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9 Ways To Speed Up Your Career Advancement

9 Ways To Speed Up Your Career Advancement

Career advancement is harder than it used to be. During the decades after World War 2, steady economic growth meant many opportunities. Today, many are torn between the aftermath of the 2007-2009 recession and the incredible possibilities described by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler in their ground breaking book Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think. Economic problems and distress are both present in our world. You get to choose what you want to focus on.

Let’s look at nine ways you can pick up the pace in your career advancement.

1. Work On Goals That Matter

It is difficult to get ahead when you don’t care about your daily work. Pursuing exciting goals is one of the key insights I learned from Michael Hyatt’s approach to goal setting. In the career context, you will probably receive annual goals from your employer (or client). If these goals fail to excite you, then set at least one goal to advance your career (e.g. learn new skills – see point 3 below) this year. If you don’t have stimulating goals, it will be difficult to muster the enthusiasm needed to get ahead.

2. Use A Reliable Personal Organization System

Personal organization is an essential skill to getting ahead. While technology helps, effectiveness in this area ultimately comes down to habits and using the right systems. For example, successful professionals know how to run a meeting. In addition, you need the capability to thrive in a rapidly changing world (i.e. no more complaining about the pace of change). Everyone can improve their personal organization by studying books such as Getting Things Done by David Allen.

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Tip: Learn how Dwight Eisenhower stayed focused and organized: How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the “Eisenhower Box”.

3. Learn To Earn More

Delivering more value in your career is an essential skill to getting ahead. After six to twelve months in a given role, many of us become comfortable with the routine work we are expected to complete. That`s why you cannot assume your skills and knowledge will continue to grow at your day job. To expand your horizons, check out this list of 51 training resources.You can start by using free resources on the Internet – however, you are more likely to commit effort and attention if you pay your own money for training.

Tip: As an adult, you decide the best way to learn. Experiment with different approaches such as self-study (e.g. reading books), traditional classes and hiring someone to give you individual training and advice.

4. Navigate Power Like A Prince

Author Robert Greene reminds us that power is a reality in our daily work. That means taking the time to understand how powerful people can improve your career. For example, George Washington`s career expanded at a dramatic pace because he had powerful friends. Even if you are not seeking the CEO`s position, it pays to understand power and the priorities of people who make decisions. Otherwise, you risk being left in the cold in the next economic downturn.

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To expand your network and increase your power, use the following resources:

8 Networking Tricks To Help You Socialize In Any Event

7 Habits To Win In Office Politics

5. Maintain Focus on Results Rather Than Time

Many of us start our careers earning money as a hourly wage. Unfortunately, that early experience means you start equate `time worked`with `value created.` Nothing could be further from the truth. If you sit in your chair and stair out the window for an hour, the company lost money (and your reputation may take a hit).

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6. Exploit All of Your Benefits

If you work at a large company, you have a vast wealth of benefits at your disposal. At first glance, you will probably think about health and retirement benefits. Those are absolutely essential and well worth your effort. If you have complicated forms or paperwork to complete, it is a small price to pay. Even if you have to sacrifice one or two lunch hours to sort out your benefits, it is well worth it.

Using all of your benefits advances your career because this practice reminds you of your value. On another level, you’re also training yourself to work through corporate bureaucracy to achieve your goals.

7. Give Time, Attention And More To Your Network

As poet John Donne wrote, no man is an island. To get ahead in your career, especially at senior levels, your network makes the difference. There are no application forms (or online postings) for many of the best roles. Instead, people in your network are your resource. However, few people enjoy responding to desperate pleas for job hunting help. Start by giving value to your network: remember birthdays (send a card or gift), introduce people by email and otherwise (e.g. “Jane, meet Tim – you are both database experts and I think you would enjoy chatting”) and simply stay in touch.

How To Be The Most Interesting Person At A Networking Event 

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Read Mastermind Dinners: Build Lifelong Relationships by Connecting Experts, Influencers, and Linchpins by Jayson Gaignard. This is an innovative approach to improving your network by organizing dinners.

8. Protect The Asset By Keeping Up Your Health

In the short term, it is easy to imagine that you can trade your health for career advancement. Unfortunately, that’s a dangerous habit to build. Instead, take note from highly productive people such as President Obama (who works out on a regular basis) and British billionaire Richard Branson who fit fitness into their daily schedule.

Keeping up your health is good for your career because physically fit people tend to have more energy and better focus throughout the day. For an extended discussion of the mental health benefits of exercise, read Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by Harvard professor John J. Ratey.

9. Develop Conflict Management Skills

In the world of career advancement, you will face conflict. It is a fact that other people have different goals and interests: those differences often lead to conflicts. Unsuccessful people tend to struggle with conflicts. Instead, recognize that you can learn conflict resolution techniques to work through these problems. Handling conflict with confidence is a hall mark of executives and many other highly successful people.

Featured photo credit: Entrepreneur Start Up/StartupStockPhotos via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

Reference

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