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The CEO’s Secret To Moving Up the Corporate Career Ladder

The CEO’s Secret To Moving Up the Corporate Career Ladder

Let’s face it, many try to climb the career ladder, but few succeed.

    As the CEO of Lifehack, I’ve seen a lot of employees trying to rise higher in their career, but unfortunately, the majority of them fail.

      What causes people to fail? In my experience, many of the people failing acted too aggressively – putting the bulk of their emphasis only on opportunities where they believed they could get promoted. On the other hand, some failures were too passive. They just did their jobs, while secretly hoping that they would get promoted one day. It rarely works like this.

      After many years watching the winners and losers, it’s clear to me that putting exclusive focus on climbing up the career ladder leads to failure. When a person’s eyes are on the ultimate result only (to be at the ‘highest point’ in their career), they tend to neglect important things like: personal growth, skills development and cooperation with other people. Not only do they neglect these things, but they fail to realize that these things are actually essentials for rising high and attaining recognition.

        The Five Essentials for Climbing the Ladder

          I’ve spent considerable time thinking about the fundamentals of career success, and it’s my belief that you must practice the five steps below if you’re to make your way up the career ladder.

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          1. Start with a blueprint in your mind.

          Do you know what your goals are? If not, you must take some time to identify them. Only once you precisely know what your goals are will you be able to see what it takes to get there.

          Don’t be overwhelmed by the size of your goals, but instead, set milestones and deadlines to motivate you to get things done. If necessary, break down big goals into small components.

          By doing the above, you’ll have a blueprint in your mind that will allow you to stay focused and motivated.

          As an example, if your goal is to be a professional musician, then you should devise a plan to reach that goal. It could look something like this:

          • Enrol in a full-time, professional music course.
          • Learn everything you can about music and your chosen instrument.
          • Spent a large chunk of your spare time in practising your chosen instrument.
          • Collaborate with others to build your skills and confidence.
          • Seek ways to make your playing, appearance and personality stand out from the crowd.

          A blueprint is a vital component for success – helping you to plan ahead, and keep track of your achievements.

          2. Based on the blueprint, work hard and work smart.

          To achieve your goals, you’ll need to work hard. However, that doesn’t have to mean working long hours. You should seek to work hard – but work smart too. This means putting effort, determination and focus into your work.

          In other words, make every hour you work count. Everything you do should help the company and yourself grow.

          You should also seek to contribute more, because this opens you up to additional learning opportunities – which will help you to grow.

          How to work smarter? Take a look at the time most people waste going through their emails. It can be hours a day. You can work smarter in this area by utilizing folders, color-coding and auto-responses. By implementing these functions, you can cut down on the amount of emails you receive, easily prioritize your emails, and make searching for old emails much simpler. All of this saves you time to get on with your real work!

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          3. Initiate more, don’t just execute.

          Do you go beyond what’s expected from your role? If not, you definitely should.

          For starters, make sure that you think often about what you can do to improve your work. Don’t just act according to what’s assigned to you. You should also provide feedback, opinions and ideas that will stimulate others.

          Don’t overestimate your own abilities, but do ensure that you go beyond your duties when you can. However, by doing this, you must be prepared to open yourself up to more possibilities for failures and mistakes. To counterbalance this, you will also have more lessons to learn from.

          Think of it this way, if all you do is the work given to you – then you will fail to impress your management team. For senior roles, managers will want go-getters who know how to take calculated risks and use their initiative.

          4. Align your efforts with your company’s goals.

          Your company’s strategies and goals may change once in a while, so it’s important that you keep up-to-date with them. Try to align your effort with these goals, or ask your company about how you can align your work with the direction in which the company is traveling.

          At Lifehack, team members constantly review their tasks and priorities to ensure that they are aligned with the company’s current strategies and goals.

          When your goals are aligned with your company’s goals – your efforts will directly contribute to the company’s direction, and the results will be stronger and more effective.

          5. Become an expert at something.

          Your skills and knowledge should be valuable resources to others. To help increase this, besides job-related skills, build skills that are outside the remit of your job. By doing this, you’ll open yourself up to more opportunities, including, mentoring possibilities and advancement.

