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Published on February 3, 2020

How to Achieve the Career Success That You Want

How to Achieve the Career Success That You Want

Everybody wants to enjoy at least some aspect of the work they do. It could be the customers and colleagues you work with, the visible changes you see from the job, or the actual work itself. If there isn’t some aspect of satisfaction though, the chances of sticking with a particular job or career for long aren’t very good. A sense of satisfaction is crucial to building career success.

Here’s the thing when it comes to career success — there’s no clear-cut definition.

Now, of course, there are ideas of what career success looks like, but these are largely driven by our peers, family members, those within our chosen industry, and society at large. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for people to lack clarity when reaching for a definition of what career success looks like and how it aligns with their personal values.

Maybe that means a certain number of zeros on their paycheck, or perhaps it means making a living that’s comfortable but allows more room for time with family or hobbies. Those ideas are rather vague and really only scratch the surface.

Achieving the level of career success that you want really boils down to two simple things: defining what it looks like for you and forging a path to get there. There are obviously other factors that come into play, but those two things are paramount.

Define Your Idea of Career Success

We all need a purpose. It’s one of the characteristics that define us as human beings and without it, a person is at risk of aimlessly wandering through life depressed and very possibly broke.

Sorry to sound like a downer here, but what I’m getting at is that purpose is a huge part in defining and then achieving career success.

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If you were to ask the world’s top 50 CEOs what their purpose was, it’s a guarantee that they would each have precise answer, and their answers would likely be very different.

In order to define what success looks like to you, it’s a good idea to step back and cast aside what others have told you success is.

This is the part where a lot of people make the mistake of listing off accomplishments they want to hit such as making X amount of money or having X title beside their name on their resume. Accomplishments are great, but make no mistake, they don’t necessarily equal a lasting feeling of satisfaction and success.

Famed LA Lakers coach Pat Riley, a man who won five NBA championship titles, but said he was still never satisfied and called this the “disease of more.” Psychologists have long argued that it’s all too common for people to put too much of their self-worth on their accomplishments. At best, those accomplishments leave them with a fleeting sense of satisfaction that only results.

I’m going to get a little bit Zen on you here. When you attempt to define your idea of what career success looks like, include those goals you want to reach, but also ask why you want to achieve them. Perhaps it’s important to you that you make a lasting impact in your career field or carve out a career that continually presents new and exciting challenges. Maybe you want to achieve a level of success that combines both of those factors and allows you to work at your own set schedule.

Don’t be afraid to spend some time digging down asking yourself how the accomplishments you want to achieve align with your personal values and outlook on life. You’ll probably find that your idea of career success changes at different points in your life. It’s learning how to clearly define what that success looks, though, that will always be a key component to finding it.

Is Satisfaction a Part of Your Job?

According to a 2019 survey, a third of American workers thought about turning in their job resignation over the last year. Among that group, 57% said that they were “somewhat” or “very well paid” — meaning money wasn’t the issue.[1]

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The problem was that these people weren’t getting the level of satisfaction in their job that they needed. If you’re not satisfied with the work you’re doing or the job you’re at, then guess what, you’re probably not going to feel like you’re hitting it out of the park in terms of career success.

As for why a person may not feel a level of satisfaction, that could be a whole host of reasons ranging from unchallenging work to little room for job growth or simply an unpleasant office environment. The more aware of what your personal idea of career success is, then the more adept you’ll be at analyzing how your job satisfaction plays into it.

Truly successful professionals strive to make it a habit of looking for the best aspects of each job role they possess. Most of us aren’t lucky enough to land our dream job with our very first job, and even if the planets do align for you, there’s a good chance your idea of a dream job will change.

With every job you take on, however, you should be consciously looking for the aspects of it that you find the most rewarding. A person may take a job simply because the pay was decent and it aligned with their skill set, but surprise themselves to discover that the highest level of satisfaction resulted from the relationships built with customers.

By taking an inner look at what is satisfying or unsatisfying about a particular job, you’re better prepared for taking the next step that leads you to the dream job and building your definition of a successful career.

Finding Career Success Involves Risk and Strategy

So you’ve blocked out what outside influences have told you career success looks like and carved out what it means to you. Fantastic!

You’ve made a habit of recognizing what areas of job satisfaction are important. Great!

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Now comes the hard part — taking some risks and blazing your path to career success.

Whatever your particular idea of career success looks like is, it’s not going to happen by accident. Successful careers are forged through a number of ways, but a certain amount of strategy is always going to factor in with a lot of hard work.

Some form of risk is almost always going to be involved in achieving your career success. This could be anything from moving to a new city for a job or taking a lower-paying position because it puts you on the right path to where you want to go.

You must overcome the fear of getting out of your comfort zone and embarking on a new challenge if you hope to find satisfaction and ultimately career success.

The good news to that discomfort is that more often than not, the benefit of doing so is greater than the risk of failure. Furthermore, taking those chances will give you some incredible insight into what you’re really made of. Keep in mind that never stepping out is far worse than falling down.

