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Take the ride of your life: Create the career of your dreams

How to get your dream job

These days, countless professionals are yearning for a more fulfilling career that can give them both personal and professional satisfaction. They want the freedom to design the career of their dreams and the self-reliance to trust that they made the correct decision.

Happy young business woman

Your first bike

For many people, their most vivid childhood memories center on their first bicycles. Baby boomers, sounding like teenagers again, describe their muscle bikes, stingrays and 10 speeds.. They vividly recall that "tat-a-tat" sound of playing cards placed in the spokes and the sight of banana seats, high-rise handlebars, and shiny chrome fenders. The more people talk about their bicycle stories, the more it becomes evident that those experiences are deeply related to who they are today and how they face their everyday work life challenges.

Think back for a moment to your first bicycle experience. Who taught you how to ride? What lessons did you learn? Are you the same now as you were when you were a little girl or boy? When we look back at the many ways our bicycle experiences have impacted our lives, we gain a better understanding of how to recapture those childhood feelings of independence, adventure, and joy. We learn how to maneuver though our adult career journey and are able to enjoy this ride we call life. The following suggestions will help you regain your sense of balance so you can grow to reach your true career objectives.

Safely navigate work's potholes, ruts curbs, obstacles and challenges

To excel professionally, you need the ability to learn from any past mistakes rather than dwell on them. While learning lessons only through positive experiences would be terrific, life isn't like that for a good reason. Our negative experiences teach us how to use failure as a learning tool. In fact, we wouldn't be who we are if we didn't have both the unique good and bad lessons that taught us what we needed to know.

The truth is that the only wrong mistake is one we don't learn from. Another key to mastering the ride of life is to understand that when things go wrong, we have a choice. We can be our own worst enemy or we can be our own best friends. We can criticize ourselves and curse our own bad luck, or we can coach ourselves, extract value from what we learned, and focus on how we can handle that situation better in the future.

The next time something devastating happens to you, whether it's a layoff or a failed project, remember that there are lessons to be learned.

Take the direct route

Many people are so confused at work that they don't know what is expected of them anymore. They can't get honest feedback from colleagues or managers, and they question whether or not their work is up to company standards. It's during these times that people need to use straight talk to build rapport with others and solve issues.

Straight talk means being able to communicate openly and honestly without alienation or hurt feelings. When you use straight talk, you're being direct and truthful, and this makes you feel self-confident and enables you to gain the respect and mutual feedback you deserve.

Encourage straight talk in your office by thinking about what you really want to say, writing it down, and practicing it. The more you use it, the more comfortable you'll feel and the more your colleagues will follow your lead. To continually improve and grow, being direct and opening the lines of communication will be a step in the right direction.

Stay balanced when the road is bumpy

The majority of people are running on empty these days. They're exhausted from going all out, all the time. They need to learn that there's more to work than simply increasing its speed. When they do, they'll create a balance that will enable them to excel.

If your workday feels out of balance, the quickest way to identify what is missing is to know your core values. Values are the qualities that have tremendous impact on your life. Core values are the laser beams that keep you focused on achieving your brilliance. Some common values are empathy towards others, commitment to a cause, uniqueness and creativity, and being at peace with the self. When you ignore your personal values for the sake of others, keeping balanced is a challenging ordeal.

What is holding you back from achieving balance in your day? Can you say no to the things that are not consistent with your core values? To be fulfilled, sometimes you have to say no to others. Ask yourself if you spend your time on things that really matter to you or if you spend your time on other people's goals. To gain balance, you first must be true to yourself. When you can gear down, relax, and enjoy the flowers on the side of the road, you can learn to see the forest for the trees and the bike paths that go through it.

Stop pedaling in circles

How long has it been since you've tried something new and different in your work? If your daily work routine has become a rut, it's time to stop pedaling in circles and begin to take risks in order to reach new heights. When you refuse to move forward and embrace new challenges, you begin to stagnate. Look in the mirror to evaluate your weaknesses and constantly improve. To get an even broader perspective, ask people whom you trust to make suggestions how you need to grow. They will probably give you some insights about yourself that you did not realize.

Think of their constructive feedback as a gift for your own growth.

Continually add value to your organization and contribute more than you cost. Expect your employer to want more from you. Go to networking meetings and share what you learned with your team to make your company stronger. Realize that what worked in the past won't necessarily work today.

Business success rarely has anything to do with your financial success or your position title -- it's about the sense of accomplishment you feel at the end of your day and the enthusiasm you have about your work.

Your ability to safely navigate workday obstacles, use straight talk, stay balanced, and keep learning will help you recapture the feelings of your youth when your bike was your ticket to exhilaration and your future was limitless with possibilities.

Just as you were the only one who could control your bike's path, you and you alone are the only captain of your professional life. Sometimes the journey will be easy coasting, while other times it will be an uphill bumpy trek. Either way, it's up to you to shift your professional life in gear and create the career of your dreams.

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