In the first post in this series, I told how I decided that I wanted to be an independent career success coach early in my career. I was fortunate in that I had several good role models – people with whom I was working who had the career to which I aspired. It was reasonably easy for me to be very clear on what I wanted out of my life and career.
I always advise my career success coach clients to develop a clear mental image of themselves as a success. I tell them that this image should be as vivid as they can make it.
When I was 25, I conjured up an image of myself as a career success coach, motivational speaker, and management consultant. I worked in my home office – where I wrote and developed the programs I delivered at client locations. This office had a floor-to-ceiling wall of books that I could use for easy reference. It also had a state-of-the-art IBM Selectric typewriter and a big, clunky telephone. PCs and the Internet were science fiction in 1975.
I also saw myself having one-to-one coaching discussions with senior leaders in a variety of organizations, conducting training and team-building sessions in conference rooms at their locations. Amazingly, many of the people in the sessions were smoking. I had very vivid images of standing in front of large audiences at sales meetings doing talks. I saw myself at a book store signing a book I had written. I also saw myself on airplanes, traveling to my coaching, speaking and consulting gigs.
All of these vivid images came true. My office is much as I had imagined it – except it has two PCs and cell phone, not a Selectric typewriter and clunky phone. The wall of books is there – overflowing. I’ve written 11 of the books on the shelf. People don’t smoke in my coaching, training and team-building sessions anymore; and I use PowerPoint instead of handwritten flip charts, but the big stuff is the same as I’ve imagined it. I’ve coached people and spoken to audiences all over North America, in Latin America, Europe and Asia. I am a million-mile flyer with Continental Air Lines.
I’m living my dream – in large part because I dared to dream it all those years ago.
You can begin creating your vivid mental image of yourself as a career success with affirmations. Affirmations are positive self talk. The idea behind affirmations is that when you think of the things to which you aspire, like becoming a career success, and then tell yourself that you are a career success, you will believe that you can become a career success. More importantly, you will be more likely to do the work it takes to make that aspiration come true.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a book called Star Power, Common Sense Ideas for Career and Life Success. I used a star to depict the ideas in the book. I urged readers to think of themselves as a star and to aspire to becoming a career and life star. I like the star metaphor. Daily, I repeat the following affirmation to myself: “Bud Bilanich is a star.”
I’ve done a lot of work in making this affirmation a reality – redoing my website, developing better promotional materials, speaking, writing books, blogging and podcasting.
I’ve also done something a little unusual. A few years ago, right after Star Power was published, I went to the “Name a Star” website and named a star after myself. Now I can say, “Bud Bilanich is a star” and really believe it, because Bud Bilanich really is a star. It’s easy for me to visualize myself as a star, because I am a star.
Bud Bilanich, the star, is Catalog Number TYC 868-1011-1 in the constellation Leo. Bud Bilanich has a Visual Magnitude indicator of 11.2. Right Ascension is 11h 58m 21s. Declination is 11degrees, 43,’18.” I don’t have a clue what all of these things mean, except the constellation Leo, which I chose because my birthday is August 14. But I do know one thing. Bud Bilanich is a star!
How’s that for an affirmation?
Affirmations work. I have become a minor star in the career success coach world. You don’t need to go to the lengths I did to make them work either. Just decide what you want, visualize yourself as having it, and tell yourself you have it. Then do whatever it takes to make your affirmation come true.
Affirmations alone, however, are not enough to guarantee your career success. You have to do the work. Spend the time necessary to accomplish your goals. Volunteer for projects that will get you noticed. Become an expert on your company, its competitors, and your industry. In other words, bust your butt, and you will succeed.
To develop a clear picture of you as a career success, you need to carefully think through your priorities – and then align your behavior to ensure that you are living according to them. To do so, ask yourself two very important questions:
- What do I want to do in this life?
- What is the result I want to achieve?
The answers to these two questions will not only guide the big decisions you make, they will serve as a guide for living your life on a day-to-day basis.
Here’s another way to look at it. Imagine that you’re nearing the end of your life. You feel happy, content and satisfied. You don’t fear death because you’ve had a happy and prosperous life. You’ve lived and loved and feel that you’ve been blessed.
Once you get yourself into this frame of mind, look back at your life and what you’ve accomplished. Of all these accomplishments, what matters the most to you? What challenges did you overcome along the way to these accomplishments? How did you do it? What messages did you send to others by the way you lived your life?
This visualization exercise will help you in clarifying your purpose and direction in this life. It’s important because it helps you create a vivid mental image of what success looks like for you personally. This is not day-dreaming. It is real work. You are designing your future in your mind.
When I was younger, I realized that my purpose in life is simple – to help others grow and succeed. I am a teacher and a helper. I enjoy helping others succeed. I’m good at it. It’s very fulfilling. When I’m at the end of my life, I expect that I’ll look back with great joy at the number of people I helped succeed.
I keep this mental picture in mind as I go about my day-to-day business. I ask myself a simple question almost every day. “Bud, did the things you did today support your life’s purpose of helping others learn, grow and succeed?”
If I answer, “yes,” I consider it a successful day. If I answer “no,” I think about what I can do the next day to get back to living my purpose.
Successful people have a clear and vivid mental image of what success means to them. They live their life’s purpose every day. If you haven’t clarified your purpose in life, this is a good time to start. Once you get clear on your purpose, live it every day in all your actions.
What’s your dream? Have you created a vivid mental image of it?
I suggest that you take some time for yourself. Ask and answer these three questions:
- Where do I want to be 10, 20 and 30 years from now?
- What will it look like and feel like when I’m there?
- What will my life be like?
Ask and answer these and any other questions that will help you develop a clear, vivid mental image of your success. This is not day-dreaming. It is real work. You are designing your future in your mind.
The common sense point of this tweet is simple. Successful people define what success means to them. Then they develop a compelling and clear mental image of their success. They use this mental image to help keep their dreams alive and to keep moving forward to what they want in their lives and careers. Remember Tweet 2 in Success Tweets, “The more clear you are about what success means to you personally, the easier it will be to create the life and career you want.” Get clear on what your career success looks like, and then create it. Keep this mental picture with you as you go about your day-to-day business. Every once in a while, ask yourself if what you did that day brought you any closer to your mental image of you as a career success. In this way, you’ll be keeping your dream alive – and moving toward your career success goals.