There are many good habits to adopt in order to help you advance your career, even when focusing on advancement becomes difficult due to the stress of being employed. Truthfully, most people seeking advice on good career habits probably already know what these habits are, but seeing them spelled out can be a clarifying or validating experience that enhances their credibility. With that in mind, here are some great habits to pick up to help move your career forward and take your mind off of the stresses of the everyday.
1. Define Your Career Mission and Pursue It
This habit can be approached in a couple of ways. Philosophically, it challenges you to discover the unique role best suited to your talents, interests, and values, and it motivates you to succeed. However, your career mission is also simply represented by your job description. The happiest professionals are those who understand their work and what it takes to do a good job.
2. Be Visible and Express Expectations of Rewards
You must make sure that management notices when you do good work and understands that you expect to be rewarded for your achievements. Employees frequently assume that their bosses know what’s best when it comes to career advancement and that doing a really good job will automatically be acknowledged. Unfortunately, the truth is that many workers only generate attention when they’re a problem.
If you really want to advance your career, you have to ask for what you want. Your manager isn’t a mind reader, and waiting quietly to be recognized is the path to being passed over for a promotion.
3. View Your Job as a Long-Term Consulting Assignment, Not a Permanent Placement
Because organizations no longer guarantee lifetime employment, it’s important think of yourself as a contractor with a portfolio instead of a loyal employee. Your focus should be on doing excellent work, learning as much as possible from each position, and being ready to change jobs should the need arise.
4. Take Some Risks
Don’t spend time waiting for recognition. Develop an explicit career path and turn management into your partner in advancing your career.
5. Go with Your Instincts
Trust your intuition as you plot your career. Logic has its place in the decision-making process, but whole-brained thinking will give you a balanced perspective on your career advancement that intellectual analysis alone cannot.
6. Never Stop Networking
A well-developed professional network can be a rich source of mentors and referrals for everything you need in your life. Your network can also provide objective insights for evaluating opportunities and problems. A solid network of contacts is valuable no matter the circumstances.
7. Negotiate and Cooperate
The next time you are in a mood to take no prisoners, put yourself in your adversary’s place. Suggest solutions that benefit both you and your coworkers. Even if you don’t receive exactly what you want in the short term, you won’t be stuck with long-term enemies.
8. Be Confident, Even when You Aren’t
If you find yourself suffering from a crisis of confidence, remember that positive behavior can overtake negativity and pull you out of your rut. Your behavior – not what you’re feeling on the inside — is what others see. Use your anxiety as an extra source of energy.
9. Chase Only Those Goals That You Actually Desire
When you begin to set goals to help advance your career, try testing their viability using the RUMBA method: Each goal should be Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioral, and Agreed Upon. Meeting only the first four conditions isn’t enough. You and everyone involved with your goal must agree that it’s a good idea. Goals should begin with “I want…,” not “I should…”
10. Live a Life of Work, Education, and Fun
Living a life where these things are divided into different stages (e.g. learning as a child, working as an adult, having fun after retirement) leads to a stale existence and forces people to feel useless without their jobs. Never forget how to learn and enjoy yourself.