It’s the end of yet another year and a prime time for all of us to take stock of who we are, where we’ve been and where we want to go. Many of us start each year with big ideas, plans and hopes and then end each year with analysis and reflection. Some of us will look back over the year with joy about what we’ve accomplished. We’ll remember all the big wins we had and the many new connections we made. We’ll think fondly about how well we performed on our jobs and then pat ourselves on the back for achieving the personal and career goals we set. But this is only what the fulfilled people will do.
Far more of you will end this year with disappointment – maybe even regret – about all the things you wanted to accomplish but didn’t. You might experience disappointment or regret for not advancing the ball on your career goals. You could find that you feel bored in your current job and crave a career change. You might feel undervalued or underappreciated by your current boss. You might even experience deep sadness about what to do next and wonder if you have what it takes to ever truly experience career success.
If you are tired of making resolutions that go nowhere; tired of reaching for the stars to only land in the dirt; and tired of running in place, take heed. You can have a much happier life and take your career to the next level by subscribing to the same six principles that most successful people subscribe to.
1. They never let other people define their success.
Before you can own your career and get it off the sidelines, you need to define what career success means for you. Career success starts and ends with realizing that what you want to accomplish matters more than what others want you to accomplish. And what you want to experience matters more than what others want you to experience. So long as you allow the expectations and opinions of others to dictate your career choices, you will suffer or struggle with internal conflict.
When you let other people put their expectations on you and define what success should look like for your life, you risk becoming miserable. You can’t experience success if you are being pulled around trying to align yourself with standards and career expectations that other people set.
To experience meaningful career success, you must have the courage to go after what you want even when it might disappoint other people. To be successful, you first have to get real honest with yourself. Decide what you truly want to do with your personal life and professional career and make it your priority.
2. They don’t let the gap between where they are and where they want to be discourage them.
You’ll never get anywhere other than where you are right now if you don’t first get started. Don’t let the gap between where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow cause you to feel deflated. Don’t let the distance between where your career is today and where you want it to be tomorrow discourage or paralyze you. And don’t let your own mind and negative thoughts stop you either.
Successful people know they can create a better life. They know they can have a better career, and you should know this too. You can own your power to create happiness and fulfillment for yourself. Yes – you have it within you, but first you have to ignore the doubters, leave all the haters behind and take control of your own mind.
The difference between success and failure is often grit. And when you get up and put one foot in front of the other – even if you can only take baby steps – you are showing that you have the determination, persistence and grit necessary to change your whole life.
The real questions are:
- Do you want what you want bad enough to take that first step?
- Are you willing to go after that new job or new career even if it might disappoint someone else?
- Do you want that big win bad enough to change your thinking and even your behavior?
3. They don’t give yesterday’s failures more power than tomorrow’s successes.
You might have made some big messes in your life and in your career. You might have dropped the ball on some big projects. You might have struggled – and even lost – with all variety of legal, mental, family, relationship or career challenges. If so, you will have some heavy lifting in front of you, but you absolutely can repair your reputation, rebuild relationships and restore your career.
Successful people do the work necessary to make amends where necessary and then make peace within themselves so they can create a different and better tomorrow. Don’t let your past indiscretions, missteps or failures consume any more of your life than you’ve already given. Reflect on your failures, learn from them and then keep it moving or you risk allowing past regrets to overwhelm your ability to ever really achieve anything different and better for yourself.
It doesn’t matter. What you failed at yesterday doesn’t matter. What you never achieved, gave away – and even what you accomplished yesterday – doesn’t really matter. Realize that everyone struggles, but only the people who stand up and start (even if it means starting over) have any chance of success.
4. They don’t try to coast on past successes for too long.
What you did to get where you are may not be enough to get you where you want to go next. If your goal is to keep advancing your career, you can’t rest on your laurels and ride yesterday’s gravy train. You have to do something different today to get something different tomorrow.
Successful people know they are only as good as their last win, their last success or their last accomplishment. What you accomplished yesterday is great, but if you stop with that, you risk becoming irrelevant without having anything new to celebrate or new goals to embrace.
Yes, you should celebrate your efforts. Relish in the big successes, and the small ones as well, but not for so long that you forget how to grind. Don’t stop for so long that you lose your motivation. Don’t stop for so long that you can’t find inspiration. Successful people stay hungry, and they understand that their best and worst battles in life will actually be found within themselves.
5. They don’t let fear stop them from saying yes when they need to.
Is your fear of risk, failure or rejection causing you to pass up opportunities to expand your network, develop new relationships and advance your career? Are you passing on opportunities for growth and change because you don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable? Is fear paralyzing your ability to advance your career?
There are mainly three different types of fears that hold people back from experiencing greater levels of success – the fear of failure, the fear of success and the fear of rejection. These fears cause many people to say no far too often when they should be saying yes, and they cause people to resist taking the kind of career risks that can open doors to new and amazing opportunities.
In order to achieve the career success you want, you have to say yes more often and take more career risks. Career risks might include things like:
- Voluntarily accepting a demotion in pay or title because the lower position would put you on the better career path for you to break through with a much more suited position.
- Seeking out and accepting assignments way outside your job description or comfort zone because they provide opportunities for learning new skills or serving on different teams that could help to expand your network.
- Investing your own money into your entrepreneurial venture because no one else has yet to appreciate your talents enough to invest in you.
- Relocating for a new job because you know you’ve totally outgrown your current role, but the next step for you only exists in a different city, state or country.
6. They don’t waste time searching for happiness.
Happiness isn’t something you find, it’s something you create. Successful people know this. They also know that, in order to create happiness, they have to control their thinking, remain focused and disciplined, ask for what they want and persevere through the ups and downs of life.
Successful people make decisions about who they are and align their behavior and lifestyle with those decisions. Successful people set goals about their careers and then become laser focused on goal achievement. Successful people prioritize their needs and are willing to move outside their comfort zone to satisfy those needs.
The truly successful people demonstrate the mental fortitude necessary to sustain meaningful success. They recognize that money and career success aren’t the whole of it. Successful people know they must also experience inner peace and joy as well. For these people, it starts and ends with aligning their purpose, passion and principles with their decisions, behavior and career choices.