I recently finished reading an excellent book called ‘Career advice for Ambitious Women’ written by successful businesswoman, and media personality Mrs. Moneypenny. I’ve always considered myself to be ambitious, and whilst I haven’t got my sights set on running a major corporation or trading stocks on Wall Street, I have worked hard to achieve good qualifications and to make an impression wherever I’ve worked. Many business books aimed at women can be somewhat fluffy, offering snippets like ‘dress for the job you want not the job you have’ and other such gems, usually being aimed at entry level women, not women with 10+ years of experience in the workplace. Thankfully this book wasn’t at all like that, and gave good advice for women at whatever career stage they might be. The three most useful pieces of information I took away were.
Set your goals
How can you know whether you are at the right place, and on the right path in your career if you have never set your goals? If you’re anything like me, setting goals scares you because it’s difficult to know what sort of goals you should aim for, what’s too ambitious but what’s not enough of a challenge. This got me thinking though, a life lived for work only isn’t much of a life at all, so in setting your goals why not make one career, one ‘enrichment’, one home? For example you might say you want to be earning £xxxxx by age 35, have learned to speak Italian by 40 and paid your mortgage by age 50. They should be challenging, don’t set your goals low so that you don’t disappoint yourself, but don’t set them so high that you cannot possibly achieve them. Review your goals once a year, around your birthday is a good time, ask are you still on track to achieve them, if not then what do you need to do?
Believe in yourself
Too often we talk ourselves out of opportunities. We worry about pushing ourselves up the career ladder for fear that we might make a mistake, or even that we might apply for a job but, because we don’t have 100% of the pre-requisites, our CV might not even get through sifting. It’s probably not a good idea as an entry level admin assistant to apply to be CEO of a large multi-national organisation, but know your strengths, and don’t be afraid to identify what you are good at and go for it. Yes, you might got knocked back a few times, but if you are being realistic in your abilities, then someone is going to recognise what a valuable asset you are and take a chance.
You aren’t superwoman
We are conditioned to believe that we should all have amazing jobs, model good looks and perfect figures, be amazing cooks, have perfect homes and at the weekend perhaps drive formula 1 cars at Donnington. It’s not true. We are being sold a lie and the only thing it is achieving is for us to constantly keep exhausting ourselves to meet up with expectations. Don’t do it, the only outcome of a life lived in that way is deflation. So, you don’t enjoy cooking, don’t do it. You hate the gym? Don’t go! Only do the things in your life that are going to enrich it, be that work, hobbies or home life because anything else that you take on is going to detract from your long term priorities and goals. We aren’t superwomen, we can only do what time and energy permit.
If you get a chance to read the book in full I would really recommend it. I passed my copy on to a friend after reading it, and I hope she finds it as useful as I did.
What are your tips for career success?