Professional Development

6 steps to set yourself up for career success

Written by Eric Titner

Do you want to set yourself up for success? Of course, you do—we all want that—most of us strive for happy, successful lives. However, what success means to each of us is a unique and individual thing, based on our specific desires and goals. It also changes over time for each of us—your professional goals and metrics for success when you’re at the beginning of your career path will probably look different than when you’re older and further along in your journey.

Forbes recently published an article that highlights some helpful actions that you can take to achieve career success. According to the article, “no matter what your professional goals and visions are, there are six core actions that will support you to achieve greater success and fulfillment over the long arch of your professional life.”

Consider taking advantage of these strategies to set yourself up for a successful future.

Make a solid plan.

If you want to achieve some measure of career success in your life, you first have to have a clearly discernible and measurable goal to pursue. There’s nothing more dispiriting and unmotivating than a directionless future. Defining a clear goal for yourself—one that will potentially deliver happiness and fulfillment when reached—will help you gain a healthy measure of clarity and allow you to carve out the steps necessary to achieve it.

Don’t be afraid to set a specific goal out of fear that you’ll be handcuffed to it forever. Remember, your goals will likely change over time and across the span of your career. Also, don’t be afraid to fail—a life well lived often contains a series of successes and failures. The goal is to learn from both and take these valuable lessons to help guide you towards future success.

Transform your depression.

Depression can stop all forward progress in your life dead in its tracks. The Forbes article discusses making the effort to turn your depression into inspiration in order to get yourself back on the path to success: “This is a vitally important endeavor—to move away from feeling desperate, victimized and out of control in the face of your professional challenges. The key is to learn how to be more accountable, responsible and capable—viewing what’s happening as a way for you to learn and grow.”

There is never a time when things will always go your way. You are going to face setbacks and failures throughout your life, and despite your best efforts they can drag you down into a funk. Fight against it the best you can. Assess why you’re down, what went wrong, and how to avoid the same situation in the future. Make a plan about how you’ll climb out of your sadness and self-doubt. Action gives you control, which can make the skies seem a little clearer.

Enforce boundaries.

Once you have set a clear path towards success for yourself, it’s up to you to set and enforce boundaries that will allow you to keep on track. Keep away habits, people, and behaviors that will only drag you down. Depending on your goals, these boundaries will comprise your personal “mission statement”—capturing the priorities and steps needed for you to learn, grow, and move forward toward career success. It will also clarify things to avoid along the way—those unhealthy and negative things that only serve to derail your progress. In all areas of life, boundaries help us stay on track and reach our desired destination—use them to your full advantage and don’t be shy about sticking up for yourself and what you need.

Commit yourself fully.

Achieving your professional goals can be a real challenge—in addition to intense competition and hard work, there are a variety of unforeseen setbacks and obstacles that can potentially throw you off track along the way. Even the luckiest and most successful among us face these challenges—the key difference between those who eventually achieve success and those who give up before they reach their goals is often commitment. Put in those extra hours. When you fail, try again. When you get rejected, apply somewhere else. Keep your plan and goal in mind and don’t stop when you veer off course—and you will veer off course, so plan on it.

Learn how to communicate with power.

Your voice can be a powerful tool as you advocate for yourself in the professional world. Successful individuals in all walks of like make sure they are clearly and confidently articulating their ideas, thoughts, visions, and goals to the world around them, and are constantly their own best advocates, striving to create positive outcomes whenever possible. As you travel along your path to success, make sure you follow the same mindset.

Maintain strong connections.

Although we each strive to be the architect of our own successful future, we must admit that none of us operate in isolation—we are all part of a collective of individuals whom we support and draw support from, and nurturing these relationships is often a crucial step towards achieving success. According to the Forbes article, “…highly successful professionals understand that they cannot achieve their visions alone or in a vacuum. They invest time and energy in building mutually-beneficial relationships, and solid bonds and energizing partnerships that last over time.” On your journey to success, be sure to recognize, value, and take care of these important relationships—and build new ones along the way.

If you’re relatively new to the world of work and are in the early stages of your career path, consider following these helpful guidelines to help you either define what a successful future looks like for you, or to help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself and find success. Good luck!

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.