Do you ever feel misunderstood by others? Maybe you feel that people at work don’t get you. Or that your friends are not on the same page.
Maybe others truly don’t get you. But that’s not because of them, it’s most likely because of your own behavior. I’ll tell you why.
When I started working for a major IT research firm in London several years ago, it was the first time I worked in an organization with thousands of people.
On my floor alone, there were probably two hundred people at work. For me, it was the first time that I was a part of such a big team.
One of the most important lessons I have learned from my mentor about working in large teams is this: People can only judge their perception of you. And often, there’s a difference between perception and reality, right?
When I got my business degree in 2011, I was ready to start my career.
I wanted to start a business, earn money, and also invest. Those were my main priorities for the past seven years.
I did all those things. You know what I found?
Every decision you make in life is either an investment or a waste.
Here’s what I mean:
- Browsing social media for hours is a waste of your time
- Eating junk food is a waste of your health
- Having a job that makes you miserable is a waste of your energy
- Working out is an investment in your health
- Spending time with people you care about is an investment in relationships and personal wellbeing
- Reading, taking courses, watching informational videos, are investments in your education
Those last three things are all good. And investing in your education has the highest return on investment. Why?
Do you ever get upset about the nasty behavior of your co-workers, friends, or even family? Well, if you let others upset you, it’s not their fault.
“It’s not me, it’s him!” is what most of us say. We’re always quick to blame others for how we feel.
We say that others make us feel that way. But that’s false. You decide how you feel about the things that happen in your life.
Events can’t harm us. Our perception of an event harms us. That’s one of the most important ideas of Stoic philosophy.
In other words, you decide what meaning you give to the things that happen in your life. If your friend tells lies about you behind your back, and you get upset, that’s because you decided to get upset.
If you think that you have to compete for better jobs or more market share, you’re as wrong as I was.
The idea of competition is engraved in our minds. We believe that we have to compete for the same jobs with others. If someone has a job, that means you can’t have the same job. And if a company has a certain market share, that means you have to compete with that company to “win” a piece of their share.
At least, that’s what conventional advice says. It’s also what I learned in business school. My entire education was based on competing with other businesses. And almost every business book that I’ve read, also assumes that business is competition.
They couldn’t be more wrong. When you assume that you have to compete with other businesses or people for money, jobs or attention, you’re engaged in limited thinking.
What does success look like? What do you want from life? What career do you want?
Most of us answer “I don’t know.”
And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. And yet, we think it’s the worst thing in the world if you don’t know what you want to do in life.
We say: “OMG! I don’t know what I want!” And then we have a full-on panic attack. Be honest — it happens to all of us.
Especially, when you see that your old college friend just got married. Or that your co-worker, who started at the same time as you, just got promoted.
It’s at those moments of weakness when we shine a spotlight on our own uncertainty about life.
These two lessons are true for every person who wants a long, happy, and satisfying career.
But it’s very hard to put that advice into practice. It took me the first six years of my career to figure that out. And I still have to remind myself that life is bigger than work.
Almost everywhere that I’ve worked in the past, there was a “perception is reality” culture.
That means looks are more important than reality. In other words: The person who’s in the office the longest appears to be the hardest worker. Now, that may be true.
Whether you like them or not, New Year’s resolutions are great to create a positive change in your life.
Maybe you always wanted to start a business, read a book a week, get a sixpack, or meditate more. The start of every year is the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button and do things differently.
But I bet you’ve read all the articles and research that say New Year’s resolutions are useless and that they hardly work. Some say 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. Others say it’s even 92%.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean New Year’s resolutions are bad. It means that most of us don’t know how to successfully keep our resolutions.