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“Wonder Woman Files” is a weekly career column on Madame Noire. Stay tuned for more topics, comment or write us at editors@madamenoire.com if you have suggestions!

I’m not quite sure how, but during an event for my job last night I found myself explaining my strict policy on not dating men whose chosen career is ‘aspiring rapper.’

Whenever I get into this conversation, there is inevitably someone who says my policy is elitist but really I’m just weary of the shoulda-coulda people who woulda made it, if only, maybe, perhaps xyz.  By this, I mean I am just not a fan of people who are always waiting for the exact right circumstance to be “discovered,” or for that one golden moment when they’ll finally blow up.

So far, my policy hasn’t proved me wrong.  I’ve never turned down anyone who went on to be a hip hop legend (though my ex did resemble a pocket sized version of Eazy-E).

And while it’s easy to point out 40-year-old men still pushing mixtapes at mixers, I have seen so many professional women who too are waiting to get signed onto some great career. I meet women who want to be CEOs of their own companies, but think Excel is a verb, not a software program for organization, which they lack.

Sure, we have degrees and we go into the office for work, but many of us also have a latent belief that one day someone will see the big “it” in us and they’ll propel us to greatness.

Though I don’t want to be anyone’s dream killer, the cold, hard truth is: most successful people didn’t “blow up.” They broke it down. They had step-by-step, strategic plans for success, that could be measured in phases.

So keep your idealism.  It is there to inspire you and encourage you along.  But also keep grounded, informed and aware.  Know what is happening in your industry, read trade journals, be voracious about knowing as much as you can.

Not all the news you receive, as you aim for greatness, will be great.  In fact, in this economy, odds are most of it will not be.  But there is no better incentive to anchor your plans for the future than knowing the realities of the day.  While it is easy to escape into the fantasy that one day someone or something will finally catapult you to greatness, putting in some hard work yourself is a safer bet.  Don’t underestimate the power of the little leaps you take yourself.  It may seem like slow progress compared to the fast track of fate, but the simple strategy will get you where you are meant to be.

So as this work week comes to a close, don’t just sigh and say “TGIF.”

Grab a notepad and pen and start mapping out where you’d like to be in 5 years, 10 years, hell- next year.  Life may not take the exact route you planned, but by writing out your plan you are laying out a clear path for your success.  It’s far better to lay out your own plans, than to hope your destiny is in the plans of others- a good lesson for Madames and aspiring rappers alike.

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