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Golden Guide Career Advice: Contribute to the Greater Good

Lydia Lazar

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Golden Tip No. 5: Think Globally, Act Locally

Golden Guide Career Advice is a new series from the AMA in partnership with Lydia Lazar, author of Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People. A new tip in the series will be posted each Tuesday—all tips are available here.

Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

The world needs you to care about social and economic justice, natural resources and climate change, and about creating opportunities for everyone in our communities to live decent lives.

Periodically take the time to reflect and think about your values and aspirations.

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  • Aside from earning your way in the world, what do you hope to accomplish with your life?
  • What are your expectations for social, economic and personal success?
  • Are there particular social or political causes that capture your imagination?
  • When you imagine yourself looking back on your life and career many years from now, what do you hope you will see as your achievements. How do you hope people will describe you and your work?

You may not be able to answer these questions fully, but it is a good idea to entertain them. After all, your life’s work is far more than just what you do for money. It’s also important to keep in mind that, while the world may not care about your career success, you do need to care about the world. We all want and need a world that is politically, economically and socially stable. We need and want a safe and clean environment, and decent communities with good schools. Societies that are more fair, just and caring can’t be attained if people focus only on themselves and their careers.

Building a successful career doesn’t mean you can’t also pursue social justice through engaging in—and supporting—social and political activism in your community. You won’t regret investing your energy, time and talent this way. You will enlarge your social circle while contributing to the greater good.

Even more importantly, you will be living your values. By staying true to those principles, you will enhance your professional reputation over the long term. And the more you align your professional life with your personal values and expectations, the happier and more fulfilled you will be.


Dean Lazar's Golden Guide

For more career tips, read Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People, available on Amazon and at your local bookstore. Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Lydia Lazar is founder and president of LHL Consulting. She is the former associate dean for recruitment and career services at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and previously, dean of international law and policy overseeing international student admissions (LLM) at Chicago-Kent College of Law.