Everyone dreams of a long, fruitful and rewarding career – but very few actually get to live this dream.
The reasons for this could be many – from a lack of opportunity, inability to decide what you want, the lack of a mentor to guide you or just plain and simple procrastination – something which each one of us is guilty of indulging in from time to time.
Whatever the reason may be, it has the potential to adversely impact your career growth and prevent you from realizing your true potential.
But contrary to popular perception, it’s quite simple actually to stay true to your career path and achieve your dream of scaling the pinnacle of success.
All it takes is a bit of discipline, faith in your abilities and the will to execute a few small, simple changes in your approach to your professional goals.
In this article I have listed 10 small changes that you need to make and follow if you wish to earn the accolades, rewards and all the other perks that come with a successful career.
1. Set Smaller Goals
Setting goals is important to forge ahead in any career.
But in our tearing rush to get ahead of the rest of the pack most of us tend to set difficult goals for ourselves which can be counterproductive.
You need to set smaller, easier and more achievable goals for yourself which will gradually lead to your final destination or the high-point of your career.
Setting difficult goals for yourself will only increase the pressure on you and also shake your self-confidence if you fail to achieve any or all of them.
2. Identify your Core Strengths
Getting ahead in one’s career is all about putting in your best performance on a sustained basis.
To do this, you need to first identify and align your performance with your core strengths.
In other words, you need to know what you’re really good at from a professional perspective and leverage these qualities to ensure you put in your best performance at all times.
Knowing and playing to your strengths will also help to keep you motivated and boost your morale to do more good work.
But do guard against getting over confident or complacent since it can easily undo all the hard work put in by you.
3. Connect with a Mentor
We all need an experienced guide sometimes to show us the right path and help us make the right decisions.
This goes for our career as well. Having a mentor to help you make the right choices and guide you along key milestones in your career can be a huge advantage.
It goes without saying that this person should be intelligent, well experienced and should know you well enough to give you sound advice when you need it the most.
Choosing a mentor from your own field/industry will also give you the added advantage of him/her being able to guide you with regard to industry-specific issues or company-related insights, as and when required.
4. Attend Career Events & Network
When was the last time you attended an event which was related to your career or industry?
Attending events related to your career or industry can be an excellent source for staying updated on the latest news and trends in your domain, getting to know the captains of your industry and are also among the best places to learn as well.
They are also a preferred means to build useful contacts and to network with the right people from your company/industry to take your career to the next level.
So if you haven’t been keeping track of industry events much less attending them, well, its time you did both.
5. Update your Resume
This is another simple yet important change you need to make to get the best out of your career.
Most people tend to underestimate the importance of an updated Resume, when the truth is just the opposite.
As a professional, you are learning new skills everyday while simultaneously getting the opportunity to flex and update your existing ones.
This needs to be adequately reflected in your resume which is a summary version of your professional journey.
Besides it should not take you more than 10-20 minutes to ensure that your resume is always updated with regard to your portfolio of work-related skills and achievements.
The advantage here is that the next time someone expresses interest in your work experience or skills you can straightaway hand him/her your updated Resume and hope for the best.
6. Read Various Job Postings
In today’s digital age, information is power and you can wield that power by reading articles, online posts and updates related to your career or industry.
This can also play the role of an important ally in your endeavor to get ahead.
For example if you’re planning on changing your job, reading the latest job posts will give you a better idea of existing industry openings and the qualifications and experience required to get the job.
It will also give you a clearer picture of what the current industry demands are with regard to your desired job profile, and what you need to do or learn to comply with the same so as to better your chances at securing better employment.
7. Seek Feedback about your Performance
Self-improvement is the key to success and one of the best way to do this is to seek honest feedback from your superiors/managers about your performance at work.
You can also approach your office colleagues and others who know you professionally to seek their opinion regarding your approach and overall work performance.
While you may take justifiable pride in the positive feedback that you receive, there is a possibility that some of it may be negative as well.
Don’t allow this to defeat you mentally, instead treat it as an heads-up about the areas that you need to work on – to improve your credibility and performance as a serious professional even further.
8. Share your Ideas
Every working professional has ideas – from how to improve the workplace to ways and means to enhance employee productivity.
I am quite sure you have your own ideas and suggestions regarding work issues as well.
If you do, don’t hesitate to share them with your colleagues and at all the right forums like an office meeting or a company conference for example.
You can also discuss them with your immediate superior and seek his ideas and feedback on your suggestions.
What this does is that it will project an image of you being a very proactive and hands on employee who is not just focused on doing his job well but is also equally concerned with larger issues that are in the company’s best interests.
Research has shown that such employees are generally considered a valuable asset by their employers and usually feature regularly in the company shortlist of candidates up for promotion.
9. Keep Challenging Yourself
Doing the same work every day can wear anyone done over a period of time and nobody likes to be stuck in a boring job.
Which is why it’s important to keep challenging yourself every once in a while.
And it doesn’t have to be a major challenge either. Even small things like learning a new skill at work, which may not be related to your job or helping out a colleague in some other department can make a huge difference.
The idea is to intentionally shake up your work routine by doing something which you may have never done before.
Not only will this make your work day more interesting but it will also help to keep you motivated, thereby boosting your overall productivity to a large extent.
10. Take Regular Breaks
Last but not the least, you can also better your professional future by taking regular breaks.