Take Ownership of Your Career, Revisited

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Now is the time for you to take ownership of your career.

Elaine Pofeldt wrote an excellent piece on Forbes on this theme. She says: “Skip the long list of resolutions this year. If you really want to take charge of your career in 2014, you only need to make one: Stop delegating control of your career to others.”

Many of us don’t know where to begin, so we choose to delegate our career path, development, and opportunity generation to someone else. Rather than having a vision, setting goals, and undertaking disciplined, daily action to set ourselves up for success; too often we take the first seemingly decent opportunity that comes along.

We blindly stumble from one place to another rather than deciding what we want, overcoming obstacles, and attaining our goals.

If this is how you have managed your career, it’s time to put a stop to that destructive habit pattern right now, once and for all. Success accrues to those who take ownership, and the essence of ownership is responsibility. And yes, responsibility is a burden. It is work. It requires thought. It requires action.

But in the end, it is well worth the trouble.

Pofeldt writes: “The point is to make incremental, ongoing efforts to increase opportunities for yourself, so you never have to scale an overwhelming mountain of tasks like this if something changes in your career or business. Should a relationship with your employer or a client come to an end, you’ll just have to amplify what you’re already doing. And chances are, opportunities will come to you.”

The simple question is: Do you want opportunities to come to you, or do you want to go through the anguishing process of trying to create opportunities for yourself should your current job or career opportunity fall through?

If you want the opportunities to come to you, your task is to simply take disciplined, incremental steps to set yourself apart. Pofeldt lists several potential initiatives, and there are many others that we will continue to explore in future installments.

Pofeldt alludes to the freedom and flexibility that accrues to those with low debt burdens and those who discipline themselves to control their spending. I wrote previously about how personal financial discipline can help professionals walk away from bad situations. In addition, taking steps to ease financial pressure can help us become creative and take risks that can pay off in the future.

Embrace a mindset of lifelong learning and development. Never stop looking for ways to become more valuable to your employer, customers, and others with whom you share important relationships. Give, give, and give. You can always expect to “reap what you sow.” Investing in your own career and development is one of the best focused initiatives you can undertake.