There’s no secret to achieving professional success. It requires hard work, goal setting and planning. For many individuals who are currently struggling to take their careers to greater heights, the one thing most often holding them back is ... themselves. Before you’re able to achieve success, you need to learn how to empower yourself. And that empowerment is tied to learning —when you learn more (about what you do or want to do) your confidence will grow and you’ll be able to take on more challenges.

To me, it feels like we’ve forgotten that things take time. We change majors or transfer schools when things aren’t going our way … rather than buckling down, focusing and achieving our goals. Maybe it’s the “Ask Alexa” world (where answers to questions are seconds away) that has given us this on-demand, need-it-right-now-or-I-don’t-want-it expectation.

If you’re in the present, focusing and learning, whether at home or at work, you become valuable by default and you take a lot of stress out of climbing the mountain. You disempower yourself when your only success measure is getting to your goal —cheesy, but it’s about the journey.

Here are some ways to further empower yourself …

1. Don’t wait around – take action.

The surefire way to tell the difference between a regular team member and an empowered one is to see how they handle work. Empowered people don’t wait around for someone else to walk them through a challenge, they come up with an action plan to accomplish the task at hand. Own your job!

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Even the empowered people who grab the bulls by the horn have to ask for assistance from time to time, but what separates them from the pack is that they only seek help when they need it.

There’s nothing more self-defeating than being too proud to ask for help. Asking is not a weakness, it’s a strength.

3. Take responsibility for your own improvements.

Part of being an empowered professional is spending the time and effort into developing yourself. While there will be times in your life where a more experienced teammate may mentor you, it’s ultimately up to you to develop the skills needed to succeed in your line of work. The best way to do this is to keep up-to-date with trends and changes in your industry, always be willing to go to professional development courses and workshops, and network with other like minded professionals.

Read everything you can about what you’re doing and what you want to do —because the minute your brain opens up to what you’re passionate about, that’s when things start to develop faster and the magic happens

4. Keep your eye on the prize.

Being in the present is the key to your success. It takes all the distractions away from that nasty word called “expectations”. And while there are going to be times where it feels like nothing can possibly go right, it’s important to continue taking steps towards your goal. Remember, mistakes happen all the time in the professional world, but they’re not considered failures if you’re able to learn from them.

5. Set the right kind of goals.

The mother of one of my friends has the mantra: “small successes, not big failures.”

While there’s nothing wrong with having big, lofty goals … be sure you’re setting reasonable goals that you can accomplish. Short-term measurements of success can help build your confidence (and empower you) with each achievement. Whereas, if your measure of success is this big, lofty goal you’ve set that may take years to achieve, your confidence won’t grow as quickly. Long term goals stretch out the path to success —build your confidence and empower yourself every day.

Putting it in Perspective

What will you do today to empower yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!