People often talk about the “career ladder” or “path” to career success. Interestingly, some people seem to be naturals and climb the ladder with ease, whilst others flail about on the lower rungs. Others have difficulty even working out which path to travel. One has to wonder if there is some kind of career etiquette, or hidden rules, to make the journey easier. I don’t know if there are, but if they were, this is what I would imagine they would be…
Rule One: Define Your Own Success
Think for yourself and don’t fall into the trap of comparing your life to everyone else. Other people are not your benchmark for success. I’ve been there myself. When I first moved to London from New York, my life ticked many boxes. I had a fantastic job and friends I loved. I was in good health and on the verge of a new life but I still felt as though I was not successful. I felt this because unlike many friends I was, unmarried, with no sign of the two point five kids and the big house in the country. When I started to be honest with myself about what I truly wanted from life and defined my own success I realised I was already successful.
Rule Two: Get Comfortable With Walking Away
We often remain too long in bad situations such as letting toxic people stay in our lives and remaining in bad jobs. When I was in the run for a big job promotion and needed to focus on my career, I decided to stop socialising with people who were negative influences. Instead, I surrounded myself with positive individuals with similar interests and goals. To accomplish our goals and live productive lives, we sometimes need to hit the eject button and eliminate anyone that drags us down.
Rule Three: Forget Balance…Prioritise
Work life balance is a myth. This is something I used to strive for, but the truth is that there will never be a perfect balance. Rather than striving for balance, I decided to prioritise. Your priorities can shift on a daily, if not hourly basis…and that’s actually okay. Sometimes you do need to focus everything on a work deadline. Equally, there are times when getting to the gym becomes a top priority or spending time with my family. By prioritising, you avoid spreading yourself too thinly trying to achieve the myth of balance. Prioritisation is an accelerator to success.
Rule Four: Create Options for Yourself
One of the biggest lessons in my career was how to create options for myself. I learned not to stay in a bad job or wait to be told if I was going to get a promotion. I continued going on interviews and engaging with recruiters..even when I loved my jobs! Interviewing lets you make connections and understand the options available. Keep in contact with at least two recruiters in your industry that can keep you informed about compensation trends and potential job opportunities. Having options gives you peace of mind and keeps you in the driving seat of your own career.
Rule Five: Remember the Ones You Love
Work isn’t everything. Your loved ones are your ultimate support system. Time with loved ones is a valuable asset. Create space for the ones you love and you will be okay, whatever happens.