Career Do-over? 13 Things Successful Pros Would Do Differently

career do-over buttonEver wish you could have a career do-over? A chance to go back a rectify a mistake or right a wrong?

Many of us do, but rarely do we take the time required to reflect back on a regret. We mentally block out mistakes. Which, for many, means we don’t learn from those mistakes and missteps.

To help get you thinking about how you might use a career mulligan, and so we can all learn from the experience of others, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council this question:

Thinking back on your successful career, what is the one thing you would do differently? How would you use a career do-over?

As you read these insightful answers, ask yourself: “Next time, what would I do differently?”

 

1. Realize I Could Do It All

Jennifer-MellonEarlier in my career, after the birth of my first child, I left a position as the Executive Director of a non-profit because I did a poor job of advocating for work-life balance. Years later, as a mom of five and a startup founder, I know I do not need to sacrifice work to be a good mom. It’s a balancing act, but having good child care and a supportive partner helps.

Jennifer Mellon, Trustify

 

2. Trust My Instincts Earlier

Darrah-BrusteinIn my earlier years, I was so quick to buy into other people’s opinions and subsequently throw out my own instincts. I’ve come to find that it takes a delicate balance of seeking and accepting vetted advice, mixed with your own instincts. I would have saved a lot of time and prevented a lot of mistakes, but that’s the name of the game.

Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

 

3. Make More Use of Networking

Drew-HendricksIt was only later in my career that I realized the power of networking to make my job easier and connect me with more opportunities. I’ve made connections with people at both online and offline meet-ups and conferences who have helped advance my career. I can’t imagine how much farther I would be at an earlier age had I used networking straight out of the gate.

Drew Hendricks, Buttercup

 

4. Be More Selective

Mark-ShoreI had a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) my first year out of college. Anytime somebody pitched me on a relatively exciting project, I not only said yes, but dove in with 100 percent effort. As a result, I spread myself too thin and burned out pretty quickly. I only reached success after focusing on one really great idea as opposed to several pretty good ones.

Mark Shore, Strike Social

 

5. Listen to the Advice of Others

Zach-BinderWhen you’re younger, you think you know better because you’re the new generation and other people don’t have the same finger on the pulse of things. With this mindset, I didn’t take advice as much as I should have. Had I listened, I could have avoided certain pitfalls and advanced my career a lot quicker.

Zach Binder, Ranklab

 

6. Identify My Mentors Early On

Jake-dunlapIn hindsight, I didn’t really understand the power of mentorship to help me see around corners. As you move up rapidly in your career, there are mistakes that are difficult to anticipate. You have to surround yourself with people who have been there and done that so they can help you avoid pitfalls. Once you get to a certain level in the executive suite, this becomes crucial for success.

Jake Dunlap, Skaled

 

7. Enjoy the Process

Maren Hogan AuthorAs a new business owner, I was always so worried about meeting payroll that I didn’t realize the beauty of growth and the opportunities to learn at each stage. Now I look at younger entrepreneurs and those in different stages of their journey, and I get a little wistful. In my quest to grow, I missed out on relishing the freedom and joy of starting a company.

Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

 

8. Break the Rules

Erica-EasleyI wish I had realized sooner that I didn’t have to follow a playbook or conform to expectations to be successful. I started finding my greatest happiness and achievements once I walked away from the linear path. It’s OK to be different, weird, or whatever you may be — as long as you bring passion to what you do. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and don’t worry about disappointing people.

Erica Easley, Gumball Poodle

 

9. Don’t Stress Over the First Job

Antonio-NevesIf I could go back, I would put less pressure on finding the “right” job with the “right” company after college graduation. There are no right jobs or companies; there are just experiences. Instead, I would have asked important to me questions like, “Will I learn? Is it in a city I’m excited about? Will I be challenged?”

Antonio Neves, about.me

 

10. Build More Relationships

Andrew-ThomasIf I could do it again, I would have accepted more opportunities to build relationships and connections. When I lived in China, I worried about cash flow instead of going out and meeting all the interesting entrepreneurs there. As a solo entrepreneur, I wish I made more of an effort to interact by joining a co-working space. Make relationships a priority.

Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Video Doorbell

 

11. Take the Leap

Brad-cumminsI stuck with my first career longer than I wanted to. Every time I was close to leaving and starting my own brand, fear always set in. Do I have enough money? Can I grow fast enough? Will I be better off on my own? These are ears that can cause anyone to pause and second guess their decision. Remember, there will never be a “perfect” time. Have faith, and take the leap.

Brad Cummins, Local Life Agents

 

12. Nothing

David_TomasThe fact is, everything I have done and wish I hadn’t done, brought me to where I am today. Some of the most important lessons only stick with you when you learn them the hard way — falling down and getting back up. The only way to succeed is by making mistakes along the way and learning from them.

David Tomas, Cyberclick

 

13. Learn Another Language

Brandon-StapperThe world is growing more connected every day. I sometimes imagine how different my career would be right now if I knew Mandarin, Japanese, French or Russian.

Brandon Stapper, 858 Graphics

 

So what would your career do-over be?

 

YECYoung Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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