These 7 Things Will Help You Grow Your Career

Laura Izquierdo

Photo: Unsplash

1) Be Prepared

Being prepared is a big one — as well as benefitting your team and your employer, it also massively helps you. Arguable, to a greater extent. Not only will you learn more, and thereby gain more from the experience than you would otherwise, but it’ll make your life easier too when it comes to executing your work. It’s quite simple; you’re giving yourself a better chance to succeed.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin

2) Network Broadly

Learn from people who have gone through the process. Not necessarily just in your business, but in the industry you work in or aspire to be working in. Learning from other people’s experiences directly can be a much quicker way to become aware of what works and what doesn’t than if you wait to make those errors yourself.

Overcoming failure is a necessary part of success, because only when you’ve learned from your mistakes will you be able to avoid and overcome these in the future. But learning about how others overcame their mistakes and how they overcame the obstacles that they faced when working to achieve what you now want to achieve, will empower you with the knowledge to avoid these pitfalls yourself.

In short, you don’t have to learn everything yourself. Perhaps the most powerful source of knowledge comes from the people around you.

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” — Mahatma Gandhi

3) Think Long-Term

In the same way, when thinking about your career, it’s wise to think of it in the long term. You might not love the role that you’re in or a particular task that you have to complete. But thinking about where you want to go can help you identify how the role or the task in question is helping you achieve your long-term goal. What are you learning from these?

This will provide a sense of purpose; it gives meaning to what you’re doing. It will be much more likely that with this sense of purpose and direction, you’ll be better able to adopt a positive outlook, and more willing to invest more energy and ultimately give a better performance.

“A leader’s job is to look into the future and see the organization, not as it is, but as it should be.” — Jack Welch

4) Don’t Over-Sell what you can Deliver

Especially when you’re a junior employee, others will delegate parts of their work to you, and, annoyingly, everyone will think that their work is a priority. Because it’s a priority to them, but it’s not necessarily a priority to you. And, they shouldn’t reasonably expect it to be. You can’t do everything for everyone.

“If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything.” — Tom Rath

You need to politely, clearly and confidently explain the other tasks that you’re working on, and clarify where it is that their work actually sits on your ‘to-do’ list. Provide a realistic time-frame to manage their expectations and reassure them that you’ll get it done ONLY when you’ve identified whether you actually have the capacity to do so.

5) Learn to Say No

This is a short one. It ties into the point above. It’s about recognizing what you can do and what others can reasonably expect from. It’s a tough one because saying ‘no’ can often be daunting because we don’t want to appear rude and uncooperative; nobody wants to work with someone like that.

It’s true that, as I mentioned above, having a ‘positive, can do’ attitude is a much more productive way to work and to demonstrate one’s competence. But, it’s an unavoidable truth that there are times where doing it all will be impossible; you might simply not have the capacity at that moment in time, and ‘over-committing’ to what you can do will fail to manage other people’s expectations in a way that will only lead to their disappointment when you fail to achieve what you promised.

Saying no is a sign of confidence, and competence too; it shows that you’re in control, that you understand how long a task is likely to take, or perhaps you’ve recognized that it would benefit from a particular knowledge that you don’t yet have.

The key is to articulate it politely, confidently, and cooperatively. As mentioned above, it helps to provide a solution. Provide an alternative time that you could get it done, for example, or suggest a person whose perspective would be particularly useful.

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.” — Tony Blair

6) Show Initiative

Showing up is the necessary bare minimum of what you have to do in your role. And don’t worry, this is enough if you’re happy just to be one more employee — there’s nothing wrong with that; depending on your situation, you might not aspire for a promotion right now, you might be happy where you are. That’s great, do whatever it is that you need to do.

If you aspire to stand out, if what you want is recognition and advancement, then you can’t wait for things to come to you. You need to reach out and grab the opportunities that you want for your own progress. You need to recognize what it is that you want and go out and get it.

Plus, showing initiative is a demonstration of confidence. Employers are looking for leaders who are confident in themselves, who provide stability and get the job done. They can show initiative to act because they’ve anticipated the problems that may arise, or they recognize the opportunities the business should take; they’re switched on.

“Those who let things happen usually lose to those who make things happen.” — Dave Weinbaum

7) Influence Others & Lead by example

Being intentional about your level of influence isn’t about inspiring each individual, you need to think big; your actions need to be scalable. You need to act in a way that makes others naturally want to follow you; lead by example. You won’t need to convince them, let them do that themselves. If you lead by example and show that what you’re doing works, others will notice, and they’ll look to you for guidance. Whether this is by asking for advice, or by mirroring your actions, your influence will become apparent.

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Content Creator, Storyteller & Co-host of the Thoughts from Limbo Podcast. Sharing stories designed to help you navigate the messiness of life. Join the conversation:

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