Clear Old Habits to Propel You to Success

Somewhere about 5 – 10 years into the working world, most people start to stall. They wonder why they’re not advancing even though they’re doing what has always led them to success.

Guess what? I know what it is!!

Heading into mid-career, people think they can still keep up the same habits that have gotten them to where they are and continue to advance.

But the truth is, if you want to continue to succeed, you have to shed the old habits that have led to your success so far. Your habits and practices have brought you far, but to keep advancing you have to shift.

I talk about this a lot in the Skills pillar of my Framework as the shift from technical skills to transferable skills. Technical skills get you in the door of your profession and you hone them early on to perfect your craft.

To continue to advance in your craft, you have to accept that the skills that got you where you are will no longer work to help you advance. It’s time to change your toolbelt, think bigger, and focus on what will keep you moving forward.

A Brief Foray Into the World of Cycling…

I work out a lot, and my method of choice is often cycling. This year, I decided I wanted to get faster. I’ve been riding for about 10 years, and generally, I just ride more and more to keep up my speed.

I decided that to get faster I needed to do something different. So, I decided to incorporate a 1 hour sprint workout into my riding each week. Simple enough. I ride as fast as I can for an hour.

My goal was to get to 18.5 mph on the route I take from my house by the end of the summer. I figured that was a stretch since I started out at about 17.8 mph, but I have a week long ride in Idaho (that I’m on as this posts!!!) and some more rides in the fall to help me out.

Well – about 5 weeks into my sprint workouts, I hit 18.5 mph! I was shocked. And a little bummed now that I have to increase my goal.

[UPDATE: The day I wrote this blog, I hit 18.9 mph out the door. The goal keeps shifting, but it’s good to know this new training is really working!]


How to Shift Your Training In Your Career

The point of all this is to say – just like I shifted my training a bit this year, if you’ve been working in the same way for the past 5-10 years, it’s time for you to shift your work habits.

Think of the habits that have led to your success. Chances are, working hard, depth of understanding, and mastery of your relevant technical skill set are somewhere in there.

Those habits are great and you should consider them a strong foundation for you to build on. But going forward, working around the clock to master a technical skill won’t help you succeed (and isn’t sustainable).

To get higher up the career ladder, you need to acquire new skills, and that requires new habits.

Management and executive-level roles require higher level thinking, less doing and churning, and more strategy and deliberation. They also require the ability to motivate and inspire others. There are a host of other skills that your ideal succession route might require, and you’ll have to figure that list out on your own (ahem…or you could work with me, and we’ll do it together!).

The point is – it’s different from what got you here.

Nearly everyone that works with me tells me they want more higher level thinking, more strategy, and more management in their work – no matter where on the ladder they are. But since they haven’t been willing to make the shift of habits and skills, they feel stuck!

There are plenty of people that lock themselves into the behaviors that led them to where they are. Those people generally excel quickly early on, but usually end up stalling out mid-career and don’t know why. If they’re not willing to get help or do anything about it, they ride out the rest of their career settling for less than they could be, which makes my heart break a bit. 😰 😰 😰

In order to advance, you have to be willing to shed your old habits so you can emerge anew.

OK – a little grody, but the cicadas are out everywhere, so pretty apropos!


Getting Started

The first step to doing that is awareness. So – if you got this far in the post, you’re already ahead of the game…congratulations!

But then, you need to make a deliberate effort. You need to understand what skills to develop to move beyond where you are now and put a plan in place to do so.

If you’re not sure how to do that, I know someone who can help! 😉  Start here for specific strategies to keep you moving forward and make sure you’re shifting your focus in the right direction!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Sign up here to get a free guide to help you structure your life and career for success!