Self-employed – A freelance, independent contractor.
If you want to be truly free, self-employed is the way to be. Taking the leap of faith in yourself isn’t easy, and there’s 0 chance you’ll have an easy life, no matter what you’ve seen, heard, or think. Here are some tips to get you started in the realm of independent thinking outside the box.Advertising
1. Dedicate time to yourself.
No matter what you do, who you do it for, or whatever your personal circumstances are, you need to take time for yourself every day (even if only for a few minutes). It’s during this time that you can take care of your needs as a person. There’s no position you can possibly be in life where you’re not the most important person. Even Superman has a fortress of solitude.
2. Create (and never veer from) a business plan.
It’s important to have a business plan—if you think you’re going to be the first and only person to succeed in human history without a solid plan, you’re an idiot. Create your business plan now and make it something tangible. It’s not the least bit difficult; the hard part is sticking to it. The best plans in the world are wasted without quantifiable effort.Advertising
3. Start now. Nobody’s ever ready.
You’ll never be ready to quit everything and be self-employed, but you’re better off starting now then waiting to be forced into it. Nobody was every ready when they started and nobody ever thought they could do it, and there is absolutely no guarantee that what you do will pay off, but that’s the price you pay for freedom. If you can’t face those fears, your choices are to either accept your life the way it is now (because the only way it’ll ever change is by getting harder with age) or give up on everything, because nobody wants to hear you whining about your sense of entitlement.
4. Understand that things take time.
Before Jim Carry was famous, he lived in a van with his parents and siblings. Everyone you’ve ever heard of has gone through similar times. No business is ever successful in the first year; they spend a lot of money and don’t generate much income. You need a passion for what you do and the courage to face certain failure. If you can’t handle that, you’ll never be successful (regardless of what you do for a living).Advertising
5. Organize your work space and files.
You need to be able to find the resources you have when you need them. There’s nothing worse than missing an opportunity because your email inbox or desktop or work space was cluttered and you didn’t see something obvious. Get organized immediately, and you’ll be prepared for anything.
6. Run your life like a business.
Treat your life like a small business, whether you work for some faceless corporation or yourself. You need to get your resources straight and learn how to use them. There are some amazing resource management games you can download. One of my personal favorites is the Tropico series (Part 4 is available for download here), where you can practice balancing your budget and resources with your needs and goals. Apply these video game skills to real life.Advertising
7. Failure happens to everyone.
Everybody fails, and you’re going to fail too. If you see someone like Mark Cuban and wish you were like him, you’re going to have to go through what he did to get there, and it wasn’t easy. Despite what you may believe, you’re not entitled to any level of success; it takes years of dedication, resourcefulness, and actively pursuing your goals, rather than focusing on some pipe dream.
Last Updated on December 3, 2019
7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success
I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.
It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.
A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.
1. Define Career Success for Yourself
Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.
What does career success mean to you?
This is about defining your career success:
- Not what you think you ‘should’ do
- Not what people may think of you
- Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
- Not taking actions based on societal or community norms
“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin
When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.
There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:
- Work-life balance
- Opportunities for growth and advancement
- Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact
Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:
- What do you mean by work-life balance?
- What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
- How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?
Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:
- I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
- I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
- I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.
Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:
- What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
- What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
- What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?
Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.
Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.
What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?
2. Know Your Values
Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.
There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.
Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:
- Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
- Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
- Put the words on your fridge
- Add the words on your vision board
Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?
3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.
Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:
- What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
- If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
- If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
- What type of impact do you want to have on people?
- Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
- What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?
Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:
- Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
- What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
- How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
- Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?
Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.
By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.
4. Determine Your Top Talents
What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?
What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.
What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?
What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?
What do you notice?
5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?
I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.
Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.
Keep these words visible too!
Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?
6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort
Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.
Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.
“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi
7. Manage Your Own Career
Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.
Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.
For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.
Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.
Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:
- Define Career Success for Yourself
- Know Your Values
- Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
- Determine Your Top Talents
- Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
- Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
- Manage Your Own Career
“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal
Good luck and best wishes always!
More Tips on Advancing Your Career
- How to Set Ambitious and Achievable Career Goals (With Examples)
- How to Ask for a Promotion and Move up the Career Ladder
- Signs You Need a Career Change (And How to Change for Success)
Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com
|||^||Carnegie Mellon University: My Career Path Activities Values Exercise|
|||^||University of California Berkley: Goal-Setting: Developing a Vision & Goals for Your Career Plan|
|||^||Guy Hendricks: The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level|