career success

Create your own success and build a robust and sustainable career, says Julia Schmidt

When we think about our career journey, our efforts to grow, our commitment to learning, and everything that forms our plans and actions to achieve success, we can all agree that success is the feeling we experience when we attain our objectives. 

We also know that success means different things to different people. It can be associated with happiness, living up to your potential, enjoying life and wealth, writing a symphony, becoming an entrepreneur or a published author, or just becoming the best professional you can be.

Let’s check some quotes about success that remind us that success is a positive outcome that is closely related to effort, learning, goal-setting, actions, and improvement.

Inspiring and Motivating Quotes

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

Colin Powell 

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”

Conrad Hilton 

“I never dreamed about success; I worked for it.”

Estee Lauder 

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”

Benjamin Franklin 

“Think little goals and expect little achievements. Think big goals and win big success.”

David Joseph Schwartz 

“Success is not a destination, but the road that you’re on. Being successful means that you’re working hard and walking your walk every day. You can only live your dream by working hard towards it. That’s living your dream.”

Marlon Wayans

The above quotes focus on elements crucial to achieving success in our career and embracing it as a process, not a destination. 

Key Elements for Achieving Success

Here are some of the key elements I have identified during my career journey, or that have been inspired by reading about the topic. These are my key elements; you can elaborate on your own essentials and make a list that will support you in achieving your moments of success. 


Actively listening to team members, co-workers, advisors, and mentors will help you acquire different perspectives. The best way to help yourself and your team achieve confidence is to listen to what each person has to say. When you listen while people express their ideas, thoughts, and solutions, you are teaching yourselves and developing competence, which is essential in achieving and maintaining success. Listening is magic! 

Be curious

Dr. Diane Hamilton, in her book Cracking the Curiosity Code: The Key to Unlocking Human Potential, explains that “curiosity, by definition, takes us out of our comfort zone. It is part of our DNA and is no different from our pursuit of food, water, or sex. Our bodies are programmed to be curious and reward us when we exercise curiosity.” 

Be committed

Knowing why you are on your career road and doing everything you can to keep in the right direction will drive you forward. Staying committed involves dedication, discipline, optimism, and positive thoughts. As the 14th and current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, notes: “Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.” So, can you imagine how big a difference it can make in a whole career life? 

Be resilient

Being resilient means practicing flexibility, tolerance, and positive thinking. I usually study the different ways to attain my goals by thinking: “I want to attain this goal well, and for that I need to…” The best way to avoid stress, increased frustration, uncertainty, and fear is by seeing the big picture, being prepared, and avoiding procrastination.

Know what not to do

In executing your strategy, you will face many things that need to be handled. If you try to focus on too much, you will scatter your energy and lose your effectiveness. The faster pace and exciting results in the executing phase will open doors to more opportunities. However, increased opportunity can also increase your distraction from your primary purpose. To succeed, sort out major issues from minor ones. Selectively disengage from some strategic activities so that you can powerfully engage in the most relevant. 

Take care of yourself

The pursuit of your goals, accomplishments, and success demands hard work, dedication, time, and extraordinary effort and focus. Therefore, you must understand that “there is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest,” to quote Alan Cohen, author of many inspirational books. So, take time for yourself each day to do what helps you recharge your batteries. The whetstone that sharpens our mind is our body: what we eat, how we sleep, how we exercise. 

Don’t forget your family

A job is just a job. If you are married to your job from the beginning of your career, prepare to be alone when you retire. Take your family with you on your career journey. Do not abandon them. We need people! We need to keep the best people we have around us in our lives to attain our goals, improve performance, and understand the big picture.

Juggle your expectations and deadlines

Your career journey is a long trip with many incidents, detours, roadblocks, potholes, and surprises. Some beautiful paths during our career journey cannot be discovered without getting lost, finding new ways, creating new expectations, or embracing flexibility. Any career success is about juggling expectations and deadlines in a structured and resilient way. So, read the topics in this article carefully (accepting failure, knowing what to do, being resilient, being accountable, keeping a log of activities, being realistic, being organized, staying focused, and taking care of yourself). They will help you solve the puzzle. 

Follow your core values

They support your vision, shape your behavior, and reflect your personal and professional standards. They are your principles and beliefs. In your career journey, every time you notice that what you are doing is not in keeping with what you stand for or believe, you have to stop, reflect, and do your self-assessments. Your values are the toolset that will open the doors to success. 

Accept the possibility of failure

There is no success without failure. So, the main question you must ask yourself every day is, “What can I learn from my failures?” We fail in order to grow. Without ever failing, we would never progress in our goals. Times columnist David Brooks said, “Success leads to the greatest failure, which is pride. Failure leads to the greatest success, which is humility and learning.” If we want to reach our potential and great moments of success, we need to be courageous enough to be imperfect.

Be an enabler

A common personality trait of an enabler is helpfulness. By empowering others, you will be enabling positive behaviour in yourself, allowing growth and development. 

