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Last Updated on February 9, 2021

How to Achieve the Career Success That You Want

How to Achieve the Career Success That You Want
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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.

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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

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Jeremy Diamond

Jeremy Diamond 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 July 21, 2021

How to Get Promoted Fast (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Get Promoted Fast (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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“Attitude is altitude,” a famous adage tells us. When it comes to getting promoted fast, maintaining a can-do attitude conquers all. Keeping up a sunny, pleasant professional demeanor will help you win friends and influence Human Resources managers. So will good work hygiene. Show up early, work late, and volunteer for assignments once yours are completed to the best of your ability.

Realize, too, that every office newbie wonders how to get promoted fast. So you are always competing against others at the company for that spot above yours. For this reason, it’s not enough to be a whiz at your given tasks. You also need to be likeable—the type of person whom others want to work with and (ultimately) work for.

Research shows that employees with high emotional intelligence (EI), such as managing relationships, are 75 percent more likely to be promoted than employees with high IQ.[1] Teamwork matters as much as your individual abilities.

Additionally, these 10 steps will help you succeed faster than you dreamed possible.

Craft a Plan for How to Get Promoted

Step 1: Have a Plan

In this world of fast-disappearing mentors, you need to be the architect of your own plan.

Ask others in your field what they did to get promoted and how long it took. Map out a general timeline for your own advancement.

One thing to consider: think of where you want to be five years from now, then work backwards to figure out when you should receive your next promotion.

Step 2: Commit Your Plan to Paper

Studies show that writing down one’s dreams and aspirations helps them happen faster.

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One Saturday when you’re not at the office, take a few hours to capture your plan on paper. Then, separately, pen the tangible steps you believe you need to take to accomplish your dream.

Perhaps you should aim to get into the office at least a half hour earlier than your direct supervisor each day. Or maybe write, “win one piece of new business per year” as your goal. Do you know someone who could throw your company a piece of new business? Consider reaching out to that person.

Step 3: Discuss Your Plan with Your Boss or Direct Supervisor

Performance reviews are a logical time to ask your boss how to get promoted. Bear in mind that any raise you receive may be an indicator of whether you’re perceived to be on the fast track for promotion or on a slower track. (To find out how your raise compares to other workers’ raises, ask around.)

If you already are on the fast track, just keep doing the excellent work you are doing. If you discover that you are on a slower track, it may make sense to first work out with your boss the steps you need to take to get a hefty raise, and from there, make the case for why you deserve a promotion.

Get It in Writing

Step 4: Ask for It in an Email

Did a client commend your public speaking ability? Did your research report exceed your boss’s expectations? Did your colleague profusely thank you for pitching in over the weekend? In the most gracious way, ask that person to send you an email thanking you and to please copy your boss on it.

When it comes to discussing a potential promotion with your boss and the powers-that-be, glowing emails really help bolster your case.

Be sure to bring those emails with you into your performance review meetings. The emails can help you prove you deserve a promotion.

Step 5: Put Any Interim Managerial Tasks in Writing

If you are ever asked to fill in for missing supervisor, ask your boss to write an email to the whole team about the process to be followed.

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This one step will help clear up confusion among your teammates and smooth the way for you to demonstrate your managerial talent. You’ll spend more time managing people and less time trying to manage the process.

The Casual Check-In

Step 6: Check In with Your Boss Now and Then

If you happen to have a boss who gives you a lot of feedback, consider yourself lucky. You will already know how you are doing long before any performance review. You can also use any negative feedback to help you make micro adjustments so that you can bring up your performance before it’s officially rated.

However, if you happen to have a boss who doesn’t offer up much feedback, make it a habit to casually check in with him or her. Wait until a calm moment, knock on the door or cubicle wall, and ask if he has a minute or two. Then, simply sit down and ask what he thought about your contribution to the latest project. (See Step 7.)

But take care. The casual check-in should be used sparingly. Do it too often, and your boss may start to consider you a bit paranoid (and then wonder why you are).

Step 7: Accept All Feedback (Positive and Negative) Gracefully

When you ask your boss for feedback, you will receive it. And you may not always like what you hear.

Maybe you thought your two-minute introduction to the new product launch was phenomenal, but your supervisor found it uninspiring.

Perhaps you thought the client meeting was a smash success, but your client said otherwise after you left the room.

Those who get promoted fast demonstrate an ability to receive positive feedback gracefully and bounce back from negative feedback equally gracefully. Even if you don’t like what you hear, thank your boss for sharing her feedback and promise her that you will work to improve. Then, draft some action steps you will take to keep your promise.

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Solve Problems

Step 8: Remember You’re There to Solve Problems, Not Create Them

Try to be easygoing and flexible. Strive to receive the plum assignments, but realize that everyone in the firm also wants the better assignments. So, be gracious when you receive a terrible assignment, and just do your best to finish it professionally.

If you find yourself with a lot of free time, volunteer for extra work, but be judicious about what you volunteer for. It’s important to be perceived as poised and professional, not desperate and clamoring.

Prove you deserve to be promoted, instead of nagging your associates about how to get promoted.

Step 9: Work Hard

Today, business moves at the speed of technology. It’s important to keep up with technology as it evolves. You may need to take additional classes or get additional certifications and digital badges just to stay ahead of change.

Be the person at your company who embraces change rather than shunning it. Do things the new way, and prove that you love to learn.

By showing your willingness to change with the times, you’ll prove that you’re an employee who’s worth keeping around.

Invest your time in learning about the business, your company, and your clients, and your investment may well pay off in a promotion.

It’s Not Just What You Know

Step 10: Get Along with Everyone

Bosses tend to promote those whom they like faster than others on staff—regardless of their talent level.

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So first and foremost: get along with your boss. But don’t kiss up because that will make your coworkers turn against you.

Strive to be known for being nice to all, fair to all, and coming up with creative solutions to problems.

To boost your popularity, try to attend some of the outings, all of the office parties, and as many office showers and office birthday celebrations as you can without sacrificing your work product. Occasionally offer to organize one of these events if you have the time.

Getting along with everyone is one is a surefire way to get ahead and be promoted faster.

The Bottom Line

To get promoted faster, it’s important to understand that ambition coupled with camaraderie wins.

When your supervisor notices that you take criticism well and learn from mistakes, and that you keep emotions in check and get along well with others, you will earn respect.

The most important mantra for those who long to get ahead: be professional.

Solve problems, so that you can be promoted to tackle and solve even bigger problems.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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