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Life Habits to Help Your Career
Now that the admission decision letters have gone out, it’s time to take a deep breath and regroup. Whether you’re just starting out in your career, or you’re a seasoned veteran, healthy life habits can make a big difference in how you progress in the years ahead. Just like regular diet and exercise habits make for a healthy body, there are ways to improve your mind that can have a positive impact on your career.
By Sally Benford
Sometimes it feels like we spend our entire careers caught between two ideas: thinking big and mired down in the day-to-day duties that seem inconsequential. It’s a common phenomenon, and one that plagues the best of us, whether it’s our first year on the job or working on a career already years in the making. Just like diet and exercise, there are some important life habits that can help us, not only in our jobs, but in our lives, too. Here are a few that we like.
1. Stay connected
Remember that mentor who guided you through your first year as an admission manager? Or that college professor who told you that you were a great writer? If you haven’t reached out lately, it may be time. Chances are, you check social media several times a day, right? And, although connecting through LinkedIn or Twitter has its merits, picking up the phone is better and much more personal. Taking a few minutes to catch up with those in your network, whether it’s to congratulate them on an accomplishment or just to let them know you’re thinking of them can brighten their day—and yours. It helps to let them know you value their advice and want to nurture the relationship, and you never know if, or when, that relationship may come in handy—either for them or for you.
2. Book it
It seems like you read all day long: emails, applications, essays, test scores, industry news, world news. But that sort of reading isn’t feeding your mind like a good book. There’s no need to read War and Peace, but a well-written short story can help you see the world in new ways. And you don’t have to read fiction. Research shows that non-fiction works on your brain, too. Neuroscience experts report that reading improves fluid intelligence, emotional intelligence, memory and comprehension. Novels take time and commitment, so how about a poem? A recent study focused on poetry and the brain found that study participants who read poems experienced positive neurological responses that activated parts of the brain not activated when listening to music or watching films. Robert Frost, anyone?
3. Ask a dumb question
Remember when your third grade teacher told you that there were no dumb questions? Well, it’s true. When you’re starting out in your career, you feel like you’re asking questions all day long. But what happens when you’re a few years in and you feel like, by now, you should know the answers. Let’s face it, you don’t know everything. And even if you think you do, when you stop asking questions, you’re not going to learn anything new. Think about how you can engage with those around you through curiosity. For instance, ask your boss about their career journey, or ask a colleague about life in a foreign country they lived in. Ask questions during meetings, at events and even over email. Being curious is a sure way to keep learning what you don’t know, and it may even make you look smarter.
If you don’t write anything else, keep a journal of your daily happenings. It’s a sure way to watch your progress—or lack thereof—and it will help you improve in areas of your career that are lacking. Given some time, writing down your feelings or interactions with others can help clear your head, enabling you to look at things in a new way. You don’t have to create a masterpiece, just jot a few notes if that’s all you have time for. Some people have been known to turn their journal thoughts into helpful blog posts or articles on LinkedIn. It can help you keep track of your accomplishments, and you might even learn something new about yourself in the process
We'd love to hear from you. Which life habits helped with your career or daily life? Please let us know by emailing
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