Keep a log of activities

To accomplish your long-term goals, you have to make continuous progress on a day-to-day basis. Also, keep yourself organized, as there is much information you need to work with to form your strategy and create the actions that will help you attain your goals. To ensure that you move towards your goals, day after day, keep a log of all the specific tasks you need to accomplish every day. Create an objective for each day and list the activities accordingly. For each day, ask yourself, “How are today’s tasks bringing me closer to my long-term goals?” 

Be accountable

In the workplace, employee accountability is the responsibility to complete the assigned tasks, perform the duties required by the job, and be ready to fulfill any new activities to help the organization attain its goals. In planning and executing your career strategy, the same is required. You need to follow your mission, set and follow your career goals, create your activity log, and do one task at a time. It is also imperative that you emphasize your strengths, value your time, evaluate your performance, embrace feedback as a gift, and reward yourself in your moments of success. 

Stay focused

Have a plan and follow your activity log, know the objective for the day, and work to complete it without distractions. If social media use prevents you from dedicating enough time to fulfilling your goals, eliminate it from your operational day. Owning your time and administrating it will help you create a career-focused workspace. The single greatest obstacle to being focused in this digital age is your technology, including computers, tablets, and smartphones. I have no pings, vibrations, or other notifications signaling that a voicemail, email, text message, or social media update has arrived. That gives me more control over at least 50% of my time. 

Focus on the positive

We will be surrounded by positive and negative situations, ideas, results, and people on our way up to success. When we concentrate on what is not working well, our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) becomes activated. It is meant to notify us of danger and prepare us to fight. We then spend valuable energy on paying attention to things that will not help us grow faster neurologically. This is the exact opposite of what happens when we emphasize the positive. 

Know your why

We need a career strategy because we need to know the “why” of what we are doing to follow the right paths to achieve our dreams and goals and understand the importance of our work in the grand scheme of things. Our career strategy helps us structure the tasks we need to perform, ensure competitive advantage, accelerate growth, and enhance engagement. Knowing the “why” enables us to view and understand the big picture and think and act strategically in a consistent way. 

Be a realist

No one knows you better than yourself. Break your strategy plan into realistic tasks and manageable pieces, and set solid deadlines for achieving it. Do not let failure deflect you from the path. Once you have all your ducks in a row, take a deep breath and dive in. Move! Take action! 

Taking time to pause and reflect 

Typically, the moments of success are times to pause and reflect on the journey. When the rush of growth is over, and you are awaiting new challenges and more hard work, you have a unique opportunity to detect the patterns that will help you advance your career and your next steps. Plan your time of pause and reflection to match the impact of your victories, whether the accomplishments are big or small. Think about the factors that contributed to your growth. Think about the decisions and actions you took that helped you achieve success. Think about what delayed your progress. What would you do differently? 

Once you have paused to consider all these questions and have learned how you’ve grown and accomplished your victories, take time to celebrate. You did it! Relish your accomplishments! 

To help you in this process of pause, reflection, and identifying patterns, I would like to recommend you use a powerful self-assessment tool. I call it the Success Moments Assessment. 

Success Moments Assessment

Step 1

Keep in mind that your career is a journey that embraces both the personal and professional sides of you life. Take a blank piece of paper and divide it into two columns: column A for Private Life and column B for Professional Life. In each column, list 10 moments of success you have experienced. They can be from the past year or any time in the past. Choose what is relevant for you.

Step 2

After you finish your list, you will assess your three preferred success moments and link them to accomplishments. So, on another piece of blank paper, make a table with two columns and three rows. In column #1, you will write your three preferred career success moments (each one in one row), and in column #2, you will note the accomplishments that led to each success moment (following their respective row). You can list as many accomplishments you want as you look for patterns. 

Look at this example from my career to help you understand how to start filling in the table:

Suppose one of my preferred success moments is when I got promoted from Executive Assistant to Senior Executive Assistant. So, that is what I will write in column #1: Promotion from EA to Senior EA in 2018. In column #2, I will write the accomplishments related to the promotion:

  1. Increased company knowledge
  2. Good results in improving the company’s internal communication
  3. Successful onboarding of the new CEO 

Step 3

To identify the patterns, answer these questions about your feelings and reflections regarding your great success moments: 

  • Did these moments give you motivation?
  • Were they related to specific career goals? 
  • Did they make you feel proud of your job and career? 

What did this exercise tell you about

  • your true source of motivation, 
  • benefitting from your strengths,
  • being prepared, 
  • embracing hard work, and
  • setting goals? 

How can you make these moments of success happen again? How can you apply your learning from the existing patterns? Do this exercise two to three times a year. It’s like giving yourself a performance review. Create an action plan and road map to maximize your results and help you build a robust and sustainable career.

Create your own success! 

This article is adapted from Julia’s book, The Executive Secretary Guide to Building a Successful Career Strategy, available on Amazon.

Julia Schmidt is an award-winning Executive Assistant with over 20 years of experience working in different industries. She is known for being a passionate advocate for people development and in helping others succeed and embrace their leadership skills. ... (Read More)

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