I find it interesting that people will make assumptions on the current chapter of your life without fully understanding how you landed “here”. Although my bio reads well in today, that wasn’t always the case. I actually struggled with complacency for most of my life because I didn’t realize I was in my comfort zone. Although I progressed within the walls of various organizations, I somehow still managed to stay confined to the limits of my mind as well as my zip code. My career didn’t “take off” until my late thirties. I started a business at 38; graduated from college at 40 only to become an Author and Adjunct Professor shortly thereafter. This article is written for those of you who feel “it’s too late”; for those of you who are wondering what it takes to accomplish success “later in life”.
Here are the 5 things I incorporated that not only changed my career; they actually changed my life.
- Expand your thinking: I can remember reading Black Enterprise prior to starting my business. I would ask myself the “tough questions” about my bank account, my goals and my choices. It was then I recognized I needed to unlearn some things I subconsciously held as “truth.” By reading my Bible and books such as “The Wealth Choice”, “The Success Principles”, etc., I was able to renew my mind, create a new reality and think beyond my current environment.
- Use fear as fuel: Not only did I withdraw the balance of my 401k without another job in the wings in 2006; I actually relocated 18 months later to a city where I didn’t know a soul! At some point, I had to believe in myself enough to know that even when things don’t work out as planned, I learn along the way. I also recognized that I could choose fear or faith, that they don’t co-exist and that one yields way better results than the other. Now it’s onward and upward; faith forward.
- Create a vision: Did I mention I was the planner who didn’t have a plan? I spent way too many years winging it! What I can share with 100% certainty is vague goals produce vague results; distractions are plentiful and it’s easy to remain off course if you haven’t charted a course to begin with. If you haven’t identified your career goals both short and long-term, today is the best day to start. Simply make 3 columns; in the first column capture your goals; in the middle column number them by priority and in the 3rd column, capture the completion date. You now have a vision-take action.
- Stay abreast of trends (industry and hiring): You have mastery within you. You do something so well that it takes minimal effort to achieve success in this space. Whatever that “thing” is; operate in that space and own it as if it it’s your first name. In addition, keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your organization as well as your industry. At any point in time, you must be able to engage in a business conversation, articulate how your role impacts the organization as well as what your strengths are. Let’s not forget your resume must be current and your interviewing skills should be stellar. It’s nearly impossible to land your next role without a resume and the ability to interview with excellence.
- Have support: I am eternally grateful for my family, friends, mentors, followers, advocates and sponsors. I decided my dream was too important and that I couldn’t let it fail because approaching strangers was uncomfortable. I surround myself with those who “get it”, meaning my purpose and goals; with people who “get me” meaning those who love me enough to support me, tell me the truth and hold me accountable; with those who compliment my weaknesses meaning others who are strong where I need assistance. Build your success team from the ground up if need be, just don’t attempt to reach your next level alone. Success is never a solo act; accelerate your progress and know that everyone needs help at some point in time. Also understand that you are the CEO of your life as Tony Gaskins says. You decide who gets to be promoted, demoted and terminated on your success team.
By incorporating these simple strategies, I became so self-aware that I was able to launch a business and finish college all while working-full time. These strategies not only took me to the next level in my career, but they also elevated who I am as a person. Just know, it’s not too late for you to reach your next level- your time is now!
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