tarting a professional life is an exciting and terrifying stage. You might be thinking of getting your own place if you haven’t already, you are getting familiar with water and electricity bills, you are in the process of meeting new people at work, and you don’t know if you are more happy or scared.

That’s fine! It is a new life, and sometimes new is scary. So here you have five things you must consider for your young professional life.

Strengthen your soft skills.

Soft skills are important for lawyers, artists, architects, politicians, doctors, designers, and literally any other profession.

The soft skills are not technical or related to your area of expertise, but have to do with your work ethic and how you interact with other people. These include: being on time, responding promptly to emails, and phone calls, meeting deadlines, and working professionally with co-workers, clients, and supervisors. Many recruiters pay more attention to the soft skills of a candidate, rather than technical skills. If you think about it, it’s easier to talk to a beginner who knows how to listen and is kind than a smart folk with technical skills who is arrogant and can’t work collaboratively.

You must always work on improving your soft skills and be professional. You never know who is sitting next to you at lunch, at the airport, or school. If you’re one of those people who “don’t know why” but is always late, you need to change that starting today. Being late is a sign of disrespect to others, and if you’re known as the person who is always late, that’s going to hurt your public image, and potentially your professional career.

Always prioritize your health.

You must be healthy to keep working hard and living fully.

It’s very common for the average young person to be extremely busy. Full-time students, and part-time jobs, young adults who take care of their grandparents, extracurricular activities that drain your energy, or school projects that are meant to take only a few hours, but they end up taking all night.

There seems to be no room for a nap or a day off, but your health must always be the number one thing on your planner. Schedule regular check-ups at least once a year, go to the dentist for your clean-up, and if you are in any pain or discomfort, stop everything you are doing and schedule a doctor’s appointment. 

If you don't have a doctor yet, you can always rely on the power of the internet. Search for terms like "dentist near me lake jackson" or "physicians near me". This should give you a list of options that you can reach out to.

Although many jobs don’t seem to be very flexible with you asking for permission to visit the doctor, don’t be shy and request a day off. You are only one more worker for many companies, but there is only one “you.” You are irreplaceable, and no one will take better care of yourself than you do. 

It is way cheaper to prevent diseases than to treat diseases; this applies to issues related to your general health, skin, heart, bones, or any other aspect of your body or yourself.

Exercising will help you stay healthy. Image Courtesy of Jenny Hill.

Be financially smart

Many economic crises are similar to diseases. You can prevent them with adequate measures, which can lower the chances of unfortunate events. After graduation, the first paychecks seem like we can afford a life of extravagant cocktails, new clothes every week, and premium memberships to the best streaming services. Although sometimes that might be the case, many times it is not. It’s imperative to be aware of what you are spending your money on. Write a list of all the expenses you have, and prioritize them. 

When you prioritize your expenses, you have to be objective about the things you can’t truly live without. These are often referred to as essential needs. The essential needs are housing, food, water, and health. If you are having trouble covering any of these, take a look at the list of the government benefits, loans, and grants, and see if you qualify for any of them. If you are economically comfortable paying for these needs, make sure to make the required payments as soon as you have your paycheck. Once you know that you have food, housing, and health, the rest is secondary.

After you get the basic needs covered, you should prioritize the rest of your expenses. It all depends on your lifestyle. Are you paying loans or a mortgage? Do you have an unpaid balance in your credit card? Take this very seriously and make it a priority as well. You don’t want to be on the blacklist of the credit bureaus because you never know when you will need a loan or more credit. Once you cover these expenses, you can plan night outs, shopping days, and subscribing to streaming services. All of this falls into entertainment, and entertainment is not essential; it is additional. The importance of prioritizing your expenses comes when you have to spend less because of an income decrease or other unexpected events. If you have your priorities aligned, it will be easier to cut expenses when you need to.

You must also be aware that saving money is a good habit to have in case of unprecedented events. Don’t ever feel that because you have some cash in your wallet at the end of the month, you should spend it. Instead, open a savings account, and start saving a certain amount with every paycheck. Saving money is more motivating when you have a specific goal, so ask yourself why you want to save money. Do you want a new car? Do you wish to pay off your mortgage? Do you want to go on vacation next year? Keep that goal in your mind and start saving money. You will thank yourself in the future for being so smart and responsible.

Ask for help when you have questions about financial processes, and payments. Image Courtesy of Kelly Sikkema

Make some time to be social

Many people say that being an adult was the dumbest desire we had as kids. The responsibilities, the payments that are due, and the routines that we tend to fall into can be a little bit depressing at some point.

Being social is important both in a personal and a professional way.In your personal life, you must take some time to spend some time with the people you love: family, friends, or your partner. If you are on a budget, you don’t have to go out or order fancy food, stay at home with them, and watch movies all day. You deserve some time with them. Life is not about what you do for a professional career. It is about who you are and who you want to be. 

In your professional life, you must always pay attention to who is around you and what they do. Many people find jobs through their network. Many stories have been told about people knowing people on the bus, in the fast-food restaurant, or your local church. When you introduce yourself to people, don’t hesitate to tell them what you do for a living or what you study. You don’t know if they know someone who is hiring within your field, so keep your eyes open, and don’t underestimate the power of networking.

Don’t let your professional journey pull you apart from your friends or family. Make some time to spend with them. Image Courtesy of Matheus Ferrero.

Be comfortable saying no

Many people of all ages struggle with saying no when someone asks for a favor, and there are many reasons why. We may be scared that other people are not going to like us, or that we are rude. It all depends on the way you say it, and how you treat other people. If a coworker asks you to help them with additional work that you cannot handle, you should tell them that you’re busy and can’t provide help at the moment. It’s not rude; it’s responsible because at the end of the day, you have to get your work done, and after that, you will have time to help others if you want to.

In this process of becoming a professional adult it is important to keep the eyes open and don’t let people take advantage of you. There are bad people out there that want to treat other people as they please. Identify them! Learning how to say no is important in your professional and personal circle. Your time, your knowledge, and your money are all valuable, and you should protect them.

It must be said, though, that many people go to the other extreme and don’t want to help anybody, they tend to exclude themselves from social groups, and they say they are always busy. Don’t be this person. It is your choice to build solid and kind relationships with the people around you, and that will bring many benefits to your life. It’s all about finding a balance between being submissive, and being selfish.

There might be days when you miss your childhood and your previous life without responsibilities, bills to pay, and a formal attitude because you have to “look professional.” As hard as it can get, don’t forget to smile, be grateful for what you have, and enjoy your adulthood, a chapter of your life that will determine who you are and who you want to be. 

Oct 15, 2020