My Single Best Piece of Career Advice is . . .

As is the case with a lot of things in life, the secret to enjoying a successful career is relatively simple. The problem is that it’s so simple that people often overlook it. They can’t “see the forest for the trees,” so to speak. And I guess that’s one part of my job that I really enjoy, guiding people who are maybe confused or concerned through the process and helping them to set concrete goals and career objectives.

If you were to boil that piece of advice down to one sentence, this would be it:

“You have to know where you’re going before you can get there.”

As you can see, this is advice that you can readily apply to other endeavors, not just job- or career-related ones. And the reason you can do that is because the wisdom contained in that statement is so simple, yet integral to just about everything we do in life.

However, the problem people encounter with their job search is that they often overlook that step or skip it altogether. In other words, they start looking ahead before they focus on the starting point, which is determining where it is they want to go.

The building block of any successful career is a clear and well-defined path that has a specific destination in mind. Of course, you can plot a new destination once you reach the first one. You can even have one big destination, with a bunch of little ones in between – stepping stones, if you will.

But if you don’t know specifically where you want to go – and know with certainty – then you simply aren’t going to get there. You won’t even know how to get there.

No matter where you are in your career journey, it’s always a good idea to take a personal audit, an inventory of what you’ve accomplished and what you’d still like to accomplish (i.e., your destination). Once you’ve done that, the next step is determining which direction you want to go in order to reach that destination.

There are many ways in which to travel, and many different roads that you can take, but if you don’t know where you’re going, there’s really no point in even starting.

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