Manar Al Hinai on career lessons inspired by a Katy Perry song

A Katy Perry song provides the starting point for reflections on what the writer would tell her younger self if she could. Following your passion figures prominently.

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Awake is a song by the American pop singer Katy Perry in which she says: " I wish I knew then what I know now. Wouldn't dive in, wouldn't bow down … "
If you could go back in time and redo things when it comes to your career or business, what would you differently? Would you major in another field in college? Would you start a different business venture?
I am not someone who contemplates the past a lot, because without taking certain actions back then, I would not be where I am today. Nevertheless, I did give the matter some thought and decided to undergo the exercise.
I reflected back on my career and saw that if certain actions were taken and if I could miraculously speak to my younger self somehow, perhaps my ride would have been somehow smoother.
I would probably tell myself to start a blog a few years back, where I would be a pioneer in the field now. I would also invest in some stocks. Would I change my college major? Not really, but I would advise myself to minor in creative writing or English literature.
But all of that aside, if I really could advise my younger self, then I would tell her important lessons that I now know:
Never be afraid to follow your passion. Embrace your passions and act like yourself. No matter what your passion is, if you follow it and embrace it, success will definitely follow.
My friend is a good example. She always wanted to major in media studies but her traditionally minded parents pushed her to pursuing engineering. She went to her classes and did her assignments, but did not put her soul into it. Two years after graduating, her media studies passion still haunted her to the point where she went back to school to study it. Do not wait until you get to that stage. If you want to start a venture, go ahead. What matters is your belief in yourself.
Learn by trial and error. The road to success is not always a smooth ride. It could be bumpy and tempt you to quit. Take that as an opportunity to learn about your weaknesses and how you can strengthen yourself. The more you experiment, the closer you will be to your desired goal.
Which takes us to owning mistakes at the workplace. When you start working, you make mistakes. Everyone does at the early stage of their career, even your very own chief executive. Think of mistakes as learning experiences and use them as stepping stones to advance your career. Part of making mistakes is feedback from your manager. You must be ready for positive and negative feedback. I made countless mistakes my first year on the job, but accepting them and learning from them helped me rapidly climb the career ladder.
Use your voice. Do not be afraid to ask for help. If you did not understand a work task or jargon at a meeting, do not be shy to ask. If you have an idea for a new product or a way to advance your company, speak up. You never know how far up the career ladder your voice can take you. Your idea or view could be the one your company needs. It could even shift the way of doing things. I owe my career success to voicing my opinions. Had I not done that, I would not be where I am today. If you keep your opinions to yourself, a few months down the line you might see someone else suggesting the same thing you were thinking. Do not allow yourself to live in regrets, as sometimes you only get one shot.
I would probably advise myself on other aspects as well. However, the most important thing I have learnt when it came to my career is to never, ever leave room for regrets, and to be passionate, and the rest will follow.