As far as creating some strategy for taking those risks and building a successful career, there are numerous ways of applying strategy to success:

1. Look at Those Whose Career You Want to Emulate

Doing this can provide some valuable knowledge on what to do and what not do as well as help you recognize what your own version of what career success looks like.

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2. Be Around the Right People

This doesn’t mean trying to suck up to the boss simply in hopes of getting something either. What I’m talking about here is putting yourself around people who have a positive outlook and can teach you, or at the very least encourage you.

Fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger once told CNBC:

“I’ve always surrounded myself with the right people and people who are very bright, passionate and hard-working.”

For Hilfiger, this meant building up a strong circle of friends and mentors such as Terrence Lundgren, the CEO of Macy’s, who he could turn to for support and insight.

Get some inspirations from this article: The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Are You Ready?

Building a successful career you want is never going to be easy. Not everybody is going to have what it takes and a certain amount of mental fortitude is required. This isn’t meant to be discouraging but it’s simply a reality of life.

With the right mindset, however, and some strategy and sweat, you can carve out a personally rewarding successful career and find a deep level of purpose and satisfaction.

Keep in mind on your own journey what career success looks like for you and don’t be afraid to regularly ask yourself — are you’re making the moves and taking the risks necessary in order to find it?

More Tips on Career Success

Featured photo credit: Graeme Worsfold via unsplash.com

Reference

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Jeremy Diamond

Jeremy is a lawyer and entrepreneur. He is the Senior Partner of Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, a national law firm based in Canada

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Last Updated on May 28, 2020

13 Critical Things to Consider Before Switching Careers

13 Critical Things to Consider Before Switching Careers

Do you have a path not taken? Maybe you had big career dreams when you were younger, but somehow they didn’t materialize.

Maybe you took your first job, thinking it would be a stepping stone to a better job. It seemed like a good idea at the time, you recall, except the better job never came along. Or perhaps, saddled with student loans, you took a job that helped you pay them off. You paid them all right, but now you feel stuck in a career you don’t really like.

The average person spends 90,000 hours in their lifetime at work[1]. That’s too much time to be doing anything you don’t love!

Is it time to think about switching careers? Here are 13 things to do when making the big leap.

Diagnose Your Current Work Situation

Before switching careers, it’s important to figure out why you’re currently unhappy so you don’t step into another situation that isn’t right for you. Start with these considerations before making any big decisions.

1. What Are You Passionate About?

It’s somewhat shocking, but research shows 87 percent of workers have no passion for their jobs[2]. Passion can be measured many ways, and one person’s passion is another’s poison. Still, if you believe in your company’s core mission, it really helps.

How can you find your passion? You may have to switch careers. Try to arrange informational interviews with as many people as you can who work in the field of your dreams to be certain that making the switch will make you feel more engaged with your work.

Your aim: To be as happy walking into the office on Monday morning as you are leaving the premises on Friday afternoon. When you love your job, no day feels too daunting. When you love your job, it doesn’t feel like work.

Need a little help finding your passion? This article can help: How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life

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2. Can You Keep up With Technology?

Are you keeping up with it? And is your current company supporting your efforts? The speed of technology is so fast that many companies today can’t keep up. This may result in anxiety among the company’s leadership. The sense of anxiety can filter down and impact the workers. Morale is low, and everyone fears for their job.

When switching careers, try to find a company that will allow you to learn as you grow. It also helps to consider yourself a lifelong learner. These days, we all have to be.

Invest the Time to Dream Big

If you’re now sure of why you want to make a move, it’s time to dig into your dreams to find exactly which direction to go.

3. What Does Your Vision Look Like?

Athletes visualize their signature moves. Politicians fantasize about winning. Your task is to visualize your dream. Where do want to be working five years from now? Ten years from now? Fifteen years from now? Figure out what your titles will be at each point along your new trajectory. Will you be living in your current geographical area or will you have moved?

Ask yourself the hard questions as well. Can you afford to switch careers right now? Will you be making more money or less than you currently do? How will you support those who depend on you?

Once you have your vision clearly committed to paper, run your vision by a few of the people who know you best. Do your friends encourage you to pursue your vision? (If they don’t, consider finding more supportive friends.)

4. Do You Know What to Expect?

It’s harder to switch careers than to find a new job in your current field. You may have to accomplish the move in several discreet steps. Will making a lateral move at your current company take you one step closer to your ultimate goal?

In addition to researching your dream field online, try to surround yourself with some friends who have recently switched careers. After you have formed a rough idea of the steps you will need to take to get from where you are now to your new career, consider committing it to an action plan. The more concrete you can make your Plan, the better.

Should you be attending more networking events? Do you need to burnish your online profile? Commit to action steps, and then put those steps into your daily calendar. You’re going to do this!

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If, for instance, you’ve decided to move from marriage counseling to financial planning — you’ve seen enough divorces resulting from money matters to know there’s a better way to help people — your listening skills and discretion will be an asset. Your research will reveal whether you need specialized training or licensing to qualify. If so, go online and add your name to every list you can find to learn more information. Start calculating how to pay for your courses. A bonus you’ll get with continuing ed courses: you’ll gain access to a strong peer network.

