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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 April 6, 2020

How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

Turning 50 is a milestone in anyone’s life, after all you are half way to 100! But seriously, turning 50 is often a time in life when people can sit back and take a look at where they’ve been and contemplate what the future holds.

Can you change careers at 50? It’s not uncommon for people in their 50’s to consider a career change, after all if you’ve spent 20 to 30 years in a career, chances are that some of the bloom is off the rose.

Often, when we are starting out in our 20’s, we choose a career path based on factors that are no longer relevant to us in our 50’s. Things like our parents’ expectations, a fast paced exciting lifestyle or the lure of making a lot of money can all be motivating factors in our 20’s.

But in our 50’s, those have given way to other priorities. Things like the desire to spend more time with family and friends, a slower paced less stressful lifestyle, the need to care for a sick spouse or elderly parents can all contribute to wanting a career change in your 50’s.

Just like any big life changing event, changing careers is scary. The good news is that just like most things we are scared of, the fear is mostly in our own head.

Understanding how to go about a career change at 50 and what you can expect should help reduce the anxiety and fear of the unknown.

What are Your Goals for a Career Change?

As in any endeavor, having properly defined goals will help you to determine the best path to take.

What are you looking for in a new career? Choosing a slower less stressful position that gives you more time with family and friends may sound ideal, but you’ll often find that you’re giving up some income and job satisfaction in the process.

Conversely, if your goal is to quit a job that is sucking the life from your soul to pursue a lifelong passion. You might be trading quality time with family and friends for job satisfaction.

Neither decision is wrong or bad, you just need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of any decision you make.

Types of Career Changes at 50+

There are four main types of career changes that people make in their 50’s. Each type has it’s unique set of challenges and will very in the degree of preparation required to make the change.

Industry Career Change

In this career change, a person remains in the same field but switches industries.

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With an industry change, a person takes their set of skills and applies them to an industry that they have no previous experience in.

An example would be a salesperson in the oil and gas industry becoming a salesperson for a media (advertising) company. They are taking their skill set (selling) and applying it to a different industry (media).

This type of career change is best accomplished by doing a lot of homework on the industry you want to get into as well as networking within the industry.

Functional Career Change

A functional career change would be a change of careers within the same industry.

For example, an accountant at a pharmaceutical company who changes careers to become a human resources manager. It may or may not be with the same company, but they remain within the pharmaceutical industry. In this case, they are leaving one set of skills behind (accounting) to develop a new set (human resource) within the same industry.

In a functional career change, new or additional training as well as certifications may be required in order to make the switch. If you are considering a functional career change, you can start by getting any training or certifications needed either online, through trade associations or at your local community college.

Double Career Change

This is the most challenging career change of all. A person doing a double career change is switching both a career and an industry.

An example of a double change would be an airline pilot quitting to pursue their dream of producing rock music. In that case, they are leaving both the aviation industry and a specific skill set (piloting) for a completely unrelated industry and career.

When considering a double career change, start preparing by getting any needed training or certifications first. Then you can get your foot in the door by taking an apprenticeship or part time job.

With a double change, it’s not uncommon to have to start out at the bottom as you are asking an employer to take a chance on someone without any experience or work history in the industry.

Entrepreneurial Career Change

Probably one of the most common career changes made by people in their 50’s is the entrepreneurial career change.

After 20 to 30 years of working for “Corporate America”, a lot of people become disillusioned with the monotony, politics and inefficiency of the corporate world. Many of us dream of having our own business and being our own boss.

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By this time in our life, we have saved some money and the financial pressures we had with young children have passed; so it’s a perfect time to spread our entrepreneurial wings.

Entrepreneurial career changes can be within the same industry and using your existing knowledge and contacts to start a similar business competing within the same industry. Or it can be completely unrelated to your former industry and based on personal interests, passions or hobbies.

A good example would be someone who played golf as a hobby starting an affiliate marketing website selling golf clubs. If you are considering an entrepreneurial career change, there are a lot of very good free resources available on the internet. Just be sure to do your homework.

