We all want to experience success and fulfillment in our careers. Sometimes the path to reaching those goals seems clear. Other times, not so much. Did you know successful people employ executive coaches to help them achieve their career goals? In fact, executive coaching is becoming a go-to leadership development strategy for many companies.

If executive coaching is either not affordable or available, you can still reap the valuable rewards by learning how to be your own coach. Take a look at these steps to help you achieve career fulfillment.

Be Proactive
People often consider making a career change when they are unhappy with their current situation. Take a moment to think about where you would see yourself if you could take a snapshot of your best self. Note what you are already achieving and what you still need to achieve to match this vision. Assessing your satisfaction and success while you are happy can help make a career change proactive instead of reactive. A proactive change will be more authentic and oriented toward achieving your goals.

“Change can be both exhilarating and intimidating. Being your own catalyst for change is empowering.”

Take a Step Back
Once you determine where you would like to see yourself, take some time to evaluate what you bring to your career; both strengths and weaknesses. A successful career requires looking at the big picture. Executive coach, Michael Melcher, broke this evaluation process down into four categories.

 Values. What do I like to do? What brings out my best?
• Vision. How do I want to grow? What do I want to create for myself?
• Competency. What do I bring to the table? What value do I have, and how should this grow over time? What do I need to get to the next level?
• Relationships. Who’s supporting me? Who gives me resilience and validation? And who can I learn from?

Objectively assessing your career can potentially stave off future problems. When you examine the factors enhancing your career or holding you back, you have the opportunity to constructively work on growth and fulfillment.

Consider Your Options
It’s common place to feel uncertain about your next step. Perhaps none of your ideas feel like a sure thing. Career development is best thought of as a process of experimentation.

People learn best through doing.

As options emerge that suit your career vision, don’t be afraid to take action. Create a simple visual for your change options. Use a scale of 0–4 to score your options according to how interesting they are, how realistic they are to achieve and what your knowledge base is for each option. Add up the points and see where each falls. This will help you determine which options best suit your vision so you can create effective goals.

Identify Your Goals
Whether your goal is changing roles or filling in a skills gap, your goals should be specific and challenging (but reasonably attainable). Studies by Edwin Locke show the more difficult and specific a goal is the harder people tend to harder people tend to work to achieve it. Try using the SMART goal setting strategy. SMART stands for:

• Specific — Use action words to briefly state your objective
• Measurable — Use data targets
• Achievable — Keep it within your scope
 Relevant — Is related to your career path
• Time-bound — Has a specific time-frame for completion

Goals don’t need to be dramatic to make progress. Incremental effort compounds; spending a small amount of time daily working toward your goal matters more than working toward it once in a while.

Being your own coach will give you the opportunity to explore your strengths and create goals to bridge gaps as you become more self-aware. As with all careers, you will have transitions and cycles.

There will be setbacks and sometimes failures as you experiment with options. When this happens use your intuition as a barometer to determine if the path you’re on is really where you want to be. If it’s the real thing, you’ll want to keep trying until you achieve fulfillment.

This article originally appeared on Medium.com

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