It’s an interesting challenge: you’ve invested your time and energy into achieving your goal and now you must continue to reap the benefits of your journey.
Resting on your laurels isn’t an option because there are so many people who would love to assume the position you’re in; who would like nothing more than to replace you.
To keep what you’ve achieved, you must keep your feet moving.
These 6 actions were very helpful to me in my career as I navigated my way through the hierarchy to eventually reach the executive suite of a major corporation.
1. Change it Up
Never assume what got you here will keep you here or will get you where you want to go next. If you continue with the play that rewarded you yesterday, be prepared for disappointment in your current position.
This is a tough one for most people who have a difficult time morphing themselves from their past successful job approach to something new and different; they assume that if they continue to follow the vector they are on, life will be good.
I created an approach that worked well for me. I tagged it “the magic question” — “what do I have to do differently?”. It is a disciplined method of assessing what changes someone must make when they find themselves in a new role — a self intervention.
Continued success must be earned every day; constantly reinventing yourself is essential.
2. Work Harder
It’s easy to drift when you have achieved the goal you have worked so hard to achieve. You sit back in your new chair, put your hands behind your head, take a deep breath and say to yourself “I’ve made it”.
The issue is, however, your current resting place is temporary; it lasts only as long as you continue to add value to the organization. Falter for a moment and many others are waiting to step in.
Once you’ve got it, keep your head down, sweat more and deliver more.
3. Keep Your Friends
Continue to nurture “the family” that has supported you up to now; you will no doubt need their support as you go forward.
There is a tendency for some people to lose contact with their friends and colleagues once they have arrived at their career destination; this is a mistake.
The more challenging the role you achieve, the more you need support around you to advise you and to simply be there for you when you have emotional let downs.
Make a point of thanking each one of your support team personally for their faith in you and what you stand for, and ask for their continued allegiance.
4. Learn Something New
You have been rewarded for what you have learned in the past, but don’t rest on your laurels too long.
New challenges require new thinking, and anyone who believes that yesterday’s knowledge can be successfully applied to consistently solve tomorrow’s problems is in for a major shock.
Continuing to rely on the expertise you’ve gained up to now will make you stale, and eventually will lead to ineffectiveness in fulfilling your responsibilities.
Keep learning new stuff. Not only will it keep you relevant in terms of your ability to take the issues of the day head-on, being ahead of the knowledge curve will provide you with the energy needed to maintain the pace and momentum you require for continued success.
5. Look Beyond the Horizon
Take the initiative to play a personal role in your organization’s future.
Get out of the confines of your new job description and develop your perspective on where the organization needs to go to build value for ownership. Study how customer demand is changing and the likely impact it will have on your competitive position. Develop a profile of new competitors being licensed by disruptive technologies. And build your view of the strategic game plan that should be followed to meet these new challenges.
If you provide strategic value to the organization beyond what is expected of your current responsibilities, you will establish yourself as an asset with a long life to your bosses.
6. Draft Your Next Chapter
You may be tempted to take a time out, rest, and enjoy the spoils of your efforts once you’ve achieved your goal, but don’t get sucked into playing the game this way.
Take a deep breath, perhaps, but then look for a new prize to focus on — lean into the wind and keep your journey alive.
Successful careers are built on several successive achievements; rarely does the “one-hit wonder” happen. It’s a serial process of achieving your goal — learn and deliver success in it — look for other opportunities where you can add value for the organization — move on.
Many people fall victim to losing it once they’ve got it. This is not only a travesty in terms of not achieving their ultimate potential, but it also represents an opportunity cost to an organization.
The victims essentially rob their organization of the future value they could have provided had they been able to leverage their achievement into added career success.
These six actions will at least give you a fighting chance to hold and build a successful career, not hold and lose.