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5 Career Questions Successful People Need to Ask Themselves

Written by Rebecca Okamoto on Sept. 1, 2020

"Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure." Andy Grove Twitter icon


It was the best year of my career.

I just came off an extraordinary assignment in Japan with a string of records and “first’s.” I was on my way to Singapore, to the assignment that was supposed to launch me to the next level.

I was unstoppable.

Until a few months later when the bottom fell out, and my career screeched to a stop.

Suddenly all of my carefully built plans and assumptions were no longer valid. I had based my life on a career trajectory that no longer existed.

There I was without a plan, with a limited network and unknown career choices. It took about 24 months to regain clarity and restart a new career path for myself.

I had fallen victim to the complacency trap.

I had seen the Dot.com bust and economic downturns. I lived through re-organizations, closures and divestitures. And I witnessed spectacular product failures, and nimble new competitors erode market share.

But I was still complacent.

I thought ”IT won't happen to me.”

Until "IT" did and it took me a while to ramp back up.

Complacency is an easy trap to fall into.

Complacency is so hard to recognize because by definition, it means we’re feeling secure while being unaware of a potential danger.

Many people reach out to me for career help because, just like me, the last thing they expected to happen - happened.

Could you or someone you know be in the complacency trap?

Here are 5 career questions every successful person needs to ask:

  1. Do I have a wide base of support?

    Has your life shrunk to only one vector: your career? Relying solely on your career for satisfaction and identify is a narrow and unstable base.

    Family. Friends. Faith. Community. Health. These are all elements that can help sustain you when other areas get shaken.

    And if you do get caught in an unexpected change, don't go it alone: Ask for help. It’s never too late to seek support.

  2. Am I learning and growing?

    No matter how good you are, you can always grow. Challenge yourself to learn new skills. Complacency leads to stagnation.

    Remember, what got you to the top may not be enough to keep you there.

  3. Are my resume and LinkedIn profile up to date?

    Do you really believe you're going to sustain your career projection forever? Changes can happen well outside of our control: Acquisitions. Divestitures. Bankruptcy of a key customer or vendor.

    Be ready for the unexpected by updating your your profiles at least once a year. Think of 2-3 types of businesses or careers you would be interested in different than where you are today and adjust your profiles to match them.

  4. Am I networking outside of my business and company?

    Being on top is great, but staying on top is something else. Staying on top means keeping up to speed on new trends, emerging technologies and competitive activity.

    At least twice a year, go to a network event. Quarterly, call one person who's not from your company and catch up. If your company supports internal or external associations, attend them. Become a speaker and industry influencer.

  5. When’s the last time I gave my finances and personal health a solid check up?

    Not all problems that affect our career come from our jobs. Our personal lives need tune ups too. Just because your career is smooth sailing doesn’t mean everything else will too.

No matter how successful you are, it’s worth taking the time to do a self check up

The one thing that's certain is change.

You can't control change, but you can control one thing:

Your outlook.

And THAT may be all the difference you need.

Looking for more career tips and insights? Take a look at these Evoke posts

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Photo / IMG_8525 by Brian Neudorff, on Flickr


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