As the senior director of global talent acquisition at LinkedIn, I get to interact with many professionals and students. In my conversations with people–whether they are students or folks just out of school and launching their careers, one of the biggest things I find myself emphasizing is the importance of thinking about the short and long game. With that in mind, I have crafted a list of lessons I’ve learned about forging ahead professionally. These five universal truths are applicable to any profession and have guided me in my own journey.
1. “Should” Has No Place In Your Vocabulary
We all have that one friend who gets the super-impressive job right out of college and seemingly skyrockets to the top of their industry before we’ve managed to get a single promotion. And we’re all tempted to compare ourselves to them, certain that we “should” have achieved the same perceived success.
The thing is, the word “should” is highly subjective. Everyone measures success by different metrics, and you can’t allow yourself to become fixated on what someone else’s path looks like. It’s vital to make the distinction between doing things because you should do them, and allowing others’ success to fuel your ambition.
By all means, craft a plan to be a CEO by 30 if that motivates you. Be deliberate about it, figuring out what that path could look like for you and how you can work toward your goal. But do it because you want to and can, not just because you feel that you “should.”
2. Your Happiness Need Not Depend On Your Job Title
Think about the most genuinely happy person you know. Now think about what this person talks about. Is it mostly what they do, what title they have, and/or what car they drive? I doubt it. I’ve found that the happiest people I know don’t exclusively go on about work-related things.
Sure, many people love what they do, but it’s also important to keep our careers in perspective and balanced within a meaningful personal life. View your life holistically, and remember to be grateful for what you have, inside and outside of the office. It’ll help clear your path to finding true happiness personally and professionally.
3. Earn What You Ask For
Yes, there are certain things in life that we all deserve: Food, water, shelter, civil rights, affordable healthcare, and respect, to name just a few. What we don’t innately deserve is a promotion. That’s something we earn. So rather than going to your boss and declaring, “I deserve X,” think about articulating your case in a way that clearly and concisely demonstrates why you have earned it.
The minute you start trying to explain that, you begin to realize either, ‘Well, damn, maybe I haven’t yet earned this,’ or ‘Yes, the data supporting my case will be compelling to decision makers.’ Be confident in your work, aware of your value, and able to speak to your contributions.
4. Get Beyond The No’s
How you respond to setbacks and obstacles in your career is extraordinarily important. When things don’t go your way, pick yourself up, avoid placing blame, ask for feedback, and remain flexible and open to adjusting along the way. There will be instances when you question whether your career is progressing the way you want it to.
If you find yourself getting passed over for a promotion, for example, you have a choice to make: Shut down, stay quiet, and expect something to magically change, or have an open and thoughtful conversation with your manager and mentors about what might be possible. Time after time, I see better results when I do the latter. Intentionally engage in creating the path that you want to create for yourself.
5. Really And Truly Care
We all know relationships are crucial to professional success. And in order to forge successful and meaningful ones, you have to truly care about those around you. Consider every encounter a real chance to get to know someone.
Think about it in terms of your LinkedIn: Your network is powerful, and not just in those moments when you are looking for a new job or hoping to get a specific piece of information out of someone. Your friends and colleagues– both digitally and in real life–genuinely want to get to know you, your talents, and your ambitions. Use the platform to share who you are, offer tips and tricks you’ve learned, pay it forward, and periodically reach out to those who have inspired or advocated for you.
It’s been my experience that people want to help those who have showed them support along the way, and that can go a very long way.
This article originally appeared on The Well, Jopwell’s digital magazine, and is reprinted with permission. Jopwell is the career advancement platform for black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American students and professionals.