I am now just over 18 months out of my previous senior corporate role, and now fully immersed in my own business.

To say it is a whole new ball game, would be an understatement. I have learnt an insane amount about myself in these last 18 months. More than I ever thought possible.

However, what it has also allowed me to do is look back on and reflect on my career journey when I was inside business.

Sometimes it takes really stepping away, and creating some space (both literally and figuratively) for you to see the real learnings.

I am not one for regrets, however there are definitely some lessons that I look back upon now and wish I had of known earlier in my career. I would have saved myself a lot of sleepless nights, stress, and I could have gotten out of my own way a hell of a lot sooner.

Being driven to succeed is an admirable quality. One of which many of us possess, myself included.

However, when you are so driven to succeed, and wired to need to feel that you are constantly achieving, you naturally put more pressure on yourself to do so. To always be doing. You can feel like nothing is good enough, and the 80/20 rule goes out the window.

I recall stepping into my first senior role within an Organisation right at a time when it was going through an incredible amount of change. I felt so out of my depth and like such an imposter, that I went to work most days waiting for that tap on the shoulder saying “thanks Claire, but no thanks”. I went home and lay awake most nights criticising myself for the things I said (or didn’t say) that day, thinking that surely people would be judging. Laughing. Questioning my credibility.

To compensate for these feelings, I just worked, more and more and more. I stopped making time for myself, my needs, and most certainly stopped believing in myself and my own abilities. I got to the stage where I honestly thought I couldn’t do it and started questioning other parts of my life. For a person who generally takes a pretty ‘glass half full’ approach to life, it was a really lonely and sad place to be. In my own head. Drowning in my own thoughts.

I didn’t ask for help. I didn’t look up. I didn’t look around. I just let all the noise start to cave in on me, and then I worked harder to avoid it.

I had taken a really short term view of my career. Probably because at the time I felt so consumed by my feelings that I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. But, I look back now, and am reminded of just how important it is to take a long term view of our careers. To nurture and nourish them, just as we do our minds and bodies – why – because we want them to last.

If I could go back and talk to myself with what I know now about what the true ingredients of a LONG TERM successful career really are, these are the things I would remind myself…

  1. Working harder and longer hours and just hoping someone will notice is NOT the answer. Look up, and look around you. The people who get the opportunities are usually the people who built the relationships and then went and asked for those opportunities. Like it or not, it is the truth.
  2. Selling yourself and what you can do is not an option, it is a necessity. The project you’ve just brought to life that is making your team 30% more efficient might be fabulous, but if no one knows about it because you are too worried about sounding “braggy”, then you’ll miss out on opportunities.
  3. It is not your managers job to guess what your aspirations are. It is your job to tell them, regularly, and then find ways to proactively upskill yourself to get you there.
  4. Your perception is your projection, just as the next persons is theirs. Be aware of the what you tell yourself, it isn’t always the truth.
  5. You are paid to have an opinion, so have one and back it. Stop using language that takes away your authority and credibility before you’ve even shared anything. Commentary like “It’s just my opinion…”, or “I could be wrong, but…”, or “Just a random suggestion…”, are disempowering you before you’ve even gotten the content out.
  6. Sometimes (not always), it is a game of space, and he/she who takes up the most space, owns the room. Constantly being the person to shrink so that others can rise, will hurt you in the long run. Balance is key. Speak to be heard, but also listen to really understand.
  7. Just because you communicated something, doesn’t mean your message was heard. Real and effective communication is when you deliver a message, it is received the way you wanted it to be, AND your message has been truly understood the way you wanted it to. Learn this now - most people will do only part A, and then wonder where things went wrong.
  8. Relationship currency is king. Build, nurture and leverage your relationships, and do it regularly and with sincere intent. Regularly being the last one in the office, when others are out making new connections and building new relationships will not serve you in the long run.
  9. People having a different opinion to you, doesn’t make you wrong, and it doesn’t make you a failure. Diversity of opinion is what makes Organisations great.
  10. Boundaries are critical to your success. If you keep giving, people will keep taking, and that is your fault, not theirs. Don’t be a martyr to your own success.
  11. It is ok to ask for help and to say what you need - it is not asking for it when you need it that makes you a tool!

A lot of the work I do now with my Sell yourself with Confidence program participants is work through the above, and then put a solid and tangible action plan against each point.

Want to learn more about the Sell yourself with Confidence program, click here and join our waiting list, or let’s have a virtual cuppa here and get your started now in the private program!