Take control of your career by kicking it into high gear.
Here are 7 steps to get your career moving in the right direction:
1. Know what you want – Do you have clarity around what you want to achieve? Do you even know what’s important to you? If you aren’t sure how to answer these questions a good place to start is to make a list of what you don’t want. Sometimes listing what you don’t want is easier to do and starts to shed some light on what you desire instead. For example: perhaps you don’t like leading teams. A single contributor role may be what you prefer instead. It’s important to be honest with yourself.
2. Get organized – Reflect on the past in terms of all that you have accomplished, think about where you are right now and then take the time to plan out your career for the next 3-5 years or longer.
3. Have a Career Plan – I meet so many people who are in jobs without a career plan. After working 10, 15 sometimes 20 years it’s easy to find yourself in a job or company you no longer enjoy, yet feel stuck in. How did you get here? Perhaps the money enticed you, maybe the benefits were good, or there was job security or steady job advancement? You may have fallen into a position or company and perhaps got comfortable with the status quo. Regardless of where you are or what stage of your career you are currently in have a career plan, review it annually and work your plan.
4. Know your strengths – Often your strengths are the tasks or skills that come easiest to you. Generally these are the skills you most often utilize so you can become quite proficient in these areas. There is often a strong correlation between your strengths and what you enjoy doing. As you identify your strengths it’s a good idea to ask others who know you well or work with you closely to share their views on what they see as your greatest strengths.
5. Be aware of your development areas – It’s important to be self-aware. According to a study conducted in 2010 by Green Peak Partners and Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, “Self-awareness” is a critical trait for successful leaders. The study indicates “a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success”. Not surprisingly, leaders who are aware of their weaknesses are often better at closing the gaps by ensuring members of their teams are well diversified in terms of strengths, skills, perspectives and experience.
6. Enlist a support team – As you develop and work your career plan it’s helpful to have strong support along the way. Support can come in many forms. Your boss can assist in providing you with regular feedback. You may also seek a mentor within your organization; perhaps 1-2 levels above where you are, who you admire, see as a role model and can learn from. Some organizations have formal mentorship programs. Other companies leave it to employees to seek their own mentor. If you aren’t sure ask your human resources department to assist you. Alternatively or in addition to, you may seek outside support by hiring a coach to help you identify your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities or to assist you in developing a career plan or to simply hold you accountable to working a plan or dream you already have. Build a dream team of support around you.
7. Celebrate success often – I recently heard this great tip. Keep a jar on your desk and every time you do something you are proud of or accomplish something of importance to you write it down and drop it into your accomplishments jar. Whenever you are feeling unfulfilled or unaccomplished or just wish to celebrate pull out some of your accomplishment entries. At the end of the year reread all of your journal entries as a reminder of just how far you’ve come, what you have accomplished in the year and all that you have to celebrate. We tend to have short attention spans and often forget some of the great things we accomplished earlier in the year. I encourage you to celebrate often.
To quote my husband: “Accomplishment breeds success, failure builds character. You need both to be successful in life.” Don’t be afraid to take some risks and do some things differently. But first, know what you want and have a plan.
Need help and guidance to kick your career into high gear? Contact Linda at email@example.com.
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