I couldn’t wait for success … so I went ahead without it.

–    Jonathan Winters

It is true that no career or job is ever absolutely perfect (at least not forever), but when your job is largely fruitful, positive, thriving, productive, flourishing, effective, real and authentic, or a good combination of these, and you recognise why, then your career is definitely on the right track.

If you are paying attention to looking after your career you will likely find yourself:

  • Being tuned in to your values, what you want to contribute and how well these are being met in your current job
  • Having a good appreciation of your skills and experience and their marketability
  • Actively and strategically connecting to opportunities in your current workplace as well as the broader job market
  • With a good measure of confidence, focus and energy to make proactive decisions about your career

In my book – The Essential Career Guide – I write about what I believe are Three Essentials for having a successful career. While there is no silver bullet to achieving what you want for your career, paying attention to each of these three things you will most certainly help.

Essential #1: Recognise your unique value

To achieve career success you need to understand and appreciate the interests, skills, experience and reputation that set you apart from others. Knowing who you are, what motivates you and what you have to offer, enables you to make good decisions about what you want and position yourself more confidently in the job market.

Essential #2: Connect to opportunities

Knowing who you are and what you have to offer (your unique value) makes it much easier to identify and assess opportunities as they come along, to make sense of the labour market and efficiently and effectively search for and find jobs when you want and need to. Connecting to opportunities through social networks, developing and sustaining a good reputation, and nurturing a range of  professional contacts, will support your ability to change and flex your work to the conditions you find yourself in. Combine these with an ability to write excellent job applications and prepare well for job interviews and you will find yourself in good shape to recognise and take advantage of opportunities as they come along.

Essential #3. Plan, decide and act

A career without strategy, future planning and goals, is a bit like a ship without a rudder. You tend to drift around, falling into jobs, without any clear direction or compass to navigate the opportunities out there or to guide the decisions you make about your career. This lack of clarity and ownership of career direction helps to account for why people, even when highly dissatisfied in their careers choose not to change jobs but rather opt to put up with what they have.

Taking some to time to ask the questions that enable you to ‘think big’ and make plans for your career and to set sensible and achievable career goals are the first steps towards feeling clear and motivated to make change. Getting excited about what want to learn next, giving your ideas some oxygen and releasing the brake of whatever may be holding you back all enable you to make decisions and take action to steer and shape your career in the way you want to go. Choosing to do nothing is fraught with risk because in a world where organisations and economies change so rapidly your career will happen with or without your attention. Best you are in the drivers seat, I reckon.

Until next week, go well