A chief executive officer (CEO) is the highest-ranking person in a company. They are ultimately responsible for making major corporate decisions. The CEO drives growth, increases profitability, and handles high-level strategic decisions. Most of the workforce will never become CEO of a corporation or even make it to the C-suite. But everyone can be the CEO of their career.American Recruiters executive staffing and recruiting

Emily Panek, founder of Optivity Now, believes if you have a specific aim and channel all your energy, determination, and every ounce of your effort toward achieving your goal, you will succeed.

Being your CEO is about taking responsibility for the outcomes of your choices. And science has proved that taking responsibility decreases fear, anxiety, and stress. The amygdala is the part of your brain that processes fear. Research shows that when you use blame rather than take responsibility, your body physically goes into a fight or flight mode — essentially, your self-image comes under attack, and it’s your job to protect it. Blame and praise are processed in different areas of the brain. Blame stems from the emotional side, and praise originates from the logical side of the brain. The result is that we believe good things happen by chance and bad things happen on purpose.

When you’re not in charge of your career path, your career is still going to evolve … you’re just not in charge of the outcome.

Recognize it’s a choice. At any time you can be your CEO. That’s exactly what Panek did. Here, she shares tips on how to take charge of your career:

1. Overcome the Habit of Delay.

Most of the time, we’re paralyzed by fear: What happens if…. And that’s not only fear of failure. It can be fear of making the wrong decision, fear of missing out (FOMO), and even fear of success. Fear of success prevents you from taking chances because you’re afraid of what comes with success once you achieve it.

Regardless, fear often creates a habit of not acting.

Panek says, “You will make mistakes, but it’s better than not doing anything at all.” She has found that acting — perseverance — is about having the courage to face failure along the way.

One way to reduce your fear is to hone in on your specialized knowledge. Panek calls this more than what you’ve learned. “It’s an art, a craft that you wield in the vast canvas of your career.” The way you do things is uniquely yours. It’s your secret sauce.

2. Learn to collaborate.

Collaboration is working with others to reach a common goal. Your career is yours, but great things can only come from collaborating with others. “No one person has all the skills, knowledge, or experience,” Panek says. Collaboration leads to new ideas, accountability, innovative solutions, effective problem-solving, and improved relationships. It’s about building a community of like-minded individuals who’ve got your back.

Your career will take many twists and turns. As you hone your craft, whether you’re an engineer, copywriter, or doctor, the opportunities that open are as strong as your network — the people you collaborate with regularly. Surveys show that 79% of Americans believe that networking is vital to their career progression.

3. Exude self-confidence.

Panek has this to say about self-confidence: Embrace each day with the assurance of having given it your all. The only thing you can do is your best. Ideas morph into reality when fused with unyielding intent, relentless perseverance, and a fiery passion for their transformation into tangible achievements. Believe this for yourself.

Having confidence in yourself is part of having a successful career. Individuals who have it earn $28,000 more per year than those lacking self-confidence. Here are a few tips to boost your self-confidence:

  • Upskill. Take an online course or in-person seminar to bridge the gaps in your experience. Earn a skill badge on LinkedIn.
  • Step out of your comfort zone. Introduce yourself to someone new. Try something new. Or just switch up your normal routine.
  • Check off an item on your to-do list. It’s amazing how we talk to ourselves, especially when we’re not living up to our standards. Give yourself some kudos for checking something off your to-do list.

Panek says, “Empower yourself as the architect of your destiny.”

The CEO embodies not just a corporate title but a mindset—an attitude of ownership and responsibility. Becoming the CEO of your career demands focused determination and an unwavering commitment to personal growth, but you’re worth it and should want that success for yourself, your business, your colleagues and/or your career.

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