Here in the Real World: 20 Lessons for Life

Lessons for LifeWell, I’ve been part of the “real world” for a few years now.  My transition from college into the 9 to 5 workforce was fairly smooth.  There are certainly people who handled it better than I did, but I also know quite a few folks who are still struggling with the changeover.  These first few years in the “real world” have been filled with crash-course life lessons, frequent hustle, and rapid career progression.  As I progress I try to keep track of what works and what does not.  I’m constantly in the process of analyzing both my successes and my failures in order to properly realign my future actions with my goals.  Below you will find a list of 20 life lessons I’ve learned in the “real world” thus far.

  1. Be Passionate, but Also Be Realistic – I’ve experienced so many intelligent people (myself included) get overly passionate about something before fully evaluating the big picture.  Passion without realistic direction leads to frustration and failure.
  2. Keep Up with Current Events – In college it’s easy to hold such a narrow focus on your social life and your classes that everything else in life flies right over your head.  In the working world, however, not knowing who Ben Bernanke is or why North Korea is in the news so often can lead you into some horribly embarrassing dialogues.
  3. There is a Difference between a List of Goals and a Wish List – Most people understand that goals are desired outcomes that we must work to attain.  Yet it’s amazing how many people I’ve met that lack the necessary drive and just sit there waiting for a miracle to move them forward.
  4. Everyone is Multidimensional and so are Our Successes – I’ve met wealthy people who seem unhappy and happy people who are underpaid.  I’ve met successful businessmen who have been divorced 3 times and happily married men who can’t seem to find a job they like.  Just because someone is successful in one part of their life, does not necessarily mean they are universally successful.
  5. Talent Does Not Equal Success – I’ve seen talented people fail.  Why?  Because even though they had the talent, they lacked the initiative and commitment necessary for success.  Laziness will always overshadow talent.
  6. Relocation is the Pits – Moving all of your belongings from one place to another is usually a more intense endeavor than originally imagined.  This process takes time, so plan for it.  Also, do yourself a favor, don’t be a pack-rat.  It only makes matters worst.
  7. Fear Will Only Hold You Back – The most effective means are not always the most comforting.  It is imperative that we take educated chances in our lives.  If it makes sense to do so, we must be ready to step outside of our comfort zone.
  8. Learn to Cook – This could easily save you thousands of dollars every single year.  Eating out is expensive, eating in is cheap… nuff said!  Learn to cook, and learn to limit the number of meals you eat out.
  9. Emotional Decisions are Usually Bad Decisions – Decisions driven by heavy emotion are typically misguided reactions rather than proactive judgments.  These reactions are decisions made with a minimal amount of thought.  Sometimes our feelings are based on impulse, instead of sound experience.  Always consult your better judgment.
  10. There Are Different Levels of Intellect – Overall intelligence isn’t just about IQ.  I’ve met some extremely intelligent people who are complete social and emotional morons.
  11. Drinking Water is Important – It’s a simple concept, I know.  But when we get overly consumed in our busy routines, the simple act of drinking water skips our minds.  Make sure your hydrate yourself.  You’ll feel better and you’ll be healthier.
  12. Bad Feedback Can Be Better than Good Feedback – Even though I hate getting bad feedback, I’ve come to except the fact that it actually pushes me in the right direction.  It gives me the ability to improve myself.  Excessive good feedback just allows me sit put and feel accomplished (which isn’t always a bad thing 😉 ).
  13. Utilize Your Instincts – Not everything is what is seems.  Not everyone who seems trustworthy actually is.  Even though it is important to listen to what your friends, colleagues and acquaintances say, you must never ignore your own instincts.  Sometimes they can help you evaluate circumstances far better than any third-party reference.
  14. Get Enough Sleep – This should seem like common sense, yet so many of us fail to get enough sleep on a regular basis.  You will not be productive if you are exhausted… that’s the bottom line.
  15. Motivation Fluctuates, But Finish What You Start – I’ve seen countless people (myself included) get a sudden burst of motivation and start a project, but before the project is complete the motivation wears off.  Thus, the project is never completed.  It usually amounts to a complete waste of time, money and creativity.  Understand that your levels of motivation will fluctuate, but you must still finish what you start.
  16. Flexibility for Change is Vital – Most of us are comfortable where we are even though the whole universe is constantly changing around us.  Learning to accept change is vital to our happiness and general success.
  17. Identify What You Don’t Want – It’s important to understand that the things we don’t want are just as important as the things we do want.  For instance, if you don’t want to have kids but you do want to have sex, there are multiple solutions to keep you inline with your goals.  If you ignore what you don’t want and put all your attention on what you do want, you’ll end up getting what you don’t want.
  18. Problems Don’t Just Disappear – Almost everyone I know has fallen victim to the fallout of avoiding a problem.  Sooner rather than later it becomes apparent that the problem only gets worse.  Problems must be addressed, they don’t just disappear.
  19. Get the Important Things Done First – This certainly isn’t ground breaking advice, but it is a simple principle that works wonders.  Let your mind tackle the important tasks while it’s rested, then the rest of the day basically is yours to enjoy.
  20. Take Ownership of Your Actions – Consciously think before you act.  When the decision is made to act, always take full ownership of your actions, even when the outcome is negative.  It’s easy to take ownership of success, but eventually the headline will read “failure”.  When it does, only those who properly address the issue have the capability to succeed in the long term.

