When you look back at your career, what do you see? #worksmarter http://www.fastcompany.com/3033236/6-ways-to-avoid-drifting-through-your-career
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6 Ways To Avoid Drifting Through Your Career

When you look back at your career, do you see a distinct plan unfolding or a bunch of random connections, chance encounters, and detours?

After working for 25 years, and through trial and error, I finally realized something powerful. I understood and acknowledged that it wasn’t a random set of acts or events that produced the success and joy I have felt in my career.

What I learned in going through challenges, in encountering roadblocks and obstacles, is that I have to be true to myself. These six promises are commitments that I’ve made to myself and mindfully put into practice in every situation that I’ve been in. My advice, from someone who has been there, is to make these six promises and keep them:

1. Embrace your passion

Don’t discount your dreams. Return to that childlike fascination you once had and find a way to spend your work and life passionately!

2. Perform to progress versus perfection

Most of us have experienced the paralysis that often comes from perfection or the pursuit of it. Here is an alternative to the paralysis of perfection: what if you performed to progress toward your goals and dreams, celebrating each small step along the way? As I referenced before, passion is at the root of the promises. It is a key part of the larger process of fueling your progress. However, the world doesn’t reward dreamers for dreaming but for doing. You must also perform at the highest possible level, seeking progress with each new skill set learned and action taken.

3. Promote with purpose

Let people know who you are in a way that is personal and purposeful. No one enjoys the slick self-promoter. People will, instead, recognize and reward those who stand confidently in their strengths authentically and purposefully.

4. Parlay your platform

Your "platform" is the station in life you’ve achieved thus far. It may not be where you want to be yet, but it is yours! It includes your network of friends, coworkers, your mentors, and even those bosses who partner with you to achieve your passions, just as you’ve helped them achieve theirs. Your platform is the sum total of all your efforts in honing your talents and skills. It’s that sense of confidence and awareness you’ve grown into and developed by walking the path of your life, including insights gleaned from all your business experiences.

5. Put it into action

I don’t believe that opportunity knocks only once. I believe it knocks often. But we have to keep our eyes and ears open to see and hear it when it does! Often, opportunity stares us in the face and we’re too busy working to notice. Instead, be alert and aware. Take action on the four steps that lead up to this one as earnestly and as often as possible.

6. Practice philanthropy

Give. You can never go wrong giving, even when nobody hears about it. Giving helps not just those to whom you give but also helps you find the purpose to give and give again. So many of us have benefited from the gifts of others, and you’ll never know what your small, or even not so small, gift might mean to someone in need, be it a coworker, a friend, and even a boss. As you find success, make giving a habit commensurate with your earnings.

First and foremost, you are making these promises to yourself within the context of being the very best you possible. Not everyone is going to applaud you along the way as you fulfill that purpose. You have to create the expectation of success so that you have motivation to draw from as you move forward.

Find comfort in committing to and fulfilling the promises you make to yourself. Others can’t run the race for you. You can only run it for yourself. If that means turning around at the "Finish" line and being the only one there to pat your back, then go on and pat it!

This is not about your education level or formal training. This is about your willingness to take action on these six promises and to make them a part of your daily routine. Remember, it is not always the large, Hollywood ending or the "Rocky" moments that determine our success.

Instead, it’s the small things we do daily, habitually, that make us successful. Based on my life experiences, I have created the game plan and roadmap I wish I had when I started out. I share it with you now.

—From Success on Your Own Terms: 6 Promises to Fire Up Your Passion, Ignite Your Career, and Create an Amazing Life, by James Rosseau (Career Press Inc, 2014). Rosseau is president of LegalShield Solutions and former executive with Allstate and JP Morgan.

[Image: Flickr user Wendy]

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  • mayanair

    I think this article is not about following one's passion but to be strategic in unfolding one's career plan. I c an relate to this post as to have found the kind of work that I enjoy doing and then drifting away just because of a change in circumstances. Although I don't regret what I am doing now but sooner or later I will have to decide how to find my way back to that career that I want to develop and do for life. It is a matter of making conscious actions daily to realize that dream. Many may have studied something but end up doing something else and that's also because not all of us are fortunate enough to realize our interests and strengths earlier but it's never too late to make a change and do what you want to do to help others.

  • Kathie Anderson

    Just another spoonful of drivel about following your passion. Argh! If I hear that lame trope one more time I am going to scream. Yes, we would all like to be able to walk dogs or bake cookies or grow herbs for a living. That is not how the world works! Someone had to put food on the table and I'm guessing that a good 80% of the possible careers out there do not fit into anybody's idea of 'passion'. But, the jobs need to be done and people will pay for the work to get done. Adults do what needs to be done, not drift about whining that I don't feel passionate about my job.

  • fortunato911

    Nice outline. However, there is much to be said about having a strategic career plan with detailed steps on a playbook driven by your passions. I too don't mind sharing...