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Paving the Way to Career Happiness and Success

Painting-roadwayFor many years, I had what I now call an "accidental career."  I didn't put much thought into why I was moving up the ladder, I just climbed because that's what I was supposed to do.  It’s no surprise that I soon found myself unchallenged and feeling like I wasn't making a difference.

When I stopped to evaluate, I realized that the power was mine to make a change. It was time to find out what would happen if I put my whole heart and soul into something. So I quit my job and started a business. I spent my life savings trying to figure it out. Ultimately I learned more about business, life and myself than I ever could have on the safe road.

That experience brought me to where I am today: in a role that fits my strengths, uses my talents and challenges me to stretch myself, all while enabling me to live the lifestyle I desire.

I started my career in 2000 and today I work for CPA and business advisory firm Shepard Schwartz & Harris, LLP. But for the twelve years between, I did anything but public accounting; I was a trust officer, financial coach, business owner and financial planner. Today I use my talents to help grow my firm as well as educate people on financial literacy. And I couldn’t be happier. Here are a few things I learned along the way about getting ahead:

  • Do what you say you’ll do. I’m regularly astounded at the opportunities I’ve been offered simply because I do what I say I’ll do. This seems like a no-brainer, but we’ve all known someone who struggles to fulfill their commitments, or needs a good bit of nudging to do so. This is a form of keeping promises. Do what you’ll say you’ll do, and don’t volunteer for things you don’t have the capacity to complete.
  • Show your personality. This doesn’t mean to let go of all inhibitions necessarily, but I’ve never allowed a stereotype of expected behavior hold me back, instead choosing to be myself with clients and associates. I find that others appreciate my openness and reciprocate with their own authenticity. When seeking out others to help with special projects, I’m naturally drawn to those whose true colors shine through. It’s easier to trust when you feel like you really know someone.
  • You can’t get it if you don’t ask for it.  When others know what you want, it is easier for them to help you make it happen. But if you don’t tell them what you want, they must make decisions based either on what they think you want or on what they want. Own your career. Make sure you are clear about where you want it to go and communicate it.

These key points have a lot to do with my career success, as well as my own happiness on a day-to-day basis. Practice follow-through, be yourself and ask for what you want and pretty soon, you’ll have it!

What do you consider your personal keys to success? Are there things you’ve tried or done that have helped or hindered your personal and professional happiness?

Kelley Long, CPA, CFP, Director of Communications and Marketing, Shepard Schwartz & Harris, LLP. Formerly the head of her own practice, KCL Financial Coaching, Kelley serves on the AICPA’s National Financial Literacy Commission, the Illinois CPA Society’s Women’s Executive Committee, is the incoming Vice President of the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago and writes a biweekly financial column for the online resource Career Girl Network. 

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