"As always, the control of your career rests with you."
-- Ginny Rehberg
While this article is addressed to women, men can learn from it, too.
In today's uncertain economy, it is even more important to stay in control of your career.  The conventional wisdom says that if you have the right degrees, the right skills and get tapped for the right assignments, your career will take care of itself.  Not true.  No matter who you are, there are possible pitfalls as you advance in your career -- confusion over career goals, fear of taking risks, lack of confidence and, finally, a reluctance to ask for help.  If any of these feel familiar, you are not alone.  The solution?  The 4 C's of Career Success:  clarity, courage, confidence and connection. 

At any given point in your career, you may begin to ask yourself, "Is this all there is?  Is this what I am meant to be doing for the rest of my life?"  For some, these questions are the result of midlife soul searching; for others, it's the result of being bounced out of a job. 

Regardless of the circumstances, you are at a career crossroad. While this can be a tremendously confusing time, it is also an opportunity.  It's the chance to get "career clarity."  It's time to get clear about what you really want to do -- and then do it!  Without this level of clarity, you may bounce from one "OK" job to another, without ever knowing the joy of loving what you do and the marvel of getting paid to do it.

So begin to ask yourself these questions: 
**     What would I love to do?  Really love?
**     What would I do even if I weren't getting paid for it?
**     What would I do even if I won the lottery?
**     What makes time fly for me?
**     What makes my socks go up and down?

Once you have some clarity on your goals, then begin to take steps
in that direction.  Amazing things will begin to happen. 

In business, big rewards go to those willing to take big risks. Yet most women agree that we could do a little better in terms of risk-taking. In order to take risks, we need courage.  Courage is a leap of faith. It's like business bungee jumping.  Whatever risk you take, it is frightening -- that's how you know it's a risk.  Think it through. Don't take foolish risks.  But once you are clear about what you want, then have the guts to go for it.  In the worst case, you tried something and failed.  Learn from it.  But more than likely, you will succeed.  And you can build upon that success, and perhaps surpass your wildest dreams.

For many women, feeling and acting confident can be a challenge. If you are lacking confidence, then "fake it 'til you make it."  This sounds like a cliché, but it works.  Even by acting confidently when you don't feel that way, you can create change. 

Now, if you already feel fairly confident, then take it up a notch. Strut your stuff -- the "Swagger Factor."  According to media reports, one of the reasons the Red Sox owners chose a 28 year-old as general manager was his self-confidence.  No one chooses a leader who would say things like, "Gee, I'm not really sure about this but I really kinda hope I can maybe do a pretty good job here."  Instead, truly confident leaders say things like, "We will win."  Period. 

Finally, no one makes career progress without help.  You will always need other people to reach your goals.  The key is connection. Networking during a job transition -- connecting with dozens and possibly hundreds of people during your search -- will pay off. And don't just stop building connections once you don't have any immediate needs.  Continuously build connections throughout your career.  How?  Find ways to do favors for people.  Look for opportunities to reach out and help someone else.  Build up your pool of favors. And then, when you need a favor returned, you won't feel awkward asking for it.

As always, the control of your career rests with you.  Many of the above suggestions take time and energy.  Make the effort. With clarity, courage, confidence and connection, career success is virtually guaranteed. 

Ginny Rehberg is the President of Newton-based Rehberg Management Group and can be reached at career_doc@usa.net
I  admit, I just read my horoscope for the year.  As an Aquarian, this is a major year of change and time to reevaluate.  Ginny's advice comes at a wonderful time.  Please join me in asking:

1.     Clarity -- What is it that you truly love to do and get totally lost in when you're doing it? 

2.     Courage  --  What will you do to build that courage muscle this week?  Start small if you need to, but start.

3.     Confidence  --  This week make clear, strong statements about what you will and won't do.  Declare with confidence. The message is powerful.

4.     Connection --  Who can you reach out to help this week?
        Or who have you wanted to meet?  Use some courage and
        pick up the phone and introduce yourself.!

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