Four Steps to Career Achievement

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Recently, I read a wonderful quote by William A. Ward, American scholar, author and pastor. Here’s the quote: “Four steps to achievement: Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently.”

Besides the memorable alliterative nature of the quote, bells went off in my head. To me, the quote epitomized the true meaning of what it takes to have a successful career.

Let me explain.

First, “Plan purposefully.” How does this apply to your career?

You’ve probably heard the statement, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Setting your career direction is the first, and most critical decision you need to make. How can you possibly reach a goal unless you define it?

Ask yourself “What do I want?” You’ll find answers in your dreams, yearnings, the thoughts you’ve placed on the shelf, and what you’re naturally attracted to. Talk to people about what they do and if a profession seems interesting to you, ask more questions and do research.

If you’ve decided that you want to move up in your organization, model your behavior and actions on high achievers and learn how to use office politics and the corporate culture in your favor.

Second, “Prepare prayerfully.”

Trust that you can and will get what you want. I’m referring to having faith that with careful planning, hard work and a laser-like attention to your goal, it can become a reality. Focused intention is powerful.

When I was in human resources at Squibb Corporation, I remember wanting so much to be promoted into a recruiter position. My intention was strong and I worked diligently for 3 years, learning as much as I could, asking for and taking on more responsibility.

I was promoted shortly thereafter. Yes, it was the realization of a dream that I trusted would happen. But I planned for it. I asked for what I wanted (from my boss and of myself) and took tactical action steps (learning how to interview by enrolling in classes and by screening candidates.)

Faith coupled with planning is a winning combination.

Third, “Proceed positively.”

Once you have decided on what you want and carefully crafted a plan to realize it, fuel it with good thoughts and an upbeat attitude.

Did you ever notice that it’s always the people who think they will succeed, who do? That’s no accident. Beyond the power of positive thinking, I truly believe you can shape your destiny by your thoughts.

Start each day being grateful for what you have, and expect good things to happen. More often than not, they will.

Fourth, “Pursue persistently.”

Woody Allen once said: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

Your goal is often waiting for you right around the corner after your last setback. Just when you feel that your plan is not going to work because you’re tired, or discouraged by a naysayer, that’s the time to try once more.

Of course, along the way you might need to tweak or refine the plan. That’s being smart. Advice from a trusted mentor should be welcomed and folded into your action steps.

If your heart is telling you to proceed, listen to it. And take action every day.

What small, incremental steps can you make today to move your plan forward? Your new career is waiting!

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