While fiscal cliff fears are declining and job growth continues to stabilize in 2013, with unemployment still hovering near 8 percent and half or more of recent college graduates out of work, modern professionals and job seekers should be equally aware: it's still a brutal environment out there. Worse, nine people of every ten you'll ask what it takes to succeed will tell you one thing: passion -- ironically, just one small part of a well-founded strategy for winning that in and of itself can also lead to a lot of pain and heartache if not paired with other, equally-important attributes of a properly-formulated plan.
True: Unless you have passion for a specific topic, chances are you'll seldom attack an avenue of inquiry with the gusto needed to become a subject matter expert or force within it, let alone cultivate the persistence to see endless setbacks through, and by proxy, potentially get ahead. But as millions of unpaid, overworked bloggers, video hosts and enthusiasts toiling endless hours to little apparent net effect outside of personal satisfaction can also attest, passion alone often won't get you further than fandom, and may in fact actually walk you unprepared into a professional meat grinder if you haven't done your homework.
Looking to really get ahead in life and business? Here are five essential ingredients for success you're better off following -- passion and persistence inevitably being among many so-called Ps you'll bring to bear, but not ones it's easy to pin a lasting strategy upon in its entirely.
Purpose: - To get ahead today, it's essential that you have a sense of purpose. You need an end goal, you need to understand that goal, and you need a mission statement that outlines how you're going to accomplish it. Passion is a fantastic motivator, but if you don't know how you're going from point A to Point B, then you're going to get lost before you end up anywhere near your final destination.
Platforms - As you work towards your objective, build platforms that will help you further your goal. Basically, you want to set up a stage that showcases your talents via works of value. Some examples of good platforms are blogs, e-books or even an active Twitter account with a faithful audience. There are more examples, but the basic idea is to have a vehicle that you can build upon.
Processes - To build any kind of platform, you need to think about the methodologies and strategies you're going to use. You need to smash ceilings to build skyscrapers, but you also need floors to stand on as you construct them. Even a three-minute TV segment needs to be assembled with a lot of care and a lot of work -- ideally, the kind that's scalable and can be replicated without driving you insane.
Programs - Don't get overwhelmed. Break down those platforms and processes into smaller groups of tasks that you can make happen. Think about the research you need to do, how you're going to connect with your audience, the marketing you need to have in place, and so on. What is the product you're going to create at the end of the day? It's important to know, but so are the everyday groups of tasks you'll need to get a handle on to actually assemble it.
Pinions - Dissect those groups of tasks down into individual pinions -- day to day steps and goals that bring you closer to achieving your desired end results. Even when your goal seems very far away, pinions work like railway ties to help keep the engine of motivation moving forward. It doesn't matter how slowly you move, as long as you're moving.