Age is a funny thing. Half the time I can’t believe I’m already 25. The other half of the time I can’t believe I’m only 25.
If you’re in your 20s, you know what I’m talking about. We’re juggling a constant juxtaposition of being too old or too young.
You’re already 25. Only five more years to make it on the 30 Under 30 List.
You’re only 25. And you want a promotion?
The pressure from both ends can confuse our definition of success relative to age. But let’s take a step back and forget age for a moment. What defines success, period? To answer that question, I’ve thought long and hard about the best advice I’ve been given from some of the most impactful people in my life. They’ve given me reasons to get up everyday and be a better version of myself. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Always do your best. Your best is probably better than you think. Don’t sell yourself short. Out-read, out-practice, out-study your peers and walk into any situation with the gift of preparation in your back pocket. If you know you’ve truly done all you could to get ready for that meeting, exam or pitch, then relax. Your best is enough.
Be a nice person. Have you ever met someone who walks into a room and they just have it? They’re smart and they’re funny. But most of all, they’re nice. They radiate something that makes people take note, sit up a little straighter, laugh a little louder. They build people up, not tear people down. They infuse positivity into everything they do. And it makes all the difference. Be one of these people. There are fewer of them than you think.
Say yes. It’s one of the first things your parents try to teach you: the meaning of “no”. But what about “yes”? Do you say it enough? Yes means yes, just like no means no. It means that when someone needs something, your answer is straightforward: yes. (Even if on the inside you have no idea how to make yes happen, you will. Because if you learned anything from Dr. Seuss it’s that you’ll go some great places, and kid, you’ll move mountains.) Be known as a “Yes Person.”
…but know when to say no. It’s not easy. Next time you have the choice between yes and no, remember this: there’s one of you. You can’t say yes to everything and still live a sane life. Sometimes you have to do less, better. Don’t be afraid to say that your best depends on saying yes to fewer things, and give someone else the chance to help you out. You’ll see who your fellow Yes People are in that moment. Keep them close.
Learn something from everyone. Every single person on this planet knows something you don’t. You just have to be willing to learn from them. Make every exchange an opportunity to grow. Ask questions, listen and take notes (mentally or literally). You’ll walk away smarter because of it.
Treat yo self. While the original credit goes to TV series Parks and Recreation, a former colleague (who is a nice person and a Yes Person and a smart person all in one) made this a recurring theme in an otherwise intense work environment. There comes a point where you need to unplug and make time for you. Plan a vacation, a happy hour, a day with absolutely NOTHING on the books. Because life is too short to live without rewards. If you don’t break up the daily grind with some fun, there’s a good chance you’ll burn out. So go ahead, say it with me now. Treat yo self. And don’t forget to laugh.