I love lists. Just yesterday I read a doctor’s delightful Top 10 list on prescriptions for happiness. Orderly lists reassure me there’s a path forward. These days I read lists and choose the items that resonate most with me. Today it’s #7.
In honour of my love of lists, here’s a countdown of the lessons I learned while writing my eBook, Career Advice: What I Wish I Knew When I Was 24.
1. Advice vs. Feedback
Surprisingly, my editors found this piece of “advice” the most valuable. Advice vs. Feedback says you gain more insight by asking for advice instead of feedback. Feedback creates resistance because most of us associate it with criticism.
Advice, on the other hand, has positive connotations. You can freely give advice because it’s about your internal experience instead of your interpretation (i.e. feedback) of someone else’s behaviour. The recipient can take it or leave it based on what they need in that moment.
2. Don’t Make Assumptions
A Career Advice contributor recommended a book she received from a mentor, The Four Agreements. One agreement says, Don’t Make Assumptions. The writer, Miguel Ruiz, explains that we make assumptions to feel safe. We assume because we lack the courage to ask and/or because we think others see the world as we do.
One editor didn’t know what “groupthink” meant. I thought it was a common term. I “assumed” everyone knew it. And in that small assumption, I lost my audience because they were now wondering, “What does this word mean?” instead of focusing on the content of the text. I changed it to “herd mentality” and that clicked better.
3. Be Generous
I received lots of career advice from people genuinely interested in sharing what they’ve learned. People talked about the importance of a growth mindset, imposter syndrome, gut instinct, the value of networking, career moves, “can do” attitude, travelling in your 20s, and the main question we ask kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I appreciate the willingness of these leaders to be vulnerable. To say what they wish they did – and didn’t – do. Most importantly, I feel reassured by the generosity of spirit seen in these “advice-givers.” They provide a roadmap for young adults through their life experiences.
4. Know My Audience
Writing this book felt overwhelming at times. I had to decide what was important and what to discard. I asked, How do I impart key messages without over-generalizing or becoming overly specific?
Eventually, I saw themes emerge (figuring it out, soft skills, thriving) which became the framework. I realized this frame needed a roof – leadership – which so many young adults want to understand.
I thought about what my audience wanted to know. In the end, I removed a section that I valued because it created confusion for my target audience. It was hard to relate it to the chapter’s theme without diving into much more detail which, in turn, derailed the overall message of the chapter.
5. Jungle Gym
My audience liked the visual of career-as-a-jungle-gym instead of a ladder. Here’s one instance where my audience and I aligned completely. I wish I knew this when I was 24. Then I wouldn’t have suffered so much when I didn’t feel I climbed it quickly enough.
Header Photo by Matias North on Unsplash, Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash, Photo by Andrea Lightfoot on Unsplash, Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash, Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash, Photo by S. Tsuchiya on Unsplash