While texting a friend and providing encouragement regarding his goals, I recently shared: “No one reaches the top of the stair case at once. It is by incremental steps toward the goal that we achieve success. Intentional, consistent action will get you there one day at a time.” Although my advice may seem obvious to you, it isn’t as obvious to countless women according to a study titled “The Underrepresentation of African-American Women In Executive Leadership: What’s Getting In The Way?”

The research suggests women must take accountability for their career, know what they want and develop a plan to get there. Believe it or not, a similar conclusion in KPMG’s Women in Leadership study indicated of the 3000 women surveyed, 85% of them admitted “I need to take greater ownership of my career.” My takeaway: ALL women regardless of race, organizational position or age not just those who participated in the aforementioned studies must take ownership of their career.

When you decide to take charge of your professional life, it is imperative that you unleash the power of goal setting. Although SMART Goals teach us to ensure the goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely, there are 3 simple steps you can implement to help you accelerate your career even more so.

  1. Write your goals down. In 2006, USA Today conducted a study on people who made New Year’s Resolutions. There were 2 groups of participants; those who had written goals and those who didn’t. 12 months later the results indicated 4% of those who didn’t write goals down followed through on their resolutions. Consequently, 44% of those who did write their goals down honored their commitment to their resolution.
  2. Make a list. This list should include obstacles you will potentially encounter as you pursue your goal, knowledge and skills you may need, as well as a list of people who can assist and/or support you. Prioritize the list so you’ll know what to do first and what isn’t necessarily urgent in the moment.
  3. Take action immediately. When you incorporate discipline and consistent action, you develop momentum. John Maxwell refers to momentum as “The Big Mo” in his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”. He states many times momentum is the only difference between winning and losing. Start to affirm failure isn’t an option and your mind will work to ensure you’re positioned for victory.

In all honesty, what holds women back isn’t KSAs, intelligence, qualifications, emotional intelligence or empathy. Oftentimes, it’s the aspects of our career that we have 100% control over that impede our progress and undermine our success. Once you’ve decided on precisely what it is you’d like to accomplish professionally, don’t overwhelm yourself with knowing everything today. Simply follow the steps I’ve provided then begin to move in the direction of your goal with the commitment to conquer it one step at a time knowing in your gut that eventually, you’ll reach the top of the staircase.

Ericka Spradley, President of My Next Level ensures ambitious professionals and students get hired. As a Career Coach, Adjunct Professor and Author (“30 Min. Career Coach: Interview Basics for High School Students”, “7 Days to Confident Interviews”), she empowers others to take their interviewing skills to the next level so they can ultimately secure employment. Ericka also provides career support/guidance for clients when she’s not working tirelessly to change the career readiness conversation and course curriculum to include interviewing skills. To download your complimentary copy of “5 Simple Strategies to Land Your Ideal Job” click here