When it comes to your work-life and career, there’s a common tendency to spend a lot of time in your “future”… that place where things are “going to” happen, or will be “amazing”. That place where you are promoted, reach the top of tree, earn the big money, achieve success.
The other day I eavesdropped on a couple of 20-somethings in a café. Their conversation was like the many, many we’ve all had, littered with ideas and dreams… of relationships, travel plans, and future work opportunities.
I’m not saying there’s no room for a little dreaming when it comes to creating a career and work-life you love. But, I know, I for one, spent waaaaaaay too much time waiting, hoping, and wishing for that successful “future” to show up.
“Being present” is one of those trending phrases we hear a lot. We know we “should” be doing it… but, let’s face it, in the busy-ness of life, constant distractions, and excessive expectations… it’s often just plain difficult to achieve.
It took me a VERY long time to learn that career success doesn’t turn up at a certain time or by following a set path. We’re all running our own race, our versions of success are different, and therefore, the steps required to achieve it are also different.
But while there isn’t a single success formula, there’s one powerful habit or attitude you can develop that will exponentially increase your likelihood of achieving the level of success you want.
Just show up… & focus on the process, rather than the outcome
They say “80% of success is just showing up”. And “showing up” doesn’t refer to physically turning up somewhere but rather to putting in the work. Consistently, tirelessly, and even when everything seems like it’s going awry.
It takes discipline and courage to show up in your career. When things are going well, you’re more likely to let things coast and when you’re tired or anxious, you let yourself off the hook.
Showing up requires you to “be present”. It means letting yourself be seen by making yourself visible and putting yourself forward. And it needs you to stop focussing on results (i.e. the future) and commit yourself to the “here and now” (i.e. the present).
When you’re consistently showing up and focussed on the process rather than the outcomes, you put yourself in charge of the things within your control. When you’re putting in the effort, taking the steps, and learning the lessons, results will come.
The best ways to start showing up for your career
1. SPEAK UP
Here’s something I need you to know… you deserve to be heard. It’s easy to take a backseat and only make contributions when you’ve something of value to say. But this will keep you hidden. Yes, you’re physically in the room but when you stay quiet, you leave others to form their own perception of you. If you’re nervous about speaking up, put in some preparation and groundwork. Challenge yourself on every occasion and you’ll quickly develop your confidence to speak up.
2. ADD VALUE
Some of the best opportunities for workplace or career success come from your allies and advocates. Think about what you want to achieve or be known for. Set yourself up as an expert, offering your support to others. In doing so, you create a profile, build your reputation, and put yourself in the best possible place to build and nurture valuable relationships.
3. PUSH THE BOUNDARIES
Be open to new opportunities even if they feel challenging or uncomfortable. Volunteer to represent your team on a cross-department committee, put yourself forward for a high-profile project, agree to make a presentation, write an article for an industry publication, or mentor new staff members. Use each situation to test and learn… again, don’t worry about the outcome but focus instead on the preparation, commitment, and application of learnings.
4. PROBLEM SOLVING
When you find things are not going your way, do you look for excuses, find a way to blame it on some other person or circumstances? I know, we’ve all done it! The thing is other people’s behaviour and situational circumstances are mostly outside your control so there’s little you can do to fix things. Focus instead on how you might go about finding your own solution to a difficult situation. In doing so you’re likely to gain valuable new skills that will serve you well in any workplace or life setting.
5. KEEP GETTING UP
Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid pitfalls, setbacks and disappointments. These are all part of the process. The trick is to keep going, getting back up, and continuing to show up. If you can’t go full throttle, that’s ok, take some small measured steps instead. Doing something is always going to trump doing nothing at all.
You’ll always create more opportunities and achieve greater success by just “showing up”.
And when you fail to show up in your career, you’re essentially not showing up for 30% of your life! Maybe it’s time to put the dreaming, “what ifs” and “one day whens” to one side, focus on the process, and “be present” to your work-life right now. I’d love to help you finally figure out the right next career move for you.