The suspense is growing in the 2016 presidential election, but while we don’t know what will happen, one thing we do know is the date of decision. Elections almost always provide us with a concrete outcome. The milestones of our lives, however, such as our career dreams and aspirations, usually don’t come with a prescribed date. For that reason, sometimes we allow career and life goals to remain on the horizon instead of becoming the markers of flow and progress in our lives.
In my work with thousands of clients, I have found three reasons people allow their careers to meander rather than to live leadership and set the pace of progress. Interestingly, they correspond to three core leadership skills.
1. Clear, consistent communication: Knowing who you are, what you want to contribute and aligning your actions are the precursors to being able to effectively communicate this information to others. When people are unsure of themselves, don’t believe they are worthy or ready for their dream job or feel they need “more experience,” they fail to effectively convey to others what they do have to offer. Without clearly communicating our worth and aspirations it is impossible to allow others to meet us. Opportunities to move toward our goals don’t magically appear, they are created out of our desire to contribute our best and our ability to share what it is with everyone.
2. Conscious choice: It is much easier to believe that our careers are determined by factors outside our control than to know we are masters of our leadership. Feeling tied to a job for its benefits, not trusting that we can create work that is fulfilling and a complete match to our desires and feeling the scarcity of time are all ways we choose to slow the flow. The only reason those that we admire have achieved stimulating, successful and financially freeing work is that they have chosen it.
3. Conflict Resolution: Whenever we seek to align our leadership with the highest expression of what we have to offer the world, people and situations appear that allow us to clarify whether or not we are committed to moving toward our goals. Conflicts are inevitable. We can’t prevent them from happening. What’s important is to develop the grace to handle conflicts well. As you move toward what you want to create, colleagues might criticize your choices, friends might try to keep you from “making a mistake,” or you might feel the pull of “staying the course” in the way you were taught success occurs. Learning how to stay true to your guidance and belief is key to keeping differences of opinion from stopping you.
Our careers are reflections of us and how we are leading in our lives; unlike election cycles, most of our dreams don’t come with a built-in deadline. It is up to us to determine the important milestones we want to reach, and to ensure that we keep the flow going to achieve them—and to continue to do so throughout our lives.