Congratulations—you’ve conquered your longstanding financial and professional goals at last. Maybe it hasn’t always been so easy or straightforward trying to reach this point, but those challenges along the way have made your success that much more satisfying.
…Except now you’re probably wondering, what’s next? An empty or lost feeling can sometimes follow a huge milestone or achievement once we no longer have an immediate goal driving us.
After acknowledging and celebrating where you’ve been, there are always ways to continue growing. And that desire and initiative for growth is what ultimately separates unstoppable leaders who keep flourishing from those who lose momentum and plateau.
To stay on your toes, consider these next steps and options for moving forward.
Reflect and create new goals.
Before you can hit the ground running with your next venture, you need to figure out what that next venture will even be. Take some time to reflect on your accomplishments and values and celebrate them.
- What are your greatest strengths, and how can you best utilize them in service to your friends, family, community, and the world?
- What does your ideal day look like?
- What have your most meaningful accomplishments been?
- How would you like to be remembered when you die?
- What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
- What makes you anxious or apprehensive?
Answering these questions can help make the haziness of your next steps clearer. Be sure to pay attention to what kind of work you find meaningful. But, you should also consider your financial needs as well.
There are so many possibilities—but where your ambition will take you next depends on both your strengths and passions. At this time, self-reflection is crucial for identifying your next big goals and planning ahead.
Get a financial plan.
What I see all too often is successful professionals slowly forgetting about their personal finances. After all, you’re an expert in your day job and clearly successful, you have a lot going on and maybe not as much time for personal finances.
You might even feel some shame that despite your education, experience and success you can’t seem to manage your personal finances the way you think you should.
The two main mistakes I see people make are:
1) cash starts piling up and just sits in a bank account not doing anything.
2) giving in to lifestyle creep and spending into salary increases, forgetting to think about your future self and future needs.
A financial plan can combat both of these things. With a financial plan you give every dollar a job and start learning more about how much you should be saving and in what type of account.
For a lot of people that also means investing on a monthly basis and spending time with an expert to learn HOW to do this and WHAT to expect. It’s really an opportunity to spend time dreaming big things for yourself financially instead of just reacting to the day-to-day of life, work, and social pressures.
Start a business.
Perhaps what’s next on the horizon is being an entrepreneur and starting your own business.
If you’re hesitating because it sounds risky, you’ll need a better excuse to not get started.
In the past, common convention held that women were more risk-averse than men—in fact, research suggested this. However, as gender studies become more nuanced, it’s clear that this is not the case.
On the contrary, perception biases prime women to be more risk-averse. But inherently? Women are just as capable as men of taking calculated risks—and succeeding.
That doesn’t mean you should dive in headfirst, though. You need to determine whether your business idea is right for you and whether it has a chance of succeeding in the first place. This is why self-reflection is critical for your goal-setting phase. It’ll help you determine whether you’re pursuing something out of passion or for a different motive, and whether your skills are well-suited for the type of business you’d like to start.
Reach out to others.
Networking doesn’t get old ever—building meaningful connections with people is valuable at every stage in your life.
So what’s the significance of reaching out when you’re at the top?
Investing in relationships can be a powerful next step for learning how to lead and initiate as well as learning how to engage with potential clients.
For starters, get in touch with your mentors and find out what they’re doing. Have they started any businesses of their own? If so, what insights can they share about starting out?
Regardless of whether your mentors have pursued entrepreneurship themselves, they’re likely able to share some wisdom for this stage of your career. Moreover, identifying and connecting with strong industry leaders can help guide you in transforming expertise of your current skills into full-on mastery.
Alternatively, even if business isn’t an immediate priority for you, you can also reach out to others to find ways to serve your community.
Have you ever mentored others in your field? Is there more you can/want to do this arena? Are there any nonprofit boards you can serve on? What causes can you give your time and effort to? Or, are there any needs out there that you can help meet?
Pursue another degree or certification.
Although not for everyone, this juncture may be the perfect time for hitting the books again. If you’re drawn to a new field you don’t have much background in and want to learn more about, consider taking classes or getting another degree altogether.
For inspiration, take a look at celebrities who’ve returned to school after succeeding in their careers. They weren’t pausing their work by any means—rather, they were establishing a foundation for their next steps.
For instance, even after modeling, acting, producing a reality show, and writing a book, Tyra Banks enrolled in a certificate program at Harvard Business School in 2011. After finishing, she launched her own cosmetics brand. Similarly, actress Ashley Judd graduated from a midcareer master’s program in public administration at Harvard in 2010. Since then, Judd has actively stepped up her humanitarian work and public service.
That’s not to say you should go to Harvard (or pursue any Ivy League degree for that matter). Rather, should your interests fall in this direction and your finances allow, pursuing a degree or certification in the right program could meaningfully impact your next next steps, like starting a business.
Life continues beyond the top of the corporate ladder, so don’t let complacency stop you in your tracks. You may be content to enjoy the view for a while, but there’s still so much out there you can do.
What’s the first tiny step?
Simply cultivating a desire to continue growing personally and professionally. Lighting this fire inside will keep you on your steady trajectory instead of plateauing. What’s more, it’ll challenge you to keep getting better and more importantly, strive for improvement on your own terms.
Now that you’ve made it to this point, what are your biggest concerns?