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Tap Into Success on the Job with These Long Term Career Goals Tips

Tap Into Success on the Job with These Long Term Career Goals Tips

I’ve been very lucky in my career to have worked with some amazing people. People who built their careers on the back of hard work, passion and focus.

But the most successful of these people had something else. Hard work, passion and focus were there but to get to the very top you need more than just these things.

In this article, I will give you seven other traits so you can use to form your own career goals that will help you to build a successful career.

1. Know what you want.

This one might seem obvious, but many people never take the time to think carefully about what they want to do in their career. They accept jobs in industries or departments they have no interest in and soon find themselves settled into a career of misery and complaining.

It always amazes me how people spend more time planning their annual summer holiday than they do their career.

If you want to build success in your work, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to do and where you want to go. You need that North Star to guide you in your decisions and to keep you focused on where you are going.

Without that clarity, you will drift from one roll to another never building any momentum towards your ultimate career goal.

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2. Ask yourself: What skills are you lacking?

When we begin our working lives, we have the academic skills but lack many practical skills.

When you know what you want to do with your career, you can identify the skills you will need. Soft skills such as relationship building, the ability to collaborate with others and your productivity all form part of these skills and you need to make sure you are developing them.

Invest in yourself and for those skills that do not develop naturally, find the courses online or the books and study. Once you have studied these skills, make sure you put them into practice. This one tip will put you ahead of 98% of your colleagues who treat their work as just a job that pays them money to live.

3. Know that success leaves a path.

I teach this one to all of my clients. In every industry, there are examples of people who started at the bottom and worked their way up to become industry leaders. Examples like Satya Nadella at Microsoft and Jony Ive at Apple. These people were not founders or entrepreneurs, they worked their way up to the top from the bottom. In doing so, they left clues.

Whatever company you are in there will be people who began at the bottom and worked their way up to become leaders. How did they do that? What books did they read? What courses did they take?

I remember when I worked in the hotel industry. One of my mentors began as a receptionist. Louise rose to become the General Manager of my home city’s top hotel. She did this through having a clear goal, diligence and always putting the guest first. She was tough but fair.

I learnt from Louise that every time you come into work, the guest was always the top priority and to always be respectful of your colleagues.

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Find that one person in your industry that rose from the bottom and work out the path they took to get to where you want to be in the future. Then map out your own path that reflects the path already taken to the top.

4. Watercooler gossiping will not help your career.

I know it is always tempting to be the popular one in your office. To be the one everyone wants to hang out with and the one to go to when there’s some gossip to share. Don’t get involved.

Being the ‘office gossip” will sink your career faster than anything else. If you are serious about building a successful career, you do not have time to get involved in all this gossiping, complaining and time wasting.

You don’t have to ignore your colleagues, but never indulge them by listening to the gossip. Make your excuses and get back to work. This one tip will safeguard your career more than any other tip.

5. When at work, work.

Your workplace is not a social club. It is a place to do the work you were employed to do.

Of course being polite and friendly towards your colleagues is important, but never forget you are there to do work. Do it. Avoid getting yourself drawn into long conversations about last night’s episode of Elementary or your local football team’s performance.

There is a time and place for these conversations, but it is not on company time. When at work, do your work. Lunchtimes and after work is the right time to discuss the sporting prowess of your team’s star striker.

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6. Have a ‘how can I do it better?’ mindset.

One of the qualities I have seen in all successful career builders is they have a ‘how can I do it better?’ mindset. They are always asking themselves how they can do their work better, or how could they have solved that problem better.

It is a mindset of continuous self-improvement and it is a practice that can catapult you to the top faster than anything else.

Look for parts of your work that is duplicated and figure out ways to reduce the duplication.

Often new working practices are welded on to old working practices and this leads to inefficiencies and duplication. Find those inefficiencies and develop better ways of doing that work. This habit is always appreciated by your bosses and tells them you are serious about your work.

