How much income does it take to achieve the American Dream? Always more than you are making now, it seems.
Do you remember the interview question – Where do you see yourself in five years? Having chosen the career path that you are now on, every now and then it does you good thing to look forward and ask yourself that great interview question again.
Here are a few more questions to ask yourself: How many successful people are in your field that have been there for five years longer than you? Are they at the point where you anticipated when you began? Can you outpace them? Are you on the track that you imagined? Are you where you thought you would be at this point?
Achieving the Dream
Five years into my Navy career, I was on the verge of living my dream. At that point I was finishing my first sea tour and had orders to a Special Boat Unit in Panama. From that point on, my career got better and better. Success in all areas from personal growth, contribution and increasing income contributed to a rewarding career. During the entire 26 year career, I always sought more and found ways to achieve more. Achieving the dream is my hope for you in your career.
I hope to spur you to examine your situation and take inventory of your progress toward the goals you set for yourself when you started working. Are you on track to surpass your initial expectations? Have you achieved the income level you envisioned? If you keep doing what you have been doing, where will you be in one, five and ten years from now? While it is not a good idea to keep looking back, you do want to take an occasional inventory of your progress. If you are meeting your goals, fantastic! It might be time for you to treat yourself to a reward. Maybe go out for a special dinner or buy a new trinket.
If you are not on track to reach the goals you set for yourself, it is time to adjust and set new goals that are in tune with your true values. Make an assessment of what prevented you from reaching the goals.
Some Things to Consider
Were your goals aligned to your true values? What caused them to be out of reach? Did you lose sight of the goal and start pursuing immediate gratification rather than true rewards? Were you overly focused on income to the neglect of other aspects of your career?
From time to time people get sidetracked by shiny, alluring distractions. Chasing squirrels we call it. Maybe you set goals, but the day to day grind pulls your attention away from the mark. Perhaps you did not write the goal down along with milestones that would let you know you were on track.
Do not dwell on the missed target too long, just glean the lessons learned and apply them to your next set of goals. You can review my earlier post The Startling Truth About Goals Objectives and Campaigns to help you get your goals on paper.
Perhaps you did set an appropriate goal, but did not ingrain suitable habits to set yourself on automatic to reach the goal. If this is the case, my earlier post How to Develop Habits to Improve Your Professional Growth might help you as you move forward toward the new set of goals you set for yourself.
The rewards of self improvement go way beyond the monetary increases. Take this opportunity to set new goals and follow through with actions that will lead to the attaining of those goals. Now is a good time to review the post Better Solutions to a Higher Minimum Wage with a focus on the personal development aspect of increasing your income. The rewards of self improvement go way beyond monetary increases Click To Tweet
Understanding the System
Understanding the American financial system provides inspiration to set new goals and take actions that will lead to the attaining of your goals. It also brings awareness of the rewards of positive participation in the free enterprise system. Rising up within your organization or growing your own business benefits more people than just yourself. It is good for the economy overall. You will then have more income to circulate, thus blessing others, Conversely, working counter to the American Free Enterprise System is detrimental to more than your own progress. Failing to embrace and leverage the system amounts to an attempt to steal the dream from those that have invested in the system which has made you free.
Gaining an understanding of how the system is designed to work will help employees to fit into their role and discover opportunities to grow with the enterprise that they work for rather than viewing themselves as parasitical to the company. If you see the company’s interests as opposed to your own, you will not find a rewarding environment, no matter where you work. Alternatively if you become an employer, you will want to view your employees as partners who are seeking to achieve your comparable vision. When each group, management and labor, agree on the goals of the company, higher plateaus are achieved. In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie talks about how to achieve this and gives an excellent example in the production industry.
Work the System
So seek to set goals that align to those of your employer. As an experiment, work diligently on achieving a goal that will further the company for which you work. Then observe how things change at work. It might reveal the disparity between your status and those of your coworkers. They might not see the value in aligning with ‘the boss’. However, you’ve got to ask yourself if they are going to be where you want to be? Do you want to increase your income or worry about their opinions.
Your workplace might have written standards and policies that you can align yourself to. Some have policies that lay out particular steps to achieve and document progress toward higher positions. If so, seek them out and set goals for how fast you can accomplish them. That is another area that the Navy suited me well. The Navy provided clear guidelines that help shape my Plan of Action and Milestones toward my next advancement. You can read more about that in The Startling Truth About Goals Objectives and Campaigns
Choosing a good role model is important. Sometimes the loudest voice is not the one you should listen to. Model yourself after someone with shared views who improves themselves rather than someone who blames outside circumstances for their status. Avoid the pitfall of listening to the collective voice – or ‘they’. The collective voice resonates with many who are unhappy with their perceived lack of opportunity.
Rather than seek more pay for mediocre work, the best solution is personal growth and increasing contribution to warrant better income.
If possible, find a role model to learn from at your place of work. Someone on track for promotion, who has increased their position and income. Emulate the things they have done that worked for them. If they are available as a mentor, take advantage of that for your benefit and theirs. Become a mentor yourself and gain the benefits of making a contribution. If your workplace doesn’t afford you a model, look else ware for an example. Find a role model to learn from Click To Tweet