By Vickie Milazzo
Is this year finally going to be your year for real career success? I guarantee that the successful people you see every day don’t have anything you don’t have. Here’s the truth: At some point every successful person you admire said to him or herself, “This is my time. Today, I’m going to make my life better,” and then they took action. Why not let now be that time for you? When you focus on your goals, plan your steps forward and have a little more faith in yourself, you can achieve what I call “wicked success.” Wicked success requires you to get out of survival mode and into success mode. To do that, you have to embrace a new, wickedly resourceful mind.
Ready to make this year your best ever? Here’s how to get started:
- Take a hard look at yourself. Really examine how you spend your time at work. Long hours don’t always mean you’re more productive than everyone else. If you are working longer hours and still getting nowhere, you need to objectively assess the value of your output. For example, how much time do you spend complaining? Do you have to discuss every issue, no matter how small, ad infinitum? Are you a high maintenance or low maintenance employee? Are you stealing time from the company to manage your personal life and counting it as work? Figure out how to become truly productive so that you can continuously make progress toward your goals and the success you seek will follow.
- Set BIG goals. When was the last time you set a goal and really went after it? Identify your “Big Things”—those goals that connect to their passionate vision. Then choose one to schedule the day around. For example, your Big Thing might be to get promoted. So you might agree to take on a high-profile work project in order to raise your profile. Set a target date for each of your Big Things and begin working steadily toward achieving each of them. Start strong and you’ll experience genuine elation from achieving real goals and solving real problems.
- Be your own number one fan. If you don’t announce your own achievements, you can bet that no one else is going to do it for you. With humility, make sure that you keep your name, your accomplishments, and your skill set in front of the people who can advance your career. Make sure you’re getting the recognition and credit you’ve earned. If you still have doubts about this, consider that your accomplishments validate the investments others have made in you. Your boss, for example, wants to know that she bet on a winner when she hired you!
- Don’t underprice yourself. Many people mistakenly think they’re doing their employers a favor by not pushing for more or that they’ll be more appealing if they don’t ask for what they’re worth. The bad economy might be the current excuse, but I believe most underpricing occurs because many employees and job candidates just aren’t comfortable asking for what they think they’re worth. But settling for less than you’re worth is a big mistake—even in the wake of the Great Recession. In fact, if you’re in the running for a new job or promotion, it might even cost you the opportunity. When I’m hiring, I actually weed out candidates who underprice themselves because I assume they won’t perform at the level I expect. In my eyes and in the eyes of many other CEOs, job candidates actually lose credibility when they underprice themselves.
- Make sure you stand out. Many people get stuck in a rut at work because they become viewed as commodities. Commodities are easy to obtain and easy to replace—and that’s certainly not how you want to be perceived, whether you’re an employee, a leader, or an entrepreneur. If the people you’re working with know that others share your skill set, they won’t have any reason to pay you more or give you advanced opportunities. They’ll be in control, not you. Do everything you can to ensure that you aren’t seen as interchangeable or dispensable. Do what you need to do to stand out. Get in the middle of everything and bring new ideas to the table. Build relationships throughout the company. If you’re able to make yourself invaluable and leverage the things that make you unique, you’ll also make yourself impossible to replace. And when that happens, you’ll be in control of your own price.
- Network with big players. Generally, we tend to gravitate toward people who are similar to us: people who think similarly, who find similar things fun, and who are in similar walks of life. That’s fine when it comes to your friendships, but you need to aim higher when it comes to networking. More than 60% of people find jobs through networking, and you can bet that most of them didn’t get hired because they knew someone at the bottom of the pecking order. Make every effort to meet people who are a rung or two higher on the professional ladder than you. If you impress someone who is more successful than you are, they’ll have a lot more influence than someone whose position is equivalent to yours.
- Set aside sacred “momentum time.” Momentum time is precious time you are able to set aside for yourself each day to work uninterruptedly toward achieving your goals. To carve out time, examine every activity and decide how to eliminate it, delegate it, hire it out, or do it faster. If part of your day is rarely interrupted (such as early morning or late afternoon), reserve it for momentum time. Keep your momentum time sacred. Use expressions such as, "I’ll be available in one hour. What time after that works best?" Start your day with a two-hour uninterrupted chunk, then gradually add more two-hour momentum sessions each day. Claim your momentum time and you’ll find those lost hours you’ve been looking for.”
- Have confidence in your abilities. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll reach any goal if you don’t believe that achieving it is possible.You won’t be confident enough to take calculated risks if you don’t believe that the limitations in front of you are surmountable. Any time you find yourself entertaining doubts or trying to limit what you think is possible, remind yourself of your past successes. Let them infuse you with pride and bolster your resolve. Believing you can do it—whatever "it" is—is 90% of the win.
- Surround yourself with mentors. There are two ways to develop the skills, habits, mindsets, and so forth, that you’ll need to achieve wicked success. The first is to go it alone and learn by trial and error in the school of hard knocks. The second (much smarter) path is to learn from others who have encountered and surmounted problems that are similar to your own. Surround yourself with as many mentors as possible and practice the skills they pass on to you. I’ve been in business for three decades, and I still learn every day from my students, staff, writers, speakers, business experts, and more. In the early days of growing my business, I devoured every book on business strategy I could find, even though none were aimed precisely at the niche I was creating. Aggressive learning is a competitive advantage in achieving any goals.
- Safeguard your momentum. Accept that you won’t please everyone. Someone is bound to be unhappy about the changes you make to focus on your Big Things. A friend might get upset because you can no longer meet for lunch on Wednesdays. Your spouse might complain because you won’t run his errands on a weekday.They’ll get over it. Stop feeling guilty and stay true to your goals. Surround yourself with people who support your vision and discard all discouraging messages. You can’t snap your fingers and suddenly become successful. And the successful people you envy weren’t able to do that either. They worked for it. They set big goals. Wicked success can be yours, too, if you make the same big commitments.
Here are two AMA seminars that can help you achieve your goals:
Breaking Behavior Patterns That Hold You Back
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
About the Author(s)
Vickie Milazzo RN, MSN, JD, is the owner of Vickie Milazzo Institute, an education company she founded in 1982. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman (Wiley, 2011, WickedSuccess.com) and the Wall Street Journal bestseller Inside Every Woman: Using the 10 Strengths You Didn’t Know You Had to Get the Career and Life You Want Now. From a shotgun house in New Orleans to owner of a $16-million business, Milazzo earned a place on the Inc. list of Top 10 Entrepreneurs and Inc. Top 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in America.