7. Model the behaviors of the most successful person in your industry.

This one was the best tip I was ever given when I began my career. Find the person at the top and work out how they got there. This does not necessarily mean the person at the top of your company, it means the person at the top of your industry.

If you are an architect, find out how Sir Frank Foster built his career. If you are a writer, find out how Stephen King built his career.

These people have shown you how to do it, and they left clues. Read everything you can about them, learn from them and model their work habits.

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Modelling does not mean copying. It means taking the traits they used and adapting them to work best for you.

My legal hero was a British lawyer, George Carmen QC. When I began my legal career, I read everything I could about George Carmen QC. I learned that the key skill that led to his success was his ability to communicate with juries. He was a brilliant communicator and I realized the one skill I could learn that would have a huge impact on my career was the ability to communicate with people.

While I did not ultimately follow a legal career, that skill of being good at communicating has served me well in all the industries I have worked in.

Whatever career path you are following, these tips will serve you well. Creating clear goals around them will give you the advantages you need to build a wildly successful career. They are tested, they work and all you need to do is to adapt them so they work for you.

Featured photo credit: unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

The world of productivity has several hacks or tricks to help you manage your time: to-do lists, the Pomodoro Technique, Parkinson’s Law… All of these strategies are great strategies in their own way, but one strategy stands above all the others: the 80 20 rule.

This particular strategy has been used the most and is regarded as the most helpful in developing time management and other concepts in life.

But what’s so special about this rule? How does it give you success and how do you use it? Let’s explore the specifics.

What Is the 80 20 Rule?

Many people regard this rule as the 80 20 rule, but it has a proper name: the Pareto Principle[1]. The principle was named after its founder,  the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in society were divided into two categories:

  • The “vital few,” which consisted of the top 20 percent with respect to money and influence.
  • The “trivial many,” otherwise known as the bottom 80 percent.

As he researched this further, he came to discover that this divide didn’t apply only to money and influence, but other areas, too. Virtually all economic activity was subject to his previous observation.

He observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth at the time was controlled by only 20% of the population.

Since the development of this rule, humankind has used this particular ratio in all kinds of situations. Even if the ratio isn’t always exact, we see this rule applied in many industries and in life. Examples are:

  • 20% of sales reps will generate 80% of your total sales.
  • 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits.
  • 80% of the revenue will stem from 20% of the workers.

Either way, I’m sure you can piece together why people call this rule the 80 20 rule over Pareto’s Principle[2].

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Make Your Life and Your Business More Efficient with the 80-20 Rule - Salesforce Canada Blog

    In terms of how this particular rule will be able to work for you, it’s a matter of applying this rule to how you spend your time. For us to see success, the goal is simple.

    We need to set it up in such a way that 20% of our input is responsible for 80% of our results.

    Another way to think about it is we use 20% of our time on activities that give us 80% of our results in a given area of life.

    How Does the 80 20 Rule Work?

    To best explain this, let’s visualize a bit.

    In an ideal world:

    • Every employee would contribute the same amount of effort to work.
    • Every feature that’s released for an app or product would be equally loved by users.
    • Each business idea you come up with would be a hit.

    In that scenario, planning would be a breeze. There wouldn’t be any need to analyze anything so long as you put in the effort.

    But that’s not reality.

    Yes, the effort is certainly an element, but what the 80 20 principle states is that everything is unequal. Invest in 10 start-up companies, and you’ll find only a few will pass year two and make it big. You’re in a team of five, and there’ll be one person doing more work than others.

    We wish our lives were always one-for-one in terms of input and output, but that’s simply not true. Understanding this is key to understanding how the 80 20 rule really works.

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    So how does it really work?

    It’s a matter of focusing on what’s giving you the most in your life for little of your time.

    Going back to the few examples I’ve presented above, consider this:

    • If two start-ups you invested in are making it big, focus on having a more direct hand, and see if you can help them prosper more.
    • If 20% of sales reps are giving you 80% of your sales, focus on rewarding those and keeping their spirits high and motivated.

