The Smart Lemming Rules of Life and Career Management: #4 Be Vigilant in Making your Future Happen


Do you know what you want or think you know what’s going to happen in your career, so you’re waiting for your future to happen to you?

Don’t be a Slacker

Years ago, one of my friends knew what they wanted. They were certain these events in their career would come to pass, so they waited for the opportunities to present themselves.

Guess what? Those opportunities never happened for my friend. He kept waiting for the circumstances to run over him like a Mac truck rather than the other way around. He should have seized passing moments to make his goal happen.

At that time, I learned that it’s not enough to have a vision of yourself. Granted, having a vision on your self is extremely hard for some people to identify. But after you know what you want, then you must be vigilant in making your future happen.

Don’t be a Coaster

When we’re passionate about something, we naturally go after what we want. But what if we’re coasters? My bad habit was coasting on my natural abilities. I did this in high school basketball and academics. I was a good basketball player and an average student. Unfortunately, I learned at an early age that I could get what I wanted if I only work hard enough. I never challenged myself to stretch my abilities, to become much better than I already was.

This habit reared its ugly head again, when I started out as a Product Marketing Manager. Rather than rely on my instincts, I should have researched how to do the job, learning everything there was to learn about being a Product Marketing Manager.

For example, I was green at trade shows because I didn’t research what I should be doing in the booth. I should have been proactive in learning how to gather competitive intelligence from other vendors, mastering how to demo my product to prospective clients in the booth, and networking with other industry people.

Fortunately, I figured out my career path near the tail end of this job. I kicked into gear by researching my next step after Product Marketing Manager, which was becoming a Product Manager.

Learn Vigilance

Finally, I was proactive about expanding my skill set and finding projects that could help me move forward in my career. I no longer waited for things to happen to me. I was trying to make things happen by keeping in touch with former colleagues, so I could learn of future career opportunities. And it worked. Not only did I find a better job, but I was able to dodge a layoff because of a recession.

Finally, I learned one of my fundamental rules of career and life management: don’t wait for your future to happen to you, you have to be vigilant in making your future happen.


The Smart Lemming Rules of Life and Career Management series outlines my rules of personal and work success. After reflecting on my personal values, I made this list, realizing values are my rules of being or life management principles. Based on your experiences, I hope this list inspires you to identify your own rules. Here are the rules to my success that may help you over the course of your journey:


Level 1: Rules for Our Fundamental Nature

Level 2: Rules of Continuous Learning and Modeling

Level 3: Rules for the Actual Journey

Level 4: Rules of Adapting to Environment and Interacting with Others

Level 5: Rules of Humility

Level 6: Rule of Being

  • #21 Be compassionate.

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