everything our bosses or clients said, we just become a robot and wouldn’t end up being very proud of our work. You have a brain—use it! There is always a possibility that you know a quicker, faster or more efficient way to get the job done. Don’t be afraid to say it, you may not always get your way. If it’s coming from a good, not arrogant place, chances are managers open to hearing it. Who doesn’t like saving time and money? Learning to trust your voice and gut are huge asset to yourself in business and in life.

I hope these tips helped. Remember, It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it—Lou Holtz. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors!

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