‘Campus to Corporate’ is quite the transition, isn’t it? From mess to the dining hall, exams to client meetings, from “Sir/Ma’am” to first names, it’s the commencement of a completely new phase in life. At this point, there’s so much pressure on our young minds to have it “all figured out” and it can get a bit overwhelming. But is it necessary? No, not really. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get some guidance from successful entrepreneurs on what to keep in mind at this critical juncture in your life? We asked some of them what they would have told their 20-year-old selves who were just starting out on their professional journeys. Here’s what they had to say –
1. Seek Mentorship
There’s no denying that the Internet and books are as irreplaceable as sources of knowledge. But another precious source of knowledge that complements these is working with professionals and networking with peers. Not only will it help expand your knowledge in your field of interest, but even more importantly, if you’re unsure of what interests you, it will help you zero in on that. Meeting the right people, sharing your ideas and gaining their insight is an invaluable opportunity to help you broaden your perspective.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, this is supported by research too. According to a 2018 study, “college graduates are almost two times more likely to be engaged at work if they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams.” Clearly, it’s worth the effort to go that extra mile beyond written knowledge and mingle with others who are wiser and more experienced.
Most of the time, people tend to be extremely confident in themselves and as a result, they don’t value the experience of mentors. Even now when I want advice I go to my dad. He may not have any online experience, but he definitely had other valuable experiences which he can share with me, and I don’t see a lot of young people approaching mentors these days, this is something that they need to be doing – Arjun Vaidya, CEO of Dr Vaidya
2. Work on your Problem-Solving Skills
Unless you have acquired the answer to life, the universe and everything (and no, the answer is not always ‘42’), you’re going to face challenges that you never foresaw, both in your personal life(“I don’t have a stove. How do I prepare a healthy dinner without ordering takeout?”) and professional lives (I’m behind schedule because this task always takes a lot of time. How do I shorten the amount of time so I can meet my deadline now and in the future?). If you’re going to rely on external help to solve all your problems, then you’re never going to grow as an individual. Developing and honing your problem-solving skills is an essential part of personal development and enhancing your ability to assess and overcome challenging situations better.
Not just this, your employability itself may depend on it. According to a 2020 study by the World Economic Forum, complex problem-solving is the second most sought after skill among Indian companies at the moment. So it seems that developing a knack for problem-solving is key.
When solving a problem, you tend to go deep into it, but you also need to give yourself some time to see your problems from a bigger perspective. You need to manage your own outlook and gain a sense of control over yourself and your surroundings. What I do normally to distance myself from the problem and look at it from a bigger perspective – Sachin Tyagi, CEO of Opotax
3. Set Concrete Goals
Our minds’ ability to focus is an extremely important aspect when it comes to working effectively and achieving success. But if we don’t have an end in our minds, how would we know where to focus our attention? That where goal setting comes in. By setting concrete goals, we give direction to our work and lives and make sure we’re focused more and less in the right direction in our lives.
The difference goal setting can make is unbelievable. According to a Harvard Business study, only 14% of people set goals for themselves. But here’s the astonishing part. Those 14% of people are 10 times more successful than those who don’t set goals for themselves. But this also requires that we set goals the right way. The SMART method is an effective way to manage your goals, it states that setting Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely goals can help you make a smarter choice in completing your goal.
When you are starting out, you need to know why you want to pick up this particular idea. Be technical, rational and self-critical. Think about whether your answers justify the amount of effort you will be putting in for years to come. And don’t shy away from putting it down on paper – Sunali Aggarwal, Co-Founder of Mobikwik
4. Develop Grit
If there’s one thing 2020 has shown us, it’s just how important it is to persevere to work towards meeting our goals in the face of adversities. There’s a word for this ability – “Grit”, a skill that can help you weather any storm.
As per the research conducted by Angela Duckworth, author of the NY Times bestseller “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”, success is independent of talent. She found that “where talent counts once, effort counts twice.” In other words just because you’re talented doesn’t guarantee success. Also, even if you’re not talented in your chosen field doesn’t mean you’ll fail in your pursuits. If you have grit, you’re more likely to succeed than those who don’t. So make “Never Say Die” your life’s motto. You will never regret it.
We need to be resilient in times of failure. We should be willing to fight through the tough times, the ups and downs, the failures. Because this path is definitely not easy and it won’t be easy anytime as well – Arjun Vaidya, CEO of Dr Vaidya
5. Discipline is important
When we start a new project or a job, we are filled with motivation for the first few days but this motivation often reduces with the monotony of daily life which may make us feel lazy and we often tend to give up. While motivation is important to drive you to do something, staying disciplined is key. Self-Discipline is what drives us to do the work we may not enjoy doing, but is required for our well-being. Discipline is what keeps us going which in turn drives our curiosity and excitement.
According to a 2013 study by Wilhelm Hoffman, people with high self-control are happier than those without. The study discovered this is true because the self-disciplined subjects were more capable of dealing with goal conflicts. The self-disciplined individuals did not allow their choices to be dictated by their impulses or feelings. Instead, they made more informed, rational decisions on a daily basis without feeling overly stressed or upset.
When you are young, it is easy to stretch yourself thin, work late at night etc. But in the long run, it’s better to cultivate a discipline that you require to balance your family and your work-life. Because stretching yourself to work hard, work longer will only prove to be counterproductive for you even in the larger scheme of things. Your schedule and your sleeping pattern etc goes for a toss, which I have learnt is actually counterproductive to your goals – Sachin Tyagi, CEO of Opotax
So there you have it, 5 research-backed pieces of advice that would always keep you moving on the path to success no matter what career you choose to follow in the future.