As someone who works with thousands of professional women each year to transform their careers, I've been asked almost every question you can think of about professional life. I've also observed over these past nine years what holds women back most from having "knock-your-socks-off" success and fulfillment in their professional lives, and these blocks are not what you'd expect.
Most professionals I work with have achieved a good deal of outward success -- responsibility, promotions, authority, recognition, supervision of large staff and budgets, etc. -- but for the majority, something vital is missing, and they know it in their hearts and souls. They can't seem to put their fingers on what they want most, or figure out how to get it. It's like a secret treasure that they keep hunting for everywhere -- under every rock, in every new job, relationship, boss, organization, country, entrepreneurial venture -- but they still can't find it. I've seen that almost everyone has at least one "power gap," an area in which they just don't have the confidence, self-worth, self-esteem or willpower to take them to the next level that they so desperately long for. The great news is that all of this can change if you commit to, and invest in, doing the inner and outer work required.
What are these secret career success steps that are missing for so many professionals today, and can everyone access the tools they need to build an amazing career?
The first truth is that while having an amazing career is a potential that everyone can grasp, only a relatively few will step up and commit to it. I remember speaking with a coach in the Tony Robbins organization who told me, "I don't care what my clients want -- everybody 'wants' a thousand things. I care about what they'll commit to." I subscribe to that same philosophy about career transformation. Why? Because doing what's required to absolutely LOVE your career -- to be proud of who and what you are in the world and how you're of service, and know you're reaching your highest and best potential, takes a great deal of courage, work, commitment, energy, trust and perseverance -- and it takes walking to the farthest edge of your limitations and jumping -- into the scary new territory that is necessary to take you higher.
Are you one of those who WILL commit to doing what it takes to have an amazing career, or will you just dream about it? Check out the top five steps you have to take below and see if you feel ready for what's required:
The five core steps to create an amazing career:
Step 1: Step back to understand the lessons your life and career are trying to teach you.
Your life is teaching you lessons, but most people just aren't getting them. Every day, you receive powerful guidance about what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong (in terms of getting closer to what you want most out of life). Most just don't recognize these messages as clear beacons to show you the way to go. The first step to an amazing career is to make a deep, critical and fearless evaluation of where you are today -- what's working, what isn't and what you want most. This includes gaining an intimate understanding of what makes you tick -- your personality, values, needs, dreams, legacy and your power "gaps" -- those areas of weakness or insecurity that keep you stalled and stuck. Until you get off the hamster wheel and do this intensive work of exploration and discovery, you'll continue to spin your wheels wondering why you're not happier. (Take my free Career Path Self-Assessment to get you going on this.)
Step 2: Let go of the thinking, actions and behaviors that keep you stuck
You just can't get to the next level unless and until you let go of something big involving the actions and thinking that habitually trip you up and keep you stuck. In the book The Big Leap, author Gay Hendricks explores your "Upper Limit Problem" -- the one key barrier you're experiencing to greater success and fulfillment (and it usually comes from what we've learned in childhood and in our families). I've found in my work (and my book Breakdown Breakthrough explores this) that it's not just one obstacle that holds you back -- it's a confluence of beliefs and patterns that work together to cement you to a lower level of success and joy than you're capable of. In fact, women commonly experience 12 "hidden" crises that keep them stuck.
Can you let go of these obstacles and move forward? Absolutely, but only after you've figured out what they are and consciously work to revise your thinking and behavior around them.
Step 3: Say yes! to your "just right" vision
The third critical step is to identify and articulate clearly the highest and best vision of your future career. If your vision is too vague, lack-luster and low in energy and "juice," your map will be unclear, and you'll go nowhere. If the vision is too far ahead of you, you'll sabotage yourself because you believe there's no way you can get it. It's like Goldilocks and the Three Bears -- you need to identify the vision that's "just right" for you. As Sir Winston Churchill said, "It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time."
Step 4: Explore and try it on
I talk often in my career seminars and workshops about "essence" versus "form." The essence of an amazing career is what you get internally from it -- the feelings you derive, the sense of satisfaction and reward, the powerful outcomes you deliver, and the service you offer to others and the world. The "form" is the exact type of work you do -- including the type of organization, the roles and functions you perform, whether you're in your own business or someone's else's, etc. Humans are limited in understanding their options, so they often glom onto a particular "form" of a career (say, having their own business), assuming that it will most surely provide the "essence" they want. Unfortunately without "trying on" these new directions thoroughly and ensuring that they match your values, needs and goals, you'll choose the wrong form and be miserable.
Step 5: Create it
This is the toughest step, but the most critical. Bringing into being in the physical world what you long for is not the same as dreaming about it. As Maria Nemeth explains in her great book, The Energy of Money, you must avoid "metafizzling." Yes, it's hard work to bring to life an amazing career, but "hard" doesn't have to mean miserable or backbreaking. "Hard" can also mean exciting, stretching, invigorating and thrilling. But you need a solid plan, as well as a sound structure and systems around your dream to support it through the long haul. If it could just fall in your lap, it would have.
In the end, do you deserve an amazing career? Yes, everyone on the planet deserves it. But the real question is, "Will you do what is required to build a career you love and are proud of?"
If you're ready to commit to an amazing career, I hope you'll join me in my new career transformation project -- the Amazing Career Project. See you there!