4 Steps to Career Success and Fulfilling That Longtime Dream

When did you know?

When I caught that pass and realized that I was about to score a touchdown, that is when I knew. I have replayed this scenario numerous times since the time I was a kid playing in my front yard. Now I am in the Super Bowl and it is happening”

A Hall of Fame pro football player was recounting his childhood dream and how it all came true.

What were your childhood dreams?

When we were all kids, we all had dreams of being “something.” We were very clear when someone asked us about it.

As we progressed through school, those career goals sometimes changed. When we entered college, we were (in some ways) forced to choose a career.

When my kids were in college, I heard many stories of people changing their major numerous times. Sometimes, those choices would severely limit their market potential. In a lot of cases, they were mandated to make that choice in order to graduate.

What I found amazing with this football story is that this person kept that dream alive. I am also sure that he had days of doubt and wondered whether he would ever really make it.

Fulfilling that dream

Human Resources is a field that is now coming into its own. Colleges are offering not only a major in HR, but also in things like Organizational Development, HR Analytics, and other related fields. I find this a win-win for the profession, because so many of my colleagues got into HR by chance and did not have a college major in HR or credentials behind them.

My transition was through training and development before the head of HR at the company I was working for coaxed me to move into HR proper. My big moment came when I was asked to speak to a local HR group on talent management. I did not feel qualified but jumped at the opportunity. I had only been in HR for about four years and there I was, giving a speech.

When that speech ended, I had a line of people wanting to meet me, ask advice, give me business cards. As I walked out of the door and back to work, I knew then that I had hit my sweet spot. I LOVED this thing called HR.

4 steps to career success

There were four things that made me realize that this was my sweet spot

  1. Passion — I was passionate about HR and fascinated that I could eat/sleep/breathe it. I was reading white papers like novels, and, working on Saturdays and evenings as part of my self-development.
  2. Excellence — The speech that I gave was a tremendous success. My ideas went over extremely well. It all seemed so easy.
  3. Focused — Can you just lose yourself in it and be totally happy about it. Are you laser focused about it?
  4. Economics — We all have to survive and that survival number takes on different meaning at different point of our journey. You notice that I list this last because your destination should not have this as the main motivating factor … but we all know that it plays a role.

When we are in that sweet spot, we toil away endlessly on projects we care about deeply. Regardless of the projects or initiatives, you do it because you love it. If you can put “passion, excellence, focus, economics” at the center of your efforts, you are more likely to make an impact in what matters most to all of us.

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Readjusting that career trajectory

There are so many people today that are not energized at what they are doing. They tend to not like Sundays because they know what the next day is. They commute to work with a blank look on their face.

Sure, they make a decent living at it, but it is not what they enjoy doing. Their dreams are someplace else. We all know these people, we talk to them, and sometimes, they are us.

That is why we should always live our lives with our career dashboard in view. Consistently doing a career tune-up is a strategic imperative. You are in charge of that dream and you are the only one that will make it happen and make that dream come alive.

“Is this what I want to be doing?”

That wistful dream that you had so long ago is still within reach. Whether it was your childhood dream, mid-life career change desire, or just a passion that you have had for so long, it does not matter.

Take some time and look off into the distance and ask yourself this question: “Is this what I want to do the rest of my life?”

If your answer is in the negative, then the next question this is: “What am I doing each day to change that?”

The rest is up to you.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.