We’ve all had this question asked to us: What do you want to be when you grow up? Some of us actually became those things and some of us changed our minds along the way or got caught up in constant shoulder-taps that forged our way. Regardless of what path we took to date, having a game plan is crucial for what comes next. Think about it this way – would you play a game that has no specific achievement at the end?
Level 1: Set your end game
Good career decisions come from knowing what you are working towards. If you don’t have an end game, you will make decisions based on things that will add no professional value. Making decisions solely based on variants like money, a shiny new possibility, and job titles will set you on a haphazard path to nowhere. At some stage, you’ll find yourself feeling like something is missing and before you know it, you’ll feel like the worst player in a never ending game.
Be assured this problem isn’t unique to you. A lot of clients I’ve worked with have been confused and dissatisfied with their current situations but it’s not too late to make a change. Setting your end game will bring more clarity on the decisions you need to make going forward. It doesn’t have to be 10 – 20 years down the track but it helps if it is at least two career steps away.
Level 2: Bridge the gap
Just like in any game, the more you play and the more levels you pass, the more informed you become. You know where you need to improve and you know what “upgrades” you need to perform better at the next level. Similarly, knowing what you’re working towards makes it easier to identify the developmental gaps. Identify what roles and opportunities will help you learn and gain the knowledge you need to progress towards your final destination. Do you need more experience in P&L, people management or strategy creation? Or exposure to another region, industry or stakholder type? Do you need expanded scope and more access to the wider business or a role that helps you deep dive and master a skillset or mindset?
Level 3: Cancel out the noise
Seriously, put on your gaming headphones. You’ll have a lot of options given to you, many opportunities coming your way and of course, all the people with their opinions on what is best for you. Cancelling out the noise is easier when you know what you’re working towards and how you’re going to get there. It will help you stay focused, be more strategic about your decisions and stay motivated knowing you’re on the right path.
By having a concrete end game and a laid out game plan in mind, you will be able to make informed, strategic and laser-focused decisions which will help you accelerate your career journey. Working with a clear purpose in mind leaves little room for distraction, and offers a greater level of job engagement and job satisfaction.
If you focus on your end goal, follow your game plan, and strategically play each level of your career, there’s no stopping you from winning.
How do you keep your head above water in the sea of meetings that toss and turn you from one focus to another? Without space to think you are trapped in the dark depth of “doing”. This is a place that drowns creativity, ideation, strategic thinking and proactive decision making; all qualities required to drive your career success.
Hard Work Isn’t Enough
It is so easy to get caught up in the constant ebb and flow of the day-to-day grind. We all do it. I’ve had some variation of this conversation with clients from C-suite to entry level and as a business owner, I have this conversation with myself regularly. What I have learnt is that without a success space, you become a doer not a leader, and those career-defining ideas sail right past you.
I’ve been a doer; in fact, I’m a great doer. I’m reliable, hard-working, have excellent attention to detail and love to talk about doing the doing. Doing is my comfort zone. In my past life as a marketer, I got promotion after promotion by doing the doing until one day the promotions stopped. It was a rude awakening that my hard work wasn’t enough on its own. I now had to deliver a vision, strategic plans, and somehow carve out time to foster team growth to make it all possible.
Create an Empowered Space
Like many of my clients, I had to find the right space to learn, think, and ideate. This I call my "Success Space". The time I spend in my space empowers me to have a relevant and fresh voice, to bring career-defining ideas to life, to showcase my capabilities, and to build my brand.
For anyone wanting to bring their A-game, creating success space is critical. Here are some ways to remain focused on delivering the results that matter:
Teach People What’s Important
We teach people how to treat us. If we don’t have clear priorities that we value and are willing to fight for, no one else is going to value them either. Teach people what is important to you, make the time, and set yourself up for a new level of focus and success.
Final note, take small steps. The change can be a little jarring for the people around you but trust me, once they see the success you’re creating, they’ll be carving out some success space too!
Comparison is the thief of joy - Theodore Roosevelt
There is no winner in this comparison game primarily because you’re comparing yourself to the perfectly polished and filtered version of someone else. The life people share on social media is meant to be picture perfect. The perfect connections, the influential network, the ideal job and career progressions but what you don’t see is the thought, effort and circumstances that led to that. We take a picture perfect life of someone that is shown to us and compare it with our life – something that we know in and out, something far from perfect.
