Think of the most successful people you know and the people you aspire to be like. Did they follow conventional wisdom? Did they walk well-worn paths? Most likely, the most successful people are also the ones who blazed their own trail and threw conventions to the wind.
But we're still much too likely to listen to the same tired advice we've heard over and over again when it comes to our career. Oprah probably wasn't following this kind of advice when she rose to prominence as a talk show host and tastemaker. Mark Zuckerberg clearly wasn't following the maps left in career advice columns when he started Facebook wearing his signature hoodie.
The most successful people are those willing and able to think outside the box. So why are we still following the same career advice? Here are four pieces of advice you've probably heard over and over again, and why it might be time to hit mute:
1. "No one wants to hire a job hopper."
Have you ever heard the one about the job hopper no one wanted to hire? Conventional wisdom says employers just don't want to hire job hoppers for fear that, if they've hopped once, they'll be more likely to leapfrog away again.
Truthfully, however, job hopping is our future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average tenure in a position to be 4.4 years. This number might even be trending down, with 91% of Millennials expecting to be at their current jobs for three years or less. Most importantly, prior job hopping doesn't seem to have any predictive influence on future behavior or productivity. A study by Evolv found prior tenures at past organizations had little correlation with how long an employee stayed at a current position.
If you're worried leaving the job you hate right now will have an impact on your future employability, it might be time to cut a new path. Life is too short to be stuck in a job when you've lost the love; a career path that actually fits your personality and goals might be right around the corner. Employers need to let go of the job hopper boogeyman, and professionals shouldn't be afraid to leave a job that isn't the right fit.
2. "Always contribute to a meeting."
You want your coworkers and boss to know how hard you've been working, and your monthly meeting might seem like the perfect opportunity. Sure, you don't actually have anything substantial to add to the conversation, but you're pretty sure you need to pipe up anyway. It's important to be heard, right?
There are 11 million meetings in the U.S. everyday, yet nine out of 10 workers would prefer to communicate with coworkers in just about any other way. Why? Because many meetings are grossly inefficient. If you're speaking up but not adding any value, what you are adding to is your coworkers' levels of aggravation.
If possible, you should always try to add something useful or valuable to the meetings you attend. However, if you don't actually have anything important to share, do your coworkers a favor and use this as an opportunity to actually listen.
3. "The paycheck is all that matters."
Let's be honest, we'd all love to wake up one day and discover we're suddenly millionaires. Unless you win the lottery, however, this is pretty unlikely. We often think the next best thing is to pick the most highly paid field possible in which to collect our paycheck. Sometimes, we pick these career trajectories even though they don't remotely align with our interests.
According to Gallup, 70% of the American workforce is disengaged on the job, costing as much as $550 billion to the economy. If the only passion you feel for your job or career is the amount of zeros on your paycheck, you might want to reconsider.
Finding your passion can allow you to truly enjoy your work hours, which is a pretty substantial chunk of your day. Plus, your passion will show through in your work, allowing you to achieve more than if your only motivation is the pay stub.
4. "Be the first one in and the last one out."
There's always been a misconception that being the first one in every morning and the last one out every night is the best way to climb the career ladder. Hard work pays off, sure, but there's a big difference between working hard and being a workaholic. Your friends and family probably miss you, and most likely, you aren't actually doing your career any favors with your obsessive work behavior.
A longitudinal study by the University of Padova in Italy followed workers for 15 years and discovered some shocking insights about the 24/7 employee: Workaholic behavior was linked to worse health, increased absenteeism, and most damning of all, decreased job performance.
As it turns out, being a workaholic is actually more likely to hold your career back. Instead, you need to strike a better work-life balance, finding time for your hobbies and spending time with loved ones. This allows you to take better care of yourself, physically and mentally, in order to give it your all on the job.
It's time to stop listening to conventional wisdom and strike out on your own path to truly be successful. After all, the biggest success stories started with a single step on an uncharted path.
By Ilya Pozin