Recently, I was in the car with my wife and I drove past a small street to get to the main road.
“It would have been faster to turn left back there,” she said.
“It would have been nice to know that before I went past the road,” I replied.
“Hey, I’m just a passenger, here,” she replied.
We all know there are times when it’s annoying and frustrating to be a passenger. You’re completely ceding control to the driver who’s in charge. And when you are driving, it’s liberating, but at the same time, there’s no one else to blame when things go wrong—when you miss the turn, when you get a ticket or when you get into an accident.
I’ve found, in life and in work, being in charge of your destiny, and embracing and accepting this responsibility, makes it far more likely that you’ll actually achieve your dreams.
How is your career going? Are you driving it, or letting someone else steer and you are just going along for the ride? To find both success and happiness, you need to take the wheel. Here is how to do it.
1. Assess which stages of your life and career are in other people’s hands that should be in yours. For which have you delegated control and why?
At the beginning of my career, I thought all roads led to Armonk, New York, because I couldn’t imagine ever leaving IBM. Wow, what a bigger place the world turned out to be. Are you really in the job you like and want? The way to figure that out is by asking the following questions:
• What does success look like to you in nine months?
• In two years?
• In five years?
2. What’s holding you back from getting to where you want to be? If your career dreams are unrealistic with your skills and experience, you’ll need to determine how you can make them better.
• Pick up new skills: Are there training programs or classes you can attend? Can you break into the industry by taking a more entry level position?
• Find the best mentors: Who does your current job—or the job you want—well? Read industry publications and websites and blogs to identify the best people in your field. Search Google. Find them on LinkedIn. Connect with them on a mentoring matching service. What is their magic? Create a database of who they are, what they’ve accomplished and what you can learn from them. Ask your mentors what success looks like to them. Ask them what they think has made them successful. Ask them to share their story. (People love talking about themselves.)
3. Get started with three commitments:
• What will you start doing (that is new and different)?
• What will you stop doing (that is holding you back from your dreams of success)?
• What will you continue doing (that you want to take with you on your journey)?
When you are in control of your life, you’ll realize that you are accountable for your own advancement. Maybe it sounds scary, but it won’t be. You’ll find great fulfillment in moving out of hope mode and into drive mode.