Managing Yourself and Your Career

Executive small

Years ago when I was a successful sales professional for AT&T I had a conversation with a colleague about where I wanted to go professionally. My goal I said was to become a large global account manager. “Oh” he said, if that is what you want you are headed in the wrong direction. Stay here and you will end up a manager in middle markets.” That meant managing a group of other sales people handling smaller accounts.

I thought about what he said and realized he was right but I was doing well and was not unhappy so I continued doing what I was doing. Where did I end up? Just as he predicted- a manager of people with smaller accounts.

What I know now is that if I find myself headed in the wrong direction I am responsible to make the correction. I never thought about having a career strategy. Without one I moved ahead but not where I wanted to go.

What would I do differently today? When I realized I was not heading in the right direction I would decide how I would make the correction. Whatever the next step toward that correction was I would set my intention to make it happen.

Take a moment to take stock of your career. Are you heading in the direction you want to go?

In the same way it is important to know what you want in your life. Are you doing the things that will make you happy and healthy? What do you need to do to get both your life and your career moving in the right direction?

There are three simple steps. The first is that if you really want to do this you must make it a priority. Step one is to set your intention. I’d suggest focusing on one course correction in your life and one in your career.

In the case of my career perhaps my next step is to find a global account managers to talk to,  I could find out how they got to that position and ask what advice they had for me.

If in my personal life I wanted to exercise more I could set my intention to exercise three time a week.

Your thoughts are important here. So if you are thinking “I should do this.”, it won’t work. You must first change the thinking and feeling to “I want to do this.” “I’ll make it work” That makes it a priority.

The next step is to ask yourself why you want to take this step and then write down the benefits you expect to get. These can be used to remind yourself of your intension.

With my career issue I would have needed to work to find the reason I was so complacent and ambivalent about changing my direction. It may have that I did not want to rock the boat (Things were good as they were) and it probably was fear of change. Rereading the benefits of the change might have got me to recommit to my action step. (Fear of change is a fear that coaches often help clients to work out.)

In the case of my life I have committed to exercising three times a week. It took me a few months of sticking with this routine to notice that I am stronger, my weight is stable and I have more energy. To maintain the benefits I know I must continue.

Again the only way this will work is if you have truly committed to doing it and really want to form a new habit or make a change in your career. With exercise it is an appointment I make with myself and I rarely change it. With your career you’ll need to see the long term benefits of getting to where you want to go

These steps can be used with any change of habit or career change. As with anything you do the secret is what happens inside you. You must really want it. If it is important to you, you will find a way to make it happen.

Take Action

  1. What step could you take this month that would move you in the right direction for your career or your life ?
  2. What could you do to set your intention strongly? (You’ve got to want it.)
  3. Try making the first step for a week. How did it go? Let me know!

Need some help? Coaches work with people who want to make changes in their lives.


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