How to tell you've made it

Congratulations, you’ve officially “made it” in your career.

So what’s different? What does that look like? I’m not sure I can say anyone’s version of “making it” is the same, but I can say with certainty two things:

1) Everyone is disappointed when they reach the point they thought was “making it.”

2) “Making it” is about a behavior trait we exhibit, not a destination we reach.

So why is everyone disappointed? We look at people we admire, or we plot a course towards the future, and we think, “If I can just have X, or do Y, or reach Z, I’ll be happy. I’ll be satisfied. I’ll know I’ll have made it.”

But then what happens? We reach that point, or we talk to those who have, and the reaction is always the same: “I’m here now. Cool. I did that thing. Great. Okay then. What’s next?”

It turns out that “enough” is a decision we make. Not a destination we reach.

That’s the disappointment we all feel. It’s not “just do X and you’re good.” It’s only one continual journey until you decide to stop working or it’s decided for you.

So what’s this behavior trait we can exhibit to know we’ve made it? It’s the very same trait that defines a thriving career, the lifelong journey we’re on until we decided to stop: the ability to be proactive about our work.

In some jobs and careers, people merely react. They’re told to do something, whether overtly by a boss or client, or implicitly by a culture or a trend in the market. They just react. They’re not proactive.

So how do we know when we’ve “made it”? I think it’s when we’re being proactive more often than not — when most or all of what we do is our decision. We chose it. We GET to do it. We don’t HAVE to do it.

So I’d ask you: Have you made it? You can make it a lot sooner than you think, because it doesn’t take nearly as much time or money or fame or traditional sense of accomplishment as you’d think. In fact, you could “make it” today.

When you’re proactive about what you do, that’s how you’ll know: You’ve made it.

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Posted on October 15, 2019 .