A Successful Career is a Sustainable Career

Published: 2019-09-02

Research shows that many employees spend the better part of their waking hours engaged in work that gives them nothing more than pay. According to a Gallup Survey of 150,000 workers. Today, over two-thirds of employees are disengaged at work. Economic stagnation and unequal access to education, and consequently access to meaningful jobs keep a sustainable career out of reach of many people. Also, many of us are working in companies that do not support career development. The reality is that there is no guarantee of career success and fulfillment at work.  
If career success is still not guaranteed, how about sustainable careers? We know the world has been working hard to ensure sustainable development in different areas.  
There is no universally agreed definition of what “sustainability” means. The original description of “sustainable development” is usually considered to be  "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Bruntland Report for the World Commission on Environment and Development (1992).  
In 2015, the United Nations (UN) came up with 17 new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental. These goals reflect the UN’s supremely ambitious and transformational vision to envisage a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and where all life can thrive. Four of these goals are directly related to work opportunities and career development: No poverty, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Reduced Inequalities, and Gender Equality. We cannot attain these goals without ensuring that people around the globe have sustainable careers.   
A sustainable career is one that will:  
  • Allow you to perform work that makes full use of your skills and talents  
  • Challenge and allow you to “upskill”  
  • Ensure new learning opportunities  
  • Enable personal and professional development  
  • Make you a valuable and significant player  
  • Give you a network of people that energize you  
  • Fit your work together with the other essential things in your life  
To craft my career as an Executive Assistant, I explored options for performing interesting work that exploited my talents and offered room for career growth, while also increasing the value I wanted to provide to my organization. It is a continuous process that enables sustainability. It allows me to achieve living and working conditions that make me engage and remain in work throughout a long working life.
I believe that each one of us is responsible for eliminating the factors that discourage or hinder us from staying in, or entering the workforce, achieving fulfillment, or having a successful career journey.
Embrace this responsibility and become the pilot of your career!
Think about the talents you have, the broad experience you have gained in managing events, working with procurement, editing internal communications, presentations and articles, and building teams and internal networks. You are the only person who has direct access to your ambitions, interests, and values. No one is going to take you by the hand and help you build a successful career. That is your job!
During my years supporting executive teams from different industries, I realized that all my talents and skills could increase my impact in the organization, and open up paths for increased learning. They can also support the company’s strategic objectives. What can you achieve with your talents and skills? 
Here is a to-do list to help you build a sustainable career.  
  • Take ownership of your career by creating a career strategy. In my new book, "The Executive Secretary Guide to Building a Successful Career Strategy", I present my five-step model and share many tips from my career journey, and show you how to create your own strategy.   
  • Identify and document how you add value to your executive and organization by recording your accomplishments weekly, asking for feedback, creating improvement activities, and logging all improvements  
  • Connect your achievements with your career goals by discussing your goals with your manager in one-on-one meetings and performance conversations. And engaging with positive and productive people who can help you to access the right opportunities.  
  • Assess your skillset periodically, and plan for “upskilling” and gaining skills and competencies that are in demand.  
  • Surround yourself with people that energize and inspire you. Many of my career opportunities came from the best people in my network. Peers, colleagues, mentors, and coaches who know my strengths and believe in my willingness to make a difference, and want to help me build a better future for my career.  
  • Take care of you by engaging in physical activities, taking breaks, enjoying vacation time, spending time with friends and family members, charging your batteries, and being mindful. My website on Facebook called "Organizational Health and Wellbeing for Assistants" works as a kind of wellbeing reminder for many followers, and for me.    
Ensuring our future life on earth is also about building a strong and lasting career. Let’s do our part!  
This article was first published in Personal-Assistant-Tips July 2019 Newsletter. Personal-Assistant-Tips provides high quality PA/EA training and mentoring programmes, and consultancy services.
She is an award-winning Executive Assistant with over 20 years of experience working in different industries. She is known for being a passionate advocate for people development and in helping others succeed and embrace their leadership skills. Julia is a proud member of IMA - International Management Assistants, an active networker, mentor and the author of The Executive Secretary Guide to Building a Successful Career Strategy, available now on Amazon.

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