by Helen Latimer

It starts when we’re children with the “when I grown up I want to be a _____”.  This is career planning in its most innocent form; no worries about education, skills, income just pure passion.  As adults, we still try to engage in the “when I grow up” free-thinking but maturity brings us quickly to all the “but’s”.  But I can’t quit work to go back to school, but I don’t have any contacts in that industry, but I can’t manage people and on and on it goes.

How can you overcome the “buts” your logical, adult mind will set up for you?  First off, by taking ownership of your career planning.  This is one task that can’t be delegated and taking charge of your career development is a critical first step. Now you can begin to examine the skills and experience you need to reach your goal and put a plan into place to obtain them.  Of course, creating the opportunities to develop skills and gain experience is often easier said then done and it can be discouraging, especially if you are trying to work on your own.

Barbara Sher, author of “Wishcraft- How to Get What You Really Want” www.barbarasher.com and other books, developed a concept that can provide you with the necessary resources to achieve your goals: A Success Team.  A Success Team is a group of 6 people who meet every week until everyone has achieved their goals.  A Success Team can be like finding 5 new best friends who will listen to your ideas, provide support and feedback, problem solve, brainstorm and be cheering for you every step of the way.  Goals can be related to career: starting your own business, finding a job in a new industry, or focused on your personal side: finding a life partner, moving to a different part of the country.  The achievement of goals will require meeting certain milestones along the way, speaking up in meetings, completing an accounting course or setting up a discussion with your boss for example, and the job of the Success Team is to assist in the achievement of your milestones too.

I was a member of a Success Team and have seen for myself what a powerful a tool it can be.  Members of my Success Team set various goals, some of life-changing magnitude, while others strove for smaller successes.  Being a member of a Success Team provides coaching, networking, and emotional support.  In my Team, one woman had set a number of goals for herself: change careers, buy a house, get married and start a family.  She was in her mid-twenties and lived with her parents who had a very traditional view of the role of women and would have been happy if she skipped directly to “get married and start a family”.  The Success Team was able to help this young woman, I’ll call her Maria, identify her transferable skills and highlight them in her resume, introduce her to people in her preferred industry, serve as a sounding board and, eventually, help find a realtor.  Today, Maria is taking a sabbatical from her work while she raises two children and living in her lovely home (which she bought a year or so before she met the man she eventually married).  Talking with her today, she credits the Success Team with helping her achieve her goals and is hoping we’ll get back together to help her as she moves back into the workforce.
Creating a Success Team is not difficult.  A good place to start is by reading Barbara Sher’s book “Wishcraft-How to Get What You Really Want” or by visiting her website.  www.barbarasher.com.  Finding members can be as simple as posting a notice on a community bulletin board or speaking with your co-workers, friends or neighbours.  It is not essential that all the members know each other but each must commit to meeting regularly until everyone has reached his goals.  Barbara recommends working with a trained leader and can put you in contact with someone in your area (see her website for details).  In my case, we had all read her book and attended her presentations.  Half the members had experience in human resources, training and development and similar areas so we felt we could manage without a trained leader.  You’ll need to decide for yourself what will work best for your team and Barbara’s website is a terrific resource.

The Success Team I was a part of met monthly and we made the meetings a social event, sharing a meal and a glass of wine while we talked.  Each member had an opportunity to speak and share their successes and challenges from the prior month and, most importantly, ask the group for help.  Without exception, the tone of the meetings was non-judgemental and usually upbeat, although there were emotional times for all of us.  I look back at my time as a member of a Success Team as a time of personal growth and increased self awareness.  I have trouble asking for help and was able to confront this head on, with the support of the Team.  I was also able to improve my self-confidence as I was able to see myself through others’ eyes and they saw me as capable and in control.  It was a very special time of my life, an adventure I won’t soon forget.

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