Whether you are an entrepreneur or a corporate executive aspiring to higher levels of achievement and success, planning for your future corresponds to empowerment. There is no surrogate for planning ahead. And it does pay off.
Everyone of the 10 women profiled in my book The Missing Mentor: Women Advising Women on Power, Progress and Priorities acknowledged that charting a path and taking specific steps towards achieving dreams and desired wealth are more likely to lead to longer-lasting gains than luck and chance.
In other words, you need to be a “lifelong learner.” Lifelong learners do not take a fatalistic attitude towards their lot in life. A proactive mindset is a must! I made a choice that I would be the last poor person in my family. That’s why I got an education and never stopped learning on the job as well as outside of the workplace. I realized very quickly that the pace of the market place was changing so rapidly that continuing education and training along with flexibility and the ability to embrace change were going to be crucial to my achieving my vision for my career.
Lifelong learners do something everyday to move toward achieving their vision — even if it is just reading a book or having a conversation with someone about an idea. The point is we are always looking for and ﬁnding ways to stay engaged. We read industry journals, which catalog the latest developments in our ﬁelds. We attend professional development courses, which give us the conﬁdence and knowledge needed to apply for that management position. We join professional organizations that give us access to speakers and mentors who can help us by sharing their journey. We apply for graduate school, even when it’s not practical or easy. We listen to the constructive criticism of our superiors because their advice can lead to our success. And through it all, we learn from our mistakes, so that we can do better next time.
A lifelong learner does not hide the fact that she lacks knowledge in a certain area. She is keen enough to know that she doesn’t know, and she also realizes it isn’t knowing that always makes a difference. It is your motivation to do something to ﬁx your lack of knowledge. A lifelong learner does not accept excuses or failures, but instead, goes out and seeks the knowledge needed to win, to succeed. Being a lifelong learner means possessing some humility. None of us knows it all. Those who boast they do often know the least. Those we revere for their expertise in a certain area or breadth of knowledge in a certain subject worked hard to achieve those standings. It was not handed to them. It was only attained after years of careful study and can only be maintained by many years more.
Mary Stutts is the author of The Missing Mentor: Women Advising Women on Power, Progress and Priorities.