January is a month filled with resolutions, intentions, and goal-setting. This can lead to a lot of pressure, and ultimately disappointment if the life you want to create doesn’t magically appear after creating a vision board. This year, focus on taking small and important steps that will accelerate your career, regardless of whether you know the direction you want to go in. There are ten simple steps that can help you accelerate your career growth. We’ll start with five today – come back next week for the second five.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
People often measure their success by the number of hours they work, as opposed to measuring outputs. Instead of constantly seeking to work longer, focus on becoming exceptionally productive. If you are at your best in the mornings, ask your manager for a flexible schedule that allows you start and end the day earlier. If you are an introvert and being in an open office environment drains your energy, ask to work from home a day or two each week. Figure out how you work best and ask for what you need.
Ask For Feedback
If you have a great manager, you likely get positive and constructive feedback on a regular basis. If you only get feedback during an annual performance review, it is time to ask for it. If your manager does not have time to provide meaningful input on your performance, ask your most trusted peers—they will have a lot of insight into how you are perceived. If you have direct reports, make sure you are asking them too. Feedback is an incredible gift, and allows you to get better at everything you do.
It is incredibly difficult to make time to learn and grow, when we are busy trying to get our work done. However, make reading a priority—the time you spend will pay itself back in dividends. Read books on leadership development, personal growth, industry topics, and books or articles that will challenge you to think critically.
Develop Your Strengths
There is a lot of focus on improving weaknesses, but for many, their greatest strengths are often mirrored with their greatest weaknesses. Focus on making improvements on the strengths that are most valuable to you. You can begin to practice both inside and outside of work—ask for a stretch project, take on a meaningful volunteer role, or find an opportunity to use your strengths to benefit your friends and family.
Give More Than You Take
Giving is incredibly important, and often underutilized at work, as employees seek ownership and credit, go for promotions, or try to get noticed by senior management. Focus on giving to others—find opportunities for your colleagues to take the lead on projects, send people in your network meaningful suggestions on topics they are interested in, and treat your peers to a coffee. The more opportunities you find to give to others will ultimately lead to increased growth and opportunity for you.