[Full disclosure: this isn’t an article about workplace accessorizing.]

This article gives attention to a mistake I made early in my career that women are still making in 2018: we leave career success to chance. While selecting attire for my most recent Sunday morning Publix run, I thought about my love for shoes and that’s when it hit me: “Why don’t women explore their career options the way we approach black shoes??” Of course this isn’t true for ALL women, but black shoe options vary based on the weather, the season or the occasion for some. I personally have black sandals, black flip flops, black riding boots, black tall boots with a heel, black ankle boots, black stilettos, black peep toes and black pump options with varying heel heights! Can you imagine having a variety of career options similar to what you’ve created with your pursuit of black shoes? I’m here to tell you IT IS NOT ONLY POSSIBLE, IT IS NECESSARY!

I Googled the average number of shoes women own and the answer is 20. However, only 5 of the 20 are in regular rotation. Having multiple career options in rotation isn’t the problem; the problem arises when you have one option – the role you currently occupy and you’re not proactively considering internal opportunities within an organization as well as external ones. I surveyed my clients only for them to confirm my assumption: women aren’t planning for career success; 80% of respondents don’t have a strategy in place to help them reach the next level in their career.

Chief PowHer Officers: that statistic is too high! It is an unfortunate issue but fret not – you hold the keys to the solution which is excellent news!

We as women can no longer afford to have several black shoe options yet consistently have no idea what’s next for us short-term or long term. Success is planned therefore we must be intentional as it relates to our career endeavors. I recommend the following steps for those of you who believe exercising your career options should be the norm, not the exception.

  1. Clarity: get clear on what you want and what you don’t want. Consider when you’re happiest at work, what you’re doing and which skills you’re leveraging. Create space in your life so that clarity becomes your norm and chaos becomes foreign. You’ll need your head to excel at work but don’t abandon your heart in the process. The clearer you are about what you want, the more likely you are to achieve it.
  2. Industry: Make a list of industries that have opportunities based on what you love to do professionally and/or what you’re passionate about. Seek the opportunity; update your resume and apply. Side note: don’t wait until you’re notified for said date and time to prep for an interview, preparation begins once you apply for roles. Anticipating the interview is a component of the process. Access my complimentary EPIC Interviews Training here
  3. Role: Now that you’ve identified industries, make a list of specific roles by title you can secure based on your professional preferences, education and experience. If money is important for you; consider salary. If telecommuting and flexibility appeals to you, consider roles that offer these “perks”. It’s been said we spend 1/3 of our lives at work, pursue opportunities that provide pleasure and that offer rewards you enjoy.
  4. Community: Gone are the days when competing demands stress you out, take over your life leaving you drained, frustrated and feeling “stuck”. Surround yourself with a Success Team that will encourage you, ask the tough questions required for growth, who will suggest you incorporate self-care first so you can exceed performance expectations, who will challenge you so you can reach your next level and who can access doors you can’t. Your next opportunity as well as your career options can come through the relationships you’ve built. Consequently, your lack of career options could be the result of the career relationships you have NOT built.
  5. Strategy: Create a plan to achieve your career goals which should include your next role, your intermediate position and your long-term role. A Harvard Business Study says 14% of those with goals are 10 times more successful than those without them. Write the vision, have faith you’ll achieve your goals and take action.

In my dream world, women:

  • Build credibility in the marketplace as well as the workplace
  • Create a marketing strategy that increases their individual visibility
  • Increase revenues for themselves, not just their employer
  • Collaborate
  • Take smart risks
  • Plan and prepare
  • Examine infrastructure
  • Leverage technology
  • Question systems
  • Dare to say no thank you
  • Excel at work and know their worth
  • Go boldly in the direction of their career dreams
  • Define career success on their own terms #PowHerMoves
  • Have career options just as they do black shoes

Ericka Spradley is the President 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: ErickaSpradley.com