The internet was abuzz celebrating and debating whether or not Kylie Jenner is deserving of the label “self-made.” If the argument is she has an advantage because she’s a member of the Kardashian clan, I’ll raise my hand to add “her brother Rob is as well.” Certainly, there’s more to her success aside from her name although it does have significance in this conversation. I shared with a friend last week that “self-made” has in some cases meant “wealth that wasn’t inherited”. Another definition of self-made is “to become successful or rich due to one’s own efforts”. This is where the conversation shifts from Kylie to us as individuals:  one’s own efforts.

Whether or not society extends grace to Forbes and Kylie, doesn’t matter to me. What does matter is that success is intentional, it is proactive and that it doesn’t happen by default – it happens by design, desire and calculated, tactical action. When my research indicates that at least 50% of women don’t have a career strategy or a plan, it suggests that women are simply allowing their careers to happen and that they aren’t taking ownership when ultimately, it’s their responsibility.

I’ll be the first to admit this isn’t the case for all women while in the same breath admitting that I failed to plan for most of my career. My hope is that women won’t continue to make the mistake that I made and countless others are continuing to make.

When it comes to proactively managing your career, consider the following:

  • Forge partnerships – Monitor and measure progress then go above and beyond commitments as you sustain the relationship. Consistently add value.
  • Mentor and be mentored – Success is never a solo act even if you are “self-made.” Seek the wisdom, guidance and advice of others then in return, do the same for someone else.
  • Invest in yourself regularly – Don’t get so consumed with the work that you lack awareness of the work and knowledge required to accelerate your career. Attend events (virtual or in-person) and be present, read or listen to a book, podcast, etc., watch videos, purchase a membership with an organization in your industry, learn a new skill, enroll in a course, hire a coach.
  • Stay uncomfortable, be visible and meet new people – Reach up for new friends in comparison to those who think like you, look like you and who have goals similar to yours. Don’t be afraid to stretch so you can learn beyond your current success team.
  • Develop a “Moonshot” – Ellevate’s Mobilize Women Summit taught us that a moonshot is bold; it’s about conquering challenges that no one else wants to touch and creating solutions that are game changers. #Play Bigger #PowHerMoves
  • Create opportunities to learn in an effort to gain experience that results in securing said desired position on your career path.
  • Always understand “The Big 3”: how the organization works, who the key people are and how it makes money.
  • Use your voice – Silence can be perceived as satisfaction. Perhaps you’re qualified for the promotion but because you didn’t communicate interest, someone else was considered and given the opportunity.
  • Be honest – Career transitions impact you both professionally and personally (at home). Have authentic conversations regarding what a career change means to you as well as those who are closest to you.

The definition of self-made will vary but there is an aspect of career that each of us controls: our own efforts. Every day we make choices that either serve us or that severs the ladder of career success. Do yourself a favor and take charge of your career because the reality is, our results are a reflection of not only what we do, but also what we’ve neglected to do. Gone are the days when we can make excuses, we are now in an ever-changing career world that insists we make things happen.

Ericka Spradley is the Chief PowHer Officer of Confident Career Woman which is the premier consulting firm for corporations and the mid-career professional woman who wants to advance, better manage her career, and go further faster. Ericka is an advocate who partners with clients to help women ditch perfection, play bigger and make PowHer Moves by: identifying their next role, creating a career strategy, offering ongoing career guidance, and coaching clients to master interviews. For additional information, visit: