What’s a Power Move?
Let’s get one thing clear right away. Every single Power Move is made with the intent of helping you achieve a successful, fulfilling career—on your terms. They can be bold or subtle, grand or seemingly inconsequential, but all of them contribute to the path your career takes.
The challenge of defining a Power Move is that it is never just one thing—but there is a clear theme. Power Moves are the decisions, or actions, or behaviors that make it possible to have a fulfilling career on your terms. Quitting your job is definitely a Power Move, just like a decision to speak up at a meeting. Starting a “whisper network” or sharing your salary with your colleagues is a Power Move, just like scheduling an informational interview. Volunteering for a work assignment—one that requires a new skill set—is a bold Power Move, but no less valuable than making a habit of greeting your supportive colleagues with a smile and encouragement.
The Power Moves Approach
Developing a Power Moves approach begins with the question, “How do you (want to) manage your career?” A lot of people don’t really think about “managing” their career. It just sort of happens. Others take the “kind of, sort of” approach to career management. They tend to make decisions in response to something that’s happened, usually something unexpected (even bad). Both of these approaches offer little, if any, control over the direction of your career.
What determines the Power Moves you’ll make, when you make them, and how you’ll make them—all part of your Power Moves approach—is career awareness. While anyone can make a Power Move, the more informed your career awareness, the more likely you’ll make a successful Power Move with purpose and intent—one that is part of an overall approach to managing your career.
The Power Moves Tool Kit creates a foundation for career awareness. This understanding enables you to make planned, successful Power Moves (as part of your own integrated approach) to achieve the career you want.
The importance of self-care should be obvious, but it always seems to be ignored until it’s almost too late. You can’t be your best and take advantage of the opportunities that come your way if you don’t take care of your emotional and physical self. This is kind of required to make any informed, effective, and ultimately successful Power Move.
#1 Self-Care Is Mandatory
Self-care and self-discipline are some of the few defenses you have against burnout; they can reduce the effects of stress on your body, help you work more efficiently and make more thoughtful decisions, and refocus your energy. Internal tools like mind-set shifts, resilience, grit, and silencing your inner critic, as well as overcoming comparison and envy, are what it takes to secure yourself not in momentary feelings. You cannot develop and build these internal tools without prioritizing self-care. The other great thing about these internal tools is that even if/when you do get off track with prioritizing your self-care, you can get back on track by starting over. There are no start and finish lines that you’re abiding by.
Self-care is a number of things, but the most important may be that it forces you to take a break—which, as researchers at the Journal of Environmental Psychology recently found, is proved to make you perform better at work. So how do you start a solid, useful, consistent self-care practice? First, you have to know your options:
- The Chill-Out Exercise
- Change Your Mind-set, Change Your Energy
- Eat Your Vegetables—and Other Things Your Mom Was Right About
- Seriously Prioritize Your ZZZs
#2 Relationships Matter
Even in our ever-isolated, online-driven, increasingly VR world, IRL relationships matter. When it comes to your ability to make successful Power Moves, your personal and professional relationships are absolutely critical. Knowing that getting along with other humans is important to your success seems like a no-brainer, right? Like, you know this, I know this, but even so, most of us struggle to prioritize strong, healthy, supportive connections with the people in our work world. And it’s all understandable, really!
You get so distracted with meeting goals and deadlines, with keeping up your online brand, with clearing out your Netflix queue. We’re all so exhausted at the end of these long, overstimulated days—with balancing full-time work and side hustles, with just keeping up the basics of adulting , tamping down anxiety, managing depression, just staying afloat —that many of us forget to call our moms and maintain even our most inner-circle friendships, let alone seek out and keep up with quality professional peers.
When we invest in high-quality, positive relationships with coworkers or those in our professional orbit, when these relationships are grounded in respect, cooperation, and trust, we become better workers, more open to feedback and more engaged in our day-to-day tasks, no matter how mundane. Put another way: being close to coworkers makes work more fun.
As you are building out your professional résumé, make it a priority to build out and maintain a network of positive, supportive people whom you trust and can rely on, whose company makes you feel inspired. Not everyone will be your best friend, obviously, but thinking about the professional relationships in your life, how you cultivate them, how you network, and whom you let in is as important to your success as any other career strategy we’ve discussed. Ultimately, because it’s human, connected, and real, putting time into this area of your life will be more rewarding than the other stuff too.
#3 Take Control of Your Career
Take control of your career and become your own career coach. In movie terms, you’ll be the producer, director, and lead actor. Now that you appreciate the importance of taking care of yourself (self-care) and developing the support of others (relationships), it’s time to manage the career you want.