The Google Anonymous are Safe and Jobless

The Google AnonymousIn today’s fast paced, highly competitive job market where first impressions are the fine line between success and failure, you must be keenly aware of your online image.  Bear in mind that a rising number of human resource recruiters are using Google when gathering information on potential employees.  The necessity to maintain a clean online image should be common sense.  We all know that posting photos of ourselves dancing on bar tops and/or partaking in acts radicalism probably won’t help our image in the eyes of an employer. 

With these points in mind, being anonymous on Google might sound like a safe bet.  But what really happens if a Google search for your name comes back blank?  If an employer searches Google for your name and absolutely no results are returned, are you really any better off?  The answer may be no.  A mid-2006 market analysis by career search firm ExecuNet reported that 77% of the job recruiters claim they use search engines as a primary tool to research potential employees.  It seems quite probable that this percentage has increased drastically in the last year. 

If Google can’t locate a single webpage that references you, how much of an impact could you have possibly made in your career?  If you have a tech based career it paints an even darker picture of your past performance.  Having your own web presence says something about your contributions to the market itself.  Even if your presence is derived from short intelligent comments left on professional forums, it shows that you are actively involved and aware of what is going on.

The best defense against being Google anonymous is a good offense.  Be proactive.  Create a web presence that you are proud to identify with.  When you set out to build this presence, use your real name if you want people to find you. 

Here are 3 ideas to get you started:

1.  Create a Blog – Blogger Adam Darowski suggests that the blog is the new resume.  If executed properly, it could be even better than a resume.  It is a true representation of who you are, spoken freely in your own words.  Your blog has the power to completely influence someone’s opinion about you.  It satisfies the curiosity of any entity, especially potential employers, which might Google you to see what kind of person you are.  The key is to show them your best, but remain truthful while doing so.  Truth is the key to success for any blogger. 

2.  Create a Personal Website – Popular domain sellers like GoDaddy and Yahoo Small-Business have simple step-by-step webpage creation tools that allow non-techie users to setup attractive websites.  A website is designed to be more static than a blog, so you are not expected to update it as often.  It could be used as a professional web portfolio by including your resume, professional works, career summaries, goals, etc.

3.  Use Professional Networking Sites – Professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Ziggs can also assist you in establishing a respectable online presence that will be searchable via Google.  Both sites allow you to build an online profile, associate it with past employers, and network with professional contacts.

  • Get started with professional social networking:

 Just remember, if you don’t exist to Google, you may not exist at all.

7 Clever Google Tricks Worth Knowing

Below I have compiled a list of 7 clever Google tricks that I believe everyone should be aware of.  Together I think they represent the apex of the grand possibilities associated with Google search manipulation tricks and hacks.  Although there are many others out there, these 7 tricks are my all-time favorite.  Enjoy yourself. 

