Now that we are officially in spring, it’s time for you take control over your career. The days are longer, the sun shines brightly once again, the cold weather dissipates and everyone’s mood vastly improves. Just as the flowers blossom in the garden, you should tend to and cultivate your career to ensure it grows fabulously.
Here are common-sense career suggestions to take ownership of your career and build a path toward long-term success.
1. Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. It’s incredibly hard, if not impossible, to excel in a career where you don’t have the requisite skills or ability. My parents wanted me to be an accountant, but I’m an idiot in math. It would never have worked out. I am, however, verbal, creative and enjoy working with and helping people. A career in recruiting was a much better choice for my inherent abilities. My parents weren’t too happy at first, but once I became successful, they turned around. If you have the raw innate talent, the odds are strong that you will enjoy what you do for a living. In addition to the natural ability, you will most likely work harder because it doesn’t seem like work since you’re good at it. Since you don’t mind working, it will feel natural to you. You will keep improving due to all the extra hours you’re putting in and the fact you’re actually happy with what you do for a living. This attitude will be noticed and you’ll be rewarded with promotions, career advancements and solicitations from competitors to join them.
2. Always add value to your company. Most people look for what’s in it for themselves—and it’s pretty obvious to everyone around them. Their actions scream out that they are looking out for number one (themselves) and couldn’t care less about anyone else. You need to view yourself differently—as someone who is committed to contributing to the team effort.
You want to ascertain what’s important to your manager and then deliver results. Make sure you understand the expectations of the job and exceed them. Take on all the assignments and responsibilities that you can. Come into work early and stay late. This is building the foundation for your future; it is in your best long-term self interest. Over time, people will recognize your work ethic, contributions and positive attitude. Your reputation will precede you and you’ll be sought out by managers—both internally and externally—for their jobs. We all want to hire someone who is a team player and strives to give it their all for the manager, group and company.
3. Passionately focus on what’s really important. Put a list together of the top 20 career goals and objectives that you have. Then, cull them down to about five. From there, hyperfocus on the top three. These will be the matters which will make you shine and get recognized. Instead of busily trying to do 20 things poorly, you will become an expert at only the absolute critical things. The hyperfocused mentality is what will make you stand out. You will become an expert in a few important areas and considerably more productive due to the laser-like attention to career-enhancing matters. Valuable time will be saved by avoiding chasing your tail on futile tasks that lead nowhere.
4. Ruthlessly, say “no.” All day long, people will encroach upon your time. They will ask for favors, invite you to tedious meetings, push you into going to certain so-called obligatory social functions and dump upon you busy-work assignments. The key is to say “no” to them.
If people constantly came up to you in the office and asked you for $20, you would naturally decline. Treat your time the same way. Your time is valuable and worth money. Every moment that you’re distracted with something that takes you away from your goals, it is time that you will never ever get back. Guard your precious time with the same vigilance that you would toward your life’s savings.
5. You are stronger, braver and tougher than you think. The corporate world is cold, competitive and cruel. You will be constantly subjected to backstabbing, rudeness and people trying to take advantage of you. It’s easy to acquiesce and give in or give up.
If you go on interviews, you will be harshly judged, criticized and subjected to rejection. It’s easy to protect your feelings and withdraw from the job search. Have faith and courage in yourself. Once you stand up for yourself, you will find out fairly quickly that you are significantly stronger than you think. When you finally confront a workplace bully, you will realize that you’re tougher than you once thought. After an interview goes south, you’ll consider what went wrong, make some corrections and realize that you deserve—and can get—that job.
This new braver mindset will take you to greater heights than you ever imagined.
6. Stop complaining. We all have co-workers that spend more time complaining, gossiping and blaming others rather than working. Those types of people never get anywhere at work or in life. They’ll never accept that it’s their poor attitude at fault. They will find a myriad of reasons to blame for their own inadequacies and never look in the mirror.
You need to be the person who arrives to work fresh and motivated. Have a good word and smile for everyone, including the janitor and CEO alike. Offer some cheer and encouragement to those in need. Be the go-to person for others to turn to for smart advice and guidance. In a sea of miserable people, you will shine brightly above the rest.
7. Be grateful. Don’t spend one moment worrying or caring about what others have or think. Too many people live their lives to please total strangers and do what they feel they’re supposed to do. Put aside all the societal pressures, as they are usually materialistic and mentally and emotionally destructive.
Set aside some time everyday to count your blessings. It’s too easy to look at your problems and feel bad. If you consider all the wonderful things in your life, it will reset your mind and make you happier. You will become more likable to others, which results in moving up the corporate ladder and real world.
Enjoy the spring season and use these seven steps as a starting point to successfully build your career and lead a more fulfilled and happier life.