You finish work at 6 pm, and go to bed at 12 midnight.

How do you spend these six hours?

Watching TV?

The importance of the activities you do between 6 am and 12 midnight are beyond your imagination. Too many people believe that your career is determined by the 8 hours of hard work and effort you put in at the office, and your future and career progression depend on the boss and the company.

But the reality is that for most people is that you’re are on your own…

“Cultivation”, it’s forever dependent on you. If you find yourself not progressing in life, you cannot blame and put the responsibility on your company for not grooming you.

1. What you do every night is important

My major in college was marketing, but I expect to become a designer. So I practiced day and night, picking up some freelance work to improve my design skills. It took me a long time. When I became a boss, I no longer need to involve myself in design work, so I went back to the marketing field.

Every day, when my children were sleeping, I began learning to gain more knowledge – this again took me a long time, but I begin to realise my returns. If I had relied on my working hours to gain skills, then I would never have become a creative director and a product manager, or like today, be teaching MBA students on Marketing.

What I relied (and rely) on, is myself giving myself “lessons”.

And the most successful people I know walk the same path as I am.

I have a friend who is a History graduate, but he was interested in technical sales. In the day, he was telemarketing, at night he learned how to code. Finally, he became the vice president of sales in a startup company. Now, he’s a CTO.

I have another friend, he received a degree in political science. But he was very interested in entrepreneurship. He pushed to gain a great deal of knowledge on how to start up a company, and eventually, he founded a company and sold it, and now he has reaped the rewards.

For them, what they do between 6 pm till 12 midnight is what determines their future.

Clearly though, we need to balance life and work. If you have a wife and children, every night, you have to stay with them. Even if you are single, you also need a reasonable allocation of time to go to the gym, to meet with friends, or be alone to meditate and so on. Of course, watching movies and playing games is good.

But there are things you do not need to do.

For example, watching the entire new season of a Netflix drama, or spending 14 hours per week watching television (the average amount of time watching television around the world). The time spent playing the game Candy Crush. Or spending time stalking your high school alumni on Facebook. These are no good.

So what should you do?

2. Read more, anything will do!

My college mentor was born in Alabama, to a poor African family. He was admitted to West Point Military Academy, becoming the first person in the family to go college. Before going to Harvard for his MBA, he had qualified as a trained officer. When I met him, he had already developed his career in the city of Colorado Springs.

I asked him, what his biggest success was?

He responded by saying that he had kept the habit of reading, and he never stopped. He believes that if you want to get what you want in life, knowledge is the key. He often asks his interviewees what book are they reading now, the excellent ones can give an answer immediately.

Reading can give you a good head-start, this is often what your peers cannot obtain. Compared to others, readers are more likely to know other industries strategies and tactics. They transfer this knowledge within the organization, and create new possibilities for their company.

Moreover, their conversation topics become more interesting.

Anthony Robbins said: “If you spend one hour a day to learn about a topic, a year later, in this regard, the knowledge you gain will be more than 99.999% of the world’s people.”

Even if you have 30 minutes every night, each week you can easily read a book. You may not be an expert, but I promise, you’ll know more than what your peers know.

3. Do some projects

You can apply the knowledge learnt from your reading to real work scenarios. If your company does not give you this opportunity, create opportunities for yourself.

You can do volunteer projects. Working with a team, you’ll understand how things work in the practical application of the industry, and how it ultimately affects actual customers. You’ll learn how to perform the task and meet deadlines, and get feedback on what you are doing, and benefit from it.

These experiences are far more valuable than the miserable pay you may be getting.

(But do not let these private jobs affect your work.)

4. Actively build your connections

In your career, a strong network of connections will make everything accelerate.

If you have not set up your own personal connections, you’ll need to divide a portion of your time to do this.

A strong network of relationships, can enable you to:

  • contact smart friends, and learn their opinions
  • get information and knowledge that is often difficult to obtain
  • help the company look for more potential partners
  • or develop income generating opportunities

Go get to know your work colleagues or boss!!

If you are an entrepreneur, your network connections will be your early customers and your staff are a source of capital. Rather than go home or going to a bar, you should find some inner circles. There are many small groups which are highly relevant to your career. You should try to integrate into these circles. Every week, you can drink coffee together with these new friends or share a breakfast.

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You can also look into everyone’s career developments on LinkedIn, and establish a network with mentors in those professional industries. They may be your next job employer, who knows?

Your connections will be your most powerful asset in the workplace.

Since you have time to watch “The Voice of China”, you have time to build a social network.

5. The CHANGE of your LIFE starts TONIGHT

6 pm to 12 am, you go home, though physically and mentally tired, you are free to do anything and do not have to take orders from others. During this time, you can switch off like switching off your computer at your workplace, switch off your brain or you can also do something that makes you smarter, stronger, and having a wider network of people.

Starting tonight, take an hour a day to do these things, and I guarantee that after a year, your career, and life will have changed dramatically.

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