Achieving impressive, but consistent, career growth is every professional's dream. Yet, many believe that aiming for professional success is a difficult undertaking that often requires complex Machiavellian strategies or political tact. Not true. The best recipe for long term success is plain old PHP (planning, hard work, and persistence). Speaking of success, what actions if taken now will fire up your career and take you a step closer to your dreams? We have outlined a few simple tips.
Realize that you are in charge
Many individuals I come across are bright, talented, hard working professionals. Despite their tremendous potential, however, they are very passive when it comes to their career. When I ask them about their next career move or strategy, I often get a blank stare or a cold response: "I don't know." These individuals appear to be waiting, as if, for their boss or superior to grant the next promotion or to catalyze the next big thing, a wait that often translates into many wasted years -- precious years. It is very important to realize that you are in charge of your career, not someone else. Once this realization sinks in, the rest will follow automatically.
Develop an action plan
Where do you want to be in the next five years? ten? What can you do to take you closer to your long term goals? Answering these questions in detail will provide building blocks for your Action Plan.
Caveat: A plan that is conceptualized but not written will, most likely, [let's admit] not be executed, so it is critical for you to put the action plan on paper, on the wall, on the bulletin board -- wherever it will scream at you to take ACTION.
During all my coaching sessions I stress on doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What opportunities do you anticipate (or can create) in the coming year? And how can you grab them (literally)? Do you perceive any threats to your professional ambitions?
Get the dust off your resume
How often do you update your resume? Once every few years, right? Not a good strategy. At the end of every work week you must make a list of achievements for that week. These regular reports will be a big help when it is time to actually update your resume.
Establish a PD (professional development) budget
We are living in the Information Age, an age where knowledge moves faster than fashion. Unless you participate in ongoing professional development, your skills will soon be, well, obsolete. Continuously investing in professional development -- training, professional associations, education, certifications, professional literature, etc. -- will help you stay abreast with the latest advances in your field, and also a step above the competition. Set aside an annual budget (if your employer doesn't sponsor) for your professional development and growth. This will be your wisest investment ever.
Achievers constantly compete with themselves, always pushing the bar to deliver more with each attempt. Push yourself to perform better. Aim for 110%, 120% ....
Become a valuable resource
Do people come to you for advice? If not, take steps to become an expert in your profession or area of interest. From internal employees to the media, you must be looked upon as a valuable resource. Regularly seek out publishing (articles, books, etc.), networking, and public speaking opportunities.