Why is it that some people spend years chasing after their dreams, while others just seem to succeed at everything they do?
It’s not a secret – it’s all about mindset.
Top performers don’t wait for success to fall from the sky. They don’t spend years – or even decades – stuck in the same old job, hoping they’ll get a promotion one day. Instead, they get up at 5am and make things happen.
They’re the people who ask themselves day after day … what I do want to accomplish? And if I don’t do it today, what will I regret in a years’ time?
They don’t care if they have the right qualifications and they know that the perfect time will never come. But most importantly, they are willing to try new things and fail. If their friends laugh at them, they don’t care. If people call them dumb, so be it. And if others judge them, that’s not going to stop them. They choose to do whatever they want – even if they know they could be rejected.
But most importantly, top performers understand the importance of their beliefs. They don’t subscribe to the idea that they might not be able to accomplish what they set out to do. They know that the right amount of passion, dedication and persistence will get them results – and they’re willing to make sacrifices to get them.
In this post, we’ll talk about three of the most common career myths that high achievers have overcome.
Myth 1: “I need to get a degree before I can find a good job”
For years and years, our parents and teachers have been telling us that we need to finish high school, go to university and get degree. They grew up in a time where your degree was your entry ticket to stable, well-paid job. A degree meant that you could provide for your family without worrying about your career.
But this no longer true today. We live in a much more dynamic world, and many people switch jobs every 3-5 years. Only very few careers, like law and medicine, still require you to get a degree. In other industries, your degree is almost worthless – it has become no more than a proxy which companies can use to weed out unqualified candidates at the application stage. The only value employers get from your degree is that it makes easy for them to see that you are young and capable and might be suited for the job.
So, while going to university is helpful for your personal development, the best way to get a great job is by finding new ways to show recruiters that you’re a smart hire. For example, you could give them samples of your work, highlight projects you’ve worked on in the past and let them know what you could do for their company today.
How does this work in practice?
Suppose you wanted to get a content marketing internship at a solar energy company. You could write a sample article for their blog about how large manufacturers can manage the transition to renewable energy sources.
Or maybe you’d love to work as an editor in a video production agency. To stand out from the crowd, you could create a short 1-minute clip introducing the company and its philosophy based on existing footage they’ve shared online.
Myth 2: “I don’t have enough credentials/experience to start a career in …”
It’s easy to feel like we don’t have enough experience – especially when reading job descriptions for entry level roles.
Employers often list an overwhelming amount of qualifications or skills that they’re looking for in suitable candidates – and very people meet all of them (nor do employers expect them to).
In fact, the best jobs are probably the ones where you meet about 80% of the requirements, as this means you have enough experience to produce great work, but you’ll also have opportunities to learn and grow in your new role.
But what do you do if you’d love to work in a particular job – and don’t fulfil enough of the requirements yet?
What I would recommend is taking a course or starting a project to improve your skills.
For example, when I started programming an app for my computer science class, I didn’t know a thing about Java. But then I found Udacity’s Android Basics course (available for free at the time) and within 3 weeks I had created a rudimentary, yet functional quiz app.
As I know it can be hard to find great online courses, here are five great resources that I can highly recommend:
- Responsive Web Design Certification by Free Code Camp
- Portuguese Lab Academy or Portuguese Lab Youtube Videos
The best course ever for learning European Portuguese
- How to Win at College and How to Become a Straight- A student by Cal Newport
Two amazing books that explain how to succeed in college without working yourself to death
- 8 Steps to Getting What You Want without Formal Credentials by Michael Ellsberg
A great guest post on how to succeed in life without going to university or getting a degree
- Growth Lab by Ramit Sethi
An amazing website about how to start and grow your online business
Myth 3: ‘I don’t have the connections or money to enter the finance/consulting/marketing industry’
We often think that we need a large number of connections to become successful in a certain industry. After all, the big names in business know lots of people – and it’s those connections that often contributed to their success.
But what we forget is that there’s a big difference between being new to an industry or having worked in a sector for the past 20 years.
Industry professionals thrive on a large number of varied connections. But if you’re just starting out, the most important relationship you have is the connection with your mentor. They can offer you advice and support, they can help you grow and avoid treacherous pitfalls. And once you start getting good at your craft, you can leverage their network to reach out to highly influential people.
But how do you find a good mentor? And how can you make that first connection?
Look for someone you admire and would love to learn from – then offer them value upfront.
Maybe you look up to co-worker and want to learn more about the graphic design project she is working on. Find something she struggles with, and then offer to solve it for her. Or if you know that the managing director you look up to is interested in antique cars, send them an interesting article on the topic every few weeks.
Why does this work? Because people love it when you can help them. By adding value to their lives, you can make yourself indispensable and people will try to support you wherever they can.
This approach even works when reaching out to people you’ve never met before – or applying for jobs. According to Ramit Sethi, it is one of the best ways to distinguish yourself from other candidates in a job interview.
Using this technique, you could stand out to hiring managers by sending them a report on how they could reposition their company in the European market, improve their product design or optimise their sales funnels. And including the exact steps you would take to make this happen in the next 6 months immediately turns you into a convincing hire. That way, when the recruiters read your application, they know exactly that you can provide a massive benefit to the company.
To give you an idea of how simple this can be, here is the exact document I used to apply for a copywriting & content marketing position: