10 Lessons I’ve Learned in My Career

When I was 21, I moved to New York with almost no money but lots of nerves and excitement. Over the next fourteen years, I worked a bunch of different jobs and learned so much—sometimes the hard way! For career week, I’d love to share 10 things I’ve learned during my career…

If you’re curious, here’s a short recap of my (scribbly) career path:

* As a teenager, I tutored math, made pizzas, shoveled driveways, delivered newspapers, waited tables and babysat (for $2.50 an hour!).

* In college, I did research for professors and worked at an awesome coffee shop. During the summers, I interned for a publishing house in New York and a law firm in D.C.

* In my early twenties, I moved to New York to intern at Cosmopolitan Magazine, and taught Kaplan LSAT courses at night to pay rent. The next fall, I went to NYU law school, but was miserable and left after a year. I felt totally lost! Then I got a job at a boutique editorial and marketing firm, where we wrote and edited small custom magazines. After a few years, I was promoted to be the editor in chief of a start-up magazine called Bene. In the evenings, I kept tutoring the LSAT and also started a blog on the side, just for fun. My little brother helped me set it up and named it Cup of Jo. :)

* In my late twenties: When my blog got bigger, I left my full-time job and went freelance. I contributed to Cookie, Budget Travel and New York Magazine, where I wrote my favorite story of all time about people who wear only one color. I freelanced for Cookie Magazine’s design blog. I worked hard on my own blog and then landed a job at Glamour Magazine to launch their relationships blog, Smitten.

* In my thirties: When I turned 31, and was pregnant with Toby, I decided to leave Glamour (where I had been for two years) and focus on Cup of Jo full-time. That’s where I am now! (Here’s more about blogging as a career.)

So, here are ten things I’ve learned through the years and wish I could go back and tell my 21-year-old self (and I’d love to hear if you agree!)…

1. Everything takes forever. As efficient and awesome as you are, everything will take 2x-10x longer than you expect. Factor that in.

2. Always take notes. When your boss is giving you instructions—or you have a genius idea in the shower—write things down. You think you’ll remember but you won’t.

3. Don’t worry if you don’t love your career right away. You’re not really supposed to like your job at the beginning; you’re supposed to like your industry. First jobs are often frustrating, stressful and hard, with long hours and grunt work and volatile bosses. When you work your way up, generally after a few years, it gets more fun and rewarding—with more perks! I think it’s actually reassuring to realize that because then you can stop worrying about not liking your job and just work hard and put in your time and move up to the good stuff. So, at the beginning, stay very positive and hungry and trust that it will work out.

4. Work is still work. Generally jobs do get more fun and rewarding as you move up, but they’re still work, at the end of the day. Pinterest is peppered with quotes saying things like, “Do what you love,” “Love what you do,” “Find your passion,” etc. Although I agree that it’s great to enjoy your career overall, those kinds of quotes can be misleading and make you feel like if you don’t LOVE your work all the time, if you don’t LOVE every moment, you’re somehow failing this goal. But work is work. That’s why you get paid to do it. It’s okay to have bad days.

5. Network up and down. Many people get turned off by the term “networking” (read: a bunch of suited-up people at happy hour) but I just think of it as a fancy word for making friends in your industry. When you email someone about a project, ask about their dog. Tell them about your vacation. Send a card when they have a baby. Be real with them. Help people. Stay in touch. Tell friends about job openings. Meet for breakfast, or send a short note saying you loved their recent article or project.

6. Be solution oriented. Never say “that wouldn’t work” without having a solution or alternate idea to follow up with. Things often fall through, so always have back-ups, alternates, a plan B, and get the job done.

7. Be gracious and positive. Be very appreciative when people help you. Write glowing thank you notes. Be excited about your work. Say things like, “Absolutely,” “My pleasure,” “Thrilled to be working with you,” “Can’t wait to get started.” Generally, be a pleasure to be around. THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS BEING A DOORMAT; you’ll still ask for what you want, but you’ll ask nicely. You’ll stand up for yourself, you’ll get promotions, you’ll be a leader—but you’ll be warm and gracious and polite and supportive of your team. Many decisions people make are subjective; it’s helpful for you if they like you and want to help you. “The person who gets the gig is the person who knows how to hang. Nobody hires you because you’re the best musician.” —Larry Legend.

8. Take your vacation. My friend Jason told me this early on in my career. Vacation days are part of your salary. Don’t feel guilty, you’ve earned them—go have fun! Have a life outside work; this might sound obvious, but now and again you might find yourself sucked into work so much that you feel like it’s all you do; so shake it up and host a big dinner party; start a movie club; buy a skateboard; learn to knit; plan a road trip. Studies show that four in 10 American workers allow some of their paid vacation days to go unused and expire. Here’s a great quote from entrepreneur Seth Bannon:

Professional runners take long breaks between marathons. They make no excuses for this, and no one judges them for it, because everyone knows that rest and recuperation is an essential part of being a pro athlete. The same is true for entrepreneurs (and everyone, really). Preventing burnout is part of your job. Staying well rested is part of your job. Sleep and exercise help, but occasional extended breaks are essential too, and their benefits on creativity, productivity, and happiness are well documented. It’s time we stopped making excuses for rest and relaxation. Doing so is not only bad for you, but sends the wrong message to the rest of your team. So next time you’re planning a vacation, announce it with pride.

9. Get good at making decisions. The higher you get up in your career, the more decisions you have to make. If you’re the boss, you make a LOT of decisions all day long—for yourself and other people. Get good at it. Try not to obsess or overanalyze. Make decisions confidently. When I was promoted at my old company, my role turned from writer/editor to full-time decision maker. It was exhausting, but you just have to power through. (Although I have to say, at the end of the day, I was like, I cannot choose what I’m having for dinner, I’m spent!)

Says Vogue editor in chief and Condé Nast artistic director Anna Wintour:

“I think possibly what people working for one hate the most is indecision…Even if I’m completely unsure, I’ll pretend I know exactly what I’m talking about and make a decision.”

Writes New York Magazine about actress, writer and producer Mindy Kaling:

Since the start of Mindy’s production, Kaling’s job as a showrunner has turned into that of “a professional question answerer,” she says.

Writes Vanity Fair about President Obama:

At play, the president wears red-white-and-blue Under Armor high-tops, but at work it’s strictly blue or gray suits. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make,” he tells Lewis. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”

10. Ask for raises!!!!! Ask for a raise. Every year. Make a list of your accomplishments over the past year. Phrase it by saying you’ve “earned” a raise (not that you “deserve” one). I’ve read studies that women don’t ask for raises nearly as much as men, because they worry that they’ll upset their bosses; don’t! Just ask! You’re a great employee and you’re making money for your boss and will continue to grow the company! Most companies work raises into the budget. They will not be surprised or put off. They will see how valuable you are. Even if your boss doesn’t end up giving you the raise, she will respect you for asking. My friend, who works in human resources, says she always wants to tell people to ask for raises—half the time, they’re already approved! If the company’s budget is tight, consider asking for vacation days in lieu of money. And don’t just ask for raises, ask for everything: promotions, bigger assignments, more responsibility. If you’re enthusiastic and hard working, you will be amazed by how often you hear “yes.” (As Don Draper said, “I don’t believe in fate. You make your own opportunities.”)

BONUS: Work very, very hard. And know that every successful person has also worked incredibly hard to get there. If it feels like everyone else got it easily or had it handed to them, it’s simply not true. Even “dream jobs,” like a food critic or a travel writer, are actually really hard jobs. After all, the hardest thing in the world is to make something look easy. Good luck!!!

What have you learned in your career? Do you agree or disagree with any of these? What would you tell your 21-year-old self? I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear…

P.S. Blogging as a career, and 15 career tips from smart women.

(Photo taken in our office by the lovely Caroline Donofrio)

  1. Annie says...

    I think this is the best round up of career advice I’ve ever read – I still regularly refer to it. I’ve particularly tried to implement: be solution oriented, work very very hard, and ask for raises. I find that when I am both hardworking and gracious at work that it’s a powerful combination. I am so grateful for advice from other career woman, thank you!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so glad to hear that, annie! that makes me really happy, thank you.

    • I return to this post when I am going through a transition or thinking about one, too. Agreed with the hardworking and gracious combo. Seeking that in my #workstyle.

  2. As a very green 25 year old first year teacher, an older teammate of mine–a brooding older social studies teacher with a deep voice and seemingly 10 feet tall–said this to me “Always remember, it is NOT your job to police your peers.”

    Words I’ve always lived by.

  3. B Nest says...

    I love this advice and it is so similar to what I find in my own career. When mentoring young women I always stress working hard and being nice. These things are so fundamental…but so often overlooked

  4. I’m a 21 yr old recent college graduate and I am feeling a bit lost career-wise these days, but this advice was just what I needed. You always have the answers to all my life crises, Joanna!! Thank you :)

  5. Excellent tips! We women need to say what we want rather than hoping someone will notice our good work. Each generation gets better at this and this post helps!


  6. Thanks this was great, I especially loved the tip on networking- I have no idea, & others always make it look easy or too schmoozey. Also I especially liked asking for extra leave in lieu of pay raise!

  7. Courtney says...

    I can’t believe I’m just reading this now! I’m currently in my mid-twenties and I find your list so incredibly helpful and inspiring. I, too, believe that sometimes if you don’t ask or at least put something out there, it’s not going to happen. That Don Draper quote it totally my motto too :] Thanks for a great post!

  8. Leah says...

    I’m returning to this post after reading your recent post about inspirational career books. I think #4 on this list is especially easy to forget when you’re early on in your career. I have a job that sounds glamorous and when I tell people what I do, they tell me how interesting my job must be. The truth is, 90% of the time, it’s still a mundane office job. Work is work, even if some jobs have sparks of intrigue.

  9. Jenny says...

    I know this is an older post, but I love the green bag in your photo. Can you share where you purchased it?

  10. Thanks for the tips :) I am such a romantic and often feel like I’m missing out on “chasing my dreams” by picking a career that I like, but don’t necessarily love. It’s reassuring to see how much one’s career path can evolve over time and to be reminded that work is work, after all, and I don’t need to love every minute of it.

  11. I love this, especially #7 about being gracious. Seriously, manners go a long, LONG way and a kind comment about “Love your shop” or “I’d be thrilled to work together” automatically makes me feel like a rock star. It’s like in middle school when someone compliments your hair. Kindness goes so far, as does keeping promises. Right now, I’m struggling to get work out of someone I paid who isn’t keeping his promise, and I’m super angry and frustrated. It stinks when hard-workers get tangled with lazy workers. I’m ranting–anyway, thanks for this boost. :)

  12. Thanks for this post, especially Nos. 4 and 5. I loathe the terms “passion” and “networking” for the exact reasons you mentioned but your ideas about what those words mean (or should mean) really resonate with me. I really enjoy your blog as a whole and appreciate your work.

  13. I love your thoughts and knowledge about this! I’m just soaking it up and smile:)! Love K!

  14. thanks for this.. it was another great read. If I could tell my 20 year old something I would tell herself to have more confidence in her work, it’s not just good enough, it’s better than good enough and told let negative people take you down.

  15. I am getting ready to graduate from law school in the spring and start my career so this advice is extremely useful to me! I particularly liked #4 because I’ve spent a lot of time wondering whether a legal career will be something I love, day in and day out (and I admit, I am a victim of the Pinterest inspiration quotes).

    Thanks for sharing your insight! Will be saving this to reread later.

  16. This is one of my favorite posts here ever. Thank you for sharing! Even as a person who is self employed, with no real boss it all felt relevant – (even asking for a raise!). Loving your field, working hard so hard, being gracious and appreciative – those parts are easy. The hard parts are vacation and raises and the things that really reward you for how hard you work. I loved reading what you wrote. Funny how much an affirmation by another can help bolster you and brings things into clearer perspective.

  17. This is excellent advice, I’ve thought of these points myself but wouldn’t have articulated them as well as you have.

    I especially appreciate that they weren’t specific to the publishing world, but were instead universal no matter what the career path.

  18. Perfect timing! I’m about to ask for a promotion, raise and department help. I was thinking in terms of I deserve but I’ll switch it to I earned it. Thanks!

  19. Good to here these tips once in a while, it’s so easy to fall down into negative thinking about your career! Thanks for those quotes and thanks for posting things like this!

  20. I’m just now reading this. Thank you, Joanna! I love these pieces of advice. I have always admired your ability to be real and relatable. As for a few items on your list, I asked for that raise this year (and got it!), and I’m working on taking those vacation days. It’s a lot easier now that I have a long-distance boyfriend; we’re always sneaking away and meeting somewhere. It’s incredibly romantic and sexy and fun. Thanks again! xo

  21. This post is somewhat reassuring to my 22-year-old self :) I don’t have it all figured out yet in the least bit but I have a general idea on the direction I want to go in. I appreciate your honesty! As a future teacher, I don’t think I’ll have too much say in asking for a raise, but I wish I could! Maybe if I get into another facet of education. Thank you!

  22. I really loved #4. Helped me put things in to perspective a bit- I’m 22 and adore your career path (minus Law School, you little genius you! Ha!) so I’m always excited to hear what you have to say.

    xo! Dakota Barber

  23. Love this post! #4 especially resonates with me and I think it’s something that is so important in any field, whether you’re working for a huge company, running your own or freelancing. As to #9, I’ve learned that decision making (and pretty much any mental skill, like will power) is very much like a muscle – the more you train it, the better you get at it, but on the other hand there is a limit of how much you can push it. So I absolutely know the feeling you can’t decide what to have for dinner! )

  24. I love this so much! It took until my 30’s for me to grow a pair, as they say. I asked for a raise, nay, a salary increase last year. I didn’t get it at first, but boom! They approved it months later when I thought they’d forgotten about it! It was an awesome feeling. :)

  25. After reading this, I felt a small weight lifted off my chest. I’m currently searching for internships/jobs and I’ve been really anxious about it lately. This post was so reassuring and comforting, not to mention inspiring! Thank you so much!

  26. I’m about to be 21 and that’s why I cannot answer the question you asked in the end. But your post is definitely filled with real-life experiences which would help me make my life better.
    Thanks for sharing :)

  27. I love this post. I am turning 25 in a week, in my 2nd year of marriage, 2nd year of teaching, have a weight loss coffee business, foster dogs and cats, and write my own blog. I love that you talk about the positives of working hard to get what you want. I love to focus on the positive happy moments in life.

  28. This is great advice! Very honest and practical. Love it. Especially the part about the “need to love your job”. Can’t remember that I read anywhere else that it is ok if you have days when you just think work sucks and there is no purpose or meaning. Also: love the colour article! Also: love your blog and your work! Keep going!

  29. Right on the money! Work, work, work and be nice. Neither will go unnoticed.

  30. I just forgot to add that I also loved the photo.

  31. this is such an honest post, beautifuly written and so inspired. A BIG THANK YOU !!!!

  32. Great and real advice. The advice I would give my younger self is to remember that what you, at 21, think your career should and will be is most likely not what it will be. And that is okay. Careers evolve just like people do.

  33. Great article…also GREAT BAG!! Do you mind sharing where it’s from??!!

  34. Something I’ve learned: body language says a lot. Look people in the eye, especially if you’re meeting them for the first time or listening to anyone speak. Stand up straight and pull your shoulders back, especially if you’re feeling unsure about yourself (my mantra when I’m feeling small: “Shoulders back and lead with your chest, like Ironman”). Find something to do with your hands when it is important that you hold still, then practice holding still and doing that thing with your hands.

    LOVED reading this article, Joanna. You do work hard, and that’s why this blog seems so effortless. You deserve all the good things coming your way.

  35. Bookmarking this and reading it every time I have a silly anxious moment in the coming months. As a 21 year old less than a year away from graduating (with a confused head regarding what the heck I’m doing), some reassurance is helpful. The gift of a top university and the ability to balance a million things now doesn’t mean the rest is a piece of cake. Thanks so much, Joanna!

  36. Fantastic post – I agree with all of it. I’m 29, and a lawyer. I hated my first job but stayed for 3 years and learned a ton. Now I’ve found a fabulous new place to work. In the process, I think I’ve learned three things: (1) Hard work pays off; (2) If it doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t; (3) Be YOU at work. Professional you, of course… but YOU.

  37. Joanna, A friend shared this on her Facebook page and I have now shared it with nearly everyone I know! I am, like you, a hard-working, high-achiever. I am a school Principal, adjunct university Professor, and doctoral student. This list speaks to the lessons I’ve learned throughout the years to an uncanny degree! #9 is particularly inspiring. I can’t tell you how many evenings my husband (who is also a school administrator) and I look at each other and say, “I can’t decide- you decide. What are we having for dinner?” Now, I know why!

  38. Love this! Being a 20 year old about to graduate from university next year, I really need this sort of assurance and advice- will be bookmarking this to read whenever I feel like I’m stuck in a rut!

  39. I appreciate tip #6. It’s most frustrating to be presenting ideas and have a person repeatedly say ‘that won’t work’ to every suggestion.

    Also, thanks for your link to the piece on people who wear only one color. So intriguing to read the reasons behind each person’s decisions!

  40. Love your blend of experience, chutzpah, and Mad Men!
    Jerri Lynn Hogg

  41. I needed this right now! I’m 35 and looking to relocate for my job which is proving harder than I thought it would be. This reminded me that these things take time – and that’s not only okay, it’s actually normal! Thanks so much!

  42. I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now. As an engineering student about to enter the “real world”, your blog has always been a wonderful escape from studying. This week, it’s been a wonderful reassurance that I’m going in the right direction. I’ve always admired your blogging skills – I wrote one blog post a few years ago and promptly decided that blogging was way too complicated. Anyway, thanks for this. So much of this advice isn’t something you normally see in advice articles or lists. Especially the ones about not loving your first job, but instead living your industry – that hits home!

  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. Such wisdom, Joanna. I especially love # 3 and #4. I don’t think I realized these things in my early 20’s, while I was at home raising my children and running a day care while my husband was working long hours outside of the home (in multiple jobs) just to make ends meet. I always wished the perfect situation would just fall into our laps as we scrapped by financially. Now, I home school our 5 children and my husband works from home doing a job he finds very rewarding and fulfilling. Our lifestyle is not for everyone, and just like anyone else, we often get stressed out, but we are extremely happy to be where we are. I just wish I had realized 15 years ago just how much hard work and sacrifice goes into creating a life that is fulfilling. I wouldn’t trade that lesson and experience for anything and I always encourage other families who are just starting out to hang in there and work hard. It seems that lots of people start their adult lives thinking they should have the perfect career, home, etc…right from the very beginning. But truly, it is so character building to have to work hard, plus it makes you appreciate what you have so much more once you finally get it!

  45. Joanna, I am really grateful for this week’s “Career” Series. I’ve been reading your blog for years and I don’t think you ever done a series about like this before. I am at sort of cross roads of figuring out my career path at the moment, struggling and wondering if I can or want to make it as a writer. Your positive spirit, relaxed approach and sheer grit have inspired me to keep my dream alive. Thank you so much!

