One of the many reasons why people get stuck in a job rut is they fail to understand that their career journey will be filled with the unexpected. You’ll experience U-turns, detours, and roadblocks. You’ll get angry with colleagues, frustrated with the process, and disappointed with the results.
Regardless of your circumstances, your mindset determines your outcome. You can choose to be a victim and wait for someone to save you. Or you can choose to be the victor and accept full responsibility for the outcome of your life.
What separates incredibly successful people from those who never reach their true potential are a few pieces of career advice that we often forget or rarely hear:
- Success is subjective. Most people assume a successful career is defined by climbing the corporate ladder. The problem is in many cases, the higher you climb, the more likely you’ll find that your ladder was placed on the wrong building. Not everyone equates success with money, titles, and corner offices. Not everyone equates success with good benefits, working all day, and returning home to a house, spouse, and kids. Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,Â said “If you carefully consider what you want to be said of you in the funeral experience, you will findÂ yourÂ definition of success.” I couldn’t agree more. You are the only one who can define what success looks like for you.
- A college or advanced degree doesn’t guarantee success. Your good grades aren’t good enough to set you apart from millions of other college graduates. Get involved in activities where you can demonstrate your ability to lead, and be clear about the impact you’ve had. Cultivate meaningful relationships with people who can guide you in mapping out your career. Remember, hiring managers are reviewing hundreds of resumes with the same information, such as “managed X project.â€ Whether you’re a recent graduate or seasoned professional, your resume should highlight a collection of accomplishments and results.
- Being frustrated, rejected, or told no is a good thing. Sometimes no means not now. Frustrated with a process may mean it’s time for you to “create the thing you wish existed.â€ Nigerian entrepreneur Chinedu Echeruo createdÂ HopStop.com after finding it difficult to navigate New York City.Â Misty Copeland, a ballet dancer, was told she wasn’t built to be a professional ballet dancer but later made history by becoming the third African American female soloist at the American Ballet Theatre.Â So when faced with a challenge, ask yourself, “How can I make this happen myself?” In this new age of innovation, challenging the status quo can be a good way to differentiate yourself from the pack.
- Act like an entrepreneur, even if you’re not. According toÂ Forbes, “Being successful means you need to treat your career like a business and treat yourself like a product that you work on improving, year after year.â€ Commit to lifelong learning. Learn how to sell yourself and communicate your value proposition. Pay attention to what’s not being done well in the market, and look for ways to make people’s lives easier.
- Break the rules. How do you expect to stand out if you’re doing the same things everyone else is doing?Â You’ll never get far playing it safe. WatchÂ Sophia Nelson, an American author, attorney, and political strategist promoteÂ the idea that women who take risks in business reap bigger rewards.
- Your employer is not responsible for your happiness. StopÂ waiting for your boss, a performance evaluation, or salary to validate who you are. Sure, employers can contribute to your well-being, but ultimatelyÂ happiness is a choice you make on a daily basis.
- Don’t count on family and friends to support you. In a perfect world every one of your family members and friends would support you.Â But here’s the thing we can all agree on: We don’t live in a perfect world. While you may have the support of some family members and friends, when it comes to taking risk or going the next level, you’ll have to find the courage toÂ be your own cheerleader.
I’ve learned to treat my career as a never-ending story of courage, humility, and perseverance. The bottom line is, it all depends on how you look at it. Will you treat your career as a journey or a destination?
Kandia Johnson (@kandiajohnson) is a communications strategist, writer, and world traveler. She is dedicated to empowering audiencesÂ to tap into their hidden potentialÂ to achieve success.Â Driven by a passion to help people and organizations turn vision into reality, Johnson creates content that educates, engages, and inspires.