Success Is A Journey, Not A Destination: How To Advance Your Career

career development career strategy goal achievement life success Jun 22, 2011
Success is a journey not a destination

"Success isn't really a destination, because you'll never get there. Talk to anyone with millions or billions, they're always thinking of the next thing. Success is a direction, and that direction is forward." - Tim Sanders, former Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo!

I love this quote by Tim Sanders from an article written by Dave Smith in Inc. magazine (see How to Fast Forward Your Goals). I highly recommend you read because there are many great points in it. Today, I'm just going to focus on this one point because it is so critical to building a successful career (and life) and yet so few of us either understand it or are able to live it.

In our professional world we hear a lot about goals and goal setting, especially around our performance and even career planning. However, what's often not talked about is that goals are just a destination we pass through on our way to someplace else. In project management, project plans have milestones that the project team works through on the way to a project completion. Project completion is not necessarily the handing over of a deliverable either. Similarly, goals are not the end state. When all is said and done, we all end up at the same place at the end of our lives. What's different is how we got there. What our experiences were. What influenced us and how we influenced others.

Shifting Your Perception Or Attitude

What I'm suggesting here is that you can increase you success by shifting your viewpoint on goal setting. Achieving your goals can be very rewarding and satisfying and a good to do. However many people set goals and achieve them and still feel empty, not good enough, unsatisfied, or disappointed with the end results. They also fail to learn and develop personally when they seek out the attainment of just a goal rather than the collection of experiences that could go along with achieving that goal.

In most companies these days, and especially in the consulting industry, in order to get promoted you cannot just mark off a checklist and expect to be promoted.

  • Managed a 3 month project: check
  • Kept project on time: check
  • Kept on budget: check
  • Sold add-on work: check

That's just simply not enough. Ever hear of needing to have an "executive presence"? It's not easily measurable, but people know it when they experience it. It's not something you do, rather it's a way of being.

Top companies are looking to make sure that you have the right qualities and experience. One firm I worked with had a requirement that you had to work on a failed project in order to get promoted. Why? It was better to learn as a lower level employee how to handle certain situations by observing others go through the experience than see in for the first time when the stakes are high and you have little support because you are expected to be able to handle certain situations. Even here, it's not that you worked on the failed project that's important, it's that you learned something from the experience that makes you a better leader and business person. If you have good leaders working with you they're helping you build your confidence through the process rather than criticizing you and undermining your confidence.

The empowering shift in view point is:

Look at your goals as a place you pass through at a certain time on the way to somewhere else rather than as a destination.

Every day you walk along your journey. You get to choose the path. Do you turn left or right? Stay in your current position or take a new one? Read a book or watch tv? They are your choices, reflecting your personal values that take you along your journey.

Use goals to help you set your course, remembering and feeling confident you can adjust them or change them completely along the way.

Learn the 7 Steps to build a successful career regardless of the turmoil and disruption of the 21st Century. Download this comprehensive guide now! 

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