By Bruce Harpham
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.
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.
To expand your network and increase your power, use the following resources:
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).
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.
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, readSpark: 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.
About the Author: Bruce Harpham provides career advancement resources on Project Management Hacks. Bruce is based in Toronto, Canada. Download your FREE copy of the Career Advancement Course (normally $47: Free to LifeHack readers!). You will learn how successful professionals earn more and make an impact.