We are living in a super-competitive time. Changes in the society, lifestyle, technology & job market have had a profound effect on our lives. In order to stay competitive in the 21st-century job market, students & professionals are under significant stress.
Stress is believed to contribute to around 60% of all human illness and disease. More importantly, stress can also make us less productive and risk our careers. In this post, I will share few important tips for career success in your 20s. Those tips worked for me, both during my student & professional life. Additionally, I will also discuss why those things will also work for your career as per scientific facts.
Whether you are a student or a professional, these four scientifically proven life hacks will help you to achieve career success.
How do we create Fear, Pressure, and Stress?
As human beings, we are always working. We are working on assignments and coursework in order to achieve a degree. Sometimes we are working on a project or something else while at the job. In fact, 80% of a human’s life involves working.
With every work, there is bound to be some kind of pressure, and therefore, stress. As a student, you are under pressure to obtain good grades, to crack an entrance test, to write compelling admission essays, getting admitted to a top university for higher studies, or getting a job with handsome salary.
Even after getting a job, there will always be pressure. There will be pressure at the workplace for getting more clients and/or making more sales. Then in India, we also need to face peer pressure or societal pressure.
Sometimes we fear to take few risks in our career.
Shall I quit the job? Shall I move to a new job location or switch industries? Shall I go for MBA or MS abroad?
We overthink and overanalyze. These cause anxiety and a great amount of stress. In this competitive world, more often than not, the decisions are driven by the likelihood of success.
Fear & pressure cause a great amount of stress and that can take a toll on anyone, no matter how young or old. Stress doesn’t only on your body, but also on your mind. Stressing about something for days together causes problems to pile up in your head, which results in even more stress.
Stress is a Big Career Killer
Stress makes your mind unorganized, and at times, overwhelmed. It causes a significant reduction in your productivity. With time, prolonged stress can cause insomnia (or lack of sleep), appetite problems, overeating (or impulsive eating), extreme fatigue, depression, and burnout.
You might be working extremely hard thinking it will help you get ahead. But, in the reality, the opposite is true. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves unknowingly. Whether student life or professional life, you need to treat career as a marathon (or test match), and not a sprint (or T20 game).
Overworking yourself and failing to find a healthy balance in life will only hamper your ability to perform, causing you to fall behind in the race.
Even alarming is that prolong and chronic stress lead to other serious issues such as immune disorders, increased cholesterol level, high blood pressure, and heart problems. At times, an acute stress (short-term stress) could be more dangerous than the chronic stress. Acute stress is one of the leading causes of heart attacks.
So, as you can see, stress will not only make you unhealthy and prone to chronic diseases; but, it will also lead to unproductivity, and jeopardize your career.
Tips for Career Success in Your 20s
Traveling is an extremely good way to release stress because it gets you away from your routine and problems.
According to a joint study from the Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association, traveling reduces the risks of heart attack & depression. Traveling helps in countering negative thoughts and managing stress. Travel even increases creativity & analytical thinking. Traveling is definitely one of the best ways to improve job performance and maintaining a healthy life.
Whether you are a student or working professional, you should travel often. You don’t necessarily need to visit Goa or Thailand; especially in your student life. Plan and go on a trip to a nearby place. Even a 2/3 day trip every 2 to 3 months will certainly keep you stress-free and productive. Traveling is something that I did quite extensively in my 20s. Know about the places I would love to visit again.
Feeling cash-crunch or not finding a company?
It does happen with early-stage professionals. We have all been through the Month-end Kadki.
I would recommend visiting an old friend who is living in a different city/town. You will surely feel better and energetic after the trip. Later, you could also invite your friend to your place after a few months.
How about the Company Trips?
Going to a posh resort with your colleagues over the weekend is a good idea; especially when your company pays for it (partially or completely). It’s indeed nice to socialize with your colleagues, and you should do it. It promotes bonding and team-work. But, you are still being in the same circle. More importantly, office & work related talks are bound to happen. So, you are not at all getting away. Besides, I won’t call that traveling.
Travel Promotes Thought Clarity & Creativity
Travel will help you to gain a lot of thought clarity. Additionally, you will also be able to overcome the fear of failure. Most of the creative & innovative ideas come to our mind during our holidays.
Reading is another extremely effective way to relax and relieve stress. Even six minutes of reading can be good enough to reduce the stress levels by 68%. In comparison, listening to music reduced the levels by 61%, have a cup of tea of coffee lowered them by 54% and taking a walk by 42%.
According to Dr. David Lewis, a neuropsychologist, it doesn’t matter what book you read. By losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the daily life.
