No matter your occupation, in order to be successful in your career you need to remain cognizant of the business landscape where you are entrenched. Staying ignorant of your surroundings leads only to being left behind, so it is important to continually assess where you are and how you can recreate your competitive edge over your professional peers. In your trek to remain competitive and gain ground on your competition, consider concepts of branding, building relationships, growing, and maintaining your work/life balance.
Like all buzzwords, the word branding has become a bit overused, but the concept remains pivotal in creating a personal image that is memorable and leaves people impressed. But branding gains much of its value in making clear precisely how you are different from your peers and which skills you possess that makes you stand out among your competitors. Any self-marketing plan requires that considerable effort be expended in creating a fleshed-out personal brand.
Beyond your outward image, creating networks of contacts is also vital to stay competitive, and the key is to focus more on the quality of your relationships rather than the sheer number of contacts you have collected over time. What you want is a group of people who can directly influence your career in a positive way and those who have the most useful feedback to offer. This may include customers, managers, and employees, among other professional connections. It is crucial to keep open communication channels, and build relationships with those who can impact your career.
When you become complacent, or otherwise stagnant in your current station ,you lose a degree of flexibility and creativity that is necessary to continue being successful into the future. Being stagnant means putting too much focus on becoming entrenched in current projects and the other smaller crises that make up your day-to-day life. This affects your ability to remain open to change and accepting new challenges that require a sense of daring and creativity that lead to innovation. This effect dulls competitive advantage because it forces you into the crowd that you are trying to stand above. Continuing to grow means updating your skills, learning new technology, or even shifting your career altogether. The point is to keep evolving and remain open to new opportunities.
Building a successful and fulfilling career is entirely reliant on balancing your work priorities with the other aspects of your life. But obtaining a work/life balance is not so much about equally divvying up your time so as to give each portion of your life equal time and energy. It is about finding the best combination of focus and to meet the dynamic demands of your work life and personal life without sacrificing your overall sense of well-being. It is important to pay attention to where you are, where you want to go, and how well you are getting there. Once you understand your goals and what it is that sets you apart from the crowd and what you need to do in order to keep moving forward, you can start allocating your focus, energy, and time to standing out.