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.
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:
- The Smart Lemming Rules of Life and Career Management
- The Smart Lemming Rules of Life and Career Management: Overview of the Pyramid and Its Levels
Level 1: Rules for Our Fundamental Nature
- #1 Find your own spirituality and practice it.
- #2 Know what you want or the Universe (or God) won’t know what to send you: If you don’t know what you want, how can you get to where you want to be?
- #3 Fate or free will? Regardless of what you believe, we all have a purpose to being here. The tricky part is discovering what it is.
- #4 Don’t wait for your future to happen to you, you have to be vigilant in making your future happen.
- #5 Understand your dark side, but don’t give into it or indulge it.
- #6 Aspire to always help and teach others.
Level 2: Rules of Continuous Learning and Modeling
- #7 Watch or read media sources when you need inspiration. Reflect on why you like a certain movie or TV show, so you understand why it moves you.
- #8 Always be learning. Continue learning through books or any source that gives you new ideas on how to approach your work or feeds your passion.
- #9 Become self aware. If you aren’t, then how will you know you’re screwing up?
- #10 Accept responsibility and make peace with your decisions and the consequences of those decisions. They have created the person you are today. The trick is, do you like what you’ve created? If not, then how can you change?
- #11 Keep a lid on chaos. Never let situations or emotions get away from you. Be the calm in the eye of the storm as strength, reflecting confidence for the most vulnerable people in your life.
Level 3: Rules for the Actual Journey
- #12 Stay still and don’t move if you feel lost, so you can find yourself or let the opportunity find you.
- #13 Always be course correcting.
- #14 Surround yourself with trusted and loyal friends. Be prepared to deal with betrayal without ambivalence. But be prepare to forgive (if the person is sincere, I mean really sincere).
- #15 Learn to channel your inner extrovert, if you’re an introvert. Learn to channel your inner introvert, if you’re an extrovert.
Level 4: Rules of Adapting to Environment and Interacting with Others
- #16 Make peace with your weaknesses. We’re not perfect. Even your strengths will turn into weaknesses. The trick is knowing when your strength has become a weakness.
- #17 Master your emotions and body language. Use them strategically in life and work.
- #18 Mentor yourself via the Space Time Continuum. What would your future self tell your present self? How can you get back on track? What have you done well? What more can you do? What would you tell yourself as a child, teen, 20 or 30 something?
Level 5: Rules of Humility
- #19 Never take your success for granted. Always prepare for the worst case scenarios. Be prepared for two steps forward and one step back.
- #20 Be humble. Treat others well, don’t be arrogant, and don’t drink your own Kool-Aid.
Level 6: Rule of Being
- #21 Be compassionate.