With the average life expectancy being 70 years for men and 74 years for women, it would be good to consider what you should do by the time you’re halfway there. These things touch on your career though they also help you reflect on life in general.
Below is a list of 35 things you should do before 35. if you are already there, then take the challenge.
1. Conduct your SWOT analysis
SWOT analyses are not reserved for big companies or projects. You can also conduct your own to understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Just as in a company, this knowledge will help you know what to focus on when building your career further.
Understanding the threats that you may face helps you act proactively instead of reactively. This keeps you ahead of the game and ensures more progress is achieved.
2. Know your career goals
By the time you are 35, you should have set your career goals. If you haven’t, this is the time to do it. Career goals keep you on the right path and guide you in the decision-making process. When an opportunity shows up promising an interesting journey, you will be able to identify it as a distraction.
3. Learn how to delegate work
Forget being superman; there can only be so much you can do. When you attempt to do everything, you will ultimately achieve nothing. Delegating work is one of the most important things you can learn.
Delegating work frees you to focus on the important things which can only be done by you. These are the things that either you alone have the expertise to handle or you need them done in a very specific manner. You can learn the art of delegating work.
4. Ascertain that you are in the right field
Nothing can make you feel wasted like the need to make a career change when you are mid-way across life. Instead of advancing in your career, you start learning the basics of a totally new career. This can be frustrating to the point of affecting your learning abilities.
To avoid this, it is important to check your values, strengths, and even vision for life. These should be directly connected to your career choice. In case you discover that you ought to have chosen a different career path, then make the change quickly. Just ensure you’re right about it to avoid more changes later.
5. Maintain work-life balance
Your career may be promising and rewarding. But do not forget that your life is not all about work. Despite spending much of your waking time at work, other aspects of your life need attention too. This is crucial for a balanced life.
Take time to go on holiday. Spend some time with your friends and do not forget to reward yourself. Do not carry your work home and as much as possible, do not work overtime.
6. Learn to write effective emails
Your career may not go very far if you do not learn how to communicate effectively through email. Your emails should be grammatically correct and use clear language that is easy to understand.
With your emails, you should be able to express gratitude to customers, pitch your product, express regret, make requests and any other thing needed. If you cannot do these, then it’s time you learned how to.
7. Stay in touch with your connections
With a career that is growing, it is easy to become too busy and lose important connections. You should avoid this. Every single connection you ever had, especially those who were close to your, should be maintained.
Although with the advance in career you might have made new connections, keep the old ones close. There comes a time when you need help and it could be that only one of your old connections is available to help you. So, ensure you keep in touch with them.
8. Give your family top priority
With so many things seeking your attention, it is upon you to make the wise choice. If you have young children, spend time with them. Help them with their homework. Whatever you do, ensure you are part of their lives.
If you are yet to have a family, this would be a good time to think about having one. At age 35, you are still young enough and have the energy to handle both work and family. At the same time, having your children all grown up by the time you retire, can be a source of comfort for you.
9. Have career non-negotiables
After setting your career goals and doing a SWOT analysis of yourself, you should embark on defining some non-negotiables. These are the things you cannot compromise about even in the face of opposition.
Non-negotiables help you gain respect and stay focused on the journey you are taking. These will also help you develop more confidence in yourself. Knowing what you can and cannot do gives you the ability to make decisions quickly without wasting time.
10. Learn to accept constructive criticism
Whether this is called constructive criticism or just feedback, you need to learn how to accept it. If you are sure it’s wrong and of no benefit to you, then reject it. You don’t have to think hard about what a jealous colleague meant when he gave that negative feedback.
However, you should by now have learned to be frank with yourself and to know where you went wrong. A good way of learning this is by spending some time alone to reflect on your values and actions. If your actions were not in line with your values, then you probably acted wrongly.
11. Invest for retirement
Retirement is coming. Don’t think it’s too far away. It is that kind of reasoning that keeps people from making the right choices only for them to be caught unawares. Start investing now.
Note that you should not save for retirement but invest for it. The reason is simple. The economy will change and money saved may lose its value over time. On the other hand, if you invest, your money will have increased both in principle amount as well as maintained its value.
12. Do volunteer work
Volunteer work has a lot of benefit apart from just helping people in the society. First, it is a way of increasing awareness about issues that prevail in the real world which others live in. Secondly, it helps you learn more about interactions and building networks as you work with different kinds of people.
It also helps you with your career by giving you an opportunity to either exercise your skills or learn new ones. Any skill practiced or learned will in one way or another come back as a benefit some time later. Such skills are known as transferable skills and they will come in handy later in life.
13. Invest for a rainy day
Like the money for retirement, this should be kept where it can grow. As much as this is not necessarily meant to grow, value must be protected. With a rainy day situation however, you need to ensure the money is easily accessible because emergencies may occur at any time.