1.  Find the Face Behind the Result – This is a neat trick you can use on a Google Image search to filter the search results so that they include only images of people.  How is this useful?  Well, it could come in handy if you are looking for images of the prominent people behind popular products, companies, or geographic locations.  You can perform this search by appending the code &imgtype=face to the end of the URL address after you perform a standard Google Image search.

2.  Google + Social Media Sites = Quality Free Stuff – If you are on the hunt for free desktop wallpaper, stock images, WordPress templates or the like, using Google to search your favorite social media sites is your best bet.  The word “free” in any standard search query immediately attracts spam.  Why wade through potential spam in standard search results when numerous social media sites have an active community of users who have already ranked and reviewed the specific free items that interest you.  All you have to do is direct Google to search through each of these individual social media sites, and bingo… you find quality content ranked by hundreds of other people.

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Force of Character: Taking Ownership of Your Actions

Force of CharacterMy buddy Sam and I recently had a conversation about the unique qualities associated with a person possessing a strong moral character, or as he coined the phrase, “force of character”.   People with noble intentions are found everywhere, but people with “force of character” stand out from the crowd.  As the fire inside the rest of us flickers from gusts of indecision, these minds usually burn bright and rise above the storm while confidently pressing forward.  They seem to know the secret for personal success.  This buried secret also indirectly draws in the individual regard and respect of others.

Most of us start off with a similar set of good intentions.  So what do people with “force of character” do differently?  What is their secret to success?  I think it comes down to one thing and one thing alone.  They consciously think before they act, and when the decision is made to act, they always take full ownership of their actions.  They immediately reap the benefits of their successful acts, but also quickly and openly address those that went awry.  Possessing “force of character” means dependably taking responsibility for your own actions, even when the outcome is negative.

Negative actions are initial failures, but they are not long term failures unless they are ignored.  When strong moral value and good intent is combined with failure, a resolution is always found.  Remember that most headline news is generally bad news, even when it’s scaled down into small social circles.  By honestly addressing the effects of a negative action you visibly sooth the minds of anyone affected, thus turning bad news into good news.  Everyone respects honesty.  It’s easy for someone to take ownership of success, but when the headlines read “failure” only those possessing “force of character” have the influential capacity to shine.

8 Popular Contradictions People Make In Life

Popular Contradictions in LifeI received an email yesterday asking for an accurate costing estimate pertaining to the specifics of a work contract I am managing.  After robotically shifting numbers around for a few minutes it suddenly occurred to me that formulating an accurate estimate is actually impossible.  Think about it… an accurate estimate?  Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction?

This got me thinking about all the other contradictions I’ve recently observed in life.  The more I think about it, the more I recognize a subtle pattern of truth.  Our lives are filled with contradiction.  From our goals and aspirations to our moral values and beliefs, contradiction is everywhere.

By concentrating my attention specifically on the immediate people around me, I quickly came up with the following list of visible contradictions.  My guess is that these are popular contradictions found in the lives of many people.  If one were to pay close attention for long enough, I bet the list of life’s popular contradictions would be quite extensive.

  • People download thousands of dollars worth of pirated software and media over the Internet, but they would never steal from a brick and mortar shopping mall.
  • Most people say they appreciate the importance of a balanced life, but dedicate 75% of their life to work and an additional 10% to watching T.V.
  • People candidly deny the possibility of gods outside of their own belief system, yet become very defensive when someone reciprocates that point of view.
  • In general, many respectful law abiding citizens have also received numerous speeding fines and they never alter their driving habits.
  • Many people do their part to save the environment with the overarching goal of making the world a better place for their children.  Some of these same people also support abortion.
  • Many people living in overly populated urban areas say they are in full support of going Green.
  • It’s common to hear people complain about the lack of a diverse perspective in mass media news reports, yet the average American supports censorship.
  • So many of us complain about the boring cycle of repetition present in our weekly routines, yet we choose no clear course for correction.  We talk, but we don’t walk.