How to Build a Successful Professional Life

by Patricia Faulhaber; Updated September 26, 2017
To Be Successful, Be a Lifelong Learner

Some people attribute success to many different things, such as luck, being in the right place at the right time, hard work, perseverance, having higher intelligence levels, or to getting that "big break." Others believe that one can make their own success by employing certain strategies, belief systems and truly participating in the world around them. Below are ten steps to building a successful professional life that start by centering on one's own growth to expanding connections with other professionals, leaders and the community.

Step 1

Set yourself apart from the crowd. Differentiate yourself by determining what you are passionate about, what you can do better than others around you and what brings you the highest rewards in life--be it fame, fortune or a brighter future. Continually expand and highlight those differences and those skills.

Step 2

Become a lifelong learner. Embrace learning for the sheer pleasure of learning new skills, enhancing your abilities and raising the level of personal and professional knowledge. Think out of the box when determining what expertise to obtain. Engineers can learn a great deal from learning leadership skills. Accountants can gain powerful insights into an organization by taking communications classes. Having more knowledge used to equate to power, and knowing how to use that knowledge, is where the real power builds.

Step 3

Dream and envision big. Where do you want to be in five, ten or twenty-five years from now? Do you envision yourself as a CEO of a major corporation or the owner of a small business? Do you dream of being promoted to a management position within a few years? If not, why? Dreaming small will garner small. To get to where you want to be, you have to dream it, believe it and then live it. See yourself as taking advantage of every opportunity available to you.

Step 4

Find the meaning in all professional activities and opportunities. When you are faced with big decisions, stop and take the time to find what moving up the corporate ladder means to you on a personal level, to your family and friends, and to your co-workers. Find the greater meaning by looking through the eyes of others. Does a promotion mean a better financial future for your family? With you as their manager, will your employees experience more learning opportunities or realize more ways to advance themselves? Find the meaning in each step of your professional career.

Step 5

Read books, articles and research written by other professionals in your field and related fields. Keeping up with all of the newest business books will give you a new perspective and spark ways to approach or solve problems. Reading the latest theories will also give you plenty to discuss with other professionals.

Step 6

Surround yourself with creative people who like to think out of the box and like to experience different perspectives. Creativity has a place in every profession. Creativity is also a great motivator. It opens the door to living and working in a greater capacity and without all of the boundaries often imposed by professionals, such as only wearing a black or blue suite to work every day except casual Fridays. Do you feel more relaxed, but get more work done when you have a suit on or when you are wearing casual clothing? If so, could be you feel you have elevated your creativity a bit.

Step 7

Help others develop their professional lives. When you have achieved the advances and the goals you have set along your professional life, the next step to your progression is to pass on your ability to persevere.
Mentoring or coaching others in efforts to help them advance will help you grow both professionally and personally. It will also help ensure the future of the profession you are working by helping others gain the skills they need to be successful. It also provides the opportunity for you to create future leaders and build an overall better society.

Step 8

Get involved with your community. Helping your community by volunteering with senior centers, youth programs, community events, the human society or other non-profit organizations will help you give back and again help build a better society.

Step 9

Stay focused on your dreams, visions and goals. Ignore the nay-sayers and negative thinkers you will encounter along the way. Those that have succeeded will be following the same steps listed here, while those who have given in or given up along the way will tell you that it cannot be done. You can change your dreams and goals as needed, but your focus will remain the same to achieve and be successful.

Step 10

Above all else, believe. Make believing a part of your fabric so that you always feel that you can and will accomplish the professional life you want and you deserve.

About the Author

Patricia Faulhaber is a freelance writer with over 20 years of writing experience. She has written for a wide range of newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and online news resources. She is also a business book reviewer and the author of Making the Media Connection Topic Timing Type of Media.

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