5 things I have learned in my 30+ years of working

We all have work experiences, right? I started working when I was 14, I am now 50. I have seen a lot and been through a lot at work. I have picked up a lot along the way, here are 5 things I have learned while working that I feel are super important:

  1. Advocating for yourself: If you are lucky, you have a great boss who will go to the wall for you. If you are like most of us, you don’t have that luxury. When its your review, when you have completed a project and when the company is going through transitions, you have to advocate for yourself. Ask for good raises, point out you did project “X”, affirm why you are an asset.
  2. Keeping the boss happy: This will be very unpopular but its an important lesson to learn. It requires a pretty large degree of humility but if you can keep your boss happy you will be happy at work. I mean this of course within reasonable context, but the bottom line is when my boss at work asks me to do something I try and do it as quickly and efficiently as I can. This simple thing, while challenging at times, has resulted in my getting good raises and bonus’s over the years.
  3. Keep showing up: Excessive absences create negative conditions as work still has to get done. If you are out a lot, someone else has to pick up your slack. If you show up everyday chances are, you’re picking up slack for others. This is extremely valuable, at the end of the day companies want work done they are less concerned with how you feel about it. If you show up everyday this enables the first item, advocating for yourself to be an easier sell.
  4. Deal with issues early: When you put a group of people together inevitably something happens, or people don’t get along. The last thing you want is someone bad mouthing you behind your back. If you have a problem with someone at work, even if its not your fault get it resolved. I’ve seen several examples of people being undermined at work but unhappy people. Deal with it quickly.
  5. Its about the money: You are 1 of 2 people in my opinion when it comes to work. You love what you do and are thrilled to do it, or you go to work to get money to do the things you love. Know your value, at all times. Every quarter you should be looking up online what someone with your degree and experience is being paid in your area. Don’t be lulled into benefits packages (they are nice, don’t get me wrong) or “corporate culture” memes from HR. Money is why you are working, the more you have the more things you can do with it.

I’ve got another 10-15 years left of work, how long do you have and what are your biggest take away’ s from working?

3 thoughts on “5 things I have learned in my 30+ years of working

  1. I completely agree with your lessons learned. I’m in my thirties so, depending on the state of our government and factoring in the possibility that social security may be nonexistent in the next few decades, I’m not expecting to retire for another 40 years. Whew… I had to pause because that’s sounds like a really long time to be working. Anyway, in my over 15 years in the working world I’ve experienced some similar situations and one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that just because you’re qualified, hard working and deserve to be promoted does not mean you will be. And many of the people that do get promoted are often not as qualified or hard working but they excel at networking and making the right friends. I’ve seen time and time again people that are “charismatic” that aren’t necessarily good at their jobs get raises and promotions while I’ve been stuck going nowhere coming in early and leaving late getting actual work done to no avail. I’ve had bosses that really needed help come to me first because they knew I could take care of what they need quickly only to be ignored when I ask for a raise. That’s why it’s so important to know your worth and to know when to leave. I can attest that you have to be your own advocate. When your current boss doesn’t want to reward you, reward yourself with a new job and higher salary. Loyalty doesn’t pay the bills nor does it keep up with inflation. Lastly, be careful who you air out grievances to and never say anything bad about a boss. Many managers, directors and supervisors are friends and you’re not aware that these people go out for drinks after work on a regular basis. If you don’t like manager X and you tell supervisor Y they will tell them. The old adage is true, if you have nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all.

    1. Well said. Social Security has this reputation that “the money will run out” the truth of the matter is Social Security is solvent, but government uses the funds to leverage other spending. That said keeping social security solvent requires a tax increase or for the contribution amount to be uncapped. This isnt a hard fix in terms of math, but politically no one wants to say it. I look at work as simply as I can, how can I exchange the least amount of my time, for the most amount of money. When I think about work now I reflect on the 5-10 people in my life who are the most important, the people I really love like children spouse etc. I dont work with any of them and while I would love to be buddies and friendly with everyone, I cant.

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