One of my biggest career regrets. Make sure YOU don’t make this mistake (Blog #18)

Signs saying new skills and training

I remember it like yesterday when I finished my last uni exam. I still remember the date, it was 23 June 2005. I know, it’s a bit sad. But other than having a freakishly good memory, that’s how significant it was to me.

And as I was driving home that night I remember thinking, I’m finished. It’s done. I’m here. I made it.

Yes, I still had to wait for the results, but my bit was done. The moment that every uni student looks forward to. Where life with homework ends. And I remember almost feeling a little bit lost, but relieved at the same time. What was funny, for a second there, I thought about starting another degree, I think out of habit. Only to be stopped by some rational thinking – now I have to get experience.

It was now going to be all about getting as much experience as possible. I had two uni degrees and I remember thinking, that’s enough. I’d done my bit studying and now it was time to hit the working world.

The conscientious student

As a student I was a lecturers’ dream. My education was number one priority and I always put in 110% into everything I did. Those who knew me all commented on how committed, interested and focused I was. Basically, I was the person you wanted to work with on your group assignments.

But once uni finished that was it. I somehow felt that this emphasis on education was no longer needed. Like I’d done my bit.

And this tends to be a very common reaction that I’ve seen with people finishing uni. It’s like when you’re studying fulltime it’s your job to study. But when that finishes, other than the fact that you’ve had enough of it for a while, you tend to think you’ve done your bit.

Continuing to educate myself should never have changed from being number one priority. Regardless of the job I had or how much money I was making.

Now, when opportunities presented themselves through work, for example to attend seminars and presentations, basically when worked paid for it, I showed a lot of initiative. My conscientious nature took advantage of as many paid opportunities as possible.

But where I’m really disappointed with myself is that when work didn’t pay for it, I stopped right there.

I didn’t pursue it myself. I felt sorry to spend money on my education after uni and somehow had it in my head that if work wasn’t going to pay for it then neither was I. Even though for most of my working life money wasn’t an issue. Especially, at the start. I was single, didn’t have kids and was living at home. I remember times when full pay cheques were saved.

Had I made a conscious decision to continue my education after uni and actually put a plan and budget in place, the possibility of what I could’ve been exposed to and who I could’ve met is endless. This would’ve also put a lot more control in my hands as to how fast I develop, instead of leaving it in the hands of managers above me.

In fact, there were times were I completely hated my job and felt like not only was I not progressing in any way, but I was going backwards. Forgetting what I learnt. Imagine if I turned the experience around and used the money that I made from those jobs to do some courses or seminars in areas that I wanted to develop in? I would’ve put the control back in my hands and not kept it in the hands of the people above me.

Why learning should always be a high priority

In order to get to the point where you feel fulfilled in your career you need to be moving forward. And by continually focusing on your education, your skill set and knowledge, this is one way you can make sure this happens. In fact, when I think back to the most unhappy times in my career and life it’s when I stagnated. It’s when I didn’t move forward.

And the other important thing is that it puts the control of what you want to achieve with your career in your hands. Not your manager’s, but yours. As there’s nothing more frustrating than when you feel as though you have lost control of where your career is going. When you feel like there’s nothing you can do about it. Well, there’s definitely something you can do about it.

Blog #18 Tip:

Have a good think about where you want to be in one to two years time. It doesn’t have to be far into the future. When we set goals that are far into the future, we tend to feel as though we have plenty of time and lose focus on achieving them. And something that can help you out in this process is sorting our your ‘why’. Refer to Blog #17 – Want a successful career? What YOU need to do to get the right experience.

Then think about all the skills you need to learn to achieve what it is you want to achieve. If you’re currently employed and you can get your work to pay for it, then GREAT!!! If you can show your employer how they will benefit from you learning these skills, then definitely approach then with the idea.

But if the say “No” or it isn’t directly linked to the job you have now, don’t let it stop you. Do it anyway!

And the best thing about all this is that it’s never too late to start reinvesting in yourself again. I just wish I had this mindset 10 years ago.

So, how did you find this blog post? Can you relate to some of the things I’ve spoken about?

Has it made you think about things differently and, if so, how? I’d love to hear about it.

If you know someone that will benefit from this blog post – please share it!

Let me share with you all the things I wish someone told me 10 years ago about the corporate world – subscribe to 10 Years and 9 Jobs today!

See you next week.



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