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Focus on yourself and don’t worry about anyone else

If you are what the American workforce would consider “young” right now, in 2011, you probably feel a sense of urgency to succeed. Not just a want to succeed, but a true sense of urgency. The economy sucks. You’ve got student loans. Maybe a house. You want to start a family. So, you know, you’ve gotta bring home the cheese.

I’ve seen, in my short career, that sense of urgency really mess with people, to the point that they become consumed by what’s going on around them and forget to focus on their biggest asset: Themselves. If you’re a young professional, there may be many factors working against you, but there’s one big thing working for you, and it’s that you can do whatever the hell you want, so long as you stay focused.

For instance, here are a few things that will ultimately not really help you in your career:

  • Reacting to what your peers are doing.
  • Trying to be something you’re not.
  • Working against others.

Conversely, here are some things you can do right now that will help you in the near or long term:

  • Learn something to add to your resume.
  • See what education opportunities your job offers.
  • Ask to job-shadow someone.

These suggestions are simple, free and easy.

I thought of this post while thinking about the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (California) and how they signed two very big free agents yesterday. You may have read about it on my blog. These free agent signings potentially affect my Seattle Mariners, since the Angels are in the same division, except that they don’t affect the Mariners at all. Here’s what Lookout Landing writer Jeff Sullivan had to say about it:

…if the Mariners have put together a good plan, then the Angels’ Thursday should do little to change it. Do you believe the Mariners have a good plan?

Give Jack Zduriencik time, and remember the talent in the organization. As long as the arrow’s pointing up, it doesn’t much matter what the other people do.

What are your plans for yourself? I’ll rephrase that in a few ways: What do you want to do? What does your dream job look like? What, to you, is success? Once you’ve got even a rough portrait of one of those things, you can start to work on what needs to be done to get to that final place.

In the meantime, you shouldn’t care what anyone else is doing, because they have their own plans and it’s unlikely they’ll drop everything to help you out. Ask yourself — you don’t have to do this all the time, but occasionally — what can I do right now to make myself better? The more often you can answer that question and act on the answer, the faster you’ll get to where you want to be. No amount of reacting to the competition will be as valuable as that.

Know what you want. Do what works for you. Let everyone else sort out their own stuff.

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