Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hindsight is 20/20: What advice would you give your younger self?

I started working as a journalist when I was 16, when I landed my first paying job writing for the tiny, twice-weekly newspaper in my hometown. I didn’t really have a mentor, 20 years ago -- or even 15 years ago, when I started working at The Boston Globe, and in retrospect, I could have used one — as a young woman, as a woman of color, as a journalist, as a professional. I could have used a primer on office politics (who couldn’t?), some guidance on setting goals, a reminder that work-life balance is important even when the only think on the “life” side of the equation is yourself.

Which prompted me to ask, over at The 36-Hour Day: What career advice would I give to myself, 20 years ago?

Here are the top five things I would say, if I were mentoring my younger self:

1.) Travel more. Not just on vacation, though that's important, too. Travel for conferences, volunteer for off-site assignments, just get out of the building and see what else is out there.

2.) Network more. Hanging out with the music critics was fun but attending meetings for various journalistic associations would have been fun — and smart, too.

3.) Don’t work during your downtime. I rarely took all of the vacation time to which I was entitled. I should have. The office runs just fine when I’m not there.

4.) Set new goals constantly. They don’t have to be work-related, either.

5.) Don’t be so afraid of failure. Sure, there’s a price to pay for not doing things perfectly right off the bat. But it can be one of the best way to learn something, to push your boundaries, to set new goals.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

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