Career Success: Take Charge of Your Career

By: Marcia Zidle

People react very differently to the waves of change that suddenly flood the work and marketplace. Some, who feel confused or unsettled struggle to keep their heads above water gasping for air. By contrast, others, who may not even like or agree with the changes, nevertheless accept them, get on with their lives and swim forcefully to their new destination. The following three tactics will help you mobilize your resources to take charge of their careers.

Fuel the Fire In Your Heart.
Live your life and career with intention. The key to sustained peak performance is discovering who you are, what you want in life, and then confidently pursue it. Remember, if you don't have your own mission or purpose get one, or otherwise, all you can do is sign up for someone else's. Remember, if you don't know where you're going, how will you know that you've arrived?

Start by develop a career line. Prepare a graph that outlines your career highs and lows from your first job to the present. What kinds of activities were you involved in during your highs - during your lows? Continue this getting to know yourself process by locating your inner energy source. What really gets the juices flowing for you? Is it challenge? Helping other? Being creative? Having authority? Making an impact? Whatever motivates you, write it on a card and look at it every morning.

During times of change and uncertainty, you must realize that it's often your outlook or your attitudes--- what you bring to work, not what work brings to you---that determines your career success. Can you look at what's happening in the workplace and not take it personally? Can you accept the luck of the draw and move on? Can you bounce back on your own rather than allow yourself to wallow in negative emotions? You must learn to accommodate adversity. It can either break or build character. Which is it doing for you?

Forget Being the Lone Ranger.
Are you familiar with the saying: "It's not what you know, .but who you know." Well in today's changing work world, the new saying is: "It's not only what you know, it's not only who you know, but, as important, it's who knows you and your work."

First thing to do is to inventory your network. List all the key people in your career world. Are your contacts mostly within your area? Or are there linkages into different departments, divisions, subsidiaries? What about outside your company? What kinds of relationships do you have? Hi and Good by? Or Hi! What have you been doing? Develop relationships with a whole array of people. It's your ticket to career advancement and success.

Know and be known. Work groups or teams, not hierarchies, are now doing the real work in today's workplace. How are you going to find out about the latest hot project? How are key people going to know about you and your talents? An active network is the most effective tool fin this age of uncertainty. Realize that contacts are the bread of career life. In times of change, information and relationships are a source of power.

Don't Just Stand There, Do Something.
Recognize a successful career in not a spectator sport. Opportunities do not just get placed on your desk. Organizations will no longer provide you with clearly defined career paths. Don't be an absentee landlord and neglect your personal career management. Know what you want and actively seek it out. Take charge of your career. Remember, if you don't control your own destiny, no one else will.

Start by doing a career check up. Ask yourself: "Where am I? Where do I want to go? What are some paths to get me there? What are possible barriers? What are my supports? What resources am I going to need? How will I get these resources?" Failure to take charge of your career leaves you a victim of your own neglect and the changing workplace.

Always have several options in your back pocket. Focus on career contingency planning. Do you have a Plan A, a Plan B, and even a Plan C? What conditions could possibly change in your job; your company; or your industry? Do you have a clear idea where you could jump if unexpected roadblocks arise? Where else can you apply your skills and showcase your talents? A successful career is not fixed in stone, but is fluid and subject to change.

Remember, the name of the game is action. Make sure your career goals are not stranded on a island called: "Someday I'll..........." If you want something, don't just think or talk about it. Figure out a way to make it happen. Set specific goals. Develop action plans. Have realistic timetables. Find the resources you need. Keep alive in today's rough seas and begin preparing for tomorrow's raging waters.

About the Author:

As a busy leader, are you looking for a help desk to quickly solve your people problems so you can get back to growing your company? Marcia Zidle provides People Smart Power Learning Programs and What Really Works Business Management Success tools in these leadership areas: relationship building, strategic staffing, employee motivation and performance management. Contact Marcia at or 800-971-7619.

Check out these other articles in the Careers category:

How to Feel Satisfied In Your Career
Gray Hair, Black Prospects
Four Simple Steps To Better Results With Your Resume
5 Things You Need to Decide When You Get Started With a Job Search