What will success look like on December 31, 2020?
A couple of months ago I was stuck in traffic on the notorious Interstate 405 in Los Angeles, half-listening to an interview with actor and singer Tim McGraw. He was asked about his success and career. His response, “My career has so much more headroom than where I’ve been.”
Each of us has our own definition of success. It’s a unique perspective on life and work that may share elements with others, but in aggregate, it’s an individual vision. The details change over time, as our achievements inform our experience.
You gain admission to your first choice college or you land the perfect ‘dream’ job. Now what? Success is not static. Your success criteria evolve over time to adapt to your new environment. The key is to maintain momentum, extending your aspirations to give you ‘more headroom’.
How do you develop the discipline to step away periodically to assess your progress and adjust?
To begin, capture your thoughts on what success will look like for you at the end of this year. Use whatever media works for you - just save it in a place where you can reflect and edit over the next 12 months.
Next, design a plan to support your goal.
Identify the skills required to enhance your portfolio. As a guideline, consider the broad skills employers seek – written and oral communication, problem-solving, teamwork and leadership – as well as industry specific competencies.
Stay up to date with your current career field. Read. Share. Utilize social media to establish your expertise, posting original work or sharing links to the posts of colleagues. Check in and comment on the Lenfest Scholar Facebook and LinkedIn site.
Identify how you can acquire expertise. There are a variety of resources available including traditional undergraduate and graduate courses, on-line courses, professional association seminars and certifications.
Develop a network of advisors. Begin with the folks you know, and use them as a bridge beyond your individual network – family, friends, faculty and the Lenfest Scholar community.
Once you have a draft of your plan, ask your advisers to give you feedback. Listen and edit.
As we begin the new year, I suggest we all adopt the attitude that our career has much more headroom than where we’ve been, and avoid creating artificial boundaries to limit what we might accomplish.
For more of Eileen’s advice, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out her posts on the Lenfest Scholars LinkedIn group and the Facebook group. It is never too early or too late to get some quality career counseling!