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The Career Advice I'd Give Now to My 22 Year Old Self

Written by: Jennifer Baker
Published on: 28 Jan 2016


The other day I read an article with the headline: ‘If I were 22 again what advice would I give myself?’ The article invited some of the top minds in business to share lessons from their youth.

It was a timely read, as next week I’m giving a presentation to young professionals in the food industry. The article really got me thinking. What would I tell myself? And, so many years on, would my 22-year-old self have listened?

Today in my work I sometimes meet deflated and demotivated senior leaders. They weren’t always like this, but their career didn’t turn out as they had hoped or expected. So if they were 22 again, what could they have done differently?

Here are some things to consider, whatever stage of your career you are at:

  • Match your career to your passion in life:
    Work is one of the most significant and time-consuming elements of your life. It’s also the area where people most often feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled. You will typically spend 40 to 50 years of your life at work, which is too long to spend in the wrong job. You just may have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding the right job. Don’t settle for second best.
  • If you change course, it’s fine:
    The majority of people are doing something completely different to what they ever imagined. And your training in other fields is never wasted. Skills and experience are transferable.
  • Be clear on what success looks like for you:
    Are you chasing the rainbow? Fast-forward 20 years and you’ll still be chasing it, at best disillusioned and at worst burnt out. How will you know when you’re successful? What has to have happened for it to be real?
  • Be open to new opportunities:
    Put yourself forward, be proactive and go for it.
  • Travel and get experience:
    Meet and work with different people, cultures and types of organisations. Broaden your horizons.
  • Believe in your dreams:
    Bill Gates’ dream was a PC in every household. Need I say more? Well, yes, one more point. Take a risk and take action. Masses of action.

Hindsight is a practical lens to reflect through. I encourage you to be curious, open-minded and as another computer magnate - Steve Jobs - once said, “have the courage to follow your heart and intuition”.


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