Can life hacks be applied to career? Decide for yourself. Many times the things that make the biggest difference tend to be small, almost inconsequential changes (life hacks). Here are 10 things you can do today that will set you apart as you venture into the world of work.
Build a Forward Tilt Mindset
Most people wait around for opportunities to come to them. Those with forward tilt don’t. They take advantage of everything that comes their way.
Most people complain about being stuck in life. Those with forward tilt have a curiosity that drives them to always find something new and interesting to work on!
Forward Tilt is physically manifested by the people who physically lean over the table like they are reaching for the next opportunity. Those with forward tilt are the ones that go the extra mile at their work.
Take Every Interview You Get
Especially when you’re young, this one is important. “The job doesn’t look like it’s a good fit for me,” many young people say, so they don’t interview.
If you have the chance, take that interview. Even if you’re sure you won’t be taking the job, there are many valuable things you can gain from interviewing.
Here are several things you gain from an interview (besides a possible job offer):
- The chance to sell yourself to someone much farther ahead in their career than you are
- A possible connection that you can leverage for other opportunities later on
- Interview skills!
- A broader knowledge of businesses in general
- A deeper understanding of what you actually want in a job
In short, there are almost no downsides to taking an interview, and there are so many advantages that I wonder why young people don’t interview more!
It’s actually pretty simple. Think before you turn down opportunities when you’re young. You never know what doors they will open, and the opportunity cost is low.
Think about it: when you’re young and on your own, it’s easier than ever to quickly pick up and move to a new city, or take a new job, or master a completely new skill. You have the time, the energy, and the ability to try new things and take a couple risks!
When you have a more established career, it’s harder to pick up and change jobs. Once you have a family, you can’t move as quickly and easily as you can when you’re alone.
It’s summed up pretty well in a quip by Isaac Morehouse,
“Say ‘yes’ early on so you can say ‘no’ later.”
Be An Entrepreneurial Employee
Not everyone is cut out for starting a business. But every single person can benefit from the mindsets and ideas that entrepreneurs naturally build.
If you’re an entrepreneurial employee, you apply the principles of entrepreneurship to any job you have. You treat your job as if it was your business. You approach every interaction like you own it.
Maybe you don’t own a business, but you do own your job. What are you going to do about that?
Use Your Weekends as a Springboard
“Monday morning begins Sunday evening.” (source)
Most people separate their job from the weekend. They work on Monday- Friday from 9-5, just waiting for the weekend to arrive. The cycle continues, and soon they find themselves in the same hum-drum life that everyone around them is complaining about.
That’s not the kind of cycle you want, is it? Then take control of your time and realize that your weekends are prime time for next week’s head start. Take an hour to plan out a good schedule. Go to a coffee shop and spend some time on a project you’ve wanted to complete. It doesn’t have to take up your whole weekend, but you’ll be surprised what a difference even a couple hours 52 times each year will make!
Fun fact: you also feel like you accomplish so much more when you work while others are not!
Adopt the Slight Edge Mentality
You have big goals that you want to accomplish. We get it. But huge, abstract goals can get overwhelming.
Instead of trying to accomplish everything at one time, focus on doing one simple thing every day to get closer to your goals. This is known as the slight edge mentality.
Want to be a writer? Write for 20 minutes every day. Want to start a business? Listen to one entrepreneur you admire every day. Thinking about becoming a pianist? Start by just practicing for 5 minutes every day. Small habits that you stick to are the key to impacting your life in huge ways.
Don’t Be Afraid of Free Work
Working for free has a bad rap nowadays. There are laws that make it illegal, and many look down on those who step out of what’s “acceptable.”
It’s counterintuitive, but working for free is a great way to get noticed by people who might otherwise ignore your résumé. My favorite story of free work is how Praxis Marketing Associate Brian Nuckols landed a job here. He used free work as his only credential. He didn’t need a résumé or a degree: he proved his value to the company by creating something that was valuable to them!
This type of free work is known as a value proposition. It’s one of the best ways to pitch yourself to a company as a potential employee. It’s also a great way to leave a solid impression after an interview. With 2-5 hours of free work, you can open opportunities that would otherwise slip by!
Pay For People’s Meals
Early on, young people don’t realize how important professional connections are. If you do anything in the first couple years of your career, meet up with people that are much smarter and more advanced than you are.
If you just up and email someone with your problems or ideas and ask for their advice, you’re going to have a low success rate. That’s a high cost to the person you’re trying to get in contact with. However, a great alternative is to offer to meet them and pay for a meal in exchange for a chance to pick their brain and hear about their work.
Not many people will turn down a lunch invitation if you’ll pay for the meal. Coffee meetings are similar- you’re offering something in return for the person’s time, and they will recognize that you value their advice and ideas because you’re willing to pay. (Even important people appreciate when someone values them!)
Exercise your Idea Muscles
The things you study outside your work are the ones that will impact what you do the most. For that reason, I think every young person should have an active diet of big ideas!
TED talks are great if you want to listen to a plethora of various subjects on your way to work. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks that interest you. Read often. Talk to great thinkers that you admire.
Then, make sure you work on putting the things you’re consuming to good use. A great way to exercise your idea muscle is to sit down for a couple minutes each day and write down 10 ideas as they come to you. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll turn into an idea machine!
Leverage Your Career As An Education Experience
This life hack is huge mindset shift that most people don’t even realize they need. You see, we’re ingrained to think of life as a set of tracks. You have the education track, where for 18 years of your life you study to prepare for the career track, where you leave learning and focus on building a career.
In reality, education and work shouldn’t be separate. You should be as passionate about learning new things at 25 as you were at 7. The best way to use your career as an educational tool is to take on projects that force you to learn new things! With Google and Youtube being seconds away from our access, there’s no better time to take on a new skill, become an expert in another area, or expand your creative abilities. Take advantage of this!