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Bill Abbate
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What is the best way to succeed in your career? Many of us define career success as having a great job that pays well, so we enjoy some of the finer things while saving plenty for retirement. It would also include having a fine home, great relationships, a strong marriage, and children for some. Of course, how each of us defines career success varies, but this definition will suffice for most of us.

Wouldn't it be great if there were a quick and easy way to achieve career success? While many people promise quick success or shortcuts through their books, programs, and websites, how much of it is real? I have heard enough from far too many how they wasted their money, time, and energy on such things to make me a bit skeptical.

Did you know the world's greatest book of wisdom, Proverbs, from the wisest man of all time, Solomon, warned of such schemes nearly 3,000 years ago?

"Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time." Solomon (990-931 BC) Proverbs 13:11 NLT

If you feel tempted to find the quick and easy way to career success, you may want to have a backup plan!

The road to career success

The best way to build career success is to plan for the long term. You do have a career plan, don't you? If not, you have come to the right place. Let's start by reading some advice from the old Colonel himself:

"The easy way is efficacious and speedy—the hard way arduous and long. But as the clock ticks, the easy way becomes harder and the hard way becomes easier. And as the calendar records the years, it becomes increasingly evident that the easy way rests hazardously upon shifting sands, whereas the hard way builds solidly a foundation of confidence that cannot be swept away." Colonel Harland David Sanders (1890-1980)

While you can chase your get-rich-quick schemes, it would behoove you to plan for the long haul. Figure it this way, you will likely work much of your life anyway, so why not make it work for you?

How can you best pursue success in your career? Start with the basics. To build a successful career, let's look at two things; your vision and the best way to think and act in the years to come.

What is your vision for your career?

Determine what ultimate career success looks like to you. Make the picture as clear as possible. Begin with the end in mind by planning how you will end your career.

  • Where will you live? Be specific as to location and type of dwelling.
  • What will your lifestyle be like?
  • What will you do?
  • Who will be with you?
  • How do you want your health to be?
  • What kind of traveling will you do?

What else do you want to include?

The main thing about each of these questions is to get as detailed as you possibly can. Dream a little. If you are married, dream with your spouse. When you determine what you want, imagine something more. Dream big!

How to be during your career

In the meantime, how can you think and act to ensure career success by achieving what you want at the end of your career? Be as specific as possible and consider the following:

  • Be respectful, always
  • Work with integrity
  • Show up and follow-through. Every time without fail
  • Provide as much value as you can
  • Be as appreciative as you can so you can keep a proper attitude
  • Stay on top of your game through continual learning
  • Help others when you can
  • Name a specific amount you will save each month and where it will be invested (in dollars, not percent)
  • Be mindful of personal expenses. Be disciplined, and make sure you pay yourself first (savings and investing) while practicing delayed gratification

What else would be valuable to add to this list?

If you can live with each of the above items, you will drastically increase your chance of having a successful career. Visualize your workdays, months, and years as clearly as you can. Dream about how you will spend your time and the successes you will have along the way. And again, don't be afraid to aim high and dream big. If you are married, be sure to bring your spouse into your plan. Their input will be invaluable, and their support crucial to your success.

Final thoughts

There is an old saying that as soon as you take something for granted you begin to lose it. Don't take your career or anything else you value for granted. Approach this work with the intent to be in it for the long haul. When you plan and intend to have a successful career, the chance of achieving it increases significantly.

When it comes to your career, remember what the 26th president of the United States admonished:

"Nothing worth having comes easy." Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

Also, remember what the 45th president of the United States said:

"Nothing is easy, but who wants nothing?" Donald Trump (1946-present)

And don't forget what Colonel Sanders said about "the hard way [becoming] easier" and how you can solidly build "a foundation of confidence that cannot be swept away" over time. It will happen for you when you commit to a solid plan and put in the effort to achieve it.

You can always hope for that quick success as well, but it's best to put your backup plan firmly in place!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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