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Top 7 Things You Can Do Today to Transform Your Career

Top 7 Things You Can Do Today to Transform Your Career

Advancing your career can come in many shapes. But there are specific things you can do today to transform it.

Most of us try dozens of non-impactful activities that can only advance our career by 10, 20% at the most. We should be focusing on smaller activities that can have a major impact.

Today, we’re going to share the top 7 things you can do today to transform your career. Hope you enjoy!

1. Seek Out a Mentor

There’s no need to reinvent the wheels when it comes to having a successful career. No matter what industry or dream you have, it’s very likely that someone has already achieved what you want. They’ve made mistakes and learned the hard lessons that you could learn from, so you don’t have to make the same type of mistakes yourself.

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Where to start: A mentor doesn’t have to be someone you have a real-life relationship with. Getting in touch and building a relationship with a mentor takes work, but anyone has access to a mentor in today’s information age. You can pick up a biography of someone you admire, listen to their podcasts, watch their interviews, etc. Instead of having one mentor, you can have ten mentors that each provide a unique perspective of life and career.

2. Learn How to Speak a Foreign Language

Learning a language can add between 10–15% to your wage. According to The Economist, these are the breakdowns by the most useful languages to learn for annual bonuses:

  • Spanish — 1.5 percent bonus
  • French — 2.3 percent bonus
  • German — 3.8 percent bonus

If money is not your only motivation, keep in mind that these bonuses were awarded because bilingual employees were shown to be more valuable to employers they worked for. Being more valuable in the marketplace can open you up to new and greater opportunities (even around the world if you learn a second language), provide you with more freedom, and ultimately a greater purpose to your career.

Where to start: If you want to advance your career with a foreign language, it’s best to focus your attention on becoming a better speaker of your target language, since most of your language skills will be used towards communicating with other people, whether it’s clients, partners, and co-workers.

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Learning a language may seem difficult at first if you have a full-time job, but you can use online websites to start learning a language online with professional language teachers, any time of the day, any day of the week. Lessons are usually just 30 mins each, so you can fit it into your schedule, no matter how busy you are.

3. Practice Your Public Speaking Skills

When Warren Buffett was asked what’s the most important skill you can learn, he said “improving your communication skills.” It’s a life-long skill that will become increasingly more useful to learn as you advance your career, and it can be the single factor differentiating you when the competition gets stiff.

Where to start: Check out your local Toastmasters to be surrounded by a supportive community of fellow learners. You’ll receive constructive feedback, provide feedback to others, and grow together as professional public speakers. It’s one of the best ways to get practice for beginners and even advanced speakers.

4. Enroll Into an Online Course

Online education is without a doubt the way we’ll learn anything in the future. The benefits of learning online are vast, from being able to learn anywhere, anytime that works for you, and at an affordable rate (often free).

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Taking courses online to learn a new skill related to your work or future industries you want to enter can be a great investment to the advancement of your career. The good news is that there are more places to get started than ever.

Where to start: The list of places to enrol into online courses is endless. You can check out Udemy, Skillshare, CreativeLIVE, or non-profit organisations like edX, which streams lectures from the top universities around the world, including Harvard, Yale, and Stanford.

5. Do More For Your Network Than Ever Before

While most people try to do everything they can to expand their network, they don’t do nearly enough to nurture the current network they already have. You’ll be surprised how much you can benefit from just adding more value to your network, because it’s likely that whoever you want to meet is just one or two connections apart from the people you already know.

Where to start: List ten people that you admire most in your current network, and the people that you think can advance your career. Send a gift, take them out for coffee, and become involved in their community (if they have a blog, podcast, etc.). Focus on doubling down on the quality of people in your network, rather than spreading yourself too thin.

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6. Travel to a Place That Makes You Uncomfortable

This may appear irrelevant at first. But some of my biggest career moves have been when I’ve travelled the world alone to foreign places like Colombia, Argentina, or Peru. By putting yourself in these uncomfortable situations, and isolating yourself from the day-to-day distractions, you can reflect on what you truly want out of your career, and think on a higher level than you do normally.

Where to start: There’s no better way to start travelling than to pick a location and book your flight ticket.

7. Become Better At Managing Your Time

In order to do any of the things we mentioned above in this article, you’re going to have to get better at managing your time. Everyone has the same number of hours in the day, but those that can be more productive will get more done, learn more skills, and grow faster in life and career. Getting a few more things done per day may not seem critical, but when you repeat the same process every day for a year, two years, five years, than the gap increases exponentially.

Where to start: Read more books and articles about how to manage your time properly. A good book to start with is Getting Things Done by David Allen, and using productivity tools to complement your time management tactics.

More by this author

Sean Kim

Sean is the founder and CEO of Pulsing. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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