3 Tips for Lifelong Career Success

Meet Beatriz Fontanella, an Early Career Development Director at Gartner and self-described “glow-getter”. A “glow-getter” is a driven individual who strives to achieve goals in life while attaining a beautiful glow both inside and out, and that is what describes her the best.

Beatriz was the first HR hire in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for Gartner back in 2012 and has lived in at least five different cities around the world to date — part of her personal and professional goal was to have an international career, and is currently working in our Dallas, Texas office. In her new role, she is primarily responsible for driving early career progression initiatives aligned to early career success, and provides increased transparency to internal opportunities within Sales and across Gartner, while helping our associates navigate their career paths.

Below, Beatriz shares some “Power Tips” for lifelong career success based on her personal journey within Gartner, as well as her experience in coaching and mentoring others.

  1. Do Some Soul Searching to Determine What You Want

The most critical step is this first one, but once you take it, it all flows together! Knowing yourself truly and deeply is key to defining where you are going, as well as why you are heading a certain way — unless you want to live by someone else’s expectation or plan. Investing time to self-reflect about who you are and what you want, your likes and dislikes is the ultimate power! It will give you more control over the choices you make when opportunities come your way.

We are all capable of doing many things — either because we are skilled, we have the know-how or the experience, or we are just good at it. However, that doesn’t mean we are actually passionate about doing any of these things on a daily basis or long term. Some things you are capable of doing might not bring you excitement, so unless you are passionate about them, you won’t be feeling happy or satisfied.

Short- and long-term success come with fulfillment, and are always aligned with a sense of purpose. Combine passion, capability and purpose, and you will have the main elements for lifelong career success. Don’t let someone else define what it should mean for you. Invest time in yourself FIRST!

Take some online self-assessments — there are plenty of reliable ones out there for free. Ask people you trust about your strengths and opportunities. Acknowledge what you are good at and what you are not. Write down your answers to self-reflection questions such as “Who are you? What do you like and what you don’t like about your behavior and attitude? What do you like best about your current role? Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? What experiences do you want under your belt when you think about growth and development? What are you passionate about doing? Where do you excel? What makes you stand out? Where can you continue to develop and improve? What does success specifically mean to you?” Look inward! We all know the answers to our most complex questions. We just need to find a way to organize them first and then we can connect the dots.

  1. Make Smart Choices!

Everything you are comes from the choices you’ve made. Once you figure out a bit more about yourself, it will give you the confidence to determine where you are heading in light of the many options you will have or will be presented with throughout your professional journey. This additional boost in your self-esteem will also enable you to say “Yes” to the opportunities you know will bring you a different level of excitement, development and growth, and “No” to those that aren’t necessarily in line with your strengths and goals or are not in areas you would like to master and experience, despite being capable of doing so.

When you are good at something and are playing to your strengths, you will shine, and people around you will offer you opportunities to grow or expand your current responsibilities and scope. When that happens, make smart choices and be purposeful about them! Don’t let someone else define that for you — remember, you will be the one living the result of the decisions you make and the ones you don’t. We are what we choose to be, so choose wisely!

I’m a big believer that everything in life has a 50% chance to go right and the same 50% to go wrong. We all have to live with the consequences of the choices we make. So once you choose something, embrace it! Don’t look back or forward, don’t live in the “What If” zone. Live in the present and know that what you do today is paving the way for your long-term success.

Whenever something happens we all have three choices: Let it define you, let it destroy you or let it strengthen you. What choices will you make on a daily basis from now on to have lifelong career success — and how will you make sure you are following-through these choices?

  1. Have a Plan, But Most Importantly, Act on Your Plan

Anything you want to achieve is a powerful motivator only if there’s a powerful reason behind it. If you can’t find a clear and convincing purpose for each of your goals and where you are heading, do some serious reevaluating. The world changes, we change, and it is fine to reassess and adjust our goals every now and then to ensure our plan is on track. Did I say plan? Yep! Having a plan is the key to overall success. It is what differentiates the dreamers from the glow-getters.

Being a planner has played to my advantage — it always helped me focus on not only where I was going, but how I will get there. Have you hear that quote “A goal without a plan is just a wish”? Well, it’s true. How many people do you know who have zillions of plans and ideas — some actually pretty good — but never do anything about them? They talk, dream, wish, but never take any action.

Seeing the bigger picture, as well as your short-term goals, while choosing opportunities that can lead to achieving your goals is great, but you must have a plan to guide you and take actions to turn dreams into reality. Having a plan not only helps you organize the proper steps you need to take, but also the focus you should have. It’s a way to acknowledge your own progress whenever you take time to review where you stand.

I particularly leverage what we call at Gartner the 3E framework — an easy and effective approach because it helps to break down aspirations into specific modes of learning: Experience, exposure and education.

Personal and professional growth happens through learning, life is all about learning, and so is development. Experience should be approximately 70-80% of your plan, exposure should be around 10-20%, and education should be between 5 and 10%.

Every year I schedule time with myself to develop a 3E for that specific year by considering where I am — my existing role and personal priorities in and outside of work, and where I want to be/go/do — aligned to my long-term goals. Given my own objectives and career goals for the year, I think about what critical E’s I need in my development plan and then determine actions to take. Then I plan, adjust the route if necessary, connect with people, get a mentor or a coach, understand resources or courses available, and take action continuously. I do that every single year and also set time to review my 3E plan periodically, at least once per quarter on my own and once a year with my leader. No one tells me to do that. I own my career, so I’m responsible for where I am at and where I am going.

When you write down a plan with your ideas and determine specific ways on how to get there, you have a much greater chance to achieve the goals you set for yourself. People often say I always get what I want — personally and professionally. I don’t mean to brag about it, but this is why.

Goal setting is a very important step, but goal achievement is a continuous, lifelong process.

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