Taking Your Career Seriously
“No one will ever take your career more seriously than you do”.
Does that sound familiar? I still don't know who told me that, but it is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. I think it's great advice and worth sharing again with all of the readers of this site. Similar to what I mentioned before, you can swap out “career” for “success” or “promotion” or “job”, and it works just as easily and just as well. W
hile this could be seen as “How Bad Do You Want To Succeed – Part 2″, I wanted to offer some practical suggestions for when the rubber meets the road.
But first, what goals do you have for yourself over the next 6 months?
Do you want to get promoted? Do you want to earn a raise (yes, I said earn)?
Do you need to take a step back and examine where you are now?
These questions are why no one will ever take your career as seriously as you do; if you don't know the answer to them, neither will anyone else.
Below are some tips on how to take your career into your own hands and how your can start taking your career seriously:
1: Don't wait. Too often we make the mistake of playing the wait-and-see game; we just wait to hear from a hiring manager or recruiter. We wait to hear back from doctors. We wait for the game to start. Maybe, sometimes, are we waiting for life to begin?
Don't wait until tomorrow if you can get it done today. “Procrastination, the opposite of decision, is a common enemy which practically every man must conquer”, Napoleon Hill. Just as in the case of Jeremy Lin, we have to begin our journey toward success today; we cannot wait for the opportunity to present itself then decide we need to get ready.
2: Take stock of what you're good at. Know your strengths and be able to articulate them to anyone who asks, “why should I hire you?”. By knowing what you're good at, you'll be better equipped to recognize opportunities that play to your strengths when they arise and be able to take advantage of them. Work on what you're good at and become experts at that ability and then become great at it.
3: Know where your weaknesses are. Could you be more organized or more punctual? If you know your weaknesses, you can improve in those areas. Having a plan to improve on areas that are lacking is just as important as emphasizing what you excel at. Work to reduce and eliminate your weaknesses. Turn your weaknesses into strengths. This could be a very difficult thing to do but could also be the thing that brings about the best changes within you.
4: Be able to articulate why you've been successful. If you've taken your local club to the top of its game, say so. If you've reduced costs and improved efficiency in your current job, say so. But here's the catch. If you say what you did, you have to be able to describe how you did it. Oftentimes the how is more important than the what of a project. If you try something and it doesn't work out like you planned, but you learned something, that can be a success. Don't judge a project's results solely by whether or not it was technically successful, but by how much you learned in the process. Take Thomas Edison's advice as an example: “Results? Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward…” Luckily for the world, Edison didn't stop trying before he got the light bulb right!
5: Follow up. After an interview for a job, don't just wait around for the interviewer to get back to you; anyone can do that. This is one of the easiest ways to take control of your career and one of the clearest examples of how taking your career seriously is something you must do. More times than I can count I've heard stories where people interview or apply for a job and then just go about their business. Even if things go well, people rarely follow up. Take control of your career by reaching out to the employer; say thank you if nothing else. Recruiters won't take your career into their hands and they won't force you to keep in touch.
6: DWYSYWD. This is one of my favorite expressions and one of the best ways to tell if someone is serious about success. So what does it stand for? Do What You Say You Will Do. Easy, right? Wrong. This little phrase, (dwizzy-wid) is one of the biggest determiners of how seriously someone takes their success. Will the person to whom I'm talking do what they are telling me they will do? Did the person I met with last week do what they told me they would do? You'd be surprised how simple this can be and how critical it could be to the keen eye. For me personally, you only get so many chances before I know you're full of it. Do what you say you're gonna do. If you say you will do something, do it. It's no more simple or complicated than that.
You have control over your successes and you have a hand in creating your future. If by taking your career seriously you achieve your goals, would't that be a worthwhile investment of your time? Just remember to have fun and relax while you're doing it. Work hard and play hard. Take your career seriously, but don't take life too seriously.