Like most individuals, you probably have big dreams for your career, like becoming a C-level executive or developing 20 new skills to add to your resume. While having professional goals of epic proportions is important, many people don’t know how to bridge the gap between where they are today and where they envision themselves in the future.
The secret sauce here is quite simple: Think smaller.
Let me be clear – always hold yourself to high standards. But, in order to achieve greatness, you need to start setting smaller goals for yourself along the way. These bite-sized goals serve as stepping stones on your journey to advancing your career and realizing success. By establishing a series of smaller, achievable goals, it’ll lead to higher job satisfaction and fulfillment in the long run.
So, how do you begin advancing professionally? Here are four simple habits to incorporate into your daily routine that’ll have a positive impact on your career.
Tap into Your Curiosity
Increasing your knowledge and continuously seeking out learning opportunities is a no-brainer when it comes to developing yourself as a professional. And the best part? It’s easy to do and can completely transform your abilities in the workplace. Ask a colleague to explain a concept that’s foreign to you, enlist the help of a friend to teach you a new program or software, ask your boss what actions they took to progress to where they are today, and exercise curiosity wherever you go – whether it be in meetings, at a networking event, when you interact with another department, or just sitting at your desk.
The goal is to begin widening your breadth of knowledge and understanding, especially around areas of work that would normally have you scratching your head in bewilderment. Afraid your questions will sound “dumb?” Please chuck those thoughts right out the window, because asking questions shows you’re engaged, smart, and invested in your professional growth.
Start Reading More
You don’t need to bury yourself in a new, 800-page book every week to add reading to your list of things to do. Reading comes in all shapes and sizes and can be accessed through a multitude of outlets. Subscribe to blogs in your industry/field, commit to reading 10 pages of a book before bed each night, download a podcast, or listen to an audiobook while commuting to work each day. Don’t know where to start? Try The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg or You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero.
Staying up-to-date on the latest industry news, exploring new ideas, engaging with new voices and perspectives, and participating in conversations via social platforms are all effective ways to begin dipping your toes into the knowledge pool. By doing this, you’ll also improve your communication skills, as you’ll be exposed to different levels of written communication. Find resources that motivate and inspire you, so you don’t feel like you’re back in school struggling to complete another homework assignment.
Grab a Pen or Keyboard and Write
While you’ll probably never hear someone say they keep a journal as a strategy to further their career, it is without a doubt an extremely valuable way to gather your thoughts, record ideas, jot down things you’ve learned, track your progression towards your goals, and most importantly, clear your mind, so you can approach your work with a fresh perspective. As you begin journaling, you can look back on past entries and visibly witness all the accomplishments you’ve made in the past month or year.
Journaling isn’t the sole outlet for putting a pen to paper. You can also begin blogging, volunteer to write for your company’s website or newsletter, craft your own LinkedIn article, post on social media, undertake a freelance project, or engage in group discussions on sites like Facebook or Reddit.
While a majority of people are on social media multiple times a day, the focus usually doesn’t lie in connecting and engaging with others. While I’m a strong proponent for reaching out to your network to grab a latte at Starbucks and chat, this isn’t a task you can shoulder every single day.
An easier way to build relationships and engage your network is to like and comment on work-related/appropriate posts. Additionally, if someone recently changes jobs or you haven’t spoken to a colleague in a while, send them a private message to catch up. You never know when you might need to call upon one of these individuals for a reference, sales opportunity, or general career advice.
It’s easy to become complacent and fall into a daily routine where learning falls to the wayside. By adding these simple habits to your weekly regimen, you’ll begin seeing a positive impact on your career. After all, those who set and accomplish goals have a greater chance of receiving a promotion or raise and typically hold a higher productivity level.