MLT Blog

4 Habits for a More Fulfilling Career

By: Carmen Franco and Michelle Lilley

On a surface level, career success may look like securing a role at a big-name company and climbing the corporate ladder. Yet, these are only markers and milestones in an individual’s journey.

The secret to success is often found in those day-to-day moments–your daily habits and routines. Small, consistent efforts can yield measurable results in the long run. We checked in with two coaches for our Career Prep Program, Coach Carmen Franco and Coach Michelle Lilley, on the most valuable routines you can set to help you lead a fulfilling career as part of a fulfilling life. 

Career Prep Coaches Share 4 Routines for Leading a Fulfilling Life

Coach Carmen on Discipline and Mentorship 

Carmen Franco is a Corporate Management (Sales and Marketing) coach for MLT’s Career Prep Program. She considers herself a student who is committed to developing other students. Here, Coach Carmen shares her reflections on valuable habits that include leaning on yourself, while leaning on others.

Creating a routine rooted in self-discipline helps determine the perception of your personal brand. 

Practice Self-Discipline 

Self-discipline or self-regulation is an extremely important skill set for building better habits. If we define a habit as a routine, it can be positive and lead one closer to one’s goals. It can also be negative and lead to negative behaviors and negative impact upon one’s life.

Reinforcing positive habits can create a virtuous cycle that leads us closer to our goals. By repeating and building upon the behaviors that benefit us, we can in turn, create a positive impact on our lives.

The key is self-regulation. This can include many behaviors: emotional self-regulation (responding instead of reacting); physical self-regulation (sleep, nutrition, exercise, etc.); and thought regulation (limiting negative thoughts and negative self-talk).

James Clear, author of the best-selling book Atomic Habits, says:  “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. Invest in yourself by creating habits that will pay dividends in the future.”

Being self-disciplined can also build a positive reputation. It can lead to being known as someone who keeps their word (trustworthy), meets deadlines (reliable and responsible) and makes positive contributions to their team, organization, and environment (i.e., creating a virtuous cycle and a positive impression).

You create a powerful personal brand when others perceive the impact of your behavior on them at work as positive. This creates more opportunities to contribute, excel and develop both personal and professional fulfillment. 

Lean on a Mentor

An independent, high-performing college student doesn’t become a high-performer in a vacuum. Asking for help and seeking support are positive behaviors and skill sets (i.e., habits). This can create strong personal and professional relationships.

A mentor can be a strong source of support in many ways. Mentors are available in and from all walks of life. They can hail from a spiritual or religious tradition, workplace, academic, or sports environment. They can hail from any other area of significant interest or involvement. A great mentor listens well and provides guidance in a safe, trust-filled, and compassionate environment.

By seeking support, you may also further your connections. A mentor can provide entry to professional and social networks, which can lead to expansive opportunities in the future. A mentor may also challenge you to see obstacles and opportunities from different perspectives. This can expand your ability to be inclusive. It can also expand your knowledge of self and create greater understanding and acceptance of others.

Coach Michelle on Knowledge and Skill-Building

Michelle Lilley is a Software Engineering (SWE) coach for MLT’s Career Prep Program. She is passionate about helping young leaders recognize their full potential and achieve their goals. Coach Michelle reflects on the importance of making knowledge and skill-building a part of your daily routine.

Learning opens up pathways for new discovery. It helps develop expertise, making one a well-rounded individual. 

Hone Your Skills

The definition of honing means to sharpen, refine or perfect something over a period of time. That takes constant and continuous work. When it comes to having a fulfilling career, it is important to do just that with your skills.

Learning is constant, it never stops (or at least it should never stop). When you refine your skills to better equip you for your career or a new opportunity, that knowledge you gain is something you always keep with you. It belongs to you. No one can take it away. Honing your skills allows you to embark on a continuous journey to becoming a subject matter expert in your field. When you continuously learn and enhance your skills, you set yourself up to stand out in your industry and from the competition.

The act of honing skills can look different for different people and various industries. To effectively enhance skills, one may read more books on a particular subject or topic. One may attend seminars, webinars, or workshops taught by an expert. One may take extra courses or get well-known/necessary certifications in the industry.

For example, someone who wants to be an excellent UI/UX designer may:

  • Take a Udemy or Coursera course (e.g., Design Rules: Principles + Practices for Great UI Design, Google UX Design Professional Certificate)
  • Get a certification in UI/UX design
  • Interview or shadow a UI/UX designer to better understand what is required to excel in the role

In addition, an exceptional UI/UX designer will take time with their clients/users to conduct research. This can help one build efficient personas and storyboards that lead to an exceptional user interface and experience.

Read More Books

In my own career, I’ve learned to be a sponge, ready to soak up all the knowledge I’m able to absorb. Everything said by a manager, mentor, or coach has been purposeful and a learning opportunity. I’ve taken it upon myself to research topics I don’t know about to broaden my horizon and expand on my learning.

There are so many researched benefits behind reading and learning every day. Reading allows you to exercise your brain, better communicate, and enhance your focus. Those are only a few benefits.

All knowledge will not and cannot be acquired in school. Life is our true classroom, a classroom not confined to four walls. As individuals, we have a responsibility to be lifelong learners. This helps us improve our knowledge base and skills, make educated decisions, and be effective in problem-solving. Essentially, this leads to becoming more open-minded and being transformed into a thought leader.

As children, we are told that reading is the gateway to the world. A quote by Frederick Douglas is “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” No one can take away the freedom of your mind. The freedom that comes with knowledge will always belong to you. It’s more than just pursuing a fulfilling career, it’s about experiencing a fulfilling life.

College Opens One Door. MLT Opens the Rest.

Learn More about MLT’s Career Prep—the program providing Black, Latinx, and Native American college students with the right tools and resources to graduate with a quality job offer.