The Best Career Advice I Ever Received

No matter where you are in your career, it always helps to have a mentor, boss, or trusted colleague from whom you can learn. And while you've probably heard your share of advice, we Fools believe that there's no such thing as too much guidance. That's why we're here to share the best career advice we've ever been privy to -- and how it has helped us get to where we are today.

Do what you love

Daniel B. Kline: My grandfather built a very successful business that employs hundreds of people to this day. He was not a warm and fuzzy man, but he was supportive in an indirect way. So, instead of hugs or verbal support, I got a lot of critique of my pool and candlepin bowling game.

When I entered the working world, however, my grandfather never expected me to follow in his footsteps. Instead, he was supportive of me as a writer and talked about how he had to pursue the direction he did while I could follow my dreams.

He never directly said "do what you love," but he implied it when talking about things he wished he could pursue. He also showed a willingness to support non-traditional careers as he served as a patron for my uncle, a lifelong artist, and my aunt, who danced before moving into business.

It was never a direct lesson. Instead, by not scolding me or telling me I was making a mistake, I always felt I was being told that following my passion was the way to go. And I'm happier for it today.

My grandfather, meanwhile, is no longer with us -- he's been gone for over 20 years. As a parent myself now, I know that while I hope my son achieves financial success, I'm more hopeful that he finds a job he loves where work never feels like work.

Don't aim for perfection

Selena Maranjian: One of the best bits of career advice I ever received wasn't really career advice. It came from an older relative who was talking about relationships when he said, "Don't look for someone perfect. If you find someone who's 80% perfect, that's good!" That kind of thinking can serve you well in your career, too.

For starters, don't knock yourself out looking for the perfect job as that can be very hard or impossible to do. If you find a job in a field of interest with good pay, chances for advancement, and friendly coworkers, that might be good enough -- even if it offers a long commute or so-so benefits. Likewise, a job near your home with great benefits and satisfactory compensation might be good enough, too.

Sometimes, we balk at applying for jobs that look great to us because we don't feel perfect enough for them. Tone down that tendency, if you have it. You don't have to be a perfect fit for a job, and most applicants probably won't be perfect, either. If you're missing certain experience or a particular skill, you might still make up for that in other ways.

Few jobs are perfect, and many people in various jobs aren't perfect for their positions, either. No matter what you do, just keep learning (such as by asking questions and reading) as it can make you better at your job -- and better suited for other, more lucrative or satisfying jobs, too.

Follow your dreams

Maurie Backman: My first job out of college was great on paper. I had an impressive title, a terrific salary, and plenty of opportunity to network because of it.

The problem? I wasn't happy. I worked at a financial company, and the atmosphere was downright toxic. Fist fights broke out regularly (thankfully, I never took part in one), and vulgarities were thrown around so frequently that at some point you would've sworn there was a secret cursing contest going on.

After working at that job for several years, I knew I was done. Not only was I tired of the intense, crazy environment, but I really wanted to move out of finance and into something more creative -- namely, writing. I was dating my now-husband at the time, and he encouraged me repeatedly to go after a career I'd be happier in, even if it meant taking a massive pay cut. And that was some pretty bold advice on his part, seeing as how we were living together and sharing the bills.

But I took his advice. I gave up my cushy salary and benefits and instead taught myself to live on less as I worked to build my business. Eventually, I got to a good place, and now, I'm absolutely thrilled to be doing what I do.

Following your dreams isn't always easy. It's often scary, and in my case, it meant spending several years adjusting my lifestyle to account for my much lower earnings. But I had always wanted to be a writer (heck, I even studied it in college), and once I started down that path, I never really looked back.

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