I understand it’s easy to get carried away in comparison when all you see around you are successful professionals. At some point we’ve all done it! We see big names, big jobs, big offices and bigger promotions always coming to others around us but let me tell you, as much as it all looks flashy and fabulous, the grass isn’t always greener in other people’s careers (trust me, I’ve worked with my fair share of professionals!).
When we compare ourselves to others, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to be present in our here and now. This in turn can lead to feeling disenchanted, disengaged and wanting to jump to the next shiny new thing!
New Year, New Me!
It is common practice for people to start looking for jobs once the Chinese New Year period ends and bonuses are paid out. Various research reports that the peak time for hiring in Asia is in fact during the first quarter between February and March. A stampede built up over the year enticing people to start dreaming of doing something new and different. Many people start comparing roles to others who they believe are happy and therefore must be in a “coveted job” – a job so great that it’s worth considering it as a possible career move.
Understanding the reality behind job moves is crucial. More often than not, the people who appear deeply satisfied are the ones who have made powerful career moves based on their own self-discovery and combined this with role alignment. This is coupled with a healthy dose of positive mindset and resilience to weather the ups and downs that come with every role.
Changing your job or career just because someone else seems happier at work than you is a mistake. Jumping without consideration is flirting with disaster and creating a red flagged CV that charts a career of tenures of one to two years only.
Instead of comparing, consider the following actions:
Doing this, you will gift yourself the time to stop, breathe and make a more considered decision.
So stop basing your journey on the perceived success and happiness of someone else. Take charge of your situation and create a path that’s right for you.
What you focus on is what you get.
Get what you want by having one singular focus for 2019 — no NYE tick-list (seriously, who has ever successfully nailed out that list?) and no complicated spreadsheets. We’re talking a single, laser-focus that would be a game changer for your life.
What’s your game changer?
What is the one thing that would turn your life on its axis and propel you closer to your version of an extraordinary life? The one thing.
For me, it’s time.
Time to be lost in gravity-challenging Lego building and long snuggly hugs surrounded by Barbie and her ridiculously genetically blessed posse. Time to read, meditate, and chat on WhatsApp with girlfriends. Time to sit next to the water and feel the sun on my face. Time to plan more hikes with my hubby where we can talk and connect and revel in our parenting awesomeness (or not, depending on the day). Time to be me, time to rejuvenate, to reflect and plot on how to continue showing up as my best self. A game changer for my version of an extraordinarily connected life.
A powerful ‘why'
Before we leap into action, we need to test if the ‘why’ behind our game changer is indeed pretty darn compelling. If our ‘why’ isn’t deeply compelling, trust me, it isn’t going to be powerful enough to get you through that fearsome place called the unknown.
Questions to explore the power of your why:
If your ‘why’ doesn’t feel compelling enough it might be time to revisit your game changer and revise it to shape a more powerful ‘why’ or explore other game-changing options that you have a much higher commitment to making happen.
Massive action or bust
You know you are invested, your why is rock solid. It’s time to make this happen.
It’s time to take massive laser-focused action, and this is where shi*t gets real. Like most of us, you are probably pretty adept at identifying something you’d want to change but are you ready to take the massive action needed to make it happen? Not everyday action. We’re talking heart pumping, sweaty palms, out of your comfort zone massive action.
You know that Henry Ford quote: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.”
Time to do things differently:
And to make sure all these excellent ideas transform to action:
For me, massive action towards my time game changer looks like starting my day at 4.45am (gulp!). It's also saying ‘no’ to lucrative but misaligned opportunities (this definitely brings on the sweaty-palms), redesigning my working week (and fear inconveniencing clients – urgh!), and being the queen of no which gives me more time to say ‘yes’ to the people and activities I want more time for. I’m a people-pleaser from way-back, and all of these actions come with a fair amount of discomfort, and that is a strong signal that I’m definitely onto something good!
Ownership and Woohoo
You’ve got your eye on the prize, you’re committed and have your list of massive action items to make your game changer a reality. Make sure to have some milestones marked out along the way as a check-point. Remember, your ideas will evolve the more you become immersed and the more evidence you gather about your capabilities (yes, you are so much for capable then you know). Be prepared to make changes to stay engaged and possibly even turn the volume up on your definition of massive action!
Finally, celebrate your wins! The small ones, the big ones, the personal and public ones. Going after what you truly want isn’t for the faint-hearted, but the payoff is life changing.
Here’s to a powerful, rich and rewarding 2019!
Get it done and stop procrastinating!
No rocket science here, a protein-packed breakfast sets you up for the day. Eat that frog. Seriously, this slimy little sucker is the first thing you want to consume in your working day to cultivate productivity. It’s worked for me and hundreds of my clients over a decade, and it will work for you too.