  46. These are great! Thanks for always sharing honestly, Joanna! It’s so refreshing.
    A few thoughts on # 3: “You’re not really supposed to like your job at the beginning; you’re supposed to like your industry.” Very true! And I would add: If you end up not liking your industry, don’t be reluctant to make changes. Trust your gut. People change. They learn new things about themselves. Maybe the industry that you started out in at the (very young!) age of 21/22 isn’t the industry you see yourself in at the age of 28 or 35 or 50. People reinvent themselves all the time, and although it can be scary, intimidating and lonely, people have done it and done it successfully. You can, too!
    The City and Us

  47. Joanna, every single word of this is so encouraging. I’m almost 26 and am really feeling a pull to start my own business. I have really high expectations of myself (and honestly, probably put a ridiculous amount of undue pressure on myself), so I really need to remember that everything take forever, it’s going to be A LOT of work (and FEEL like work still) and that I need to get better at networking, big time. Whew. No big deal, right?

    I just went back through your work-life balance posts and read how you slowly made your transition to doing your own thing full-time. I just need to ease up on myself and start taking some baby steps! Thanks for always writing such great content. I’ve been a reader for years and always love what you bring to the table. Keep it up :)

  48. love this post. quality advice. great for YPs

  49. Awesome post! Love all of your advice!!

  50. I really appreciated this article. It’s so reassuring to hear that your career path can be a byzantine mess and it’s okay. And I’m also a tutor– it can suck when people see it as a “you have no idea what you’re doing with your life, do you?” kind of transition job– which it is, but that doesn’t mean you don’t learn a TON about yourself. I’d love to see more, like “in defense of shitty first jobs” to really focus on what you most got out of your LSAT job and the balls it takes to make the leap out of your current field into a new one. I think a detailed personal story would really attract a lot of your early-20’s readers who need career help, like me! Plus, your personal story posts are always wildly popular. I’m a little disappointed that career week consisted of one riddle, a collection of quotes, and a post of your advice. While fun and helpful, I was expecting a lot more content when there’s a title like “career week” (although I suppose that wasn’t introduced until Tuesday, which does limit things). I’ve been a reader since the pre-Toby days and would love to have more reasons to read. Thanks!

  51. this was great and refreshing! also, just something I learned…Know when ‘enough is enough’ so to speak. If your job is truly making you miserable then find something else. There is no need to torture yourself to make things work if they, well, aren’t working as you would have expected. It’s OK to change a path and find a different direction.

  52. Really great advice, particularly about work being work. I love the work I do but that still makes it work. It doesn’t mean I don’t dread going to the office some days or that I love each and every minute. It’s so unrealistic to think that would be the case. And most of all, it’s still really hard.

  53. Long time reader, first time commenter. Love this post – really useful advice!

  54. I keep coming back to this post over and over, many times a day. It helps me quite that self-deprecating voice that whispers I’ll never get there.

  55. Joanna – Great advice. When I speak to high school/college students about my career I always tell them I like what I do but I am not passionate about it and that is okay. I think it is a relief for many of them.

  56. I am 60 years old, and I put in my time for decades. Number 4 on your list cannot be said enough. Work is work and no one should expect to love every minute of it. My father always said, if you don’t like what you are doing and you don’t want to do what your boss has asked you to do, then go get a different job, because you are being paid to do what the boss asks you to do. It’s called WORK. Great post today, Joanna!

  57. Totally agree, well said.

    But… I’m wondering what the rest of the sign on your wall read … Yay Interns? Yay Interesting? Yay Yay Internet? Ahh I need to know.

  58. Thank you so much for posting this. I’m graduating next Spring with my bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship, and it is so comforting to know that everyone is going through the struggle. Some people make it look so easy! But it’s good to hear (and hear again, and again) that hard work does pay off in the end, and I don’t have to be in love with every job.

  59. I really needed this article. Thank you for the post. I have been struggling in a large corporation, trying to find my place. I forgot that most of the promotions in my career came from simply being a caring, positive, encouraging co-worker. I need to really focus on being a happy coworker again.

  60. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this! I am in my early twenties and definitely at a point where I have no idea how my life will play out. This is really encouraging to read and be reminded that its okay if things don’t happen over night. I also really liked your advice about becoming good at decision making. Since things are so up in the air its easy for me to over analyze if I’m making the right decisions or not, nice reminder that I need to just be confident!
    Have a lovely day!