Practical Tips on Making a Career Change at 50+

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and make a career switch in your 50’s. No matter what your reasons or what type of a career change you are embarking on, here are some helpful hints to make the transition easier:

1. Deal with the Fear

As stated earlier, any big life change comes with both fear and anxiety. Things never seem to go as smoothly as planned, you will always have bumps and roadblocks along the way. By recognizing this and even planning for it, you are less likely to let these issues derail your progress.

If you find yourself becoming discouraged by all of the stumbling blocks, there are always resources to help. Contacting a career coach is a good place to start, they can help you with an overall strategy for your career change as well as the interview and hiring process, resume writing / updating and more. Just Google “Career Coach” for your options.

I also recommend using the services of a professional counselor or therapist to help deal with the stress and anxiety of this major life event.

It’s always good to have an unbiased third party to help you work through the problems that inevitably arise.

2. Know Your “Why”

It’s important that you have a clear understanding of the “why” you are making this career change. Is it to have more free time, reduce stress, follow a passion or be your own boss?

Having a clear understanding of you personal “why” will influence every decision in this process. Knowing your “why” and keeping it in mind also serves as a motivator to help you reach your goals.

3. Be Realistic

Take an inventory of both your strengths and weaknesses. Are your organizational skills less than stellar? Then, becoming a wedding planner is probably not a good idea.

This is an area where having honest outside input can be really helpful. Most of us are not very good at accurately assessing our abilities. It’s a universal human trait to exaggerate our abilities while diminishing our weaknesses.

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Requesting honest feedback from friends and co-workers is a good place to start, but this is another area where a career coach can come in handy.

4. Consider an Ad-Vocation

Sometimes, making a career change all at once is just too big of a change. Issues like a severely reduced income, geography and lack of benefits can all be impediments to your career change. In those cases, you may want to start your new career as an ad-vocation.

An ad-vocation is a second or ad-on vocation in addition to your primary vocation. Things like a part-time job, consulting or even a side business can all be ad-vocations.

The benefit of having an ad-vocation is being able to build experience a reputation and contacts in the new field while maintaining all the benefits of your current job.

5. Update Your Skills

Whether it means acquiring new certifications or going back to school to get your cosmetology licence, having the right training is the foundation for a successful career change.

The great thing about changing careers now is that almost any training or certifications needed can be free or at very little cost online. Check with trade associations, industry websites and discussion groups for any requirements you may need.

Learn How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive.

6. Start Re-Branding Yourself Now

Use the internet and social media to change the way you present yourself online.

Changing your LinkedIn profile is a good way to show prospective employers that you are serious about a career change.

Joining Facebook groups, trade associations and discussion boards as well as attending conventions is a great way to start building a network while you learn.

Here’re some Personal Branding Basics You Need to Know for Career Success.

7. Overhaul Your Resume

Most of us have heard the advice to update our resume every six months, and most of us promptly ignore that advice and only update our resume when we need it.

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When making a career change, updating is not enough; this calls for a complete overhaul of your resume. Chances are that your current resume was designed around your old career which may or may not apply to your new goals.

Crafting a new resume emphasizing your strengths for the new position your looking for is key. There are many places that will help you craft a resume online and it is a service included with most career coaching services.

8. Know Your Timeline

There are a lot of factors when it comes to how long it will take to make the career change.

Industry and Functional career changes tend to be the easiest to do and therefore can be accomplished in the shortest period of time. While the Double Career Change and the Entrepreneurial Career Change both require more effort and thus time.

There are also personal factors involved in the time it will take to switch careers.

Generally speaking the more you are willing to be flexible with both compensation and geography, the shorter time it will take to make the switch.

Final Thoughts

Changing careers at anytime can be stressful, but for those of us who are 50 or above, it can seem to be an overwhelming task fraught with pitfalls and self doubt.

Prospective employers know the benefits that come with more mature employees. Things like a wealth of experience, a proven work history and deeper understanding of corporate culture are all things that older workers bring to the table.

And while the younger generation may possess better computer or technical skills than us, if you’re willing to learn, there are a ton of free or nearly free resources available to you.

Deciding on a career change at 50 is a great way to experience life on your own terms.

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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