          For instance, imagine that you work as an office administrator. The job mostly involves paperwork such as spreadsheets and letter writing. As you are determined to climb the career ladder, you choose to enroll in your own time in a course in office management. Here you learn vital skills such as health and safety rules, supplier coordination and people management. With the extra skills, you find yourself ideally-placed to snap up any office management vacancies that come your way – either within your company, or within a different company.

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          The Four Pillars of Success

            I’ve covered the five essentials for climbing the career ladder, but now I want to add some more tips to help you succeed.

            1. Be a good team player.

            Besides working on tasks, work on your relationships. This means supporting your co-workers, and mentoring them if necessary.

            If you can learn to work well with others, then you’ll quickly find that your work relationships become stronger and more positive. An unexpected benefit of this, is that with better relationships, you’ll find it easier to influence others. (This is a required trait if you’re to be successful in your chosen career.)

            A further benefit of harmonious relationships and teamwork, is that more work will get done – and it will be of a higher standard. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “Two heads are better than one.” In most cases this is absolutely true. For example, if you need to come up with ideas for your company’s annual staff conference, don’t try to do it all by yourself. Instead, ask a colleague or two for their input. You’ll most likely be amazed at what they come up with!

            2. Be generous.

            To be the best employee you can be, stay honest and communicate openly. You should also face challenges with others together – and celebrate good results with others too.

            Share tough works, and share credits. This is how you build good relationships with people you have to work with every day.

            I remember watching a colleague of mine (some years ago) being extremely generous with his time and knowledge when we had several apprentices in the office. He was super-passionate about wanting the apprentices to learn as much as possible, and to help them prepare for their working life. He must have done something right, as one of the apprentices ended up working for us!

            3. Network wisely.

            There is a basic truth in the world of business. The more people you know, and who know you (and like you) – the more opportunities you will encounter.

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            So, to help you succeed in your career, get out and about and meet people. Of course, make sure that you’re meeting the right ones – people who inspire you to grow, and people who you can exchange ideas with.

            Let’s say you work as a freelance graphic designer. Your workload is okay – but could be better. One way to potentially increase the amount of work offers you receive, is to join a local business networking club. Often these are an informal breakfast gathering of local business owners. As you chat over your coffee and croissant, you’ll be putting yourself and your services directly in front of people who may want to hire you. Try it and see!

            4. Keep a record of your own achievements.

            When you don’t keep your accomplishments in a paper or digital file, you may forget them.

            Your achievements should be measurable and quantifiable results that help to keep you focused and on track towards your major goals.

            Another benefit of keeping a record of your achievements, is that you can present this to your current (or future) boss, enabling them to easily and clearly see what you have accomplished.

            While pen and paper may be all you need, I personally recommend you take a look at some of the dedicated goal tracking apps, such as: GoalsOnTrack and Lifetick.

            Put the Principles into Practice

            If anyone tells you that there is a super-fast way to get to the top of the career ladder – it’s a lie.

            Growth is the foundation for climbing higher; and growth takes time. That “super-fast way” doesn’t allow for growth in a person. However, while it takes time to grow, there are ways to accelerate growth. How? By practicing the principles I’ve discussed above.

            Whatever your chosen career, keep learning and putting in effort to everything that aligns with your goals. In time, you’ll reap the rewards.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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            Leon Ho

            Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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            Last Updated on January 2, 2019

            Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

            Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

            The end of the year is the time when everyone tries to give you advice on how to live healthier, look better, and earn more money.

            It’s understandable if you find yourself lost among all the tips and opinions. Sometimes you no longer know what you truly want to achieve next year – and what’s just imposed by society.

            To help you out, we’ve made this article about the things you should remove from your new year’s resolution list – instead of adding to it – to make your daily life more harmonious and peaceful.

            So just make sure you cross these off your New Year’s to-do list – your body, mind and soul will be thankful.

            1. Stop Buying Meaningless Gifts

            We all know the sense of obligation – when we have to buy a gift for an event or celebration that’s already tomorrow, but we still have no idea of what to give.

            Take these tips close to heart for all upcoming holidays, including birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.:

            Stop focusing on the material objects

            Instead of focusing on what material object to give, think about the emotion you want to evoke[1] in the gift recipient, and then pick a symbolic gift that can support or represent that emotion. For example, you can gift coziness by presenting a “comfort set” with warm socks, tea, candles, etc. Or give motivation by presenting a beautiful planner or notebook.

