Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffeehouse

Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffeehouse

I got inspired the other day while reading a friend’s blog post about what advice she would give to her 24-year-old self. It got me thinking about questions I answered to be featured on the UBC Alumni website recently about what I would tell my graduating self and what I would do differently about my career if I could go back in time.

Don’t get me wrong, I think I’ve had a pretty great career so far. I’ve been pretty fortunate with what I’ve accomplished and what I figure lies ahead. But all that said, I suppose I would give my 24-year-old self some better advice if I were able to go back and have a coffee date with me in the past. I would try to be the mentor for myself that I never really had at that age.

Here’s how some of that advice might go:

#1 “Network More. Network Authentically.”

“Beth, if I were you, (and I am), I would get out there and network more starting now. Meet as many people as you can but make it meaningful. Approach networking thoughtfully and authentically. Go into those events with a genuine curiosity about who other people are and what they do. The great ones will ask you about yourself in return and what you do, and the ones who have more to learn will just talk about themselves. Make connections with people from the first group and try to help them as much as you can. They are the ones who eventually will help you much more than you hoped or asked for.”

#2 – “Believe In Yourself”

“Don’t waste much time worrying about being ‘too young’ to do the things you are really interested in doing right now. You don’t have to wait to get older to feel like people will take you seriously. I know you want to be a trainer right now (because you haven’t realized yet what the difference is between ‘trainer’ and ‘facilitator’) and I want you to know that you should just go for it. Young people have so much talent, so much skill – and you’re one of them. Believe it! And create more opportunities to really do it.”

#3 – “Set More Goals”

“You don’t have to tell me that you’ve never been much of a intentional goal setter – yet. I’m you, remember? But I’ve learned since I was you at your age that setting goals intentionally is actually a pretty good thing, and it’s amazing to see how many of those written-down goals actually come true! Don’t worry, you’re going to accomplish a lot, but I think you’ll accomplish more if you set your mind to it. What do you want to achieve? How can you do that, incrementally? I know you haven’t thought much yet about your role in the universe, but believe me, it’s here to help you achieve your goals. You just have to figure out what they are.”

#4 – “Be Open To The Possibilities”

“You’re going to do a pretty great job at this, Beth, over the course of your career, but it’s still something to keep top of mind. While I want you to set goals, at the same time I want you to remain open to opportunities that you haven’t thought of yet. When you’re older, someone with intuitive insight is going to tell you that not being able to plan your exact path out may be one of the hardest things for you to deal with, and that’s going to be kind of true, but I want you to try to not let that worry you. Sometimes what you haven’t thought of yet can be pretty amazing and bigger than you’ve even dreamed! And remember our mantra…‘Everything always works out for me.’ I know it might sound a bit arrogant to others that aren’t us but it is actually going to really work!”

#5 – “Find Your Professional Tribe”

“I know you don’t feel this way yet because you haven’t yet found your true calling, but eventually you’re going to want to surround yourselves with people who do the same thing as you and really get you. You’ve always been good at making friends and this won’t change. But if you can focus also on finding a tribe of people that do what you do, that you really trust, that think like you, that get excited about ideas and meaning and ways to learn and do things better just like you, you are going to be very happy. Trust me! It will happen. And one of your greatest strengths will be making those connections for yourself and doing it for other people too. Start now!”