I’m considered by many to be pretty well connected. So, of course, that would mean that I made networking a priority early in my career. Not! Frankly, I didn’t really start investing time in networking and building relationships outside of where I worked until my late 30s. I didn’t even build a lot of relationships in college. After my freshman year I worked over 24 hours a week. My priorities were classes, work, a couple of extra-curricular activities and whatever time was left, went to my social life. Those were the right priorities for that time.
We all read the business books on building successful careers. They contain lists of what you need to do: be a top performer, constantly learn, take the hard jobs, invest in yourself, build networks, create your brand, work internationally, leverage mentors, give back, read business books, etc. … Whew! If you truly try to do all of that and have a personal life all at the same time, you will burn out. Yes, you need to do all of those things and more throughout your career, but the key is to prioritize what you will do and when you will do it to ensure that you can always do the first one, be a top performer and might I add, still maintain your health in the process. You can have anything you are willing to work for, just not all at the same time.
I learned this wisdom the hard way. I almost burned myself out at the ripe old age of 28. I landed in the hospital for a week after completely wearing myself down trying to do way too much. The key is to evaluate your whole life periodically and make sure that you are consciously setting your priorities, both personally and professionally so you can eventually check off most of the items on that career success list and stay healthy, too.
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