            Plan gifts in advance

            We know this is easier said than done. But if you try to plan which gifts you’ll need in the upcoming months (try making a list three or four times a year), ideas will more likely come to mind and you’ll avoid that last-minute shopping. Not to mention, you’ll be able to keep an eye on sales to get the best prices.

            Suggest a better way

            If you’re tired of exchanging gifts for birthdays and holidays, initiate a different approach. For example, draw names among family members and agree that each one only buys a present to that one person they got. Alternatively, you can agree not to share gifts among adults, and only give presents to kids of the family. Or, ask friends to donate to charity instead of buying a gift for you.

            Go for common experiences instead of exchanging gifts

            You can agree (with your partner or the extended family) to go on a common trip, dinner or another activity, instead of spending money on gifts.

            Sometimes you’ll have to be the one who initiates breaking the rules that have been accepted in the family for years. But if you suspect that you’re not the only one in the group who’s tired of gift-hunting, you’ll surely find support for your suggestions.

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            2. Don’t Exaggerate with Diets and Fitness Resolutions

            It’s no secret that TV shows, article headlines, and ads (not to mention our healthy diet-obsessed friends) make us feel like we need to look better, slimmer and younger than we actually are. But going on yet another diet or starting a fitness plan with the wrong motivation rarely leads to great results.

            If you are like many people, you have probably signed up for an annual gym membership at least once in your life – only to drop it one month later.

            How do you balance a good resolution for a healthier life without pushing yourself into commitments that won’t last?

            Here’s what you can do:

            Set a healthier pattern

            For example, do meat-free Mondays or reduce meat consumption to three days per week (less saturated fat for you and better for the environment). Or choose to eat only healthy food at least three days a week or only on weekdays (e.g. make sure your meals contain vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and protein). This way you’ll already have a healthier diet while still being able to treat yourself with a snack on weekends or parties.

            Get a fitness watch

            Fitness watches like Fitbit or MiBand are tiny accessories that will count your steps, calories burnt and will serve as an excellent motivator to move – or to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

            Find a physical activity that you enjoy

            Even if you are not that fond of doing sports, you can definitely find an activity that you’d do with pleasure. Think about what you’d like – from taking up Nordic walking to pilates or even exercising at home.

            Try intermittent fasting

            This is an alternating cycles of fasting and eating. For example, stop eating at 8 pm and restart not sooner than 12 hours later. This approach has been proven to have numerous health benefits, in addition to weight loss.

            Skip cabs or driving to work and opt for cycling or walking instead

            You’ll burn calories, breathe some fresh air, and save money – win-win!

            3. Put a Cap on Your Daily To-Do List

            In today’s busy world, planning your day in a stress-free way is actually an art in itself. It’s natural to want to be a loving parent, a diligent employee, an active member of the local community and probably several other individual roles.

            But playing all these roles requires energy and meticulous planning. How not to lose yourself amidst all the appointments and responsibilities? And – most importantly – how to still find time for relaxing and recharging yourself?

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            These daily planning tips will help you have more stress-free days:

            Leave bigger intervals between meetings

            If you schedule too many appointments or chores in a day, you’ll probably end up late at some point, and as a result – more stressed. There are many different reasons why people are late, but poor planning is a major factor too.

            Plan time to relax

            As weird as it may sound, you should try and schedule your resting time. For example, if you only have one free evening this week, and a friend tries to squeeze in a meeting, feel free to say no. Don’t feel obliged to specify the reason for your refusal, just say that you are busy.

            Try to be a little pessimistic

            We’re often packed with plans or running late for errands because we tend to be overly optimistic – about the traffic, the time it takes to do things, etc. Instead, try an opposite tactic — assume you’ll hit traffic or the meeting will take longer.

            Try waking up earlier

            Sometimes even waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you the much-needed head start for several errands of the day. But remember to get enough sleep every night, even if it means going to bed earlier.

            Plan your day the day before

            Chances are your day will be much better organized if you pack a lunch and lay out an outfit before going to bed.

