Jennifer Brozek | 50 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years, Part 4

50 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years, Part 4

Being in my fifties now, I thought it would be a good thing to think about some thoughts I’ve learned that I’ve incorporated into my life—or try to. I’m not perfect. I’ve broken these 50 things in to five groups: Emotions, Habits, Love, Career, and Perspective. I will post one section a week for five weeks. This week’s section is: Career.

A “career” is officially defined as “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress.” This used to mean you picked a job and a company and you did the same thing for the same company, progressing up a defined ladder of success for the rest of your life. It does not mean this anymore. A career is what you make of it. A career now means (to me) a general topic of industry you work in for yourself and others that changes over time.

I, myself, am in the third part of my third career. The first was everything I did before and during college to support myself (retail, server, TA, computer center tech). The second was as a Software QA engineer (Game tester, black box tester, Test lead, QA Manager). The third is as a publishing industry professional. First as solely an author, then author and editor, then author, editor, and publisher. The rest (twitch streaming, podcasting, blogging, etc…) are incidentals in my publishing career. They are not the mainstay. Nor do they pay the bills. But they enhance my publishing career and give me other opportunities.

These lessons are just ten of the many lessons I have learned over time. I think the more I learn about my chosen career, the more I understand what I don’t actually know about it. That realization, in and of itself, is priceless.

  1. Career: Learn when you work best, then build your schedule around that.
  2. Career: You get determine what equals “Success” for you. No one else. Don’t compare your success to another because they have not lived the life you have lived nor have the same values you have.
  3. Career: Learning to use the word “No” is both vital and a privilege. Sometimes you cannot say “no” when you want to. Sometimes you must say “no” in order to protect yourself, your time, your (chosen) family, and your sanity. “No, thank you.” is such a powerful phrase.
  4. Career: It is important to volunteer to teach your expert knowledge to schools and libraries. The more you teach, the more you learn. More importantly, you impart your knowledge to people who have a different perspective than you and can use that information in their future.
  5. Career: Never be afraid to ask an expert about something. Experts usually love to talk about the thing they are good at. They have a wealth of knowledge and are happy to share.
  6. Career: Knowing what you are worth is everything. Figure out what your time is worth then charge that much plus 10%. If the person hiring you is an asshole, add 30%.
  7. Career: Be willing to let jobs go. Figure out what your time is worth. At the same time, figure out how much you will actually accept for that job based on the circumstances. Set that boundary and don’t move it for anyone.
  8. Career: Never be the smartest person in the room. You always want to be learning from someone.
  9. Career: Leveling up to a “better class of problem” doesn’t mean it is any less of a problem to be dealt with.
  10. Career: Remember, unsolicited advice is always a critique. This goes both ways—offering or receiving unsolicited advice.
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