Planning for Career Success

Your career is, or will soon be, one of the most important things in your life. It will determine how much you work, how much you play, whether or not you pursue family life, and ultimately what type of life you'll have. You'll spend more time during your life working at your career than any other activity – that's a lot of time! In order to ensure the highest quality of life possible, its important to have a career that's satisfying, fulfilling, and supports your near- and long-term personal and financial goals. The following are top tips that will help you make sure your career is doing its job.

1. Be Extremely Thoughtful in Your Career Choice
Life is too short to be stuck in a career that isn't fulfilling. Before you even start considering potential career options, make sure you're very aware of your likes, dislikes, and needs. Many professionals find themselves moving down a path that isn't fulfilling because they jumped into a career before taking the time to do a thorough self evaluation and career assessment. While career assessments aren't the "end all" to finding the perfect career match, they can prove useful for individuals who just aren't sure where to start. A good career assessment can help you identify occupations that are a good match with your values, interests, aptitudes, skills and personality traits. Remember, you'll going to spend at least 40 hours at work each week. Make sure you can see yourself in your career all day, everyday, for many years.

2. Measure Your Success
Just as everyone has unique likes and dislikes, everyone measures success differently. For some success is all about the paycheck at the end of the month. For others it's about personal accomplishment. And yet for others success is found in appreciation for a job well done. And a few find success only when helping others. How do you measure success? There's no right or wrong answer, but you must have answer. Your career satisfaction will based in large part on whether or not you're achieving your definition of success.

3. Only You Know What Career is Best for You
Be your own person! A career that suits someone else isn't necessarily going to suit you. Don't pick a field because some tells you it has a lot of opportunity, or because you'll make a ton of money. Some people love their career so much they can't see why others wouldn't love it too – a good sign that they chose their perfect career. However, if you wan't to find the perfect career for you, make sure you select a career based on how you think and feel, not on how someone else thinks and feels. Too many people follow in the footsteps of others, only to find out that the opportunity wasn't what they thought it was going to be, or that making a ton of money isn't that fulfilling if you hate going to work each day.

4. Seek Help from Others
While you shouldn't base your career decision solely on what others think is best for you, it doesn't hurt to seek advice from those with more experience than yourself – in fact, we recommend it. The fact of the matter is, no matter how much you think you know, you don't know everything. Meeting with professionals who work in fields you're considering can help you learn more about career opportunities, earning potential, the rigors of everday work, the lowdown on employers, and much more. Seeking advice from industry professionals can also help you develop a professional network – a vital resource for securing a good job.

5. A Little Karma Can Go a Long Way
One of the best ways to earn a little good karma is to always thank those who help you with your career search. In fact, the smallest gesture of thanks can go a long way. Whether it's someone who gives yougood advice or an introduction to a potential employer, make sure to give heart felt thanks to those who lend you a hand. Showing gratitude and sincere thanks for the efforts of others is the first step to building a strong professional network – and its just common courtesy.

6. Be Your Own Biggest Fan
No one is going to cheer harder for your success than you will. Be proud of yourself and take pride in your goals, accomplishment, and success. Don't wait or rely on approbation for others, or for someone to tell you what a good job you've done – take note of your own accomplishments and move on to accomplish even greater things. Knowing that you have what it takes to succeed – despite occational bumps in the road – and focusing on your accomplishments will lead to even greater ones.

7. When You Make a Mistake, Take Responsibility
As we pointed out, and without exception, everyone makes mistakes. Obviously, you want to do everything you can to avoid making big mistakes, but not matter how hard you try you're going to make mistakes from time to time. While some mistakes are more serious than others, the only mistakes that are really serious are those you try to run away from. If you want to have a successful career, you must learn to take responsibility for your mistakes and never try to hide them. Admit you made a mistake, to yourself and your colleagues. Take the necessary steps to remedy the mistake the best you can and learn from it, so you don't make the same mistake again.

8. Remember That Everyone Makes Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, so don't beat yourself up when you make a mistake. It's going to happen at least a few times. Don't ever tell yourself you're not smart enough or good enough. Be positive. Positivity leads to success. Negativity leads to setback and failure. Always lift yourself up, irregardless of any negative voices around you. If you make a mistake, just own up to it, fix it and never look back. If you're lacking an essential skills or have some other shortcoming, do whatever you need to do to remedy the situation – but stay upbeat and positive.

9. Always Stay Positive
Nothing is quite as detrimental to finding or advancing a career than negativity. Negativity breeds negativity, and there's not place for it in a successful career. No one wants to associate with someone who only sees the negative side of things. Don't be a negative person. It's not uncommon for negative people to be "problem finders", or at least that's how they see themselves. It's okay, even necessary, to be able to identify problems but some individuals who see themselves as problems finders are viewed by others as negative people who always find the worst. So if you're going to identify problems, make sure you can bring positive solutions to the table for those problems. There's nothing that saps the energy from a career quite like negativity – so avoid it like the plague.

10. Become a Good Listener
Most people like to hear themselves talk. What they don't realize is that others may not feel the same way. The way to stand out from the croud is to learn to become a good listener. Not only are good listeners in the minority, they tend to understand other people's points of view better, be more informed, and are better liked by their peers. If you want to become popular among your peers and colleagues, learn to listen with geniune interest to what people have to say and validate their points of view and feelings. Even though you may not be a big biking buff, intently listening to your boss's story about when he biked across the state of Montana will go a long way to building repoir – and you might even pick up a new hobby while you're at it.

11. Keep an Open Mind
Over time people change. Their likes and dislikes change. Their interests change. What started out as the perfect career twenty years ago, may no longer be the perfect career for you today. If you find yourself feeling disheartened with your current situation, don't dispare. Keep an open mind and give yourself the latitude to expore other career options. You can probably think of a thousand reasons not to consider career change, but don't forget, life is too short to be stuck in a career that's unfufilling. If you really feel you're not in the right career, then start exploring new career options. It's okay. It's common. And it may be just what you need.

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