Work. It’s a word most of us don’t want to hear. Even if you don’t absolutely hate your job, the majority of us didn’t end up with the job we dreamed about as a child. Heck, even if you like your job, there’s a good chance that you’d still rather be doing something else on any given day.
Still, despite our best protestations, most of us still have to go to work. It’s important to make the most of it and take the good times even with the bad. Knowing that there may be no “perfect job,” here are 15 things I would’ve told my childhood self about working in the real world.
1. Put your dreams on hold
Not to be a bummer, and I’m not saying you’ll never get your dream job, but it’s not likely to get there right after college. It’s going to take some hard work and (probably) some horrible jobs and even more horrible bosses, but eventually you’ll find something tolerable.
2. Work Hard, Play Hard, but not TOO hard
It may be a cliché saying, but there’s some truth to it. You deserve to have some fun after a long week of work. But don’t go too crazy, or those Mondays are really going to hurt. Especially in your 30s.
3. The water cooler isn’t there just for gossip
Seriously, stay hydrated. And not with 5 cans of soda a day.
4. Get a Suit that Fits
You might have to tailor it, but it’s going to be worth it when you go for that all-star interview. Plus, you don’t want to look like a schlub at your company holiday party.
5. Get out for lunch
It can be easy to get into the habit of eating at your desk, but not only does that make you susceptible to crumb pileups, it also makes you boring.
6. Learn how to waste time
You’re going to have some non-stop busy days, but there will also be times when it seems like there’s just nothing going on. Save your sanity by finding some entertaining websites and hobbies, just try to be discreet about it.
7. Don’t try to be a big-shot
This is just an annoying habit, and there’s no reason to act like a pompous jerk, even if you’re killing it at work. Pretty soon people will be talking behind your back and you’ll have very few real work friends.
8. Quit at least one job
Okay, this may not be sound financial advice, but it simply isn’t normal for people to work for a company for their entire life anymore. There’s something so satisfying about putting in your two weeks at a company that’s just been sucking the life out of you.
9. Don’t skip the gym!
Whether you’re sitting in an office all day or out doing physical labor, it can be exhausting to think about going to the gym. But trust me, it’ll help prevent you from gaining that “adult weight” we all know and hate.
10. The office isn’t Tinder, or e-Harmony, or a nightclub…
In other words, don’t be a creep. Most people aren’t looking to meet their future spouse while they’re busy filling out spreadsheets.
11. Sanity is worth a pay cut
If you have an offer for a job that you actually want, but it’s for less money, take it!
12. There’s no shame in vacation
You have vacation and sick days for a reason. Use them.
13. Find the little joys throughout the day
You’ll go crazy if you remain serious at all times. Make sure to take time out of the day to laugh.
14. Brew your own coffee
You can save a lot of time and money by skipping the daily Starbucks line.
15. Take smoke breaks, even if you don’t smoke
Hey, if the smokers can burn (heh) an hour a day, why can’t you?