To exit Earth’s orbit, a spacecraft must reach a speed of seven miles per second, or 25,000 miles per hour. Then, anything we call “rocket-fueled” moves at the highest achievable velocity. In this article, we’ll talk about how to achieve this kind of rapid transformative progress in your career. Since today’s work landscape is highly competitive, with post-pandemic hiring slowdowns gradually shifting the workplace from a seller’s (employees) to a buyer’s (employers) market, individuals need every possible ounce of “rocket fuel” in their tank to achieve their desired career trajectory.
Start with Career Math
Calculate Your Career Timeline. To plan your career effectively, start by calculating the years you have until retirement. Deduct your current age from 62 (or your retirement age). This number represents the years left for your career. For instance, if you’re in your late 20s, you have approximately 35 years of your career ahead. Even at 40, you’re not even halfway through your journey. Understanding Career Math reveals that a career spans four decades, requiring a strategic approach. It’s like running a marathon, demanding ambition, preparation, and pacing. Just as marathon runners need nourishment and fans to succeed, you require a balanced skill set, meaningful experiences, and enduring relationships.
Embrace the 10,000-Hour Rule
Malcolm Gladwell’s renowned concept of mastery through 10,000 hours of dedicated practice underscores the significance of unwavering commitment and relentless effort in achieving excellence in any domain. Talent alone may lay the foundation, but the diligent cultivation of your skills truly propels you forward. Devote your time and energy to mastering your craft, recognizing that innate abilities are only a starting point for true mastery.
Understand Wealth Accumulation After 40
Contrary to common belief, the majority of personal wealth accumulates after the age of 40. This is due to having more high-paying years in your career, the power of compound interest, and reduced expenses as mortgages and child-related costs decrease. Realize that the wealth-building game is heavily back-end loaded, emphasizing the importance of financial planning and investments in your 40s and beyond.
Quality Over Quantity in Networking
Having hundreds or thousands of social connections doesn’t guarantee career success. Focus on building meaningful relationships with individuals who genuinely impact your career. Instead of amassing countless LinkedIn connections, nurture mentorship and advocacy relationships. These champions will champion you behind the scenes and open doors for your job.
Cherish Career Mentors
You’ll encounter mentors who significantly influence your professional journey throughout your career. They recommend you for opportunities, offer guidance, and provide support. Be patient, stay open, and appreciate and nurture these mentorships when they arise. Maintaining communication with your mentors is critical; they see it as a reward, not a burden.
Stages of a Successful Career
Stage 1: Building Rocket Fuel
In the initial stage of your career, your focus should be on accumulating “career rocket fuel.” This fuel consists of three essential components:
- Transportable Skills: Develop fundamental abilities like problem-solving, communication, selling, analysis, team management, talent acquisition, risk-taking, and Internet leverage. The latter involves mastering Internet research, digital content creation, and digital publishing, enhancing your effectiveness in today’s digital world.
- Meaningful Experiences: Seek opportunities that challenge and develop you, taking you out of your comfort zone. Work in different environments, engage in entrepreneurial endeavors, explore foreign markets, and embrace risky projects. Meaningful experiences make you adaptable and agile.
- Enduring Relationships: Cultivate relationships with employers, bosses, clients, business partners, and talented individuals early in your career. These relationships impact your reputation and career trajectory. Cherish and nurture them, as they can become your champions.
Stage 2: Maximizing Strengths
As you progress in your career (approximately 15 years in), you should clearly understand your strengths and passions. Differentiate yourself by focusing on your core strengths, building on them, and creating rewarding pathways. Define ambitions that align with your strengths, interests, and long-term employability.
Stage 3: Passing the Torch
In the final stage of your career, focus on succession planning, mentorship, and teaching. Contribute to the next generation’s success by imparting your knowledge and experience. Explore consultancy, advisory board roles, and teaching opportunities. Stay fresh and relevant by staying informed and adapting to present-day challenges.
Managing Your Time Portfolio
Like asset allocation in financial investments, managing time is crucial for career success. Allocate your time wisely across categories like work, family, health, teaching and learning, and community involvement. Over time, adjust your time portfolio to adapt to changing circumstances and maintain balance.
Successful careers in today’s dynamic work environment require careful planning, adaptability, and a long-term perspective. Embrace Career Math, invest in transportable skills, meaningful experiences, and enduring relationships, and strategically navigate your career’s stages. Managing your time portfolio ensures balance and resilience throughout your professional journey. Remember, your career is a marathon, so pace yourself, enjoy the ride, and make the most of every opportunity.
By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano
President & CEO of Barbachano International (BIP)
Barbachano International is the premier executive search and leadership advisory firm in the Americas (USA, Mexico, Canada, and Latin America) with a focus on diversity and multicultural target markets. Outplacement and Exe