3 Remarkable Lessons For Boosting Your Career Success

Climbing to career success

Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.

David Frost

If I asked you to list the things that define your identity, what would you say? Chances are that your career would top the list. And that having career success is an essential part of your identity and self-worth.

It’s not surprising, since most of us spend more time at work than we do with our families. For many years, I defined my self-worth by the size of my paycheck, my title at work, and the respect I got from my colleagues and friends. Each step forward in my career had a ripple effect, making me feel like I leveled up in life. But, it also created an insatiable desire to keep chasing the next promotion, more money and even bigger career success.

It’s true…having goals and creating value in the world adds meaning to our lives. But, many of us find ourselves trapped in the cycle of ambitionchasing success and avoiding failure. The elation of accomplishment can quickly turn into frustration, discouragement and burnout.

So…what’s a recovering overachiever to do? How do you reach your career goals without falling victim to them? Here are three powerful lessons (with the help of theladders.com):

1. We have very little control over outcomes 

Growing up, we’re taught that if we work hard, we can achieve anything. And, yes, hard work and dedication can lead to career success but it can’t guarantee success. According to the author: “When we believe hard work promises success, we feel entitled to results – entitled to outcomes.”

This sense of entitlement makes us feel lost and demoralized if success doesn’t come. We’re betting all our chips on a single outcome that depends on many variables outside of our control. When I was up for my latest promotion, every failed attempt felt like a mini-death. The causes were often outside of my control, like changes in business priorities and canceled projects. But each time felt like a personal failure and another unfulfilled promise to myself.

So, rather than leave our fate to external circumstances, we can choose our own definition of success that is within our control. Some examples of actions that are within your control include:

  • learning a new skill
  • mentoring others
  • pitching a new idea
  • switching careers
  • starting your own business

These are wins worthy of celebrating regardless of outcome. 

2. Outcomes are fleeting

When we chase outcomes, we sacrifice the present for a promise of a better life in the future. I remember thinking: Wait till I get that next promotion…THEN I can start living. And, after all the sweat, blood and tears, when I finally got that promotion…what happened next? I enjoyed the victory for a few days and then the insatiable need for more came back. So, I plowed through to the next goal on my list.

Think about it! We’ve become dopamine junkies. The momentary victory doesn’t satiate our hunger, forcing us to keep seeking the next chase.

Life is what happens between the big moments…it’s about finding enjoyment in the journey. When you enjoy the process, you’re likely to get to your goal faster.  Ironically, you also won’t care as much because you didn’t have to sacrifice your life to get it.

3. Ignoring your intuition is costly

When we operate from a constant mode of pressure and chasing, our logical mind takes over. This leaves no room for creativity or intuition.

Instead, take the time to slow down. “Your intuition communicates with you through your body – that lump in your throat, tightness in your chest, pit in your stomach – all relevant data points.” Being in tune with your intuition will make your work feel more effortless and help you avoid burnout. And, it can help you supercharge your productivity.

It will also prevent you from racing towards the finish line and finding out that you’re at the wrong destination. Instead, you’ll be riding the flow state on your way to career success.

It can feel scary letting go of the certainty of your desired outcome in your career.  But, you can reach your goals more effortlessly if you focus on three simple rules. Create your own definition of successlearn to enjoy the journey, and trust your intuition

For more examples of putting these lessons into practice, see the full article (5-minute read).

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