Do you ever wonder how you ended up where you are? Have you found yourself down a career path you never expected to take? Do you dream of changing direction but don't know where to start? All too often I meet people who are working in roles they don't enjoy, feel trapped by their circumstances with little hope of a more fulfilling career.
The simple truth, however, is that building a successful career begins with taking ownership. Choosing to step into the driver's seat of your work life and deliberately creating the outcomes you want. How you choose to think, the emotions you choose to feel and ultimately the actions you choose to take in every moment of every day determine the career success you are able to create.
Seven essential steps you can take to build a successful career include:
1. Know yourself. Be aware and honest about what makes you tick
Get to know who you truly are and what success means to you. As ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu points out: "He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened." Know what you love, what you don't and why. Understand what you are capable of as well as the things holding you back from getting to where you want to be.
2. Set clear goals. To arrive you need to know where you are trying to get to
To deliberately take steps to create the career you want, first you need to understand what your preferred reality looks like. It's not enough to say "I want more" -- you need to know exactly what 'more' means to you. To guide your progress, understand also what the flag posts of success look like along the way. As legendary basketball champion Michael Jordan so perfectly put it: "You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them."
3. Believe in yourself. Have faith in your ability to find the way to succeed
The beliefs you hold about yourself, your circumstances, your work, the future and your ability to influence that future unquestionably impact the outcomes you achieve. History has proven time and again the people who succeed are those who believe they can. Among the most successful entrepreneurs of our time, Oprah Winfrey tells us: "You become what you believe." Successful people are unconstrained by the level of their education or the money they have in the bank.
4. Have a healthy ego. Balance confidence with humility
Building a successful career demands that you maintain accurate self-perception; that is balanced insight to your strengths as well as how you can improve or grow. An inflated ego will close your mind, limit your ability to learn and damage your relationships. It isn't difficult to observe the impact humility has had on the respect people typically feel toward tennis star Roger Federer. Observing how Federer engages with the media, his fellow players and supporters is telling of how he has won not only tennis matches but also public confidence and support.
5. Have passion and be optimistic. Invest energy and look for the good
How often have you set out to achieve something in your career but ran out of energy? Start by choosing goals you feel passionate about. Feed your spirit with hope and desire; generate the positive energy or fuel you need to keep going by choosing to see what good will come from the work you do. Albert Einstein once said: "I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
6. Develop your capabilities. Take the steps necessary to learn
Never stop learning; at every step along your career path look for ways to improve your knowledge, skills and experience. Further your ability to apply your talents by working with managers and mentors willing and able to guide you. Richard Branson provides a great example of what is possible when we are willing to learn. As he famously said: "If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes -- then learn how to do it later!"
7. Be committed. Stay the course
Half-hearted effort and occasional focus are unlikely to create anything that looks like success -- unless of course achieving 'beige' outcomes is your career goal. Work with discipline and maintain focus; not only on your end game but also on executing the plan to get you there. Motivational speaker Tony Robbins tells us: "The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment."
Karen Gately is a leadership and people-management specialist and a founder of Ryan Gately. For more information visit www.karengately.com.au or contact firstname.lastname@example.org