Career Success in 2019: How to Build a Successful Life

Part 2 of 4 in a special series of SHRM's 'Your Career Q&A' columns

January 15, 2019
Career Success in 2019: How to Build a Successful Life

Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column. 

Last week we discussed becoming more proactive in guiding the course of your career. Think of yourself as a business that makes things happen, rather than as an individual to whom things happen. Set goals and find the means to achieve them. See yourself as a professional who, like a financial entity or corporation, must make a profit.

When you take a more businesslike approach to career management and harness your dreams and goals to the same actionable strategies that corporations use, your outcome will be greater personal success. As Napoleon Hill, one of modern history's first self-help authors, said, "You become what you think about." This week, I'll show you how to think of yourself as "Me Inc.," and reap the rewards. 

Me Inc. Must Have Structure

Me Inc.'s mission should be to generate steadily growing and diversified revenue streams. You can learn the basics of how to do this by observing how and why your current employer works the way it does. The company must make a profit, so begin your education by identifying the ways that each department contributes to the company's profitability, and then study how each job title within each department, starting with yours, helps that department meet its obligations. Once you understand why organizations are structured as they are, you'll think about Me Inc.'s success in a new light. You'll realize that Me Inc. needs to mirror that same structure and approach, only on a much smaller scale.

As Me Inc.'s CEO, you'll need the following:

  • Research and development (R&D) initiatives to keep you current with in-demand skills that support the stability and growth of your career and, as a result, more aware of available job options.
  • Strategic-planning initiatives to monitor the health of your employer, industry and profession. Then, with the insight gained from your R&D work, you will better see where the opportunities lie, and you'll gain a real understanding of who is getting promoted and why. You'll be able to develop objectively defined strategies for personal growth and job security within the company and identify realistic timelines for executing strategic career moves.
  • Finance and accounting responsibilities to fund your professional development. Every activity in every company has a budget, and that activity is funded by the company to maintain and increase profitability. Invest in the well-being of Me Inc. by staying current with in-demand skills, education and professional certifications. You may also see opportunities in side gigs; that's your R&D, strategic-planning and finance initiatives coming together to help you identify viable opportunities for diversification of Me Inc.'s revenue streams.
  • Marketing and public relations to position Me Inc. as you want to be seen and in front of the audiences by whom you want to be seen. Your initiatives in these areas—an evolving LinkedIn profile, active involvement with the local chapter of a national association relevant to your profession—will encourage Me Inc.'s steadily increasing credibility and visibility, first within your department and then throughout the company, local professional community and beyond as your goals dictate.
  • Sales to pursue promotions or new opportunities. Me Inc. needs cutting-edge job search intelligence and the most effective tools to execute the smoothest possible move, whether it be upward or elsewhere. These tools include a high-performance resume and social media footprint; cutting-edge, network-integrated job search tactics; and the skills to turn interviews into offers. Making a strategic career move doesn't happen on the spur of the moment, and developing these skills and tools takes time. If you plan on making a move in early 2020, you should start developing these skills immediately. 

Next Steps to Success

Many workers are focused on keeping a paycheck, often to the exclusion of a life outside of work. When you become Me Inc. and take a more businesslike approach to your career development, you'll invest in your future with the knowledge, strategies, tactics and tools to anticipate, navigate and avoid the rough waters we travel through over a long career. These investments are the proven, firmest foundations for success, stability, fulfillment and a life lived on your terms. 

Was this article useful? SHRM offers thousands of tools, templates and other exclusive member benefits, including compliance updates, sample policies, HR expert advice, education discounts, a growing online member community and much more. Join/Renew Now and let SHRM help you work smarter. 

Packed with practical, honest, real-world guidance for successfully navigating common HR career challenges, Martin Yate's new book The HR Career Guide: Great Answers to Tough Career Questions is available at the SHRMStore. Order your copy today!



Hire the best HR talent or advance your own career.


Find your peers in SHRM's online community.

Find your peers in SHRM's online community.

Join SHRM Connect


HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.