Sticking your neck out and taking charge of your career is no trivial matter. Whether that’s switching careers, going back to school, or walking away from a j-o-b to start your own business, it takes a lot of guts.
But guts will only get you so far. Once you build up the nerve and make the leap, you’re no more than 5% of the way there. You still have to succeed in your new endeavor, and trying to succeed is when your worst fears
(the ones that made you hesitate in the first place) will come true.
I’m going to assume you’re like me and don’t have a brilliant mentor, a rich uncle, or some other person who is going to show you the ropes and explain each step you need to take to take charge of your career.
You see, it’s been almost 20 years since I last had a boss. I went from working in a surf shop to striking out on my own, eventually starting TalentSmart (with a partner) before I’d finished grad school.
When I set out on my own, I had all the gumption and appetite for risk that I needed to take charge of my career. At the time I thought that was all I needed to succeed.
It wasn’t. I also needed guidance. Without it, I learned some difficult (and often painful) lessons along the way.
I’d like to share some of my biggest lessons learned with you so that they can help you as you take charge of your career (in whatever form that takes). As I look back on these lessons, I realize that they’re really great
reminders for us all.
Confidence Must Come First
Successful people often exude confidence—it’s obvious that they believe in themselves and what they’re doing. It isn’t their success that makes them confident, however. The confidence was there first.
Think about it:
1. Doubt breeds doubt.Why would anyone believe in you, your ideas, or your abilities if you didn’t believe in them yourself?
2. It takes confidence to reach for new challenges. People who are fearful or insecure tend to stay within their comfort zones. But comfort zones rarely expand on their own. That’s why people who lack confidence get stuck in dead-end jobs and let valuable opportunities pass them by.
3. Unconfident people often feel at the mercy of external circumstances.Successful people aren’t deterred by obstacles, which is how they rise up in the first place.
Confidence is a crucial building block in a successful career, and embracing it fully will take you places you never thought possible. No one is stopping you from what you want to accomplish but yourself. It’s time to
remove any barriers created by self-doubt.
You’re Living The Life That You’ve Created
You are not a victim of circumstance. No one can force you to make decisions and take actions that run contrary to your values and aspirations. The circumstances you’re living in today are your own—you created them.
Likewise, your future is entirely up to you. If you’re feeling stuck, it’s probably because you’re afraid to take the risks necessary to achieve your goals and live your dreams.
When it’s time to take action, remember that it’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than at the top of one you don’t.
4.Being Busy Does Not Equal Being Productive
Look at everyone around you. They all seem so busy—running from meeting to meeting and firing off emails. Yet how many of them are really producing, really succeeding at a high level?
Success doesn’t come from movement and activity. It comes from focus—from ensuring that your time is used efficiently and productively. You get the same number of hours in the day as everyone else. Use yours wisely. After all, you’re the product of your output, not your effort. Make certain your efforts are dedicated to tasks that get results.
5.You’re Only As Good As Those You Associate With
You should strive to surround yourself with people who inspire you, people who make you want to be better. And you probably do. But what about the people who drag you down? Why do you allow them to be a part of
your life? Anyone who makes you feel worthless, anxious, or uninspired is wasting your time and, quite possibly, making you more like them. Life is too short to associate with people like this. Cut them loose.
6.Don’t Say Yes Unless You Really Want To
Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression, all of which make
it difficult to take charge of your career. Saying no is indeed a major challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases like “I don’t think I
can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.