If there’s one truth in life, it’s that you can’t map out everything. No matter how carefully you plan, you’ll find yourself on some detours. This is especially true when it comes to your professional journey. With so much unexpected—and, many times, unwanted—change, it can be tempting to toss out the road map and simply go wherever the wind blows you.
Try a few strategies to get yourself moving along your preferred route.
- Focus on making your “good” great.
Each of us has areas where we excel without trying too hard. Maybe you’re a pro networker or a ninja closer. Identify your “good” skills and turn them into great ones by working your tail off. Don’t waste time trying to become awesome at what you don’t do well or—even worse—hate to do. Instead, passionately and enthusiastically become the best you can be where you’re naturally gifted.
- Take one step forward every day.
A half hour is all it takes per day to keep moving ahead on your professional journey. Spend your 30 minutes brainstorming things you can do to develop your abilities and recharge your optimism. Could you read a specific book? Have coffee with a mentor or industry influencer? Rather than thinking too much about the big picture, focus on taking yourself down the road one step at a time.
- Figure out what success looks like.
Every person has a different measure of “success.” What is yours? Do you want to start a business? Have an impact on people in need? Write a book and go on the public speaking circuit? Spend a few moments reflecting on what success means to you; then determine how you might reach that destination from where you are today.
While the distance could be great, you shouldn’t quit your current job immediately—or even at all. You might be able to reach your destination through other avenues (such as volunteering or a side hustle) that allow you to still have a dependable income. At the same time, if you do eventually have to say goodbye to your workplace, you’ll feel better about doing so, thanks to your purpose.
- Build a robust, genuine support system.
Focus on your relationships both in your work and personal life. Humans rely on connections; the more trustworthy, honest cheerleaders you have, the richer your career journey will be. Plus, when you hit a rough spot in the road or have to backtrack, they’ll be beside you. Who knows? They might even willingly take the wheel for a few miles until you get your second wind.
If there’s one thing you shouldn’t be, it’s a passive participant in your career journey. You have a destination in mind, and even if it seems very far away, it’s reachable as long as you chart a course and stubbornly—and gleefully—forge ahead.