When we are reading, our brain has to concentrate on reading and the distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart. Additionally, reading helps you to find new perspectives and makes you smarter. Reading improves emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
Leaders are Readers
Often ignored by the vast majority of students and professionals. But, this is one habit that can really differentiate the top-performers from the mediocre ones.
No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting!
Reading books (including e-books) allow you to get inside the smart brains. It’s a great resource for inspiration and wisdom. It will help you to become an expert in your niche. Besides, it gives us a much-needed break.
3. Eat Healthy Food
It’s absolutely normal to feel too tired to cook after a hectic day at office or college. In fact, more often it’s very tough to make time to cook. So, no need to beat yourself for not cooking your meal from scratch.
But healthy eating can help you shed off extra pounds when stressed, as meals you make are usually much better for you. Mac and cheese, pizza or fries will only leave you more stressed out and feel guilty.
It is incredibly easy and super tempting to pizzas with extra cheese, delicious roasted chicken, burgers, ready-to-eat-meals and many more. But, consuming these foods can lead to high cholesterol level, and eventually stress. Learn about the top 10 foods to reduce cholesterol & stress.
4. Invest Your Spare Time On Yourself
After a long day at college or work, you might want to take a long break and zone out with the television on. Some folks like spending time on Netflix or other video streaming platforms. But, how you spend your spare time (evenings and weekends) determines how your career progression and future.
Limit Your Time on Social Media
Spending hours endlessly on social media (including the messenger apps) can actually cause stress in the long-term.
I know it’s tempting to watch funny videos, TV series and checking out photos. But, spending too much time on social media can lead loss of concentration and hampers the brain activity.
Social media make us compare with others. When you see others traveling, having a nice time with their loved ones, spending more money than you can afford, you become jealous and start envying. All this cause stress and make you feel unhappy at your job or studies.
Having a role model and a goal is great. But not when this sets you up to be constantly comparing yourself to others.
Don’t compare your career with the career of others. Try not to focus on other people’s promotions, another person’s salary or workplace.
Optimism is critical to a successful career and life. You will achieve greatness and feel better when you stay true to yourself and not try to be someone else.
Social media not only it wastes too much of your precious time. But excessive social media content consumption is also bad for your physical & emotional health. Excessive Social Networking can actually cause stress.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. are reflections of our input. They don’t generate content to show us without our participation. We choose what we see. So, when you are going through a tough phase or feeling stressed out, it’s likely that more and more posts will be there on your feed to make you more stressed out, depressed or anxious. Social media amplifies what is already stressing you out.
Invest In Yourself
Rather it would be a good idea to watch a TED talk, read a book, or spend 6 minutes reading useful blog posts. Doing an online course or pursuing a hobby is also a good option. Extracurricular activities and creative work can actually make you more productive and stress-free next day at college or office.
Reading a novel, learning a new language, starting an online business, creating art, learning an instrument, designing, learning to code, writing a blog or cooking in your spare time really help in your career.
If you are not feeling like doing anything creative on a particular day, just go out. Go for a movie at the multiplex, or have a nice meal. But, do go out. Watching the movie on your laptop or ordering a home delivery will not help.
If you really need to spend time on the Internet, read useful blogs that are relevant to your industry, attend online classes or webinars. They will help you to stay relevant and competitive in the job market. You will gain some knowledge. Additionally, those will help you to reduce stress.
After all, it’s not enough to show up to work on time and do a good job. You have to remain relevant and consistently improve to achieve success in your career.
Exercise itself is a great stress-buster. If you have got spare time, work on your body & health. Exercise is one thing that most successful people do regularly. Most people know that exercise is a good way of keeping stress at bay.
Exercise helps to reduce stress. You will sleep well, have a better metabolism, and will feel more energetic. Exercise also makes you more disciplined. Hence, it’s really one of the best things to pursue in your spare time.
Go out for a brisk walk or swimming. Dancing, yoga or meditation is also great. It lets us let out all the anger and frustration we might have stored up over the course of a busy day.
Alternatively, play your favorite outdoor game. The only thing in the universe on which we have a control is our choices. Read 10 ways in which sports can help you in life.
Trying Having a Pet
Spending time with your own pet can help relieve your stress, too. Human-animal interactions have positive effects on humans. Even a gentle walk with your pet is pretty useful.
I have done everything except this one – having a pet in my 20s. I had one dog when I was 4/5 years old. I wish I will have one soon again.
So, what do you think of these simple but effective life hacks and tips for career success? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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