5 Keys to Excellence for Your Career and Life

Careerpreneurial strategies for success

By Skye Berry-Burke.

The other day, while visiting my child’s pediatrician, I saw an article about the “8 Keys of Excellence” for making great kids greater. Five of these “keys” were immediately etched in my mind and I continued to think about how these principles for achieving excellence apply to all of us – young and old, career pros and our clients.

As a new school year approaches, many people – whether they are students or not – view this time as an opportunity to focus on professional and personal development. Inspired by the 8 Keys of Excellence for kids, I was motivated to put my own spin on the theme and so I present to you my five keys to achieving excellence and success in your career. If you’re preparing to advance your career, your business, or even your life, please read on.

1. Failure Leads to Success

As a proponent for thinking and acting positively in all that we do, this is probably the most important key to success for me. It is easy to get pulled down by the weight of perceived failure and let the negativity drown out any positive learning opportunities. However, this is where changing the way we think about failure opens the door for career excellence.

I’d like to ask that you really focus on transforming the way you look at your failures – past and present – while also living in the NOW. It’s a challenge, I know! In one breath I am asking you to look back into your past mistakes and, in another, I am asking you to live in the present moment.

When we view failure as a chance to gain feedback, we learn from these failures and make the changes needed to be more successful in the future. In order to do this, we need to take ownership of what went wrong, adjust our sails by evaluating and changing what we did the first time, and try again, applying what we learned from the failure.

Your goal is to evaluate the perceived failures that may be holding you back from taking risks and acting on moving towards your full-potential career and life. Spend two or three days on the activity of carefully evaluating past failures and then move toward living in the moment. When you see your mistakes as learning opportunities, living in the moment allows you to take purposeful steps forward, setting the stage for a positive, fulfilling future.

2. Focus on the NOW

I am guilty of NOT practicing this. I often find that I’m worrying so much about tomorrow and the next day that I forget to enjoy right NOW. However, when my mind is calm and I deliberately live in the present moment, the stress I may have anticipated for tomorrow and the day after that seem irrelevant. Not only am I much more productive when I focus on the time right in front of me, but I am also a better résumé writer, career coach, and mom!

It is by living in the present that we have the most power. We can find joyful moments in our work and family lives that we otherwise miss when we’re distracted by the worries of the past or future.

Learn from me – no amount of worry will change the past! And while worrying about and waiting for the future, you are missing the present and life is slipping away. Focus on the time you have right now and use it to create positive and rewarding results for your future life and career.

3. Commitment

Whether you are in a career or life transition, or a job search, there are decisions that must be made. You are at a crossroads just prior to making those decisions, but once you make your choice(s), stay on track – stay committed.

Make a commitment to a goal. If you are in a job search, you are committed to finding rewarding work. If you are in a life transition, maybe you are committed to buying a new home. Regardless of what your goal is, I encourage you to stay strong and run toward your commitment (your choice) with gusto and 100% dedication.

Visualize your goal every day. Write it down on a piece of paper and create a to-do list of tasks you need to accomplish in order to take positive and purposeful steps toward reaching your goal.

4. Flexibility

For me, the fun part about life is that it is always changing and is never boring. We may have this great plan laid out for our future, but often the path to realizing the plan is turbulent and never quite as smooth as we would hope. Unexpected changes, which inevitably pop up, require that we remain flexible while focusing on achieving our goals.

I believe that flexibility and adaptability are cornerstone skills required to achieve success in all facets of life. It would be great if our life vision went exactly to plan – but this is rarely the case. Being flexible allows us the ability to remain positive in sometimes negative situations. It gives us the confidence to know that if we tweak our plan, or even make big changes, we can still stay on track to successfully reach our main goal.

The key here is to not give up the minute the road gets bumpy. Enjoy the little detours and appreciate how much stronger and more resilient you will become.

5. Balance

Wow, this word is powerful! It is something many of us struggle with. As an entrepreneur and mother, I often find the balance between the two sways continuously. I used to be one of those people who stuck to a rigid plan and, if that plan didn’t go as expected, I would easily become frustrated and stressed – usually, taking those feelings out on my closest family members and friends. What was the point of my goal in the first place if I was miserable?

Over the years, I learned to incorporate mindful exercise and meditation into my daily routine. I continue to always have a plan and I encourage you to as well. However, I am now much more adaptable and flexible to all of life’s ups and downs. I am more aware that as I balance my commitments, I am still working toward and honouring my main goal. I may just have to flex my time differently than anticipated.

Adding more balance to my life has brought increased happiness and better health. My business time-management has actually improved (weird, huh?) and I am much more positive about reaching my own goals.

Ensure your life is balanced and allow yourself to have fun. If you are so committed to your goal that you fail to enjoy the little moments happening around you, then you are not having fun. Don’t let your goal become a pain and a negative element in your life. Think of ways you can add more balance (and fun) into your life and go for it without feeling guilty.

In Summary…

As you commit to your career success, continue to evaluate and learn from your failures. Focus less on the past (you can’t change it anyway). Adjust your sails by remaining flexible. Remember that life is not linear – strive to enjoy the bumps in the road. Ensure that you are living a balanced life that focuses more on the NOW.

Most importantly, enjoy the journey of your life and career!

Skye Berry is an award-winning résumé writer and career coach. With a passion for helping job seekers bring their career to new heights, she founded Skye Is The Limit Resume & Career Solutions in 2012. CareerPreneur Partners was co-founded in 2016 with fellow CPC member, Adrienne Tom. Together, they deliver business and productivity coaching to other career pros and entrepreneurs. 

Image by Shahid Abdullah on Pixabay


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We all see so many “how to’s” and the list you have created is very mindful and wise. Thank you for identifying that everything we do has meaning, even in our challenging times.

Thank you, Lotte. Although I did not coin the “keys to excellence”, I certainly do feel that it is in our most challenging times that we have the greatest opportunity for personal (and even professional) growth. Sometimes, we just need a reminder. 😉

I’m learning that focusing on the now is important, even in the little things. How many times do we notice that our tea or coffee is finished, with no recollection of drinking it?