If you have your sights set on achieving career success–or perhaps more career success than you’ve achieved so far–remember this: It’s NOT an overnight event. It almost certainly won’t pop up right in front of you without any effort (or very little effort) on your part. As movie great Cecil B. DeMille once said: “The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly.”
Few things come as easily as you might like, and career success isn’t one of them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with shortcuts attached. You need to know what you want to achieve (success doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone); then you need to be willing to work toward it. I’ve seen some people achieve remarkable success that way.
Of course, you might know or have read about someone who seems to have achieved impressive career success with relatively little hard work in that direction. However, I’d be willing to bet there’s more to the story than you realize. For example:
An article titled “The Most Unforgettable Overnight-Success Stories of 2014” talks about several “overnight success” situations. However, if you read it, you might notice a couple of points: (1) Although technology helped in a lot of cases, the success still wasn’t always “overnight”–it might have come at the end of a long, hard road; (2) Some of the apparent overnight successes evaporated almost as fast as they started.
In my book, if it doesn’t last a good long while or morph into something even better, it’s not much of a success. An achievement that’s built on a flash-in-the-pan basis won’t provide you with the career success you might expect.
As I said, success can mean something different to you than it does to your boss, your co-worker, a relative or friend, etc. To me, it means at least partly that I get to do what I love–helping people achieve the new job they want, put together the career management plan that’s going to position them for the next career leap, and so on. It also means spending time with family and my two dogs. What does it mean to you?
Achieving career success might involve a lot of elements. As this graphic indicates, those elements can include education, experience, ambition, and networking, among others. What you do with the various pieces is up to you and depends on what target you’re aiming at.
For instance, if you want to reach a senior management position that requires (or at least expects) an advanced degree, you’ll have to consider what it would take for you to get the degree if you don’t already have it.
On the other hand, if your career goal requires several years of experience in a particular field or industry, you’ll need to find a way to get that experience, which in some career-change situations could mean taking a step down in order to work your way up again.
I don’t believe you can “have it all,” but I do believe you can achieve career success–as you define it–if you’re willing to work for it and use wisdom in how you do that. In other words, don’t give up something irreplaceable to attain career success and then find out you didn’t really want to lose whatever it was.