Stop—stop typing that email, stop crunching numbers, stop filing documents—and think about what you’re doing. Would you have ever imagined you’d be working where you are today? Does your job match what you’d dreamed your career would be? Or did you settle?
Life’s too short to settle for anything, especially when it concerns important things like your career.
If you’ve ever talked to someone who’s in their 50s or 60s and asked them if they ever settled for anything in their career, nine times out of 10, they’ll say they have—and the thing they settled for turned into regret. Don’t let this happen to you.
So many people live their lives failing to become what they want to be because they can’t find the time to get started. How many times have you heard someone say that one day they will do what they’ve always wanted to do? People think that they can keep their career dreams alive simply by living in a state of becoming. Their rationale goes something like, I am not yet the person I want to become, but so long as I continue to express a wish to become that person, I keep that possibility alive.
But have you ever looked at successful people who effortlessly achieve their career goals? They leave their current jobs only to quickly go on to new and better ones, or they start with great ideas that turn into great businesses. Meanwhile, maybe you’ve been looking for a job for a while and haven’t been able to find something, or you finally snagged that interview only to never hear back from the company.
In the back of your mind, you wonder, Were those people born with a success magnet? No. But there is one powerful—and often overlooked—trait that successful people share: Commitment. It’s the thing that moves people from a state of wishing to actually being.
Step back and take a look at the work you’re doing in your current job. Have you been contemplating a new job or complete career switch for a while now? Then it’s time to stop settling.
But while it’s exciting to get started on your job hunt, it can be tough to stay motivated and keep your energy up over time. And this is especially true if you’re currently employed—aka, you can’t dedicate a full eight hours a day to landing the perfect gig.
So it’s important to dedicate your actions to doing the right things at the right times. That’s what separates those who love what they do for a living from those who don’t—those who end up settling for less. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all career strategy. But there is such a thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to career success.
Here are three tips to help you recommit to your dreams and take powerful action:
1. Start with your “why.”
Having a “why” becomes the foundation for maintaining your motivation. Regardless of the career goal you set, understanding why is what fosters the commitment necessary to get there and fuels your strength to not settle for anything less. It can be easy to forget why we are working so hard. Reconnecting to why you want to be successful in your career in the first place can help you stay focused.
2. Adopt an unwavering will-do mindset.
With “why” firmly in place, the next question is “how.” More specifically, what do you have to do each day to make your career dreams a reality? What actions are you willing to commit to? You need to be clear on what actions will move the needle. Determine your top three priorities—each with the purpose of getting you closer to achieving your goals—then break them up into smaller action steps and move forward.
3. Schedule it.
Add commitment time into your daily schedule. It’s crucial that you make a solid commitment to setting aside this time and protecting it from the more urgent matters that will inevitably come up. Devote time—even if it’s just one hour a day—to developing your career, anything from keeping up to date on industry news to researching and reaching out to industry professionals in order to make connections. View taking time to work on your career development as an actual gift to yourself. When else do you get to reflect on what you really want, why you really want it and how to strategize to make it happen?
Just by being committed and taking powerful action, career success might be closer than you think.
This article was published in April 2015 and has been updated. Photo by GaudiLab/IStock