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If you are reading this article, you probably have already achieved considerable success along your career path. Yet, you may not be really happy or satisfied with where you are and may not be certain of where you heading in your career or why.

Obviously, there is only one person who can find answers to your questions. However, there are a number of things you can do to help clarify and control your career path. Here are five tasks that can inform your thinking, assist in your planning and guide your efforts.

Know Yourself
First, and maybe most obvious, you need to know yourself. Take some time to reflect and write out your greatest strengths. You do not need a long list. Focus on the three to five strengths you possess. Then list your two or three most significant weaknesses. This step may be more challenging. In fact, you may want to visit with some trusted friends and colleagues to gain an accurate picture. Next, list the aspects of the job you have and jobs you have had in the past that you liked most. What stimulates your passion? What give you the most satisfaction? What convinces you that you are making a difference? The next steps in your career will offer new challenges and present new opportunities. The more you know about yourself the better choices you can make.

Seek Your Own Opportunities
Second, do not wait for or depend on others to manage your career. Others can mentor and coach you, but you must take responsibility for seeking out and creating your own opportunities. If others offer assistance and create opening for you, fine, but do not depend on anyone other than yourself to take you where you want to go.

Choose a Path
Third, do not assume that there is a set, single path to where you are going. Conventional wisdom can say that you must make your way through specific positions for set amounts of time to get where you want to go. This information can be helpful, but you may find another path works best for you. You know your passions, skills and aspirations. It is good to listen to others with experience, but have the courage to do what seems right to you.

Learn From Experiences
Fourth, know that not everything may work out perfectly and commit to learn from each experience. Not being selected for what seems like the perfect position can be painful, but rarely is it the last or only opportunity you will have. In fact, the experience may prepare you to better analyze and recognize great opportunities in the future. Stay focused on and committed to your goals. You are the person who controls most of the variables that will contribute to achieving them.

Learn and Grow
Fifth, when you land the position to which you have aspired, commit to keep learning and growing. Success is not getting the position; it is leveraging the opportunity to make a difference and continue to build your skills and become even better. The day you become convinced that you are finished learning and growing is the day you begin your career decline. Alternatively, if you keep learning and growing you may find new opportunities and challenges that you never imagined and that will take your career to even greater heights and offer even more opportunities.

Thought for the Week

Simply pulling a strategy “off the shelf” or defaulting to the most recently read article or staff development session topic may not generate the results we seek.

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