    These scenarios can go on and on, but the idea is to place your efforts on the 20% that is actually making the difference in your life. Another term that’s good to know is the diminishing marginal utility[3].

    Pareto didn’t come up with this one, but the law goes as follows: each extra hour of effort or worker will add less “oomph” to your finished results.

    Eventually, you’ll hit a point where you will spend a lot of time on small and unimportant details, similar to perfectionism.

    So before hitting that point, you want to have a laser focus on the most important details, from family and relationships to your work or business. Prioritize the activities that are going to move you forward the most, and be wary of adding extra time, effort, or more hands into those particular tasks moving forward.

    How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule

    So now that you have an understanding of the 80 20 rule and how it works, what is the best way to take advantage of it?

    Depending on where you are applying this rule, this can be used in all kinds of fashions.

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    For example, you can apply this rule to goal setting, as demonstrated by Brian Tracy in this video:

    Or you can apply it in terms of general productivity as explained in this article: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

    The core of this rule is that it forces us to ask ourselves the questions we wouldn’t consider otherwise. It helps us to place our focus in the right places with regards to all things in life.

    In short, the 80 20 rule places us in charge of our lives and helps us set out on our goals and dreams. With this in mind, here are some things you can consider concerning this rule.

    1. Focus on Your Big Tasks First

    While this is the essence of the 80 20 rule, it’s still worth mentioning. Why? Because so many of us feel intimidated by the biggest task. We instinctively avoid it and opt for smaller tasks first.

    We think that if we complete enough small tasks that we will feel motivated to finish that really big one later. But that’s really false hope at work.

    Once we finish off a lot of small tasks, we either feel drained, or we tell ourselves we’ll do this the next day.

    Instead of doing all that, bite the bullet and tackle the largest task first.

    If you need help with prioritization, check out this article.

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    I argue this by challenging you to ask yourself this one question:

    “Is the task I’m about to do the top 20 percent of my activities or the bottom 80 percent?”

    I’m sure you’ve seen time and again you or other workers spending a lot of time on one task for most of the day. In those kinds of grinds, you’re barely getting ahead and have next to nothing to show for it. That’s because they’re putting all their attention on work that’s in the 80 percent.

    It’s normally the big tasks that are part of the 20 percent.

    Another way to think about this is that everything we do starts a habit. If every day we spend our energy on low-value tasks, we will always prioritize those.

    2. Stretch This Into Personal Life

    While I’ve been talking about business and setting goals, remember you can use this in other areas of your life, too.

    Take your personal life and ask yourself some of these questions:

    • How much TV do you watch on a regular basis? What sort of shows are you legitimately into? These questions can help you in recognizing what shows you are watching purely for consumption. By applying the 80 20 rule, you can cut back on Netflix, TV, or YouTube video consumption and prioritize other areas of your life.
    • What does your wardrobe look like in terms of colors? Are there specific colors that you like? Knowing what you wear most times will help you in sorting out your wardrobe significantly. It also saves you time to come up with what to wear every morning.
    • How many newsletters do you actually read? This question can help you in figuring out which newsletters to unsubscribe to and can clear up a lot of space in your inbox. It can also relieve pressure from having to check your emails constantly.
    • How much time do you spend on your phone every day? How much of that time is actually doing something meaningful? These questions can help you in clearing out various apps that aren’t helping you with your goals. In fact, this can curb the need to check your phone constantly.

    Final Thoughts

    The 80 20 rule is the productivity hack that many of us need, and for good reason. As you can tell, it’ll help you to focus and prioritize the more important aspects of your life.

    Not only that, but it’ll maximize those outputs at the same time and ensure you’re not spending too much time working on them. All you need to do is start asking questions and taking action.

    More Techniques to Help You Succeed in Life

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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