How to Elevate Your Career (and Your Life) to Ensure Ultimate Success

A few weeks ago I was catching up with a colleague, and he was asking me for feedback on how he was conducting his job search. He was not hearing back from any of the companies he was applying to and he was starting to get really frustrated with the process.

After a few minutes of chatting and hearing his strategy, a giant red flag appeared: each one of the applications he was filling out were completely different from the one before it... The companies, the titles, the job responsibilities, the qualifications, and the skill sets were so widely varied that there hardly seemed to be any connection between them other than being open positions.

I very quickly realized a critical component to him landing a new job was missing from his search: intention.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time I’ve come across this scenario.

Many job seekers are in this same boat. Frustrated with the application process, taking on too much, applying to positions online for months at a time, or feeling like a “jack of all traits” may eventually lead you down a path similar to my colleague – simply because you may have started this journey without very clear intentions.

Even though it can be tempting to rapid-fire at all open jobs, one of the most critical parts of landing a new job is investing the time it takes to strategically plan your next steps.

Are You a Chronic Dabbler?

Really, there are two ways to live your life (and, by default, your career): you can live life by default or by design. This is a well-covered lifestyle concept, but it applies so well to how people move through their careers (and life!).

Many people in our industry tend to be chronic dabblers.

They come to me with huge, impressive resumes or ideas. But, when we take a closer look, one thing becomes clear: their experience is so varied and vast that the common threads between each position are few and far between. Or they have plenty of degrees or certifications that they’ve received over the years, but never concretely implemented or utilized the skills they learned from gaining that education in a job.

Dabbling is a great way to build your skills, gain new experiences, acquire transferable skills, and find out exactly what you do and don’t like. However, it really should be a means to an end – with the “end” being your ultimate career of choice.

Let’s be more clear here: It is completely okay to not know what your next step will look like or feel like, but having a bigger picture and vision will allow you to stay on the right path and will innately tell you how to make yes or no decisions.

Turning Your Skills into an Intentional Career

Being intentional with your career means that you have a deep understanding of what direction you want your career to head in.

A lot of us can “wing it,” or follow our strengths, when it comes to building the foundation of our career.

But the truth is you’ll need to put the right energy into the process of building your career and that means making the right choices to elevate your career.

You’ll want to make sure that you are taking steps to turn your skills into an intentional career that will leave you feeling fulfilled while you build a legacy that you can be proud of.

Find Your Focus

Invest time into figuring out what types of positions or roles you are seeking. With this in mind, here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering a career pivot:

  1. What skills are you innately good at? What do you enjoy spending your time doing? What skills have you learned throughout your work or life experiences?

  2. Ask friends and family about your strengths. What do outsiders believe your strengths are? This question might open a whole new set of ideas and opportunities for you.  

  3. When you receive positive affirmation at work, what is the feedback from your managers, coworkers, clients, or customers? What do others see about you that you may or may not recognize or pay much attention to.

As time goes on, use this wisdom to find your focus and pursue opportunities that will bring you one step closer to your goals.

Invest Your Time

Once you find something that you are excited about, it’s time to invest the time it’ll take to make your plans become a reality.

Remember: you need to be strategic about where you are investing your time.

Time is one of the most important factors in this process because everyone is strapped for time. You don’t need to take on more tasks just to add to your resume, you need to be clear about why you are doing any new task.

Before you accept any new opportunities that will involve an investment of your time, ask yourself:

  • Does this align with my vision of my future?

  • Is this new position a stepping stone for my future role, will it actually help me reach my goals?

  • Are these my priorities? Am I being pressured by other people into making this decision?

Be flexible with Your Expectations (Because LIFE Happens!)

When you’re starting to transition out of jobs that aren’t checking off all your “career goal” boxes, you’ll want to set a few expectations for yourself.

These are simple standards that will help you make decisions that keep you on the right path, even if you aren’t 100% sure where that path will lead you.

Sometimes, that means moving across the country. In other cases, you’ll have to take a bigger risk. Or you may have to take a temporary pay cut.

However, if you are working with intention and focusing on these career building steps, you’ll be able to make the right decision each and every time.

Most importantly, I am going to leave you with this very short and concrete sentiment: Anything and everything you do in your life should be intentional. Never waste time doing the things you feel obligated to do or feel society is making you do. YOU DO YOU.

Make sure you are staying true to yourself and following a path that’s right for you. No one can tell you what the right choice is, so think carefully about your own priorities (and your family needs) and strive for absolute success each step along the way.