If going the bank way, avoid the services which limit your ability to withdraw the funds freely.
14. Overcome your fears
Everyone has fears but that doesn’t mean that you should be bound by yours. Your fears are best kept under your feet in order to avoid restricted growth. If you don’t overcome your fears, you will have a difficult time moving forward, especially in this age of aggressive competition.
Fear will keep you from starting that business idea. It will keep you from approaching your future spouse. Fear will keep you from having children fearing the inability to raise them up. Fear will just keep you from doing anything meaningful. Keep it under your feet.
15. Know how to deal with stress
Stress is inevitable but definitely manageable. Moreover, small amounts of stress increase your productivity by making your concentration levels increase and adrenaline pumping. Under small amounts of stress, you will finish that project on time.
That is not to mean that stress is a friend to keep. Chronic stress is dangerous and can lead to more serious health problems like anxiety and depression. To keep it under control, work on an effective way of managing your tasks. Also set aside time for relaxation and have time for friends too.
16. Learn to manage time well
Time management is a big problem for many. This is why many people wonder how others manage to do so much within the same 24 hours they also have. For them, completing four simple tasks is a challenge.
This will come down to individual planning but more than that, you will have to develop some discipline to help you along the way. When you are disciplined, you will know when to cut back on what is not needed and when to stick to what is necessary. This way, you will have time for the important things.
17. Run a side business
Notice this does not read: start a side business, but run. True, starting something takes courage but sustaining it is where the work really is. When you start a business, you need to look at sustaining and growing it. If that happens, then you have a big reason to celebrate.
But if you start a business and celebrate the step too much, you may become blind to the effort needed to sustain it. Above all, do your research before launching and stay focused and determined. The same way you have grown your career, you can, and should, grow your business.
18. Invest in yourself
The single most important resource in this world is not time. It is you. If you don’t take care of yourself, then guess what. There will be no-one to advance that career or run that business. You are important both to yourself and to those around you.
Therefore, take some time and think about how to develop yourself. Invest in your health. Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. Keep your work environment clean and organized and develop your mind too. Read a lot of books and have enough sleep.
Also check with those ahead of you to find out which ways they invest themselves in. It is not a bad idea to borrow from someone else. Especially if they are successful in what you are trying to succeed in.
19. Learn to say “No”
This is related to learning to delegate work, only that you may not be in a position to delegate. Delegating power comes when you have some authority over others. But what if you are the one below others? Still, you have control over yourself and your abilities.
Do not take on more work than you can handle, even if it is your boss giving it to you. If you do, you will not be able to do it well and stress will be knocking on your door daily. At some point, it will just come in.
Saying “No” can be learned through a communication skill called assertiveness. This is where you develop yourself enough to know when you can take something and when you can’t. If you want something, you will ask for it. And when you don’t want something, you will confidently say so.
20. Develop your personal brand
You are a brand. You don’t have to be appearing on TV or be listed on the NYSE to recognize this. As a brand, it is important that you develop yourself. This will work well after you have done a SWOT analysis of yourself. Thus you will know your current abilities and what needs development.
More than that. Recognizing yourself as a brand will help you keep a positive image of yourself. Not to showcase yourself but for your own good. It is all about recognizing your value. This helps you stand out from your colleagues and sets you apart for more connections and valuable partnerships.
21. Do something you are proud of
Your life is not all about career and work. You have some desires in you which should also be expressed. As an ambitious person, look deep within to find out what one thing will bring you maximum fulfillment apart from success in your career.
It may be traveling to the destination of your dreams. It may be helping the needy people in the society. You are the one who knows best as this is something inside you. Whatever it is, venture out in confidence and do it. Remember to take photos for memories.
22. Join a professional association
Most professions have an association which helps the members in specific ways. Be it for architects, doctors, attorneys or any other profession. Joining these associations may require some money for registration and even to remain a member but it’s well worth it.
This will come in handy when starting your own business. If you want to run a private law firm for example, you may experience challenges if you are not a member of the required state bar association.
23. Refine your elevator pitch
Ever dreaded that five-minute ride on the elevator after someone asked you what you do? If you desperately searched for a great answer to impress them but found none, then it’s time you worked on a suitable response. You just don’t know which doors that response can open for you.
Avoid thinking about this as just casual talk that carries little meaning since you are having the perfect job. Sit down and write the best things about what you do. Get some good descriptive words and put together a short impressive answer then commit it to memory. The details will just flow naturally.
24. Get a mentor
Getting a mentor should not be at the bottom of your lifetime To-Do list. Rather, this should have a prominent place. If you have one, that’s good. If you still haven’t gotten a mentor, for whatever reason, then it’s time to find one.
