What does it mean to have a successful career? Well, let’s start with these definitions:
Successful (adj.) fruitful, positive, thriving, productive, flourishing, effective, real, authentic
Career (n.) vocation, job, profession, calling, business, livelihood
You’ll see that ‘career’ can take on a different meaning depending on how you think about it. Your career could be your business or profession. It could also be something that you definitely consider a calling – a path that you are really meant to be on. Or you may prefer to think about your career as the way you earn your livelihood and your current job, or a combination of all of these!
Whatever you choose to call your career, to what extent on a scale of 1 to 10, would you say that it is successful – thriving, aligned to your values, fruitful, interesting and utilising your skills.
Managing your career successfully is about taking charge of what direction you are heading in by:
- being tuned in to who you are and what you want for yourself and others around you
- knowing what you have to offer
- keeping informed about opportunities
- having the confidence, focus and energy to set goals, make decisions and take action to change what needs changing
It is really unwise to assume that if you perform your job well, that your career will take care of itself or that your boss will be there to support you. There are countless examples of people who have lost their jobs or where their workplace has gone ‘sour’, despite their ability and willingness to turn up every day and do an excellent job.
In order to manage your career you need to be proactive and flexible, be open to new ideas and opportunities, and able to ride out the bumps of less-than-ideal work situations. It also means that you pay attention to office politics, talk to key influencers and notice (and where possible be part of) the decisions that the organisation is making, and why. Most importantly, managing your career requires you to be prepared to make decisions to take you forward and act upon them.
What would it take to move your career in a positive direction along the scale of 10, say from a 5 to a 6 or 7, or an 8 to a 9?
Try this simple exercise:
- Identify one issue you have with your career or current job.
- What options or ideas do you have that could change it for the better?
- List 2-5 actions you could take to improve the situation. (Note: it is really important that you are confident that you can actually do the actions)
- Notice what results from the actions you take. Was there positive change?
You could do this exercise with a friend or work mate – often its more fun and effective to do it that way.
In one of my tip sheets – How to Future -Proof Your Career – you’ll also find some other ideas about how to manage your career successfully.
Very few people have what they would describe as a ‘perfect’ career or job, and most want to make some improvement to move in the right direction along the success scale.
Good luck with yours.