We all want to be happier and more successful at work and yet, on many days, those things seem completely out of reach. In the rare moments between meetings or during the long commute back in forth, we ask ourselves questions such as- am I on the right track, how do I find my purpose, or am I missing something?

Hearing these questions come up time and again among both friends and colleagues led me to reflect on my own experiences and assemble a free e-book on the subject called Own It: Drive Your Career to a Place of Happiness and Success. You can download it here.

Leaving the corporate grind to start my own management consulting business was equal parts fulfilling a dream and figuring out what my dreams were. I knew the track I was on wasn't working so I felt I had to try something new.

As you prepare to and then leave a big job (or any kind of relationship really), a story forms in your mind about why you're leaving. For me, that story of leaving was all about the lack of career path and stifling bureaucratic management. I felt lost and overwhelmed more days than I felt energized and inspired. That's clearly a problem when your primary role is to grow a business and support a team. Of course, after you leave, the truth of the matter settles in. When you've removed what you believe the source of the problem is and yet the problem persists, you have no choice but to take a hard look at your own role in all of it.

The epiphany hit me shortly after leaving my job.

This powerful secret was both big and simple: I own this. No one else is going to do it for me. I can do whatever I want and my success or failure is defined by me.

The realization that came along for the ride was "wow, I had this power all along." I'm one that believes that life lessons come at precisely the moment that you're ready to receive them--no sooner. So, I have no regrets about changing my career path mid-stream and am thankful for all of the tough lessons that have come since.

Of course, being flooded with the feeling of "owning it" isn't all sunshine and roses. Empowering yes, but it also creates a new kind of pressure to be accountable to ourselves. You realize that in owning the outcome, you also own the responsibility to get yourself there. A couple other important realizations include:

  • Defining that path for yourself requires some time and attention to five major things. You have to be ultra-clear in your goals, craft the role you want, position yourself for opportunities, lead from where you are today, and move on when the time is right. When something is off with one of these five career elements, they can block you from moving forward.
  • Getting unstuck and getting to a place of more happiness and success is all about figuring out which needs your primary attention, then making the adjustments in your mindset and behaviors that enable you to move forward--stronger than before.
  • Reflecting on these five elements can also help you build resilience and more quickly get yourself out of rut or recover from a setback.
  • Taking control of your actions and outcomes in your career is precisely what creates the feeling of happiness and success--because you define it, make it happen, and feel satisfied that you got out what you put in. That's ownership.

There will be treasured mentors, coaches, bosses, and sponsors along the way to help--but your drive, resourcefulness, and vision will ultimately make the difference.

These beliefs are what my book, "Own It, Drive Your Career to a Place of Happiness and Success," is all about. I hope you feel more empowered and optimistic about the future of your career with the knowledge that you can "own it" too.