Brian Tracey said it best, “Move out of your comfort zone.  You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

There is a huge difference between wanting a dream job and actually doing the work to manage your career and getting your dream job. Will it take time?  Yes.  Will it take heading outside of your comfort zone?  Absolutely.  Will it always be easy?  Absolutely NOT.  Will it be worth it?  Without a doubt.

So, what stops people from achieving what they really want?  The Utopian world where you love Monday mornings, have zero anxiety on Sunday afternoons, and feel like you are truly where you were meant to be:  in a career where you make a difference and one that brings you fulfillment and joy.

I don’t accept excuses when it comes to this because EVERY person out there CAN have their dream job if they choose.  It’s all about taking action and making it happen.  You have to OWN your career path.

Although I don’t accept excuses, I’ve surely heard them all. By the way, we spend almost 80-90% of our lives working, why would you want to spend that precious time doing something that doesn’t make you happy?

No excuses, let’s do this! Here’s how to best manage your career so you can be in a place where Monday’s are fabulous.

  1. Understand who you are and what makes you happy. This isn’t what others are telling you (including spouses and parents), this is YOU.  When you connect what you are really great at, what makes you happy, and a career – it is magical on many levels.
  2. Always be networking. You NEVER know who is in someone’s inner circle.  Even if you aren’t considering moving out of your current job, you still need to be connecting. There will be a time when you want to retire and perhaps join some boards – those connections will come in handy.
  3. Always be learning and expanding your horizons. Execs who become stagnant and complacent are stuck in the comfort zone and will remain there.  Attend conferences, join mastermind groups, further your education (be it paid or free), find a mentor – whatever you need to do to continue your learning path.
  4. Refine your personal brand. What do your social profiles say about you?  Are they authentic and show the real you?  Your personal brand is important, and others are looking whether you know it or not.
  5. Always be thinking forward. You never know what life will bring and that includes job security.  I’m not saying become a cynic, but always be thinking of “What’s Next”.
  6. Never burn a bridge – EVER. You never know when you will need a favor from a former colleague or boss.  Always end on good terms, ensure you fulfill your employment obligations to the absolute best of your abilities, always.

In the end, you should never stop managing your career.  I’ve met many “Mid-Life Rebranders” who have been outplaced at the peak of their careers and are struggling to get rehired.  They are smart and talented, but they are vanilla.  They didn’t manage their careers, they didn’t “work” their network, they didn’t get involved in non-profit boards, and their personal brands are just there – vanilla.  They simply do not stand out in the crowd and therefor get passed over for most jobs they apply for.  In a tight employment market, you need to stand out, you need to be more like Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream – sweet, a little salty. Full of pith and vigor. – AKA noticeable, popular, and wanted.