How to Launch Your Career Forward Successfully

I often hear from people that while they want to catapult their careers or business forward, they were unsuccessful in the past and are tired and frustrated of trying. Making another attempt feels like being Animal House’s Chip Diller (played by Kevin Bacon) during his hazing, when a paddle is hitting him and he must say, “thank you, sir, may I have another." It seems fruitless. 

I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, you can be more like Bluto in the movie (minus the misogyny, drunkenness, and poor knowledge of history). Bluto boldly said:

"What? Over? Did you say 'over'? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! It ain't over now, 'cause when the goin' gets tough, the tough get goin'. Who's with me? Let's go! Come on!..."

You get to decide when it is over.

Here are three things to get you on your way to creating a plan to improve your career or business development:

Clarity

To be successful, you need to know what it is you are aiming for. Without clarity around your goal, you cannot develop a clear plan for success.

Beyond the end goal, you also need clarity around:

  • Where you are today and why
  • What your ideal position or client looks like
  • Understanding what it will take to get to where you want to be

Clarity comes into being by researching internally and externally the information you need to create a plan.

Most importantly, you need to know why you want this goal and its meaning for your life. Perhaps a new role or more business would result in more compensation, but it can also mean more freedom, vacation, or impact. As investing in your career can be a long-term endeavor, you need to appreciate why this is important.

Commitment

Changing your career - whether it is through a new position or developing a business - rarely happens overnight. It takes working consistently over time with a significant investment up-front while creating the foundation to move you forward.

Instant gratification has become the norm in this Amazon Prime world, which is not the case in career development. It takes time to build skills, habits, and relationships. Many attack career development furiously, then become frustrated or overwhelmed and then whimper away from it.

To prevent this, you need a realistic plan (see below) to prevent you from becoming burned out or frustrated. To make a goal attainable, you should "chunk up" specific tasks over time and block time on your calendar to concentrate on your career. Creating a viable plan will help you stay committed. Finally, you may want to pair up with an accountability partner to keep you on track.

Written Plan

People with written plans are much more likely to be successful. By writing out a plan, you have taken the time to develop a strategic approach to your career, rather than winging it. When you have a written plan, you know what you have committed to and the due dates.

Your plan should consist of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound). Increasing and strengthening your network is not a SMART goal as it is not specific, measurable, or timebound.

Here are some examples of SMART goals that will help you increase and strengthen your network:

  • Attend three conferences (focused on your industry) by the end of the second quarter. Introduce myself to five people at each conference that could further my goals. Within 48 hours of returning to the office, I will enter their information into my relationship manager and reach out to them.
  • Each quarter, I will host a networking event for --- people in my industry. After the event, I will reach out to people with information that may help move their careers forward.  
  • Every month, I will schedule --- coffees with people in my network who can ---.

By having clarity, commitment, and a written plan, you are much more likely to be successful in launching your career and business development efforts.

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Sheila Murphy

Founder of Focus Forward Consulting

For over 20 years, as a former senior legal officer for a Fortune 50 company, I successfully developed, coached and transformed talent in corporations and law firms, as well as...