5 Things You Need Now For Career Success
By Megan Dalla-Camina, Women Rising Founder & CEO
There are many elements to building a successful career that you love. However you define that success, there are five important factors we have found from working with thousands of women that influence and lay the foundations for not just a thriving career, but a fulfilling life. And they may not be what you think.
1. GET CLEAR ON YOUR VISION.
Do you have a vision for how you want to live your life?
Over the course of the past decade, I’ve asked thousands of women whether they have a life vision. It’s one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves. And yet it’s also one we spend the least amount of time contemplating.
I typically get 3 types of responses:
- An honest question - “What’s a life vision?”
- A sad response - “Well, I guess I haven’t ever really thought about it…”
- A frustrated or angry response - “Seriously, are you kidding me? Between the kids, my partner, the house, my job, the cats, and the guinea pig, who on earth has time to think about a life vision?”
Although it’s a challenging question, without a life vision we can end up living on autopilot, and we’re really just going through the motions. We’re on that treadmill and running for our lives. We’re not looking left and we’re not looking right, because we think we’re going to fall off.
The other thing that can happen when we don’t have a vision is that we’re living our life following someone else’s agenda or someone else’s vision for our lives. That can be our partner, our parents, our children or it can be our boss or our best friend.
If you find yourself in this position, take a look at our article on A 4-Step Process to Create Your Life Vision to help you find clarity.
2. BUILD PURPOSE AND MEANING.
One of the biggest questions that women ask about their careers is how do I find my purpose? We know from research that for most people, purpose is built, not found. And that working with a sense of purpose day in, and day out is an act of will that takes thoughtfulness and practice.
There are two helpful ways to look at it:
- Where can you find meaning in the work you are already doing?
- Where might there be a greater purpose on the horizon to be discovered?
If you want to build more meaning at work, which is proven to lead to more fulfilment and positive outcomes, you might enjoy this article, 4 ways to create more meaning at work.
And when you’re thinking about a greater purpose on the horizon, there are two helpful questions you can ask:
- What do you care about?
- How can you become masterful at that?
If you stopped stressing about finding your purpose and making money from your calling and instead asked yourself these two questions, what would you discover about yourself and your work in the world?
Take out all the concerns about how you could turn a passion into a vocation. Take any income out of the equation. Take out the worries about when, where, what people will say, and how on earth you can transition. Just start by asking: What do you care about?
Is it education, disrupting the system, empowering teenagers, re-homing animals, nursing, making pottery, being a general manager, starting a small business, wellness coaching, making art?
Are you passionate about publishing, jewellery, creativity, technology, fashion, interior design, banking, engineering, books, crystals, teaching, food, travel, photography, coffee, retail, podcasting, child care, recruitment, people, culture, minimalism, diversity, politics, feminism, changing the world, self-help, spirituality or relationships?
What do you care about? Make a list. A big list. Circle the things on that list that really light you up. Things that you would do or have in your life, even if no-one ever noticed, cared or paid you. Then go and do those things, or one in particular, in small ways. Keep doing it. Explore it. Play with it. Ignite and reignite your passion for it. Then work out how you can become masterful at it. Let your purposeful path unfold.
3. CREATE RADICAL CONFIDENCE.
Confidence is one of those things that can leave you feeling perplexed. When we’re feeling less than confident, it’s easy to look around us at women we think of as successful and imagine that they never have any issues with their own confidence: they never question their right to be in the meeting, never think twice before expressing an opinion or putting themselves forward for a promotion, always speak up for themselves, and rarely think that they’re not good enough. But the startling truth is, even the most seemingly confident women are often anything but.
Research tells us that more than fifty percent of female managers have feelings of doubt about their performance at work, compared with roughly thirty percent of men. There’s no denying that a lack of confidence can be draining, and that time spent worrying, over-preparing, perfecting your ideas and second guessing yourself can really deplete your energy.
It’s challenging, to say the least.
