9 Principles for Young Professionals

Principles for Young ProfessionalsIt’s a tough and competitive world out there, and with unemployment statistics as they are, many of us in our 20s are happy to take work where we can find it. Others are already working in their desired fields but, in either case, we are all trying to move forward and build our futures as we go. With that in mind, here are a number of principles for young professionals that will help you grow and serve you well in any industry.

Time management
Many people have an idea that staying later than everyone else in the office will prove how committed we are to our work, but we can often leave an even greater impression by being the first one in. It’s more impressive to see the person who comes in early, leaves on time, and still gets everything done. Plan out your day – agendas and task lists are crucial – and focus on limiting distractions in order to stay on track.

Communicate thoughtfully
How we communicate with others face to face actually has very little to do with what we say; posture, facial expressions, and the tone and volume of our voice often do more to convey our intentions than our vocabularies. As such, think how much of that can be lost when talking on the phone, and even more so when emailing or texting. We have come to believe that faster and easier are better, but that’s not always the case. Stop to consider what the best way is to communicate a point to those around you, and particularly to those above you. Sometimes email is the perfect medium to use, but you can often save yourself from miscommunication and misunderstanding by spending just a few moments speaking with someone face to face.

Scrutinize your social media persona
What do you post on your Facebook and Twitter? Is it something that you would be comfortable with your bosses or colleagues seeing? If not, then why are you posting it on the Internet for everyone to see? Many might say “I have my privacy settings set up so they won’t see it,” but it only takes one person to see that random quote or photo, who then forwards it to your boss or coworker, and what then? People get fired for this sort of thing a lot these days, so be smarter than that and think before you post.

Don’t ignore criticism, seek it out
It is natural to internalize criticism, to take it personally and feel attacked, but we miss a greater opportunity when we do this. Of course we all want to hear what we are doing right, but it’s the negative feedback that shows us where and how we need to grow. If someone offers you criticism, listen and see what you can learn from it. If no one is offering you criticism, start asking for feedback and direction.

Own your failures
Excuses impress no one, and they will only make you look worse in a bad situation. You can’t expect to get credit for what is done well and then dodge the consequences of your mistakes. Always take responsibility for you actions; the good as well as the bad. That is what will show your true character to those around you.

Office politics exist everywhere; learn to deal with it
In nearly every work environment you will find yourself in, there is going to some form of hierarchy; not only in the obvious boss and subordinate relationships, but also among peers. There may be the person who always seems to get away with not doing their job, or the person who wants everyone else to know just how important they are. Don’t let this affect you. Do your job to the best of your abilities, and go out of your way to get along with your coworkers. Get to know everyone that you can. If someone spurns your attempts, stay personable anyway. At least everyone else will see you are trying to build relationships. You can’t avoid office politics, but you don’t have to get caught up in them either.

Be a problem solver
It’s easy to complain about something that isn’t working properly, but it takes thought and effort to see how to fix it. If you have an issue or concern that you would like to address, try to think of a solution to the problem before you bring it up. Your overseers are more likely to listen to what you have to say if they can see that you have put time and thought into it, and they will usually appreciate a solution more than just a complaint.

Leaders are readers
This world is full people that are smarter than you, and many of them have taken the time record some of their knowledge so that you can learn from them. Take advantage of this invaluable opportunity. This means more than just reading books related to your own vocation, although that is highly advisable. You should also be reading on other subjects; leadership, team building and personal development are imperative to the growth of young professionals.

Never sacrifice what is important for what is urgent
Finding a work/life balance is one of the important things you can do for your own well being, as well as your family’s. How many men and women have worked themselves into early graves, and lost the people who loved them along the way, all in the name of getting ahead? Professional and personal successes are not mutually exclusive, but there may come times when you have to decide which is more important. Ask yourself which will hurt and cost more: losing out on that promotion or pay raise, or a divorce and a custody battle?

The choices we make today and tomorrow determine where we will be 5, 10, and 20 years from now. Have a strategy for success, and do your best to stand out from the crowd through hard work, integrity and ingenuity.

Rick Deal is a freelance writer and worship leader, he blogs at Culturemakerblog.com and tweets at @letsmakeadeal26.

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