Career success is important because your career impacts many aspects of your life, including your financial freedom, personal identity, and lifestyle.
Here are some considerations to help you succeed in your career:
Before Beginning Your Career
1. Choose the right career for you
This might seem obvious but try choosing a career that fits your interests, skills, and goals. As a high school or college student, consider what after-school activities or clubs you enjoy participating in. Ask yourself why these appeal to you. Also, think about what subjects you like or perform well in, like math or English.
You can also:
- Define what “success” is to you
- Think if you can see yourself in that career every day
- Ask yourself if that career lines up with your personality, interests, and values
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses
- Ask yourself if you want a career that makes a lot of money
- Figure out if that career requires higher education, like a college degree
- List what you’re passionate about
- Ask yourself if it’s a career you think you will enjoy
In addition, make sure that whatever career you choose makes you happy. Your family and friends may have input regarding your decision. While it may be nice to get their advice, it is your career. Though they may mean well, your career must be a personal decision since it will affect your life for years.
2. Ask for help
Navigating your career path doesn’t have to be a solo activity. It’s extremely helpful to ask for help from potential mentors. Find people with more experience and knowledge than you and ask them for guidance. Try talking to a family member or community member that you know working in that field, or reach out to an experienced professor. Ask them if they are willing to advise you on your career path.
3. Get experience
Experience is key to learning the ropes in any profession. Gain experience through internships, fellowships, or volunteer opportunities. Most internships and fellowships are unpaid, but it’s worth asking if you can be paid for your time.
If, during your experience, you realize that you’re not truly interested in that field, it’s okay! Getting a feel for a career is better before fully committing to it.
During Your Career
4. Establish a strong work ethic
Once you are working, being successful often requires putting in the work. A strong work ethic includes:
- Arriving to work on time or early
- Managing your time efficiently
- Prioritizing tasks
- Meeting deadlines
- Communicating effectively
- Getting work done
Having a strong work ethic gives you a greater chance of reaching your goals and getting promoted to higher roles with more responsibility, learning opportunities, and pay. But be careful – having a strong work ethic shouldn’t mean burning yourself out or staying late all the time. Be sure to set healthy boundaries for yourself.
5. Hold yourself accountable
You’re bound to make mistakes in your work, especially if you’re new to it. When you make a mistake, it’s important to accept responsibility and work to fix it. As surprising as it might seem, failure is sometimes a much more effective teacher than success. If you think about it, most successful people would not be where they are today without making, accepting, and learning from their mistakes. Remember that you’re human, and no one is perfect. All that matters is correcting and learning from the mistakes you make.
6. Acknowledge your achievements
It’s also important to acknowledge your achievements. Instead of waiting for someone to congratulate you on your successes, recognize them yourself and take pride in your accomplishments and hard work. You have to be your own hype person and root for your success! Doing so builds your confidence and can motivate you to achieve your next goal.
7. Stay positive
It’s common to sometimes feel that you aren’t good enough to be in your career or excel in it. When this happens, it’s important to challenge any negative self-talk, as it can severely impact your self-esteem and even your work performance. Instead, focus on what you’re good at and try to acknowledge your accomplishments. If you feel there are areas you can improve, work on them! Consider improving your skills through online videos, tutorials, books, or taking a class.
8. Evaluate your performance
Although employers often conduct employee performance evaluations, keep track of your own performance. In most professional settings, the evaluation of your work will be based on your job description and assigned duties. To evaluate your own performance, look at the expectations included in your job description. Study them carefully and ask yourself, “How am I doing compared to what my job description says I should be doing?” If you don’t have a job description, write out your own standards for performing your job – including what the bare minimum looks like. Then, rate yourself on how well you’ve met those standards. Evaluating your performance can help you celebrate your successes, motivate you to improve in certain areas, and possibly even ask your supervisor for resources or additional training in areas you might be struggling.
9. Accept feedback
Getting feedback from someone with more experience or knowledge than you can benefit you. If the feedback is not positive, try not to take it as criticism. Instead, if possible, use it to improve your skills and grow. Also, not all feedback is valid – be sure to determine if feedback is useful or true before acting on it.
10. Know that you can change careers
If you aren’t finding pleasure, success, or satisfaction in your career, know that it’s okay to change your career. Although this may mean starting anew, it might help you find greater success. Switching to a career that you’re more passionate about can make a huge difference in your happiness and life.
For more information about success and establishing your career, check out these resources:
Author: Stephanie Paz is a Tigua Indian of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from The University of Texas at El Paso and is working towards a Master of Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Promotion from New Mexico State University.