If I knew then what I know now.
There’s no doubt that a college education provides us with a great foundation to take on the world with, but let’s face it, having a degree doesn’t guarantee you a top-level job and a happy life. Your experiences are what shape you, and while college is an invaluable experience and can give you the confidence to think you know everything….you do not. Much of the knowledge we gain comes from life lessons outside the classroom. Whether it’s being able to engage in healthy relationships, manage your time successfully, or dealing with conflict in a positive manner, we often learn more from our mistakes than our accomplishments. The school we attend, marks we achieve, and majors of study will all play an influential role in getting an initial foot through in the door, however, these things will not guarantee success.
So does anything guarantee success?
There is no magic answer here, but I’d like to share with you some things that I wish I knew (or listened to people telling me) way back when. We’ll call it my, “If I knew then what I know now” list.
- I’d have traveled—I got so caught up in the “success now” mentality that I missed out on some potentially life-enhancing experiences. I felt a pressure to follow the plan I had laid out to be “successful,” not realizing that my definition of success prevented me from experiences my peers had through exposure to other cultures. The good news? It’s not too late for me, and it’s most definitely not too late for you.
- I’d have sought out a mentor—If you’re lucky, a mentor will come into your life organically. But this isn’t the case for everyone. Sometimes you have to seek one out. I focus on mentoring and leadership so much now, because it is something I feel like I lacked growing up. If you don’t have a mentor in your office or school, network in your industry until you find one. Building a strong career and peer support system is key to success in your specified field.
- I’d have said “I’m sorry” more—Being able to apologize quickly and mean it is invaluable to maintaining friendships and work relationships. I have learned that apologies are empowering and being humble is not a bad thing. You WILL be wrong. Probably a lot. It’s hard for someone to stay mad at you when you say, “I am sorry.”
- I’d have realized that my way is not always the best way—Accept the fact that you do not know everything and that someone else might have a better way of doing something.This goes back to that being humble thing.
- I would have seen the power in optimism sooner—Often times it is our attitude that determines how we respond to a particular situation or set of circumstances. It is reasonable to experience a sense of unease if there is a change in your plans or an unexpected, negative event. By seeing the positive in what you have ahead of you and what may be, as opposed to the possible negative outcomes you can avoid a pattern of self-loathing that so many people fall into. Nobody wants to hang out with “Negative Nancy.” Optimism will always look better on you.
- Finally, and equally as important. I would have used sunscreen more.