People often ask me if I love what I do. Yes! I love it and am grateful for every experience that has brought me to this place. Then they want to know “How can I get that feeling?” When I reflected on my career and what I’ve seen work for other successful women, I identified seven actions I believe are important to get to ultimate career success and fulfillment…with small steps of progress along the way. You’ll read about these in this month’s article.
Every journey is completed in a series of small steps. That’s why I’ve redesigned my Creating Your Career Opportunities™ program into modules. You now have the flexibility to take small steps in your professional development. You don’t have to commit to the whole program, but can take individual modules one at a time, with a variety of scheduling opportunities. Each module incorporates a personal coaching session to reinforce what you learned in the workshop.
These workshops will help you clarify your career goals, develop skills to get there and receive individual coaching along the way. For more info click here.
Here’s to your first step of the journey…
Career Advancement: One Step at a Time
I wish I could tell you differently, but here is no career panacea that delivers immediate and total fulfillment. BUT each job or life experience offers something to challenge us and make adjustments along the way, where we gain that sense of achievement and satisfaction of having learned and grown.
One step at a time we can grow into a place where we feel we have “arrived”. The objective is to be intentional and strategic such that each experience builds on another. When I reflected on my career path and that of others, I observed several common elements that have led to this place of fulfillment.
Be intentional about career goals. I intentionally undertook activities and assignments that would expand my experience and draw on my strengths. Except for one career misstep when I took my eye off the ball, I paid attention to what I enjoyed, what I was good at and next steps that aligned with my goals.
Proactively seek out strategic job changes. As I learned more about myself, I continually assessed possible job opportunities inside and outside my company. At one point I knew I needed to change companies, even when it felt scary to do so. To avoid being overwhelmed, I thought about the change in small steps. Those small steps caused me to relocate across the country to a new industry, setting the scene for one of the most exciting times of my career.
Draw on your supporters. We need friends and confidantes who care, yet are objective enough to tell us the truth while speaking encouragement. I can name a number of friends who supported me through the years. In particular I recall fondly two of my male friends who have acted as an encouraging, supportive and brutally honest personal board of directors.
Engage with mentors and sponsors. I didn’t even know at the time that’s what I was doing, but in looking back that’s what they were. I thought I was simply learning from people who had been around a long time and who knew the “system” (which is what mentors do for you). Sometimes these “mentors” were actually “sponsors” in disguise.
Reflect and learn from failures or career disruptions. This was not always fun, but an honest personal inventory of what I learned from the tough situations has served me well.
Continually learn. I read books. I attended career development and leadership workshops. I went back to school for a graduate degree. I still actively seek out learning opportunities.
Access the knowledge of experts. I came to realize the benefits of working with external experts. It’s tempting to think “I can figure this out on my own.” That may or may not work. If it does, it’s still painful and lonely. At various times in my career I engaged coaches. When I encountered new challenges or became unsettled I would consciously seek out guidance and skill development from a coach.
Career progress happens one step at a time. One new relationship. One new assignment. One new skill. One new workshop. Each of these steps empowers you to feel better about where you are and gives you strategies for moving on. The key is to keep taking those steps.
Take your step forward by signing up for a module of Creating Your Career Opportunities™ here.
What I’m Reading: “The Road to Character” by David Brooks. I’m always reading something for my personal or professional growth. This book will trigger reflection on your own personal measure of success. Per the author, “Joy is a byproduct experienced by people who are aiming for something else. But it comes.”
Susan Hodge created Women Leading Together in order to provide seminars, workshops, and coaching circles to help career women move forward to create fulfilling careers. Visit our website at www.WomenLeadingTogether.com.