            Designate a time for checking emails and social messages

            If you start checking your messages between appointments, you risk getting lost in a sea of messages that need replies. Designate a time for this activity or do it in case you arrived early to a meeting.

            4. Let Go of Unhealthy and Time-Consuming Habits

            If there’s one thing we should get rid of in the new year, it’s the habits that steal our time, provide instant gratification but don’t offer any value in the long term. Or even worse, leave a negative impact on our health.

            Here are some common (and pointless) habits along with tips on how to get rid of them:

            Binge-watching TV series

            Even if most online television platforms offer you lists of “Best TV Shows to Binge Watch”, being addicted to series is a major time-waster.

            You can manage this addiction in several ways, for example, watch one episode per day (or a few per week) as a reward, only after you’ve finished an assignment or done a house chore. Or try replacing this habit with exercise or reading a book – this will be hard at first but should stick after a few weeks. You can also try to track how much time you spend on TV or movies – seeing how much of your life you are wasting might urge you to do something about it.

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            Running on coffee

            Being a coffee addict is kind of a stylish addiction nowadays, but it’s not that innocent as it may initially seem. Besides addiction being a problem in itself, drinking too much coffee (more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day) may lead to nervousness, insomnia, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.[2]

            As a solution, try switching to tea or edible coffee – a more sustainable, healthy, and productivity-enhancing alternative. For example, Coffee Pixels are solid coffee bars that generate a more even energy kick throughout the day without the coffee-induced abstinence and dehydration.

            Procrastination

            Fighting procrastination requires some serious willpower. If it is a problem in your daily life or work, try ”eating the frog” in the morning – get over your biggest or hardest tasks first, then tackle everything else.

            Alternatively, use time tracking software to monitor exactly how much time you waste on unproductive actions, websites or apps. Once you know exactly how much time you’re spending unproductively, try to limit your time on social media, for example to just 20 minutes per day.

            If nothing else works, try bribing yourself — promise yourself to do something fun or pleasant when you finish your assignment.

            Whichever habit you want to give up, consider using some habits building tools to make a contract with yourself and reward yourself for milestones achieved.

            5. Stop over-consuming

            We live in the age of consumerism – huge manufacturers with their promise of a comfortable life on the one hand, and growing environmental threats – that are the direct result of our modern lifestyle – on the other hand. There’s only one solution – try to consume less whenever and wherever you can.

            Before making additional purchases, ask yourself these questions:

            • Do I really need it? Did I need it yesterday?
            • Can’t I buy it used or borrow it from friends?
            • Can I rent it?
            • Can I make it myself?
            • Am I buying the most sustainable version of this product?

            For example, check if the brand you chose is conscious about the environment, for example, are the products they manufacture energy efficient? Do they try to use less packaging?

            Also, if you often find yourself buying too many groceries, promise to buy only the amount that fits in one shopping bag (that you bring along). If you often forget to take your shopping bag with you, get yourself a 2-in-1 wallet with a built-in shopping bag for more eco-friendly shopping.

            6. Learn to Unplug from Your Phone

            Today’s world is crammed with information, and many people struggle to keep focus on what’s truly important. There’s just too much going on in the world – too much to read, to watch, to know, too many conversations to participate in.

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            But how to refuse the temptation to check the phone and start using social media in a controlled, not a compulsive way?

            Some tips for managing your phone-dependency:

            Spend only a limited amount of battery per day

            For example, start your day with 50% battery life, and manage your phone usage so that you’ll make it till the evening.

            Block distracting apps and notifications on your phone and computer

            Choose one-hour, two-hour or longer blocking sessions and enjoy the positive impact this will have on your mood and productivity.[3]

            Set your phone on flight mode

            When you start doing an important task that requires full focus, set your phone on flight mode so that nobody can disturb you.

            Leave your phone at home or in the office when you go for lunch

            You’ll see that the feeling of being unreachable for a moment is actually very liberating.

            The Bottom Line

            As a new year begins, we’re all excitedly looking forward to what adventures await ahead of us.

            But this year, promise yourself this:

            Instead of having a never-ending list of tasks and commitments, focus on the truly meaningful ones. And cross-out all the rest without feeling guilty.

            Less is more. Make this year count. We’re all rooting for you.

            Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

            Reference

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