In writing, editing is necessary for clarity, flow, and effectiveness. It’s an essential part of the process that removes anything that’s not serving the story and can make the difference between something so-so and a piece that sings.
The same holds true for your career. And if you’re like most people, you’re probably overdue for a professional edit.
Here are the top five things to lose to improve your career:
1. Ambiguity about your value
Trying to be all things to all people is a losing battle. If no one understands what you do and the value you bring while doing it, you won’t progress your career. When you confuse, you lose—potential opportunities, clients, projects, promotions, and partners.
Instead, lose the ambiguity and make clarity your friend. When you’re clear, everything becomes easier. People understand you, what you offer, your value, what differentiates you, how you can help them, and how they can assist you. Having clarity enables you to align your goals with a plan to achieve them—and stay away from the things that can derail you.
Additionally, proactively share your wisdom. You’ve likely amassed a wealth of experience, insights, and understanding; put it to good use by helping others. Position yourself as a trusted thought leader by regularly sharing your wisdom in your area of expertise through social media, which amplifies your impact and reach. Provide value by serving, not selling, and focus on sharing real-world business experiences and leadership lessons learned.
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2. People and things that no longer serve you
Your environment, which includes your friends, colleagues, location, habits, and lifestyle, impacts you far more—for better or worse—than you realize; it always wins. Over the last few years, you’ve likely grown and evolved, and what once worked for you has probably changed. As a result, you can’t make a significant, lasting change without altering some elements of your environment.
Remember to be mindful of the company you keep and the activities that you engage in, and ask yourself if they support what you want to do, not just what you’ve done. Real growth happens when you align yourself with people and things that support your destiny, not your history.
3. Fear of failure
Failure and success aren’t mutually exclusive; they’re connected. Leaders use failure as fuel, maintaining grit and perseverance to keep going. By reframing failure as an ingredient of success, you’ll adjust your mindset to a more positive one where you see failure as a necessity.
Consider, too, that making mistakes helps you learn. Your ability to adapt to failures is vital; a “failure” is only a mistake if you fail to learn.
4. Those negative stories in your head
Don’t allow limiting beliefs — yours or those other people have cast upon you — to deter you. The stories we tell ourselves are the most important words we speak because they play on repeat in our heads. When you fill your head with negative self-talk and unfair comparisons like I’m not as good at _______(your area of expertise) as she is or I’m just a __________ (whatever you are now), not a _________ (whatever you’d like to be), you prevent yourself from learning, growing, and stretching your wings.
Instead, use a little compassion, and treat yourself the way you would a treasured friend. Words have power, so make sure yours are positive. By replacing self-sabotaging talk with self-affirming talk, you’ll abandon limiting beliefs and adopt a growth-focused mindset.
5. The notion that there’s only one path to success
Lose the idea that there’s only one road to greatness. Instead, shift your mindset to move past any preconceived notion of what you “should” be doing and create a path that is uniquely yours.
The most successful people aren’t afraid to veer off the predictable path and willingly seek complementary education, skills, and experiences that enrich their journey, add to their professional story, and help differentiate them from their peers.
Remember, editing anything not serving your career will provide greater clarity, flow, and effectiveness to help it thrive.