4 Steps To Making The Life You Always Wanted

Getting to the next level isn't about a series of smart moves or just-right strategies, but mental toughness and knowing yourself better.

Is something holding you back from getting to the next level, but you can’t put your finger on it?

Today, you are your manager and you need to plan out your own career path to your dream job. That’s why it is important that you are not focused on the job position, but rather on the skills required.

Here are the four steps to moving your career, salary, and life to the next level.

1. Stop Blaming Everyone Else

I’m going to say something controversial here: "You are holding yourself back." It's not your company, not your spouse, not your education, not your looks; it's you.

As Zig Ziglar said, "You are what you are, you are where you are because of what has gone into your life. You can change what you are, you can change where you are by changing what is going into your life."

The day you begin to move to the next level is the day you take full responsibility for your life and are willing to change.

2. Understand the Power of Vows

A vow is a very powerful promise we make to ourselves. We make marriage vows when we get married, and even the President makes vows for his office.

A vow has the power to help us achieve great things, but it also has the power to sabotage our lives. Throughout our childhood, we often make vows in our heart. Sometimes these are made at times of pain in our lives. These vows have the power to limit us as we grow older because, inwardly, we are held bound to these vows until we change them.

For example, your dad might have had to travel for work and was away from home a lot. That affected you as a child, so you vowed, "I’m never going to allow work travel to affect my family." Or maybe your mother worked part-time and was never home when you finished school, and you vowed, "I will always be home for my children."

These vows sound honorable when you are seven years old, but now that you are an adult, they could be limiting your career path.

List the vows you have made throughout your life. Are any of these self-sabotaging your life?

3. Identify Your Weaknesses and Play to Your Strengths

Weak leaders don’t take the time to identify their weaknesses, and they become blind spots in their career.

Strong leaders identify their weaknesses, put strategies in place to close the gaps between weakness and strength, and then go out blazing using all their strengths.

Some years ago, a CEO who was running one of Australia’s largest companies contacted us. He was a very brilliant man strategically and technically but had received criticism from his direct reports that he was doing a poor job giving constructive feedback to them at review time.

The men reporting to him were all on seven figure salaries and required feedback to develop and become C-level executives themselves. To his credit, the CEO identified his weakness and through executive coaching closed the gap and became recognized as a global leader in his field.

4. Bigger levels, bigger devils

I heard a saying once, "bigger levels, bigger devils." What I took that to mean is for every level in life you want to attain there is a bigger giant that you have to beat.

When the Mario Brothers game was first launched I was in my twenties. I sat up night after night trying to save the princess. In the game you could not go to the next level until you killed the giant, which got bigger and stronger at each level.

What did it take to kill the giant? The same thing it takes to get to the next level in your career and life: Grit.

For a number of years, Dr. Angela Duckworth, a neurobiologist and psychologist, has studied thousands of business people, graduates, lawyers, doctors, artists, writers, teachers, and students in all kinds of challenging settings. She wanted to understand "Who is successful here and why?"

In all of these different contexts, one characteristic emerged as a predictor for success. It wasn't social intelligence, good looks, IQ, or physical health. It was "grit," or mental toughness.

Duckworth describes this quality in successful people as "perseverance and passion to achieve long-term goals; having stamina; sticking with your future day in and day out and working hard to make that future a reality; a marathon not a sprint."

You alone hold the key to your career. Use it to unlock the door that has been holding you back inwardly and you will eventually see it manifest outwardly in your career.

Chris Gaborit is managing director at The Learning Factor. Find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

[Image: Flickr user Scarleth Marie]

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