You have the power to create the career and the life you want. You have to decide what you want and then choose to invest the necessary time, energy, and resources to move you in that direction. You can accomplish everything you want and you can achieve life/work balance provided you understand your strengths and limitations and are willing to do what it takes to achieve your goals.
Don’t Hinder Your Success
We all have some idea of what we want — a better job, more money, love, a bigger house, a nicer car, etc. Yet we don’t often think about what we need to do, what actions we need to take, or what choices we need to make to get those things. We get caught up in things that keep us busy but do not contribute to our life’s happiness; we confuse activity with accomplishment. We don’t pay attention to the choices we are making that may hinder our success.
Everything you do requires a choice. There are the big choices: where to live, what career path to follow, whom to share your life with, what faith to follow, and so on. Then there are the small choices: what time to wake up each morning, what to eat, what to wear, how to spend the day, how to respond to people and events. The small choices seem inconsequential. Some people would argue they aren’t really choices at all, but rather decisions dictated by life’s external pressures or requirements.
But they are choices.
You choose to get up at 6 a.m. to catch the 7:09 train to get to work despite the fact you’d rather sleep till noon. If your goal truly is to sleep till noon each day, you would choose a different job and lifestyle to accommodate that goal. The seemingly small choices you make day in and day out ultimately determine the quality of your life. These decisions reflect your character, your values, and your purpose.
Avoid the Loser Cycle
Some people construct a reality out of the world around them. Success and happiness become impossible because they focus on the obstacles that exist to thwart their efforts rather than the choices available to overcome or manage them. They fixate on the problems and assign blame. They tell themselves, “I can’t because…” They blame their boss or spouse, the lack of money, the weather, etc. for their inability to achieve their goals. They can’t see the choices available to them to overcome the obstacles. They become paralyzed and get caught in the “loser” cycle.
Happy, successful people on the other hand, focus on solutions to problems. They assume responsibility for future outcomes and take control of their fate. They are able to identify the choices they have, understand the price tags attached, and design a course of action to achieve their goals. Happy, successful people are aware of their abilities, skills, strengths, passions, preferred work style, values and ideals, special knowledge, and motivations as well as their limitations. Their knowledge of their abilities and their faith in them, are undeniable. Unquestionable. They succeed simply because they know they can.
But how can you train your mind to believe it is possible to be happy and achieve your goals when you truly in your heart of hearts don’t believe it?
Alter Your Perspective
Every thing we see, hear, touch, and experience is judged as good or bad, pleasurable or painful, safe or dangerous. We describe the world to ourselves, and every event gets a “label.” The event triggers the label which determines our reactions. By dissecting the thought, perhaps we can re-label the event, thereby altering our actions and gaining a new perspective. Instead of thinking “I can’t because…”, think “I can if….” That change in perspective allows you to see the action steps necessary to achieve your goals. It allows you to focus on what you need to do to make it happen.
Successful people get where they are by following a strategic plan. Their goals should be an ever-present part of their lives, providing direction and encouragement. The five-step career/life planning process described below provides a frame for designing an individualized career/life strategy that will enable you to achieve a professional life that embraces your personal life.
Career /Life Planning Process
Step 1 – Focus on your positive attributes, NOT your shortcomings.
The best strategy to direct the course of your career/life is to identify your abilities, skills, and talents. You must be able to articulate what you can do and what you know. While you want to be aware of any shortcomings you may possess, you do not want them to dictate your path and prevent you from following your dreams. An understated assessment of your abilities will not serve you well. Of course, neither will an exaggerated sense of your abilities.
Realize who you are-what your style and temperament is-and create a life to suit it. Too many people try to alter their temperaments to suit their “should” goals. Temperaments are a bit like shoe sizes…they can occasionally be fudged, but the results are uncomfortable! It is important to be true to your authentic self!
Step 2 – Know what you TRULY want.
Take some time to think about what is really important to you. Do not underestimate the power of passion. The world is filled with examples of people who achieved their goals-against all odds-because of their passion. If you allow yourself to be fueled by your internal drive instead of any external pressures, your shortcomings will have little or no impact on your ability to succeed. They may present hurdles, but your passion will galvanize your skills, strengths and talents so you can easily clear the bar.
Step 3 – Do not accept conventional wisdom unconditionally.
There will always be some perfectly logical reason to impede you from achieving your objectives. Anticipate what those reasons might be and decide for yourself if they are, indeed, insurmountable, or merely a hurdle to clear. Passion is stronger than conventional wisdom; attitude outweighs facts. Do your homework so that you know what the conventional wisdom is and then plan a strategy to deal with it. Always strive to be the exception to the rule.
Step 4 – Develop an action plan (SET GOALS).
Think about the direction you’d like your life to take. What do you want to accomplish during your lifetime? During the next five years? The next year? Think about what you need to do to make it happen. Write it down.
If you were taking a complicated road trip, you would write down the directions. Yet on the most significant journey of your life, you resist putting a word of the directions on paper! That’s just silly. Written goals are concrete, tangible, and physically real. They provide a long-term vision about the kind of person you want to be and the kind of life you want to lead. They help you stay focused because they enhance your decision-making abilities and heighten your ability to recognize opportunities consistent with your goals. They help you prioritize seemingly competing goals.
If your goals do not move you, if they do not inspire and incite you to action, they are not the right goals. The right goals will outweigh any excuses you may have in achieving them. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish when you are clear about what you want and have an action plan in place to guide you.
Step 5 – Make course corrections when necessary.
Don’t run in the wrong directions just because you are near the finish line. Goals have to evolve with you. They may shift as you mature and grow. What moves you to action today may bore you and bring disillusion tomorrow. Change should not be seen as a sign of weakness or as a lack of commitment. Change is a strength that allows people to adapt to ever-changing circumstances.
Finding the courage to forge your own path and construct a personal definition of success in the face of external obligations and pressures isn’t easy. In fact, it is downright scary. Do it anyway. I promise the rewards will be monumental.