It is remarkable how many people fail to achieve success in their careers simply because they have never taken the time out to analyze what success looks like for them and to create a plan to get there.
The road to success is never accidental even though luck and circumstance can lend a helping hand along the way. Successful professionals who are able to sustain their success have a vision, plan astutely, take stock regularly and work very hard and very smart to realize their success.
The following are some key tips to help you along the road to achieving your career ambitions.
1. Set goals
The surest way never to achieve any lofty goals is not to set them in the first place. Take a holistic approach to deciding what your priorities and goals are in life before you hone in on your specific career goals. Specifically, what sort of balance and end result are you seeking to achieve in the important areas of your life:- finance, career, health, relationships, self development etc. You will undermine your career success if your goals in other areas of your life contradict or conflict with your career goals. You will also sabotage your chances of success if you set too many goals; focus instead on a few clear, achievable ones that you are enthusiastic about pursuing. Your goals can take the form of “being” goals and “doing” goals and should be accompanied with a timeline for getting there and a plan of action.
2. Be committed
Once you set your goals, be committed to achieving them. Have a vision in front of you at all times and clear milestones along the way. Your dedication and motivation should never waver if you are convinced of the goals you have set yourself. Sometimes feelings of unworthiness and lack of confidence hinder your progress; remind yourself that you deserve success and work on building your confidence if you are in fact sabotaging your career in this way. Focus on accomplishments rather than just performance.
3. Measure your Progress
Once you embark on your journey towards achieving your goals it is crucial that you monitor and measure your progress along the way. Are you reaching the milestones you set out to reach within the desired time span? Is your progress proceeding at the right pace and quality? Make sure you are clearly aware of the impact your actions have on the organization’s bottom line whether they be in terms of money made, money saved, time saved, deals closed, new relationships initiated, processes optimized etc. Try to always monetize your individual accomplishments in order to most accurately keep track of your direct impact on the organization’s bottom line. The most minor product or process enhancements sometimes have a dramatic impact on a company’s bottom line.
4. Market your Accomplishments
You need to take a proactive approach towards promoting yourself if you are to reap the full fruits of your success. Make sure your individual accomplishments are recognized by all the key decision-makers in the organization and particularly those who influence your career progress. It is quite common for credit to be misallocated and for accomplishments to be undervalued or overlooked altogether so don’t be shy about singing your own praises providing you stick to the facts and exercise tact and diplomacy.
5. Build a Personal Network
Your success will to a large extent depend on your ability to build alliances and garner the support of others including peers, superiors, subordinates, clients, suppliers and others you interact with on a daily basis to get the job done. Work on building a reputation and network both within your organization and outside so you are immediately considered for lucrative new opportunities, recognized as the best man/woman for top jobs and inspire trust and credibility in broader industry circles. Expand your circle of influence by networking, attending industry events, seeking to be allocated to important projects in other divisions, volunteering in high profile events and activities etc.
6. Maintain an Open Dialogue with Superiors
Don’t be shy of those higher up than you in the executive ranks. Seek to regularly communicate with your superiors and build a rapport with decision-making executives in your organization who could have a say in your mobility and advancement. The more they know you and the more comfortable they are with you, the likelier you are to be elevated to their ranks.
7. Mentor and be Mentored
Find a mentor you respect and value and arrange to meet regularly to sound off ideas and get advice on how to best achieve your goals and negotiate hurdles and milestones along the way. Seek to mentor someone perhaps lower down the rungs in the organizational ladder in return to build rapport as a future leader and widen your circle of influence.
8. Sharpen your Skills
With every project and activity you complete, new hire, new client, new problem solved, chances are you have learned something new and sharpened a particular skillset. Ongoing learning is critical to your personal development and career success. Identify a training path that fills key skills gaps, augments your strengths and keeps you at the cutting-edge of whatever you do so that you don’t become redundant and loose your competitive edge.
9. Maintain a Professional Image
Your professional image plays an important role in your career success. Dress, look, sound and act the part and surround yourself with positive, successful people who are also known to take their careers seriously.
10. Communicate Effectively
Learn to get your message across effectively, share your successes, learnings and experiences, maintain a positive dialogue and influence and inspire others. Key skills including professional writing, active listening, empathic listening, public speaking, effective presenting, win-win negotiating and communicating in a crisis are all important in determining your career success as are any other communication skills that further your ability to persuade, build affinity and understand.
It’s never too late to attain new levels of professional success. Good Luck!
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