  61. Wonderful post and so true, all of it. I just read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, and he made a great point about networking, your #5, and that is:

    ‘just try to build the number and depth of your relationships where friendship is its own reward. The more diverse the relationships, the more likely you’ll derive both personal and business benefits from your relationship down the road. You won’t know what those benefits will be but if you are genuine, they will magically appear 2-3 years down the road.’

    I have found this to be completely and totally true! Everyone you meet goes off to do other things and all of a sudden you have this amazing network all over the city and up and down through companies. It’s pretty awesome.

  62. Your post is the best advice I’ve read about the career subject. The depth you go into is perfect. I think had I read your advice thirty years ago, then I’d be quite successful today. Actually, I can use the advice today. :)
    You change lives with your words. Thank you

  63. I’m excited to read the rest of your posts in this series! I hope my second job (my blog) will turn into a full time job someday. Thanks for being honest about how long it took you to get there!


  64. Thank you so much for this post. I love it! #4 is so true – those Pinterest inspirational quotes always somewhat bothered me and I believe they can lead to a dangerous mindset. Nowadays, so many people job-hop after such short periods because they don’t have that feeling of instant gratification in their career, so they’re discontent and feel like they’re settling. If more people had the “learn to love what you do” mentality rather than the “do what you love”, they’ll be surprised at the passion that can grow from that. Obviously it depends on the situation, but learning to be happy and content where you are can make a world’s difference! I adore all your posts and love the topics you focus on. I’ll definitely be bookmarking this one ;)

  65. Thank you so much for writing about this! When I am a little down at work I obsessively read career advice (mostly for women, mostly for women starting out in their careers). At 25, I have a lot of friends at different places in their life. Jobs, school, living abroad. Personally, I find it hard to stay in one place for longer than 9 months and am working on building happiness wherever I am. #1 and #3 really resonated with me!!

  66. Joanna! The first thing I thought when I saw this photo was how much you look like your beautiful mom (whom I’ve just seen on Cup of Jo over the last few years)!

    #1 and #3 feel spot-on for me, particularly as they relate to each other (i.e. it will take longer than you think to find a job you really love). Thanks for sharing.

  67. In my early 20s, I was struggling to obtain a job as a fashion designer at the peak of the recession in NYC. I thought of myself as the hero in the classic young-girl-moves-to-NYC-and-“makes it” story. Despite all my hard work, I was constantly overlooked or disregarded because I just couldn’t fit in or understand my colleagues. It’s not like Devil Wears Prada – you can’t just put on the right clothes and be transformed! It took me a long time to realize that career success isn’t just about working hard and doing your job well. It’s also about interpersonal connections. And it’s okay to abandon the NYC storyline. I moved, I found a new career, and I have been much more successful having made those choices.

  68. I love the idea of this series. After 20 plus years in one career, I’m trying something new and I’m terrified! It’s really comforting to know that there are people here for me as I navigate this new world.


  69. Hi! Just wanted to say that I’m 37, have been around the block a few times career-wise, generally considered pretty good at what I do, and I still learned a lot from this post. Thank you for sharing – I will read this again over time and continue to learn from it!

  70. What a FANTASTIC post! I’m so guilty of not asking for raises.

    And funny you mention travel writer being a dream job. I have a friend who is a travel writer and although she loves it and it is most definitely her dream job, it is exhausting and draining and often times incredibly lonely. She’ll spend a week on a luxury trip through China and Mongolia but text me that she can’t wait to come home and have wine and pizza on her couch. At the end of the day, a job is still a job. It’s not a life.

  71. I have been working in the same company for 10 years… i like my job, but i do not love it, it is not my passion. I work hard when i am in the office for 6 hours, then it is time for my two kids… by now i do not have time for me ( i hope have some of it in a closed future!) I need to balance my profesional-personal life. Family, hobbies, friends… and job. Everything have its place and i need them all.

  72. THANK YOU.