What Will it Take to Get Where You Want to Be?

Let’s not sugar coat it, okay? Macro data aside, things are not great in the American economy right now, especially for people over 40. There are not as many good jobs for older workers. Careers are more tracked than ever, with hiring managers wanting people with a long history of perfecting a narrow discipline. What, you don’t have 15 years of sequential promotions in partner marketing? Good bye… Many skills that we once got recognized for doing well, such as being good on the phone, aren’t given much value these days. At the same time, new skills, some of them quite technical, are highly prized. Worst, though, is the apparent lack of employer loyalty. You’re a “human resource,” not a “human being.” When it suits the business, you’re gone. This is the “New Normal” of today’s job market.


But, let’s not get discouraged. The truth is, you can earn more money in your work life. (Notice I didn’t say “job” or even “career.”) You can earn more if you want to. You can earn more if you work on yourself. While the reality is that we are more or less on our own, we are not alone. Yes, we are all essentially self-employed, even if we have a job that pays us a salary. We work for ourselves. This can either be depressing or liberating. What will you choose it to be? In this post, I will share seven steps you can take to get yourself ready to thrive in the difficult new normal.

#1 Understand What’s Really Happening to You

You can’t solve a problem you can’t define. Every person’s situation is unique, a mix of workplace issues, personality, background, family, economic realities. There are many reasons that we may be under-earning our potential or struggling in our careers. However, in reality, there are two secret reasons why it’s happening:

1 – We’re in the wrong job/career/line of business. This may seem like a crazy idea but it is true for most of us. We struggle because we’re in the wrong job or industry. We’re in management when we should be in sales. We’re working with our minds when we should be working with your hands. We are working alone when we should be working with other people, and so on. We need to find the right fit for our best success.

2 – The approaches to career that worked before don’t work anymore. So many things have changed. The old wisdom about trying to find a steady job at a big company doesn’t hold up today. The idea that we need to prepare an amazing resume and submit it to as many jobs as possible is less and less relevant today. We need to adapt to the new way that things work.

#2 Embrace Setbacks

Failure can be a gift. Many successful people have made this point. If we are able to work on ourselves, we can learn a lot from a setback. It’s also important to give ourselves permission to feel bad about it. It’s going to hurt, but it’s an opportunity.


#3 Understand Your Leverage

We are only going to make decent money if our employer is profitable. This sounds pretty obvious but it’s incredible how often we fail to see this basic connection. How profitable is your employer? What is their outlook in their industry? What do you bring to the table? Your pay, and raise potential depends on three very important factors:

  • The profitability of your employer – are they making money? (Cash flow, not paper earnings.)
  • Your employer’s competitive advantage in its industry – can they sustain profits long -term and grow?
  • Your personal leverage against the employer – what makes it hard to replace you? That will drive your raise potential, assuming they have the money.

#4 Understand Your Behavior, Energy, and Attitude.

Your behavior. Your energy. Your attitude. These are affecting your work life and your earning potential. You may need to ask someone else to help you figure out how you really come across to others. Are you projecting negativity and hostility? These will negate your efforts to improve.

#5 Set a Goal: the True You.

There is a job or business that’s right for you. It’s where you will earn the most. It’s where you will be the happiest. It’s the True You.

  • What kind of salary and lifestyle do you want? (Think carefully)
  • Consider the tradeoffs: Life satisfaction vs. status and money – you may not be able to have it all.
  • What does You 2.0 look like?
  • Visualize it. Visualization leads to realization.

Marc Miller of Career Pivot has a great approach to thinking this through in Repurpose Your Career. I highly recommend it.


#6 Believe in Yourself

It’s going to take work. It’s going to take time, but, you can do it.

  • Find mentors – people who can help you do a better job and figure out your path. (It might be more than one person.)
  • Make intelligent mistakes – if you know where you’re heading, you can mess up and learn about yourself, improving your odds of success as you move forward.
  • Easier said than done: but switch off those old tapes.
  • Don’t worry about not being something that you’re not. You were NOT meant to be that person.

#7 Be a Part of Others’ Success

This is not about being altruistic. It’s a strategy to help yourself. Bank favors with others who can help you later. Engage in useful networking, where you can add real value to others’ businesses and careers. You will definitely see it come back to you in the form of job referrals and gigs. You can also learn valuable business skills and insights while you’re getting to know new people

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