Do You Know Your Career Destination?

Do You Know Your Career Destination?

If you get on the highway without a destination in mind there is no telling where you’ll end up, and even if you do know where you’re going you need preplanned goals along the way. To make it a successful trip you need reservations for lodging, the right clothes for the trip, and maybe GPS coordinates. Your car has to be roadworthy, and your credit better be good unless you plan to carry a suitcase full of cash.

Career goals are no different. If you don’t plan every step of the way – or if you get distracted and take the wrong exit or stop paying close attention to the road – you can experience an unexpected detour or even an accident that leaves you stranded.

Being crystal clear about where you want to go and knowing what you want to achieve is critical. I often work with leaders and high achievers who have a single goal – they want to get promoted. But when the opportunity arises they are lost and confused because they weren’t prepared for it – or they seize the wrong opportunity and it distracts them from their ultimate goal and career dream.

Do you see yourself wanting to become the next Director of Sales, Vice-President of Finance, or the CFO of your organization? Whatever your career aspiration may be, it’s important that you first believe in it, understand it, and picture it in your mind as a cohesive vision.

When you know where you are headed, announce your intention to others – through specific actions, benchmarks, skill sets, and a distinct attitude and personal brand. Most people are afraid to claim this intention for fear that if it doesn’t come true they will have failed. But that is a self-fulfilling mindset for surefire failure. You’ve got to believe it and hold it alive in your mind, regardless of what the naysayers or negative voices in your head are telling you.

Some psychological researchers theorize that when we picture something as being real in our mind and really believe it, our mind has difficulty distinguishing that imaginary self from our real self. The mind begins to accept our imaginary vision and dream as reality. That causes us to naturally act the part and attract our goal to us until it does actually become real. Visualizing in this way is a very powerful tool that many leaders don’t utilize to really bring them success, but it works every time if you do your work!

Here are Six Daily Tips to help you implement this great resource:

1. Believe You Can Achieve It!

You have to really believe with complete confidence that you will receive your next promotion. There can be no negative doubts playing in the theatre of your mind to dilute determination or express weakness. Exude successfulness and attract success.

2. Practice Daily Visualization

Start by thinking about how it feels to “be” at the next level. Try to experience the emotional rewards of that prized promotion and use them to fertilize the seeds of your vision throughout the day. If you really want to get promoted it must become a vivid mental photograph that you refer to and add details to every single day.

3. Set Your Goals with a Strategic Plan

Knowing the end game is not enough. You also need a long game that gets you from point A to point B. What developmental feedback have you received regarding what you need to do to qualify for a promotion, and what steps are you taking to accomplish those things? Outline the goals, being specific, and break down bigger goals into more manageable bite-sized chunks. That way you’ll reach incremental goals along the way to give you a continual sense of accomplishment that fuels your momentum.

4. Don’t Quit When Things Get Tough

If I had decided to quit each time I faced a new challenge or setback I would never have worked at Macy’s. But I toughed it out and was rewarded with a fantastic 26-year career in an outstanding organization. Then I faced the bigger challenge of going out on my own to start my own company. Now I have the challenge of expanding that business to build on my recent successes, but I am more confident than ever because every time I’ve embraced the challenges they have prepared me to play a bigger game in life. Yes, you’ll be nervous and maybe a little scared – but harness those feelings and use them as impetus to push you forward and you’ll be amazed at how much strength you get as that brave “can-do” attitude distinguishes you from the competition.

5. Go the Extra Mile

Every week I talk to top management in Fortune 500 companies and they tell me that what they are looking for in today’s difficult economy is self-motivated people who go the extra mile to exhibit natural leadership without being asked. If you only do the minimum then you will be noticed and remembered for that. Show your organization that you are not mediocre but have unique value and are eager to assume more responsibility. Focus on those attributes and you won’t have to ask for a larger salary and prestigious title because those who are looking for great leaders will identify you and proactively seek you out for promotion.

6) Learn the Art of Getting Promoted

I’ve always enjoyed being a short-cut girl, so I love to work with people who have already mastered whatever it is I am trying to do. It’s like standing on the shoulders of giants. This saves me a lot of time and money in the long run. That’s why I offer my own unique blend of experiences and expertise to those leaders who want to advance quickly up the corporate ladder. I can be their champion or giant.

One thing I have completely mastered over the past 30 years is the process of getting promoted in record time, and if you want to enjoy the same kind of rapid success I can show you how. I went from the accounting department to a position as a top executive, and I did it in just 18 months – after being told that I was not management material. Then I brought lots of my colleagues and protégés along by showing them the same strategic process.

I’d love to hear from you if you have some other ideas you think are important for helping leaders keep on track, motivated, and successful about their next big career move up the ladder..

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Sarah Hathorn is a professional image consultant, certified personal brand strategist, speaker, and author. Her company, Illustra Image Consulting, works with high-achieving future leaders and large businesses by enhancing their corporate and personal brand image to take their businesses and careers to the next level.

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Copyright © 2011, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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