5 Ways to Create the Career You Want This Year
There are many elements to building a career that you love. Here 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:
1. An honest question - “What’s a life vision?”
2. A sad response - “Well, I guess I haven’t ever really thought about it…”
3. 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. Or 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 want more support with getting clear on your vision, you might like to read our article on Getting Clear on What You Want in 2024.
2. BUILD PURPOSE AND MEANING
One of the best things you can do to feel more engaged in your career is to hone in on your purpose and what feels meaningful to you. There’s a lot of research that’s been done in recent years which shows the positive impact that meaningful work has on employee engagement levels. In fact, as Tom Rath explains in his book, Are You Fully Charged? “The odds of being completely engaged in your job increases by 250% if you work on meaningful projects each day.” That’s an incredibly powerful statistic and one you should consider in the context of your own career.
Take a moment to reflect on the following:
- Are you able to engage in something that feels meaningful each day at work?
- What are the aspects of your role that feel the most meaningful to you?
- How could you bring more meaning to the work you’re already doing?
If you want to explore this further, take a read of our article 4 Ways To Create More Meaning At Work.
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.
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 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 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. Even though your wellbeing might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of creating the career that you want, it’s absolutely vital to your professional success.
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:
1. Setting boundaries
2. Implementing and communicating boundaries
3. 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 get clear on what you really want.
By Megan Dalla-Camina, Women Rising Founder & CEO