The beauty of a side project is that you don't need anyone's permission to get started. And while your company might not be able to afford to put you in a role in which you'll be mostly learning instead of producing, side projects let you stretch yourself in any direction that interests you.
Being an avid reader benefits you professionally. First, reading stimulates your mind and makes you a better thinker, as incredibly obvious studies such as this one have shown. Less obvious but arguably just as valuable is how books serve as a bridge to connecting with people. Engaging someone about a book that they loved is a great way to build rapport quickly. But how do you find time as a busy professional to read all of the great things that are out there?
Once you become a manager, you are always accountable in two directions: upward to your bosses for your team’s output, and downward to your direct reports who require feedback and coaching. If you have an office with a door, it can be tempting to keep it closed all day just so you can get some work done before six o’clock in the evening. But that’s not the job.
Success can become the enemy in your career if chasing promotions crowds out your other career goals. The prospect of recognition and promotions may motivate you to work hard and develop skills, but it can also distort your vision. This is especially true if you are wired to crave tangible progress and constantly need to feel like you’re “winning” at your job.
Something about the networking event image causes many young professionals to confuse networking with just plain old conversation. When you meet anyone whom you think will somehow be a valuable person to know down the road, don’t settle for small talk. Try to instead approach meeting someone as an opportunity to find a way to help them with something...
A real mentor is invested in your professional development because they genuinely care, not because they are assigned to you. Mentors tend to see bits of themselves in the junior colleagues in whom they take an interest. How can someone be assigned to believe in your potential? Remember that an arranged marriage only guarantees the arrangement - not the attraction.