This can be fun. You can take it as though you are searching for the perfect candidate to fill an important position in your life. And indeed it is, because a mentor will have a lot of influence over your life. Do your research well and approach the person you settle on. Be sure to be clear what you would like to achieve from the mentorship.
25. Know your personality
If you have registered considerable success in your career by now, then you probably know your personality. Or maybe you know yourself well enough i.e. how you respond to certain social stimuli, without using the term “personality.” All the same, it is important that you know it officially.
From the basic four temperaments to the more detailed Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers typology, you have some options. You can take both tests to know just what makes you unique. You will better understand what kind of environments work well with you and which ones are to be avoided.
Generally, you will be able to know the kind of a person you are and better appreciate yourself.
26. Learn to negotiate
Negotiations are not the preserve of salesmen and high-ranking business executives. You need it too, even as an office secretary. Negotiations happen daily only that you don’t see it as such. When you discuss with your manager on the kind of roles to take or with your kids on what duties each of them is to have, you are negotiating. In fact, any time you discuss options, you are negotiating.
To do this with effective results, you will have to learn the art of negotiating. This will help you in your daily relations as well as in advancing your career and business. You might also end up being a celebrated diplomat, bringing warring parties together.
27. Seek responsibility
There are few ways of growing apart from taking on more responsibility. Instead of waiting for your boss to give you charge over a project, make the suggestion yourself. If you see something going wrong in the office, take the initiative and start working on a solution.
As you go along, invite some friends to join you and be the one directing the vision of the desired solution. Doing this will help you learn more about leadership and responsibility. Naturally, your abilities will get noticed and some colleagues may even recommend you for a senior position.
28. Learn to make decisions
You make decisions on a daily basis. But how fast do you make them? How well informed are your decisions? How good do those decisions prove to be over time? These are questions you need to ponder to find out how good a decision-maker you are.
Making decisions—and good ones for that matter—is key to your growth. Be it in business or employment, this is one skill you need to have. If you desire to move up the ladder, you better learn this skill at the earliest opportunity so that you have it when it’s needed.
29. Mentor others
Have you achieved considerable success in your career or business? Then you need to share the lessons learned with others. Whether you have learned by yourself the hard way or someone held your hand, you should be ready to share.
Help someone else climb the ladder. The world will be a better place when more people are successful.
30. Learn financial management skills
There aren’t many ways of proving your success other than through your money. Money can be a tricky thing to manage however. You can have money flowing in and out of your account but have nothing for yourself. Maybe all your money belongs to the mortgage provider, service providers and the like.
You will do well to learn how to budget, how to cut down costs and other financial management skills. These are one of the things which separate the rich from the other lot. As much as the rich may spend money on expensive items, they have mastery over their finances. That is how in the first place they can afford expensive luxuries without feeling it.
31. Have a killer LinkedIn profile
Career growth cannot happen without good connections. And what better platform to connect with like-minded professions than on LinkedIn? This networking site offer a lot of openings for great connections. But the biggest benefits go to the people who come up with profiles which stand out.
Writing a killer LinkedIn profile may need some work. Knowing what keywords to use and where to use them is one thing. More than that, you should know how to connect correctly to avoid coming across as someone out to use others.
32. Stop making excuses
Excuses are not valid reasons as to why you cannot do something. These are mere explanations of why you are unwilling to do something. If you are to advance in the field you are in, then excuses need to be far away from your mouth. Not even in your mind where they get manufactured.
If you are having trouble with fear, check item 14 above. If you are struggling with laziness, then you need to overcome that. Just find out what the problem is then work on a solution. Do not hold back from opening up to someone you think can help you.
33. Have a plan B
Life is always ready to serve you a surprise meal. What will you do when things don’t go as per your plans? First things first, you can’t give up. That’s not the attitude of someone pursuing success. At the same time, you cannot start playing the blame game. Do not blame the government or the weather.
Since you know surprises are bound to come, take charge and put the necessary measures in place. Having a plan B does not mean that you don’t believe in your plan A. You are just being smart enough to understand that you don’t have control over all factors.
34. Specialize in something
Jack of all trades and master of none? That’s the wrong approach to success. You will rarely achieve much if that is how you choose to operate. Successful people are masters of at least one thing. There should be one thing which you have invested yourself into so as to learn as much as possible about it.
This way, you easily become the go-to person when people need advice and direction in that matter. This will also give you a sense of fulfillment and achievement.
35. Be accountable
Accountability will always be a safeguard for anyone pursuing success. It helps you operate within the acceptable boundaries. When you are accountable to someone, you will have someone watching your back and also ready to celebrate with you when you succeed.
Finding the right person to be accountable to can be challenging. If you are married, you can consider having your spouse as your accountability partner. Though it may feel restrictive, they may actually be the best people for the role since you can be sure they have your best interests at heart.
In any case, aren’t they benefiting from your success?