Spring is here! It's my favorite time of the year! The snow is clearing, it's warming up, it's sunny a little later, and most important for me, baseball season is coming!
It's also the time that lots of people (my wife included!) focus on cleaning out the house or garage, getting rid of clutter and making your home more beautiful.
Why not use this excuse to do a little "Career Spring Cleaning" as well? We all could stand to declutter our careers, focus better, and improve ourselves, right? We all could give things up in order to get what we want, right?
With that in mind, I turned to 11 friends from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. I asked them: What's the most important thing you've given up in order to advance your career?
This is what they shared:
1. Extra Projects
I've had many projects running at times, but had to kill some of them in order to focus on greater, more lucrative opportunities. You have to be willing to walk away from something good if you want to be able to focus on achieving something great. Weigh your options carefully and don't be afraid to pull the plug on a business or project if it's getting the way of something better.
2. Your Ego
As an professional, you'll make mistakes. You're bound to fall on your face, lose battles, have flops and you'll certainly run into a lot of naysayers. And while it's crucial to believe in yourself irrevocably, you have to realize you're not always right. You can learn. You can listen to others. You can improve. And as there will always be bigger fish in the pond, a little modesty can go a long way.
3. Short-Term Salaries for Long-Term Equity
Having started my business while still in college, I found myself a year after graduation taking home a quarter of the income of my peers in their salaried positions. Five years out, however, things start to change. As equity builds, you get to reap the rewards of those early sacrifices. A willingness to forgo a little extra money in the short term for more in the long term is critical.
4. Carefree Living
As an professional or entrepreneur, you are naturally going to put pressure on yourself. The days of coasting at work or tuning completely out at night or over weekends/vacations are tougher to do. Most entrepreneurs admit that it's an ongoing challenge to turn the brain off outside of work. Choosing to be an entrepreneur at times can mean giving up the leave-your-work-at-work lifestyle.
5. Certain Hobbies
The most important thing I've given up is some of the extracurricular items that have taken time away from business. I did a real analysis of the things I enjoy and consolidated them into one hobby, giving me more time to focus on growing my business and spending time with my family. I've been happy about the balance I've created.
6. Comparing Yourself to Others
I used to be in the bad habit of comparing my success to others. But I've learned that there will always be people ahead of you, no matter how much effort you put in. This habit doesn't only eat away at your self-confidence, but it can cause you to make short-sighted decisions in order to keep up with the Joneses in business. Remember, the game of life is a marathon, not a sprint.
7. Your Next Degree
For a long time, I thought I was going to be a lawyer. In fact, I was studying for the LSATs during my last semester of college. I ended up dropping out three credits short of graduation to dedicate myself full time to the inbox streamliner that I co-founded. I’m now the CEO, and the Unroll.Me iOS app landed number eight overall in the app store, so I’d say it was worth it.
8. Comfort and Certainty
When you dive into entrepreneurship, or really anything new professionally, you are taking a gamble. You have to be willing to take a step out our you comfort zone and be able drive forward confidently into the unknown. When I left the certainty and comfort of a great job to try and build something for myself, I was terrified and there was no guarantee of success. Fortunately, I pushed through and never looked back.
9. A Consistent Schedule
In order to be successful and grow the company, it's important to be as flexible with your time as possible. I often get invitations to meetings or events with very little notice, so I've come to expect that on any given day, I may not know where I'll end up that night. Being accessible and meeting people are big parts of the job, so that leaves very little room for a "traditional" schedule.
I used to get slightly offended when my team members would suggest that they can and should do one of my daily tasks better than I. This year, I vowed to not only let tasks go, but actively seek to give them away. Talk about spring cleaning; fewer jobs means more time to seek clarity, explore new business opportunities and be a better mentor to my team, all of which has yielded amazing results.
Security was the most important thing I gave up to pursue entrepreneurship. I remember thinking about how I was going to pay for the roof over my head if things went sideways. In the end, burning my bridges was well worth the sacrifice.
12. Alcohol as a Distraction
Last year, I was having two glasses of red wine daily. I realized that this was a symptom of a deeper root cause; a desire to change my state and escape my feelings. Running away from the present moment means you are never satisfied with what is here now. This year has been alcohol-free and I've never been more productive or felt better in my entire life. Experiment with not drinking to advance your career.
13. The Career You Were Set on
Ironically, I’d have to say my legal career. I worked my entire life to become a lawyer and ultimately landed a job right out of law school at one of the most respected firms in New York City. Just a few years later, I left my job as a corporate attorney to found Updater. My friends and family thought I was crazy, but I knew I was onto something big.
Now it's YOUR turn. What have you given up in order to advance your career? What do you know you need to give up or let go of in order to advance your career? What's holding you back? Please let me know your thoughts in the Comments section below!
And join me for a FREE live training next week!
Originally published on Linkedin Pulse.
About Dave Kerpen