We Dream of Success, but Do We Really Expect It? Three Definitions to Pave Your Path to Career Success

Defining What “Expect Success Month” Means to Your Career Path

My good friend, mentor, and marketing coach, Meredith Liepelt, made me aware that March commemorates many things, including Frozen Food Month. I don’t know about you, but since I live in the Midwest, by March I am so over anything that suggests cold and freezing, this is not what I desire to celebrate.  Another “celebration” more akin to my area of passion and expertise is Expect Success Month (Oh yeah! Right up my alley, baby.)

Because my official job title is  Chief Success Strategist and I make it my mission for you to “Win at Work”, naturally I had to talk about this month’s calendar “event,” particularly because:

  • I owe you a much-belated blog post
  • Anything related to career success is what I help companies and career-minded individuals within those walls achieve
  • I found the title of this month’s celebration intriguing. Why? It begs a great question:

We dream of success, but do we really expect it?

I personally and passionately expect success for my clients, and that conviction in them being able to overcome obstacles and tackle challenges is why 100% of my customer base experiences confidence boosts when I work with them (we actually do measure this).  I am their cheerleader and also their guide, showing them how to actionably get onto a forward moving path toward success.

To help you create your very own path where you can “Expect Success”, let’s talk about three definitions to ponder, and then how you create your success by putting action to those definitions.

Three Definitions to Pave Your Path to Career Success

1.) Expect success by dreaming big.

The word expect comes from the Latin root for “to look out for” – indicating that something is indeed coming or will happen.  What a great way of thinking of your career- actually having an expectation that something impactful and meaningful will come your way.

While you may think having an expectation is a no-brainer, I can distinctly recall going to my corporate job day in and day out over the course of two years and not expecting anything- just simply trying to get through my day.  It is very easy to get caught up in being “heads down” and forgetting to look at your career from a strategic and holistic viewpoint.

Being heads down and working your fingers to the bone is not a career strategy, it is career myopathy.  How can you get your head out of your desk and look at your dreams and your career with greater vision?  Is it as simple as looking to the sky and dreaming big?  Yes it is, and yes, you should.

QUESTION:  What is it that you want to come your way (happen) that would equal success for you in your career overall?

ACTION:

  • Don’t judge or hold yourself back, dare to dream big, put pen to paper.
  • Once it is written down, then take that dream and break it down into bite size chunks with timeframes.

For example, if your big dream is to be a Director in your division and you are three levels from that, investigate what it takes to make that leap.  Do you need larger, more visible projects to prove yourself in order to eventually be promoted level by level?  If so, then make a list of actionable steps to get the next level of project role, what resources, mentors, alliances need to vouch for you or see your work.

This is exactly what I did when I leaped from the cliff and jumped full-time into my company five years ago.  I dared to dream big, put a plan into place and timelines.  It gave me something to aim for and because I was so focused on making that dream a reality, I worked harder and with more efficiency than I ever had in my career up to that point.  Funny how actionable goals get us laser focused and provide the fuel to energize us to work toward an end result.

2.) Expect success by being forward thinking and yet grounded.

While I gave you the origin of the word “expect,” the dictionary definition of expect is to “look forward to” or “to look for with reason and justification” — so a positively anticipated event or occurrence that is within reason.

I know of a young man who expects to represent musicians and sports personalities for their contractual, business, and accounting needs.  He is not a financier, is not an attorney, and has done nothing to reasonably obtain that goal, scoffing at our sound advice on how to get him there.  If he had listened to that advice more than five years ago, he would now be living that dream. Instead he is stuck in his hometown still talking about it, and not living it.

It’s great to dream big, but those dreams will always live in the clouds if they are not grounded in reasonable actions and preparation.  It would be great to wave a magic wand, but even Harry Potter had to work at realizing his magical abilities.

QUESTION:  Thinking back to the scenario about being promoted three levels up to a Director position, what can you reasonably and justifiably wish for in your career this year that would be a stepping stone, or even a major step, to reaching that ultimate career goal?

ACTION:  Take what is feasible and justifiable and write it down in a SMART goal format and check your progress at least once a week to make sure you are keeping on track.  Even better, put a reminder on your calendar to do so.

Simply by writing your goals down – both big and small, studies show you will have a significant chance of actually making them happen through the process of written goals, an accountability partner and making a commitment to yourself and your goal.  Others strongly believe this is creating the Law of Attraction.  I really like this blog post by Melody Fletcher who uses wit, humor and a very straight forward formula that is essentially a SMART goal format along with creating the Law of Attraction.

3.) Expect success by knowing your purpose and traveling that path.

Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose.  So if you are to be successful, you must know the path you will choose to travel and what your end destination will be.  Otherwise, you will be a career nomad, wandering from one place to another and hoping that you have an occasional oasis between job changes, to rest your career-weary self.

QUESTION:  How do you know what path to pursue?

ACTION: Think about what ignites your passion, that you could do over and over again for hours; something that energizes you, and you can make steady income from doing it.

Not sure what your purpose is, first take your current job duties and rate them on a scale of negative 10 to positive 10, with positive ten being the very best of you – your best energy; a task that you really love performing and really thrive in doing.

Those that you rate negatively are bogging you down completely and you should work to avoid doing them at all possible- even if it means changing jobs.

For example, I once rated conference calls at a -10 because they took up 8 out of my 10-12 hours of the work day.  Yes, I had to work 12 hours in order to get my job done because I was on so many damn calls.  I am sure many of you can identify with this.

After doing this exercise I realized I had to make some changes and immediately negotiated with my manager to eliminate my participation in 50% of my assigned conference calls on which I was not an active or needed participant.  Not only did my energy soar after making this change, my focus improved and my productivity went through the roof.   Imagine how much more wasted energy and time I would have endured over the next two years had I not taken this stand and stayed on the same dead end path.

Another example is the time I almost pursued a full-time graduate degree in project management because that was the area I was working in, and I thought the degree would set me up for a promotion.  Thank goodness when I did an exercise of weighing how much I loved, not liked – but loved, project management work, I realized that I found it interesting but draining.  I had zero passion around it.  So I avoided thousands of thousands of student debt, hours of studying and taking tests, and a career path that I would have found mundane and boring.

For career pathing and in doing some soul searching, there have been several books that were literally life altering for me, and many others:  Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck or Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Worried about how to tackle all of this, or this being feasible for you to do on your own?

Another recommendation I will strongly make – invest in a career coach. I have several career coaches that are very instrumental in me keeping on track and in staying true to working in my passion and with focused intention.  I wish I would have done this in my corporate career as I am convinced it would have made a huge difference at critical junctures in my career at that time.

Think of it this way: We spend hundreds of dollars on our hair and make-up. We drop tons of money without a second thought on 4th grade soccer associations and kids “stuff”, but we balk at spending a few hundred on ourselves for life long, life-altering career development that helps to fund all this “stuff”!

Still worried about money and how to make this work?   A little tongue in cheek and in the spirit of March and Celebrate Frozen Food Month- just stock up on the frozen meals, cut back on going out to eat, and pave your very own path to career success.

Seriously though, in other words, EXPECT SUCCESS this month and throughout 2016 by writing it down, having a plan and an accountability partner.  Your path will emerge and you will be on it sooner than you think.

Wishing you continued success.

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