No matter where you are in your career, no one is going to understand and look out for your needs and interests and career progress with the same commitment (and obsession) as you. That shouldn’t be a surprise, because no one cares about the outcome more than you do.
Remember It’s the Company, Not the Job
Sure, there are some situations where you genuinely hate the duties at hand, when your core competencies are not being put to their best use, but for the most part, the reason you hate your work is because your boss is terrible, the company culture is soul-sucking and toxic, or you are undervalued, overworked, and/or treated with disrespect or disdain.
you could be doing the exact same job you are today at a different company or for a different client and instead of dreading work you’d find that you missed it when you’re gone.
Play to Your Strengths
Strengths are important because people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job, and we all want that. Surprisingly, according to Gallup, research also shows that people who use their strengths are 8 percent more productive and 15 percent less likely to quit their jobs. The obvious conclusion: planning a future based on your strengths is the smart thing to do. You’ll experience more engagement, opportunity, and career fulfillment. Your strengths are essentially your competitive advantage.
Set and Manage Career Goals
Even if your boss has their own goals for you (but especially if they don’t), begin a running list of everything you’d like to achieve at work in the next quarter, the next six months, and the next year. This could be milestones like a raise or a promotion, but could also be smaller, quieter things like learning a new internal system or taking lead on your own project or attending more high-level meetings.
Understand When and How You’ll Be Evaluated
What are the goals of your position? Which are your relevant KPIs (key performance indicators)? You’ll be considered successful when _____ happens? It’s critical to have clear expectations about what comprises success in any role you’re in so you know where you stand and can track your performance, and, ultimately, do what’s needed to achieve what you want (more responsibility, a bigger paycheck, another project with this client).
#4 Don’t Forget Money
It’s nearly impossible to hear the words “career success and fulfillment” and not think about money. It’s likely that all of us (at some point) have used money as a measure of our career success and fulfillment.
You really do need to be aware of how it can affect your thinking, and how to have a proactive and realistic relationship with money so you can build a fulfilling career on your terms. There’s little doubt when it comes to earning and managing money that a lack of this resource can limit your career flexibility and critically impair your ability to make a Power Move.
Many women, including many successful women, continue to struggle with money in concerning ways: from the things that are less in women’s control, like the wage gap and the pink tax, to a lack of financial confidence overall. Women’s issues with money also stem from irresponsible messaging that says how much we make defines who we are, that it’s somehow a key indicator of our worth. The link between your salary and your feelings of success has been hardwired into your brain—thanks mostly to incessantly being asked to “know your worth,” “ask for your worth,” “demand your worth” in every salary negotiation advice article or video you’ve ever seen.
Stop Believing Your Self-Worth Is Your Net Worth
Put an end to the thinking that your worth is tied up in the amount of money you make and stop using the kind of language that surrounds it. Here are some steps to combat this thinking:
- Find examples in your life that are not related to money that make you feel good about yourself. Share those moments with friends and family, and even write them down. The goal is to start associating your self-worth with feelings and experiences that deserve it and have nothing to do with your bank accounts.
- Once you identify experiences that support your new mind-set, seek out related opportunities that you can practice frequently. For example, if volunteering your time helps you shift your mind-set, seek out more volunteer opportunities.
- Spend time with people whose views on money support your new mind-set. Ditch the materialistic friend who’s always talking about how much money she makes or flaunting her newest online order.
- Create a healthy money mantra. Feel free to use Lauren’s: “My self-worth does not equal my net worth.” Say this to yourself again and again, particularly around times of financial anxiety or shame.
Not only is connecting your self-worth to your net worth a losing game, it also throws a huge wrench into this whole self-acceptance thing we’re going for; it’s a distraction, and yet another thing that disrupts your power and limits your ability to make smart, customized, unconventional decisions about where you want to go next professionally.
Shifting your mind-set will not be easy—but in the long term, your mental, physical, and emotional health with thank you profusely. Start thinking about money in less insecure, more empowered ways that enable Power Moves.
Final Thoughts: It’s a Lifestyle
Start today, this minute, making decisions that are right for you, not just “right.” Your career awareness has already expanded. Use it to harness your own power, take control of your career, and propel you into a working life that you want, that works for you, in the right here and the right now.
Building a career full of Power Moves—developing your own Power Moves approach—will always be and should always be a work in progress. It’s an approach that becomes a lifestyle. It builds upon itself. It’s something any of us can do to experience the career we want, on our terms. The only way to not make progress is to not move at all. Take your power back.
And that’s the greatest Power Move of all.