Alright, I have a confession to make… I love the game of football! As I write this we are approaching Super Bowl Sunday, and the Philadelphia Eagles (who have gone, but never won – yet!), are playing! What does this have to do with your career game? Turns out, quite a lot.

To Win the Career Game, Pay Attention

When we were little, my dad used to spend Sunday afternoons every season with my sister and me, teaching us the nuances of the game. You know – how to really yell at the TV, names you could call the opposing team members, when to stand, jump, wave your arms, etc.! I became an expert, and my engagement in the game brought me close to my Dad. It gave us something we shared, and provided endless hours of fun for both of us.

There’s no doubt in my mind that my football enthusiasm helped me professionally playing my “career game” when I was one of the few women in a male-dominated corporate culture. But more than that, I had learned an important lesson as a child: Pay attention. Listen for what’s important to your co-workers. It’s worthwhile to find something to share with people who play a significant role in your life, and it’s certainly a lot more fun!

To Win the Career Game, Have a Plan

What do we hear players on the winning team say over and over after the game? “We just focused on our game, we stuck to our plan!” How did they know what plan would work? They prepared and practiced, and reviewed, and practiced.

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To win, your career game must be played with the same focus and intention. Think about where you want to be 3-5 years from now. Ask yourself, “What will it take to get there?” If you aren’t sure, ask. Put aside concerns about looking to eager or ambitious. You should be eager and ambitious! There is no shame in it, that’s how winners behave.

To Win the Career Game, Keep Your Eye On the Ball  

Yes, it’s a completely over-used cliché, but seriously …Don’t take your eye off the ball! That means taking control, not playing the victim of circumstance. Instead, stay alert. Heard rumors of dropping revenue – pay attention, and get your resume and LinkedIn profile up to speed. Having difficulty with a co-worker? Deal with it professionally and if the workplace becomes toxic (How to Spot a Toxic Work Environment). Don’t give up or punt!

To Win the Career Game, Remember It’s Not Over Til It’s Over

Did you see the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs? They won the game in the last second! The Saints were already celebrating, then, in a blink, the Vikings score and win.

My point is that it’s helpful to take the long view of your career. Sometimes you’re going to win, and sometimes you’re not. You may get the interview, but not the job. You may get the job, and it’s not what you expected, so you put yourself out there again and keep going at it. So, go for the promotion! Keep at it! When it comes to a career, the only losers are the ones who stop playing.

Told you your career was like football.

Now – GO E-A-G-L-E-S!!