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14 Signs Of People Who Advance Rapidly In Their Careers

14 Signs Of People Who Advance Rapidly In Their Careers

Have you ever wondered why some people advance rapidly in their careers and others don’t? Would you like to climb the ladder of success but don’t know how? Here are 14 traits of people who achieve great things by working strategically that can help catapult your career, too.

1. They Have a Clear Vision

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Successful people have a clear vision of what they want to do and don’t waver from it. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner not only aspired to reach the top of his profession but also to empower the workplace by managing compassionately. Jack Canfield, co-author of the mega-successful Chicken Soup for the Soul series, set his intention to “inspire and empower people to live to their highest vision in a context of love and joy” BEFORE writing his first book.

These sorts of personal mission statements enable professionals to go far in their chosen areas. What about you? Take the first step towards advancing your career by creating a clear vision statement of what you want to achieve in your field. Do you want to be a manager and leader? Say so!

2. They Aim High

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” ~ Steve Martin

Those who rise rapidly up the ranks strive for excellence. They have a strong determination to succeed, constantly seek to improve themselves, and do outstanding work. To add ambition to your career plan, act as though you’ve already accomplished what you wrote down for your vision statement and take it up a notch. Describe what the next level would look like for you, and make THAT your vision statement. Don’t settle for less than what you really want.

3. They Believe in Themselves

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford

People who get ahead in their careers express confidence in themselves and their work. They’re not arrogant or boastful (signs of low self-esteem). They’re simply certain of what they’re doing. When they don’t have the answers they openly admit it. They seek out the information they need and trust themselves to make good decisions.

The next time you’re worried about giving a presentation at work, take a moment to jot down 10 things you’ve accomplished in your life that you’re proud of and let that sense of certainty wash over you. Afterwards assess what worked and pat yourself on the back for it. Then determine what needs improvement and make revisions so that your next talk is even better.

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4. They Take the Initiative

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” ~ Wolfgang von Goethe

Rather than waiting for something to happen, those who advance rapidly in their careers take the initiative. For example, if the boss is on vacation and the company runs out of materials, they’re the ones who order more and suggest putting a new procurement procedure in place. They make opportunities for themselves and ask for the positions and salary they want.

To advance your career, be pro-active. Use your vision statement to generate goals for yourself, your department, and your company. Get specific about when, where, and how you’ll achieve them by breaking them down into sub-goals. Do the easiest one first to start gaining momentum.

5. They Stay Focused

“I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.” ~  Jose N. Harris

In today’s world of information overload, we need to stay focused to succeed. Those who are promoted quickly keep their eye on the ball no matter what happens around them. When work gets chaotic, projects collapse, and funds run low, they actively search for pockets of time to accomplish their goals anyway. They are disciplined, do things step by step, and finish what they start.

To stay focused on what’s important, make it a practice to record your goals for each week the weekend before. Then review them each morning before you start your day and tackle the hardest thing first. That way you’ll ensure you keep making progress during uncertain times.

6. They Use Failure as Feedback

“Failure gives you a chance to refine your approach. You’re taking risks more and more intelligently.” ~ Pete Athans (climbed Mt. Everest 7 times)

No one likes to fail  But when things don’t go as planned, people who succeed in their careers take responsibility. They don’t blame others or beat themselves up. Instead they reflect on what limiting thoughts or destructive habits could have led to the undesirable outcome. They understand that setbacks are natural, learn from their “mistakes,” and use the negative experience to improve their performance in the future.

The next time you fail, rather than getting upset and feeling like a victim, calmly ask yourself “What do I need to do differently next time to get the result I want?” View it as an opportunity to grow, course correct, and move forward using the information you gleaned from objectively studying the situation.

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7. They Crave Criticism

“He who wants a rose must respect the thorn.” ~ Persian proverb

Sir Richard Branson purposefully embeds “mavericks” into every Virgin company to ensure its success because he knows that yes men kill innovation. Those who succeed quickly in their fields ask for feedback, learn from it, and use it to refine their approach.

If someone criticizes you in the workplace, take a deep breath and determine whether the naysayer has a point. Consider the source. If you trust the person and the feedback resonates, integrate it into the way you do things and do better next time.  (Yes, I know this one is tough.)