Until a few years ago, there wasn’t a scientific definition for confidence that was helpful in enabling us to be more so, nor a good framework that would light the path forward. But after decades of work, researcher Richard Petty discovered that ‘confidence is the stuff that turns our thoughts into actions.’
So if we know that to be true, the big question is, what stops us?
Often it’s the stories we tell about ourselves.
We are constantly creating stories, as our minds try to make sense of what’s happening around us. At the same time our brains are constantly processing and tapping into what has happened in the past, which shapes our beliefs about who we are, what we believe to be true, what we are capable of, and what we think we deserve.
When they turn negative, they can significantly impact, and even derail, our confidence. We need to learn how to stop our negative thoughts from taking hold of us, and allowing our self-berating stories to run our lives (and our careers).
The good news is, there’s a simple 3-step strategy that you can use to understand and manage your stories, thereby taming your inner critic. You can read more about this strategy in our free guide 3 steps for taming your inner critic.
4. FOCUS ON YOUR WELLBEING.
The old adage goes that you don’t know what you have until it's gone. Sadly for so many of us, this is true of our health. We spend our lives pushing and punishing our bodies with too much work, the wrong food, little sleep and toxins like alcohol, then wonder why we have no energy, fluctuating moods, untold stress, and lifestyle illnesses that could be prevented with healthier habits.
We take our health for granted, usually until we can’t anymore. I see so many women in the Women Rising program and community and among my friends who have become burnt out or ill. Or they’ve suffered a physical injury like their back going out, which is often our bodies’ only way of getting us to stop. If you suspect you may be on the path to burnout (or in the depths of it), grab a copy of our free Burnout Guide for support.
Radiant wellbeing is often not a straight line or easy path for many of us. It takes deep intention and commitment not just to optimise our physical health, but as importantly to invest in our mental, as well as our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. It can be small steps, not giant actions, which make the greatest difference and most positive impact on your daily vitality.
In the Women Rising program, the module on Intentional Wellbeing is packed with evidence-based strategies to fuel optimal wellbeing. We have so much to teach on this topic. For now, think about the core elements of wellbeing and what you need to focus on right now. Is it better quality sleep, nourishing nutrition, more movement, or perhaps restoring your energy more frequently or deeply? Small steps in each of these areas can change the game and lead you to more intentional wellbeing. Pick one thing today and go from there.
5. IMPLEMENT EFFECTIVE BOUNDARIES.
When you have effective boundaries, you are managing and protecting what you have declared is most important to you. When you’re not, it’s very easy to have your life run according to other people’s agendas, instead of your own agenda.
When you look at effective boundary management, there are three core components:
- Setting boundaries
- Implementing and communicating boundaries
- Managing boundaries.
When you are deciding where you need boundaries, you can start by anchoring them to deeply held values. If one of your values is family time, then having a boundary around your work that protects that family time may be important for you. Whether that’s in the evenings or on weekends, protecting family time is going to be an effective boundary and a muscle that you want to build.
The more you can anchor your boundaries into your values, the easier it is not only to set them, but to manage them.
Another way to work out where a boundary might need to be set, is to be guided by your emotions. Anytime you are feeling angry, annoyed or resentful toward someone, that is often a sign that one of your boundaries has been crossed. Or it could be that you actually don’t have a boundary in place, and you need to set one.
Tap into your emotional state. How are you feeling? Where do you feel put-upon? Where do you feel that someone’s taking advantage of you? Where do you feel resentful? You said yes. And you really wanted to say no. How can you pull that back and put a boundary in place so that you don't have to feel like that anymore?
Your ability to say no is core to your ability to manage your boundaries effectively. For so many women, we will say “yes” or “maybe” when what we really want to say is “no”. It’s time to back yourself, trust yourself, and protect your vision, your career plan and your purposeful path. We know it’s not easy, but it is possible as you build the tools to support yourself and create the clarity on what you really want. And also know, that it gets easier with practice.