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There are two approaches when it comes to mapping out a career. There are those who are content where they are at, only making a move when absolutely necessary. And then there are those who proactively take their future into their own hands.

Be honest, which approach have you been taking?

Whether you are at the beginning of your career or somewhere in the middle, it’s not too late to take control back. But you’re thinking to yourself “easier said than done,” right?  It actually isn’t as difficult as you think to start planning ahead and determining your own future.

It all comes down to mindset.

At the end of the day every one of us is a freelancer. The only difference from traditional freelancing is the vast majority of us have only one client, our “employer.” In order to truly break free and take control of your career you must start thinking of yourself as a solo entrepreneur. Ultimately it is your work earning your paycheck, not the charity of your boss. At any time you are free to find another client that may be easier to work with or pay better than your current one.

This is where you beginning planning. At where you are now, working for your current client. To start figure out where you want to be, ask yourself “what does success look like for you?”

Don’t worry about being vain; if you want a red Ferrari, there is nothing wrong with that. Others want more time for themselves without taking a pay cut. Whatever it may be, figure out what drives you and make that your goal.

After you’ve decided on what success looks like to you it is time to connect the dots. What skills can you start building right now and how are you going to entice your next client/employer to hire you. Whether that looks like a promotion, or switching companies, or actually becoming a freelancer it doesn’t matter; start working toward that next logical step.

Ever heard the saying “aim for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” Yeah, that doesn’t make any sense. If you wanted to be in the stars you would have aimed for them in the first place. Many people aim for the moon when they first start their careers and ended up in the stars… lost, not knowing what to do.

Aim for the moon and HIT IT! If you miss the target on your first effort, chalk it up to experience. Do not settle for where you end up. Take the knowledge you gained and try again.

According to an October 2013 Forbes Magazine article, “unhappy employees outnumber happy ones by two to one worldwide.” The numbers very slightly depending on the source, but nearly every poll reports the same; there are more people unsatisfied with their jobs than people who like what they are doing.”

So what do you need to do to get out of the majority and find success?

Take Action!

Take the initiative to plan your career.  Don’t measure yourself by another person’s definition of success.  Instead, intentionally map out what is going to make you happy.

If you’ve been looking for the “right time” to make a change… breaking news – it will never come. Start taking small steps NOW and design a plan that involves consistent movement toward your goals. The common misconception is that you need to wait while acquiring X amount of experience before moving on up. The truth is there is no magic number of hours in your current job that is going to automatically propel you to the next step.

What will make an impact is networking, professional development beyond what you are getting in your current role and persistence. Plan ahead and figure out where you can start making real progress in your career. Then implement!

By having a plan and acting on it you will be escape the dead end so many people find themselves in and be able to enjoy the career you designed.

Michelle is a success and leadership coach who works with HR professionals and business leaders who want to get real results and live & lead with purpose.  You can find out more about Michelle at www.michelletholland.com

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