Your career is a lifelong journey − one that keeps evolving as it unfolds, and brings with it exciting new challenges at every turn! To take charge of your career and stay ahead, you must have a long-term plan. As is often quoted in leadership seminars, you must “Make a plan, or someone else will make one for you.” Wise words indeed.
Look for growth
Choose your company wisely. Look for a company that has huge potential for growth, rather than one that’s already a big name. Marissa Mayer was employee number 20 at Google, and was their first female engineer. She was noticed for her never-say-die attitude and commitment to fine detail, and gained valuable experience in many path-breaking divisions at Google. Today, she is the CEO of Yahoo and one of the most powerful women in global IT.
Would you rather be one of the first few employees in a company that’s set for success, or one of the last few in a company that’s on its last leg? Do not look for a job that pays better initially; look for one that’s poised for unique success.
Strategize, but be flexible
Where are you now, and where do you want to be? Unless you have a goal, you are unlikely to reach far. What is your next role to be? Define what is most important to you in your next role. It could be a strategic relocation, a certain job description, or a particular level in the company. Once you have a clear thought of what’s next, then be flexible – the same goal can be reached in multiple ways. If you are very rigid about your plan for success, you will probably ignore amazing opportunities.
Once you have your goal in mind, set smaller targets. It helps to start each day with a list of actionable tasks, but make sure that your list is doable and that you prioritize. After making sure that your most important tasks are addressed, you can roll over what’s left to the next day. If there is any item that keeps getting pushed, then maybe it’s not important and can be deleted.
Make a lifelong commitment to learning
The world never stops changing − which means you should never stop learning. Technology is developing at a frenetic pace and if you do not keep up, you will soon become a dinosaur and get left behind. To ensure continuous career growth you must keep learning, stay on top of new challenges and be able to adapt quickly as the world around you advances.
Build a habit of leaning into your weaknesses, and sign up for courses that help you build up what you aren’t good at. Are you very creative, but not into the latest digital design software? A technical course can put you on the right track. If you are a great worker but not good at planning, maybe you should sign up for a project management course. Invest time and effort in yourself and you can build the foundation for great career growth.
Get a mentor, and ask for advice.
Seek out a mentor at work who has been there and done that, and you can learn a ton from them. Peers who challenge you and give you honest, constructive criticism and feedback can take you a long way. If there is something you are not an expert in, never hesitate to ask for guidance.
It is never possible to solve every problem by yourself, and very often brainstorming with a colleague works wonders. Ask for ideas on how someone else would have handled your problem. Two or more heads are often better than one, and you can get amazing results with a little help. Make sure you give credit where it is due, though, or you could end up rubbing someone the wrong way!
Learn from your experience
Experience, it is said, is the best teacher. And at the risk of spouting too many clichés, failure is definitely a stepping stone to success! Learn from your mistakes and you can grow in your career.
Every evening, take a step back to reflect on what you have done that day. Did you make any mistakes? Note the most productive and least productive actions of your day. Think about why these actions led to these results. You can always work around your mistakes or shortcomings and achieve more the next day.
Above all, never ever regret anything that you have or haven’t done so far. Tomorrow is the start of a new day − make it count!