You’re a successful professional — you’re cruising on your way to your next promotion and suddenly, you hit a bump.
Something isn’t right. Have you lost your passion? Is it the employer? Did someone say something about your performance? Do you need to look within? All very common questions for most of us who don’t find quick success on our professional journeys.
So, naturally, the question then becomes — so now what? How do we either get back on track, or perhaps find a more fruitful and fulfilling path?
As I learned getting knocked on my butt a few times, there’s never one “Easy” button type of answer. After I lost my job in consulting four years ago, I decided to prioritize and focus my energy on the things I really love.
No more wasted time spent networking for some job I don’t want. No — I needed to make my free time — outside of my married life and children — my own. I had to re-calibrate my energy to focus it intelligently around high-value activities.
Here are game-changing steps I took to get things back on track. I believe you’ll see a lot of yourself here, particularly what you can directly apply to work for you.
1. Prioritize your most important things
Prioritization will determine your journey and course for success. You can do anything you set your mind to. However, you must game plan for it. Life is full of competing priorities. How you budget your time is up to you. Like you, there are a lot of things I want to accomplish. I have so many things I want to do and YES!, not enough time for all of them.
For a long time, that thing was writing a book. Finally, I decided to go for it. I got into a regular writing rhythm and cadence every day. Before long, writing 1,000 words was nothing. One year later, I had written the words to my first book, The Value of You.
So, what is that thing for you? What are you willing to prioritize? This takes time and effort, as you want to make sure it aligns with what’s going to make you feel fulfilled and successful. Chances are, you have a lot of great ideas. You’ve probably had many — just in the past couple years. But I want to go beyond great ideas. What about the people in your life?
It’s important to point out, that in terms of what matters most to me in my life, I put my family first. My wife and I have three children. I have to focus on them above everything else, while still finding the time to pursue my dreams and goals. The better planned I am, the more these priorities resonate with my personal mission statement and feelings of my heart, the better equipped I am at doing what is in line with my destiny.
Life is all about how we prioritize. What are your priorities?
2. Embrace the fear of failure
This one is very simple. The bad type of fear is the fear of success. Fearing that you’ll accomplish your dreams, fearing that you will become incredibly fulfilled and happy beyond your wildest dreams. It may seem unbelievable, but I’ve found this fear is what holds most people back. They think they won’t know how to handle it.
So they stop in their tracks, and settle for the path of least resistance.
For a long time, this was me. Whenever I got close to taking a big step forward, I’d stop. This happened when I wrote for Bleacher Report, and again as I began to have success coaching my peers. Call it impostor syndrome, or simply the fear of success, I got myself spooked.
I started…. and stopped.
Started… and stopped.
Started… and stopped. You get the point.
The good type of fear is the fear of failure. I’ve come to believe through experience that embracing the fear of failure is one of your greatest assets. Adversity is life’s most powerful tool that helps mold you into the person you truly want to become. Fear is equally as important in helping to drive you to success. Embrace your fears in all areas of life. Keep going!
Ask yourself what failure actually looks like. Define it. Put a face to it. Whatever it will take to stare it down and let it know you mean business, and you won’t give up or back down.
3. Work on becoming the industry-leader one day at a time
I’ve now written two successful books targeted to an audience that seeks to build their life on a rock-solid foundation of emotional intelligence, values and goal-planning. I’ve been recognized by my peers, gained acceptance in the writing community and had some awesome media appearances. Others are beginning to recognize me as an expert in this space.
And I’m happy to walk through the door and live this.
My advice to you is to think of your greatest talent — your greatest skills — and what you spend your time on. Become an expert in one thing first, then you can start acquiring the skills and knowledge in multiple areas. But start with one thing first. Become the best. Become an industry leader and sought-after expert. Dedicate that time and keep growing. Speak it over your life.
Just don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to get there tomorrow. It takes time. Focus on that thing that is at the intersection of talent, experience, skill and passion for you. Please, focus on that every day. Keep refining and perfecting it. And put yourself out there for maximum output.
4. Take a bold chance
Remember how I talked about having so many great ideas, but needing to prioritize? That’s very important, though it shouldn’t hold you back from taking a bold chance. Two years ago, I launched my own coaching and leadership development company and I never intend on looking back to any, “What could have been?” in the corporate world.
I’m now scaling a business and growing around speaking engagements, executive coaching clients and writing. If you’re seriously considering entrepreneurship, just know there’s so much unknown in the market. But that should never stop you from taking a bold chance. Just because your market is saturated, by no means should that serve as a barrier to entry.
The same applies to you if you’re looking to switch careers or jobs. You can always wonder what it would be like — but you’ll never really know until you take a bold chance and bet on yourself.
I know what I’m capable of and I know people have benefited from working with me. I had to shed a lot of fear and take a bold chance. I bet there’s that one thing in your life. That itch you want to scratch. Be willing to take a bold chance when there’s no safety net there. Take a leap of faith when you have a great idea you believe in, and a well hashed out game plan for achieving your goal.
You can always go back to doing what you previously did. Be willing to get uncomfortable and test yourself. That’s the mark of someone that’s really looking to grow.
5. Own your time
What do I mean by this? I mean three things:
- Owning the discipline to focus and execute on your key areas every day
- Owning your calendar management; refusing to allow distractions and unimportant things take over your day
- Owning your system; Gaining control of the tools and techniques that enable you to become more nimble and efficient
Build in time blocks that are labeled by category. I focus a tremendous amount of my time on marketing (creating new opportunities) and then on the actual executing (doing the work I market for). This is realistically where you should spent a lot of your time. But you first need to have a management system in place for how you do this.
Sort it out by the big rocks and work backward from there. You have to find a way. Start by trimming time off of unproductive activities like watching TV or spending minute-after-minute on your smartphone. Spend time working on your dream. At first, it may be research, fact-finding and information gathering.
Then, it’s pure “execution” of the doing part of whatever it is you love. Could be painting, writing, launching a business or developing a new app. Find a way. Own your time, or time will own you. You can do this. You can jumpstart your career and life, especially now during COVID. You have it in you. Time to spread your wings and fly.
R3AL is an exciting new publication featuring authentic, inspirational stories that nourish the soul from two of Medium’s top writers, Christopher D. Connors and Jordan Gross. Subscribe and check out what’s R3AL!
Join my newsletter for the best, free emotional intelligence and productivity content on the Internet!
This article first appeared on Medium.