Looking back on my 38 years as an accountant, the years I’ve spent building my career is a little like building a skyscraper.

Today, I am the result of choices, experiences, and the trials of life. I – and my career – didn’t just happen.

Why a Skyscraper?

Think of what goes into building a skyscraper. Just some of the considerations include:

  • Aesthetic
  • Function of the building
  • Location
  • Soil quality
  • Weather conditions – Summer, winter, etc. Each brings its own pressures
  • Wind conditions
  • Earth movement

The architects and builders aren’t constructing for the conditions as they understand them – they’re always making allowances for the most extreme of conditions. The building is carefully planned, and that plan is meticulously executed. They can’t get careless or rely on inferior materials at any stage.

I’m suggesting that you build your career in a similar fashion. Be intentional. Ask yourself, what’s your why? In the long run, what do you want to be known for? What effect do you want to have? What values?

You may not know what you want to do with certainty, but you should keep searching and clarifying. Whatever you are doing, do it to the best of your ability. Learn and apply those lessons, and keep building your people skills.

Just as a builder of a skyscraper has short and long term goals, you too must consider laying the foundations of your career. Take careful, but firm steps, review your performance, and seek feedback and evaluation.

While this may feel daunting, the main idea is that successful long-term careers are built deliberately. They are built to be robust. They are built to last. They don’t fall down at the first gust of wind.

Build with Purpose

Make sure your steps are leading you in the direction you seek. Develop a mindset of goals, evaluation, and working on what’s important. And as a modern professional, effectiveness – getting the results expected of you – must always be top of your goals.

Finally, take time to examine yourself, reflect and prepare for the journey of life. There are many things to experience and learn. I’m talking about a career spanning 30 or 40 years. You need to be patient enough to build those foundations, and slowly but surely work your way up. Pursue new opportunities, try new things, change jobs, but do so with a purpose.

And in the end, you too could stand above and apart. Just like the skyscraper.

Written by George Katako

George is a partner of SCG Chartered Accountants.