Lessons from a Life at Work

The career advice we’d most like to give our daughters so they don’t make the same mistakes we did.

By Mary Lou Quinlan
Mary Lou Quinlan
Photograph: Photo courtesy of Mary Lou Quinlan

#7. And My Two Cents to Amy, Kelley, and Meghan

If I had it to do all over again, I’d do it all over again — but with less performance anxiety. I’ve learned that trying to get an A at work every day makes for sleepless nights, and you need to be rested to pursue your passion. I’d stop saying I’m sorry all the time to defuse problems. I’d shut down the doubting voice that kept me from speaking my heart. I’d start taking chances sooner and asking for forgiveness later. And I’d enjoy being a woman at work. (I wish I hadn’t worn bow ties, suits, and sensible pumps in my cute 20s.) What else would I say to my nieces?

Take your responsibility seriously, but not yourself. Nurture your friendships. Trust your first impressions. Look in the mirror each night and ask whether you’ve done the best you could. If the answer is no, you’ve got tomorrow to fix it. If it’s yes, try to leave work at the office and rest your beautiful head for a well-deserved night’s sleep, ideally in the arms of someone who loves you just the way you are.

Originally published in MORE magazine, May 2006.

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