Was it good luck or hard work that got your coworker their promotion?
Maybe they were at the right place at the right time? Or know the right people?
What about you? How’s your luck these days?
You may have similar career goals as your cube neighbor— let’s say you both want to be the leader who makes an impact on the business. The one who saves the quarter and gets praise from the CEO at the company stand-up. So you both work long hard hours in the office and on weekends.
But after all is said and done, he or she gets the role and you’re left with a,
“Better luck next time.”
But is it really luck that made the difference for your coworker?
You assume the universe offers someone else a stroke of good fortune and simultaneously leaves you on the receiving end of bad luck. But what you’re really thinking of is chance. Maybe you’re overlooking the extra work, effort and planning that helped your coworker win out this time.
Here’s the deal:
Hard work puts you where good luck can find you.
It all boils down to setting a goal, being purposeful in your actions, and finding a way to achieve what you ultimately want. When you realize you have the power to put yourself in the right situations, you won’t need measly luck to get what you want.
Here are our 8 tips for taking your career by the horns and getting what you want.
#1 You Can’t Fake Passion
You may have some aggressive career goals. Maybe you want to be a Vice President of a multi-million dollar department or maybe you want to increase your speaking engagements and build your thought leadership. Whatever your goals are, make sure it’s something you truly want and are passionate about.
It should go without saying, but if you aren’t passionate about your job, industry or company, climbing the corporate ladder will not make things any better. If anything, it will highlight what you dislike about your role, company ,etc.. Unfortunately, this happens all the time.
You’ve probably seen it before: a parent or friend in a job they hate. They work for the weekend and are bitter when those 2 short days are over, because they have to get back to the work they don’t enjoy. This goes on for 30 or 40 years until the retire.
That’s when they finally decide to chase their dream. Often wishing they started sooner.
Don’t do that.
Pick something that you love to do and you’ll find that you’re more motivated to achieve your career goals. Going to work will never feel like a chore, because you have a devotion to getting good at what you’re doing.
Use passion to your advantage.
Channel it by spending time every day working on your craft. Maybe you listen to podcasts (like The Manila Folder), read the latest books, attend industry events or even just work on extra projects at home. Use your passion to hone your craft and get really good at what you do.
#2 Deal Or No Deal
What do you want in life?
It’s an anxiety-inducing question that you’ve been asked since you were a kid. It can lead you in countless directions.
At some point, it’s a question that you need to answer.
For instance, if you want to work for an up and coming technology company, but can’t afford to take a huge pay cut, is it the right path for you? In the case you can’t have it all, what are you willing to sacrifice? What’s a deal breaker?
Don’t waste your time doing something that takes away from what you ultimately want. When it comes to making sacrifices, you need to be practical when deciding which ones you’re willing to make.
You will enjoy the journey more if you get clear on what you want and decide what you are (and are not) willing to compromise to get it.
#3 Have A Plan
It takes a lot of planning and hard work to reach your career goals.
Take a moment to write down your goals. What do you want to do for a living? Where do you see yourself in 1-2 years? Whatever it is, write down your goals and make sure you include anything that’s not negotiable. From there, write a rough plan on how you will get there.
For instance, lets say you want to work in sales for a marketing company based in San Diego. Because you live in Florida and have other obligations, you give yourself 18-24 months to make the transition.
What can you do to set yourself up for success in this situation? To make sure you are working for a San Diego based marketing firm within 2 years? Maybe you make a plan to attend marketing events in San Diego once or twice a year, so you can network with people in the industry. Or you reach out to people on LinkedIn who have roles similar to the one that interests you, and ask them if they know companies that are hiring.
There are an innumerable ways to achieve your goal. Writing it down and making a plan will help you get there.
#4 Patience Will Result in Triumph
Nothing happens over night.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, you can’t climb Everest in an hour, and it takes time and patience to accomplish your career goals.
Your career is a long endeavor, so your career goals need to be long term too. Not to say you won’t have some short term goals that are related, but your overarching goals will generally take time.
And that’s OK.
Just because you don’t make Director of VP after a year or two (which is crazy fast, btw) doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
If you find that your fortitude is lacking, do your best to find a mentor. A good mentor will help you keep the big picture in mind. Plus, they can give you solid advice on how to achieve your goals with fewer mistakes.
#5 Keep Moving Forward
It’s inevitable; at some point you will hit a wall or reach a plateau that seems impossible to move past. At some point you may even ask yourself, “Why do I even bother?”
But don’t give up or give in to a fixed mindset.
Instead, stay tenacious.
When things don’t go according to plan, as disappointing as it may be, try to see it as a good thing. You can learn from the things that don’t go right. You can “fail forward.”
Trust me, my personal career was filled with setbacks. But no situation and definitely no person ever kicked me off my path. Only I can do that.
The same goes for you.
Whatever career challenges you face; be it a demotion, being passed up for a promotion or even being fired, it’s small in the grand scheme of things.
See the silver lining in each challenge and move forward.
#6 Take A Break
You’re going to face a lot of pressure to succeed.
Tight deadlines. Late night meetings. Last minute sales presentations.
It’s a lot to handle. And you may think you don’t have time for work let alone life.
But don’t do that.
Don’t neglect your life for the sake of productivity. Research shows that it doesn’t work anyway and you will find yourself producing low quality work and burning yourself out in the process.
Instead, find time to disconnect each week and take extended vacations when you can.
Success shouldn’t mean you live a boring life.
So make sure you take the time to recharge and take a break.
#7 Use Feedback to Your Advantage
We’ve all been there.
Sitting across from your boss, listening to a list of “improvement areas” you need to focus on in the coming year. Your ears turn red and your heart races because you know you could have done better. And while you know constructive feedback is good, you are secretly hoping your 1:1 meeting will end soon, just so your blood pressure will normalize.
Critical feedback can feel distractive. But it’s also what you need to hear if you want to excel. At this point in your career you know your strengths. It’s your weaknesses that you need to improve.
That’s why constructive feedback is great for experts. It shines a light on your blind spots and shows you what you need to improve if you want to level-up.
Take the feedback and focus on how you can improve those weak areas. You’ll (eventually) be glad you did.
#8 Pay It Forward
Finally, it’s time to give back. Take what you have learned and discover a way to share it with someone else.
This could be something as simple as a monthly mentor lunch, sharing career advice online or creating learning opportunities for interns or entry-level employees.
Think back to the days when you were a student or early in your career. What do you wish someone would have told you then that would make your life easier now? Which mistakes do you wish you could have avoided, if only someone guided you?
Coach others and help them avoid the mistakes you made.
Or give them the career advice you wish you had when you first started out.
Coaching and mentoring others is not just a great way to give back, but it’s also a great way to hone your leadership skills. If being a leader is your goal, take the opportunity to help someone else learn something new and grow.
You’ll find that you will learn and grow too.
Career success is all about who you know and what you know. Learn from and surround yourself with people who are farther along in their career and willing to teach you what they’ve learned. Start by listening to The Manila Folder podcast