You have an agenda for your career, a projectory to follow. You work hard with your eye on the prize. Perhaps then, like me, you don’t want to be reminded of facts that might get in the way of living your happiest life. Some of those realities are tied to our own self-doubts, while others are maxims about the way the world really works. But what would happen if we opened Pandora’s Box and shed some light on three facts we don’t usually examine too closely? What might we reconsider?
- Life is precious
Despite proof to the contrary, we act like we have all the time in the world, and so we don’t truly consider the cost of the hours we trade — time for rest, family fun and entertainment — for work. According to Expedia’s study of U.S. workers, we only claimed 10 of 14 earned (paid!) vacation days last year. The conclusion? More than 144 million employed Americans “collectively failed to take more than 577, 212,000 available days of vacation” in 2013. Discount travel site Hotwire also surveyed American workers in 2013; its survey participants annually left an average of 12 paid vacation days unused – 30 percent more days lost than were reported in a 2012 survey. Did you leave vacation days on a spreadsheet last year?
- Overnight success is a myth
Author JK Rowling lost an impressive secretarial position because she spent too much time daydreaming, after which she penned her first Harry Potter book. However, again her seemingly spontaneous fame was far from magical – the book was rejected by the first 12 publishing houses to consider it. Likewise, Walt Disney’s newspaper editor fired him for a “lack of imagination”, Michael Jordan was cut from his varsity high school basketball team, and early in his career, “shark” Mark Cuban was given the boot for spending too much time talking to customers at a company where he sold computers. Cuban soon afterwards founded a high-tech company that afforded him the money to buy the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Most success stories share the common theme of a lot of false starts along the way. Have you lost self-confidence after a failure?
- The “10 percent attractiveness advantage” does exist
Taller, more attractive individuals actually do earn 10 percent more money, on average, than their unattractive or shorter counterparts. New 2014 research validated by the American Psychological Association, Smart Money, and Princeton University, reveals that attractive people also continue to get a second interview 10 percent more often than others, and women wearing obvious “glamorous” makeup are still judged to be smarter and more trustworthy than those wearing “natural” makeup or no cosmetics.
Likewise, if two professionals are performing similarly at the same profession and rank, the one with high self-esteem would statistically earn about $79,927 compared to an annual salary of $50,323 paid to a professional with low self-esteem. Do you dress for the job you want? Would that give your self-confidence a boost?
So… what does all this mean? First, let’s claim those vacation days! Happiness is easier to recognize and grasp if we come prepared with a rested mind and the strongest possible support network of family and friends. And let’s stop losing sleep (and confidence) after a false start; a failure may actually provide a learning opportunity or a needed career redirection. And lastly, we can’t all look like a Vogue or GQ model, but we can remember the importance of entering a room with a confident smile on our face, putting our best foot (in higher heels, perhaps?) forward.