The single most important thing singles can do for their careers?
Be entrepreneurial with your time.
Time is a commodity unique to non-parent singles in the working world. It should be thought of as an asset and invested like capital. You may think you are busy now, but just wait until you are carting soccer teams around and changing diapers – then you’ll realize how much time you didn’t take advantage of when you were single!
Being entrepreneurial with your time could mean furthering your education. Finishing a degree, pursuing a certification, or going to graduate school are the options that come to mind. We all know that these things will be more difficult when kids are spilling food over your homework, but going to school isn’t the only way in which you can use your time to further your education.
Read the big books. Read the books you have never read but have wanted to read. Books on business and management will help you be a better employee and could lead to a raise or a promotion. Books on history and current events will make you more astute and give you a better understanding of society. Reading the rich works of literature, the most mysterious thrillers, and the soul-stirring fantasies will make you a more interesting and well-rounded person. Read anything, everything. No one has ever regretted being well read.
Being entrepreneurial with your time could mean taking risks. While risk-taking is part of the fiber of the American spirit, it is harder to take risks when a spouse and children are depending upon you. Taking risks doesn’t mean go skydiving and gamble your money away in Las Vegas. It means to take risks on your dreams – to just do whatever it takes.
This advice comes from personal experience. A couple weeks after I graduated from college, I bought a one-way plane ticket to Washington, DC. I had no job, few friends, and only a place to stay for a few months. But I knew that I had to do it then, partly because I was young and unattached, but also because there is something about risking everything that builds character. I am a better person, with more flavorful experiences, and more deeply-held convictions than I would have otherwise been if I didn’t take that risk.
Your career will benefit from taking the risk instead of the safe route. Employers want to see a track record of taking initiative, because they understand that the character traits unique to risk-takers will benefit their business. No employer is going to want to hire someone who takes pride in his or her boring, safeness. Well, unless you are an accountant.
There are any number of things that being entrepreneurial could mean depending upon your unique situation, abilities, and dreams. The point is not to let the time pass without making the effort.
Write the narrative of your single years with intentionality and entrepreneurship. Every action, if taken with intention, will be a learning experience. The combination of these experiences will make you a better person, a better employee, and eventually a better partner and parent.
*Photo credit: snre