8. They Change with the Times

“The things we fear most in organizations – fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances – are the primary sources of creativity.” ~  Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science

The world is changing at a rapid pace. Those who move ahead promptly in their careers don’t hold tightly to the status quo. They are open and flexible and seize opportunities the moment they present themselves. They are flexible with the changing demands of the business, generate new ideas, and suggest ways to integrate innovation into business strategies.

To climb the ladder of success, make it a priority to keep up with what’s happening your area of expertise and related fields. Invite smart people out to lunch, take classes, and read. Update your skills to stay cutting-edge and constantly alter your goals to keep current.

9. They Follow Their Passions

“If you don’t love something, you’re not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much.”  ~  Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs passionately studied calligraphy and his aesthetic sense still distinguishes Apple products today. Those who reach the top of their fields follow what has heart and meaning in their lives. They choose to work for companies that share their values or they work for themselves. Business based on hobbies are more likely to turn a profit because these entrepreneurs persevere during tough times, even if  they don’t make money initially, because they love what they do.

If you’re in a job that doesn’t bring out the best in you, do something else. Find companies that align with your vision statement. Or if the entrepreneurial lifestyle appeals to you, ask yourself how you can you turn your passion into a business you love.

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10. They Have A Good Sense of Timing

“You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.” ~ Yogi Berra

According to Bill Gross’s recent TED talk, the number one factor that accounts for why start ups succeed is that their product came out at the right time. Those who soar in their fields have a good sense of timing.

To move ahead at work, keep abreast of what’s happening in your workplace and the world at large. Watch for changing trends and get a sense for when the time is right to release a new product or seek a promotion.

11. They Surround Themselves with Winners

“Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.” ~  Lee Iacocca

Bill Gross found that the second most important factor that allowed startups to succeed was that they were based on strong teams. Those who excel in their industries know they can’t achieve their vision alone. They surround themselves with great teams and find powerful mentors to guide them.

To succeed in your career, carefully choose who you spend time with. Success rubs off. So does failure. Don’t get sidetracked by people who aren’t on track. Surround yourself with positive successful people both inside and outside of work.

12. They Stay Consistent

“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.” ~ Tony Robbins

Those who rise to the top put consistent energy into their personal and professional lives rather than expending marathon energy. They achieve goals step by step and stay in constant contact with their staff, colleagues, and customers. They take breaks from heavy work schedules to maintain balance and ensure that they don’t run out of energy.

To avoid burnout and attain more consistency in your work, turn your goals into action items with due dates and space them out on your calendar so that they are achievable. Make sure to focus on your top one or two priorities. Tick off each goal as you reach it. That way you’ll be much less likely to lose touch with an important client or drop the ball on a game-changing plan.

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13. They Persevere

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” ~  Steve Jobs

Success is not a straight line path to the top, but encompasses many troughs and valleys. Steve Jobs was fired from his own company (Apple), then founded NeXT and Pixar, and in the end returned to Apple. By the time she won Bammy’s Best NEW Artist Award, Gwen Stefanie had been singing with No Doubt for 10 years. Thomas Edison was fired from several jobs but kept his true passion for inventing and eventually obtained 1,093 patents. People who flourish in their careers keep the long game in mind.

When the path gets bumpy and you find yourself starting to give up, try a different method, route, or alternative to get what you want. Remember you always have options, and that you’re in good company if it’s taking longer than you thought to get where you want to go.

14. They Know When to Stop

“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered to be successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.” ~  Zig Ziglar

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, people who succeed don’t work hard all the time. They take breaks when they experience diminishing returns, and have closing rituals to end their day. They organize their files, straighten their desks, and make a list of what to do tomorrow.

To succeed in your career, leave work at work and enjoy your hobbies, family, and friends during your time off. You’ll make room for breakthroughs and come back refreshed.

The good news is you don’t have to prioritize career advancement over everything else in your life to succeed in your profession. Work smart instead. You’ll get to the top fastest if you make a commitment to learn and hone these 14 skills of people who advance rapidly in their vocations. They’re not just reserved for career rock stars; you can master them, too. Why not start today?

Featured photo credit: Roger Stewart via blink.hdrinc.com

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Dr. Michelle Millis Chappel

Michelle is a psychology-professor-turned-rock-star who has helped thousands of people create successful meaningful lives by using their superpowers.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

Reference

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