Take Action

Time to make the move. Start considering how you will approach these steps to get where you want to go.

5. Who Will Support You?

What if, early in your career, you made a job switch that you regret? Now is the time to call your ex-boss and try to get together for lunch or a cup of coffee. Let them know you are thinking of making a U-turn back to your former field.

What if your sister disapproves of every idea you have? Either resolve to avoid her for the next 12 months or call her right now — and tell her you’re switching careers and you don’t care whether she approves! Keep all naysayers at a distance during this transition time.

6. What Can You Do Each Day to Accomplish Your Dream?

Switching careers can be quite time-consuming, but if you break down the task into small chunks, tracking your progress as you go, you’ll have a better chance of success. Whether you spend a few hours today googling your dream career, or refurbish your LinkedIn profile to emphasize the skills you have that will help you land this new job — just keep at it.

Career-switcher’s hint: Working on your new dream for one hour each day is more productive than spending 12 hours working at it on a Sunday. The more committed you are to achieving your goal, the faster it will happen.

7. Does Your Resume Highlight the Correct Skills?

First, research the qualifications of the position you hope to land. Then, look for ways to mesh them with your own skills. While some careers require specific degrees and credentials, there are many positions you can transition into that require no additional education. Sometimes, what you bring from your own background is perfect.

Take inventory of all the hard and soft job skills you possess. For the skills you don’t have, put a plan in place to acquire them!

Highlight your qualifications in a way that makes a well-argued case for your compatibility with the organization and the position you’re after. Keep in mind that all employers look for candidates with skills that show leadership and the ability to solve problems, persevere through challenges, and get results.

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Refine the skills on your resume to incorporate these resume “musts.” Make sure, though, to only claim skills you truly possess. Unless you’re proficient in a software program or are fluent in a second language, leave any mention of them off.

Switching Careers Shortcuts

When switching careers, there are ways to make it easier. Look into these questions to see what can work for you in your search.

8. Do You Have Any Contacts in Your Desired Career?

People are remarkably forthcoming on their LinkedIn profiles. This helps when you search out employees in your dream field or a targeted company. But before you take full advantage of online networking, first make sure that your profile content is fresh.

Curate all social media accounts to reflect your new direction. Social media can increase your networking opportunities exponentially. Comment on the posts of your targeted contacts and pose pertinent questions to get on their radar.

9. Are You Networking Enough?

While it may be considered old-school to tap your organically grown (offline) network, it still comes with the best odds of success. Reach out to your friends and acquaintances with industry connections who can help you make a connection.

Make a point of meeting face-to-face with anyone who can offer you a lead or provide a reference. You never know what kind of opportunity will unfold from these offline connections.

Learn more about networking here: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

10. How Can You Become an Expert in Your New Field?

Start building the skills you’ll need to make your career switch. LinkedIn and many other providers offer online courses in everything from accounting software to mastering Excel. For extra credit, see if you can find classes that award online badges for completing each course. Don’t be shy about adding these certificates to your online profile.

Read trade magazines and study up on industry trends. Write and post articles on timely topics. Develop an online presence in the field of your dreams.

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11. Are You Willing to Put Yourself out There?

Nonprofit organizations often look for volunteers to help them with their outreach, social media, fundraising, and more. Once you’ve mastered the needed skills, be sure to have the head of the organization or a board member write a glowing recommendation for you.

Depending on your desired career, it may be possible to take on a contract assignment at a company where you learn on the job. A freelance gig allows you to polish your skills, make connections, and prove you’re serious about this career change.

For example, if your dream is to transform your knack for attracting followers through pithy postings into a career as a social media manager, don’t be afraid to pitch your services. Most companies need someone to manage their online presence and may welcome your fresh new strategy.

Switching Careers Results

Now that you’ve taken the steps to switch careers, bask in the success you’ve found in doing so.

12. How Can You Reward Yourself?

Set whatever benchmarks you need to achieve as you embark on switching careers, and think of them as cause for mini-celebrations. Find frugal ways to reward yourself.

However, hold out for the big, pop-the-champagne celebration until you land your dream job.

13. Has the Risk Paid Off?

People who prefer to play it safe throughout their careers often fall short of their potential. Research shows the primary reason executives derail is an inability to change[3]. It takes a large measure of courage to pursue a new path. And when you succeed, it fuels your confidence.

You have an air of self-assurance about you and a can-do spirit that stands out. And best of all, you’ll have moved from a dead-end or lackluster job to one into which you can pour your passion and realize the feeling of self-fulfillment.

The Bottom Line

Don’t be afraid to switch your career path once you’ve outgrown the one you’re in. Set out to intentionally pursue career satisfaction and you’ll reap great rewards by realizing the joys of job satisfaction.

More Tips on Switching Careers

Featured photo credit: Kevin Bhagat via unsplash.com

Reference

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