Eat that frog
The proverbial frog is your hardest, sneakiest, indigestible to-do item that you have been avoiding like the plague. You consume that bad boy first thing in the morning and the rest of the day feels like you are freewheeling downhill on a summers day.
The sheer amount of time and energy we invest in avoiding the to-dos that we find challenging could be much better spent doing work we love and excel at, growing our network with coffee meetings, having space to innovate, or upskilling your team to make life easier and more impactful.
Become Productive in 3 Simple Steps
Step 1: Identify your frog
I like to identify my frogs on a Friday afternoon for the following week. I put a target on the backs of five frogs and lovingly name them a different day of the working week. I also spend time doing some preparation to ensure I have what I need to take action on the given day for each of them. No excuse mindset!
TIP: Let people know not to disturb you during this regular ‘meal time’ and proactively combat any distractions upfront!
Step 2: Consume your frog (and happy dance)
It’s Monday morning, I walk into my office, turn my phone to silent, lay out the items I need to eat today’s frog successfully, take a big deep breathe, chew and swallow! It’s a deep dig moment, but the payoff is the relief and pride you feel the moment it’s completed. Time to do a (private) happy dance and celebrate your grit and power!
TIP: If a happy dance doesn’t meet your level of celebration, hold off on having your first cup of coffee until post frog consumption and head out into the sunshine for a walk and celebratory treat!
Step 3: Use frog fuel to power through your day
If you are capable of eating a slimy, wriggling frog by 9.30am in the morning what can’t you do?! The world is your oyster! Dive in and tackle those oh-so-easy tasks and clear that desk!
TIP: Have on a hand a second list of to-do items that are prioritised so you can focus immediately on the first thing and get cracking. It’s all about productivity!
Rinse and repeat the next day, including the weekend! This isn‘t a work only strategy; it can move mountains in your personal life too!
Want to deep dive into this concept? Check out Brian Tracey’s bestselling book: Eat That Frog! https://www.amazon.com/Eat-That-Frog-Second-Procrastinating/dp/0792754840
Meghan Markle is an empowered, driven, professional woman who has worked damn hard to achieve her acting career success. Don’t believe the press; this woman has not naively leapt to a life of royalty without doing some serious exploration and decision making for herself.
Megan has made an informed career choice. A seasoned philanthropic advocate who has chosen a future career that is impactful as a champion of global charitable causes. Like many savvy professional women at a crossroad in their life, she has had to work through what matters most, weighing up the pro’s, con’s and compromises, to make the best decision with the information at hand at that moment. Albeit, this powerhouse of a woman had to make those choices knowing the world was about to weigh in on her decisions.
As an executive coach who has spent the past decade specialising in career strategy and personal branding, I can tell you we need more people to ‘Do a Markle’ and make informed decisions about their careers. Too many people leap from one job to the next lured by an extra 5% pay, a step-up in band level, or a fabulous new title having done next to no reflection and exploration. It is no surprise when they find themselves miserable, disengaged and disenchanted six months later and staring at the prospect of another leap (and another question mark on their cv).
Own your career happiness and be accountable for your success. ‘Do a Markle’ with these 3 Steps:
1. Explore what makes you excited (and miserable).
Get back to basics. Pull out a notebook and write a list of all the past roles you’ve had and note down what you’ve loved doing and what you’ve despised doing. Think of moments when time has flown by, and you’ve felt on fire, and anything is possible – what were you doing? Then think of the times when you’ve felt disengaged and watching paint dry on a wall felt more interesting. Now we know what a role needs to involve and what we want to avoid.
2. Know your purpose.
What are you working towards? This goal doesn’t have to be the big career vision ten years down the track but do identify what you want to see yourself doing (concerning role requirements) in the next 3-5 years. Which of those skills do you have now and what are your gaps? Ok, now we know what skill development opportunities we need to focus on.
3. Rumble with your current role
Can you get what you want (points 1 and 2) without leaping? What are you in control of or who is in your network that you can tap into to get more immediate career satisfaction? Be mindful that we co-create our situations, so what you don’t deal with now will follow you. Ask yourself the question ‘What do I know to be undeniably true about myself in this situation’ and start working on addressing the items listed that are handbraking you from maximizing the current role. Your future self will thank you for addressing this now!
I have no doubt Meghan has deep dived into all of the above steps to help her gain clarity and make an authentic and informed decision. At the end of the day, we are all human beings striving to find our way in this world and contribute in a meaningful way.