Careers

Author behind viral TED Talk on how to avoid the biggest career mistake young people make

For so many people in their 20s, there's no time to wait. Want a date for the weekend? Just open an app and swipe right. Need more groceries? You can have them delivered within a few hours.

But when it comes to your career, you can't use the same approach. If you're unhappy at work, your first instinct to quit may be wrong.

That's according to Simon Sinek, a bestselling author whose TED Talk and other videos on finding your purpose have gone viral.

"I've talked to so many young people in the workplace," Sinek tells CNBC Make It. "And there's a mindset, which makes perfect sense, which is, 'If I'm in a job and I don't like it, and I can't imagine myself doing it, why should I stick around?'"

He says that too many young people feel they have to quit to improve their careers when, in fact, it could be simpler than they realize to find satisfaction.

Simon Sinek, bestselling author, speaker and self-described "unshakable optimist."
Simon Sinek, bestselling author, speaker and self-described "unshakable optimist."

And while changing jobs to figure out your passion, grow your skills or get out of a bad work environment isn't a bad thing, doing so too quickly can prevent you from learning valuable lessons and exploring opportunities to grow at your current company.

"It seems to make perfect sense, which is what I preach, 'Do things you love,'" Sinek says. "But the challenge is we don't always know enough to make those decisions in a month or two or three months and sometimes there's a learning curve."

If you're not sure whether you want to be in your current role or are feeling tempted to quit, Sinek suggests you do these two things:

1. Ask for critical feedback

"Sit down and have regular talks with your boss, who's probably interested in your career if they're a good boss," Sinek says.

In these check-ins, don't just look for positive feedback, look for negative feedback too.

"Get in the habit of asking for criticism," he says. "Negative feedback is actually how we learn."

Ask things like, "What would you like to see more of me doing?" or, "How can I improve?" These questions show your boss that you're interested in growing and are comfortable talking with him or her.

"I think so often, young people go into the workplace with the feeling like they have to have all the answers," Sinek says, "and they have to look like they know everything and look like they have everything under control."

But doing so could communicate to your boss that you're not willing to learn.

"Every criticism you get," he says, "you get better and better and better."

By asking for criticism, you might actually improve your work situation drastically.

2. Be more open about your career goals

In addition, get more comfortable being open and candid with your boss.

"Talk about your fears and your anxieties," he says.

Of course, while you shouldn't necessarily tell your boss you're considering quitting, you can express what you'd love to do more of.

For example, if you feel you're just sitting behind a desk all day, you could say something like, "In addition to coordinating company events, I would love to attend some of the planning meetings to see how the management team prioritizes different marketing efforts. Do you think that would be possible?"

Or you could say, "As you know of course, much of my duties involve work that can be done on a computer. In my spare time, do you think I could help work company events to meet some of our clients? It would be exciting to see the effect our own research efforts."

By being brave enough to ask for criticism as well as new opportunities, you'd be surprised how much more enjoyable your job could become.

"The most important thing is to communicate," Sinek says.

Check out Simon Sinek's exercise to figure out what to do with your life

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