When deciding on your career path, it is important to know how you are going to get there. Through various tasks, goals, and general day-to-day responsibilities, it can be difficult to keep track of all the work you are putting into your future success. If you are unsure of how to advocate for yourself, keep reading to learn tips to help grow your career.
Set and Track Goals
Setting goals and tracking them can help keep you accountable in following through with the tasks you set for yourself. One method of setting goals that are achievable is by using SMART goals. This acronym stands for smart, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. You are more likely to succeed if your goals are specific and measurable. You should have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, when you want to accomplish it, and why. Knowing these three things will help you to keep you on track and focused on the correct tasks.
Goals must challenge you, but also be achievable. Setting goals that are not within your reach will lessen your motivation, and decrease the chances of following through on your ambitions. Make sure that your goals are also relevant to your overall values and objectives. If an objective seems like it doesn’t align with your wants, take some time to rethink and rewrite it.
Lastly, give yourself a time-frame in which you want to complete your goals. For example, if you want to learn a new skill or gain a certification, give yourself at least six to nine months to accomplish this task. If you are able to achieve your goal within this time frame, then it adhered to all the elements of the SMART framework. If not, you may need to replan some parts of your objective or your plan in reaching your goal. Consider also meeting regularly with your manager to discuss feedback and explore ways that you can improve your process.
Seek out growth opportunities to keep momentum instead of staying stagnant. When you fall into a steady routine, you can often become static within your career. This can oftentimes cause you to forget that there are many things you can do to get further besides doing well at your job. Research, participate, and mentor others as a way to remain involved and active at your workplace. The more people exposed to working with you, the more they can advocate for the good work you are doing.
You should also find opportunities to build momentum by becoming an expert in your field. Research your industry, your target audience, and your product. Try to learn something new to help innovate your skills and your company’s success. “The most important thing I think you can do as a young person…, is to become an expert. To be skilled in whatever it is that you’re desirous of pursuing.” says American businessman Robert F. Smith, “That takes countless hours and, in some cases, outreach for knowledge and information, and in some cases, it is building a learned capability. To me, there’s no substitute for that….There’s no substitute for becoming an expert and being the best at your craft.”
It is important that you show pride in your work, and do not downplay your accomplishments. While speaking up can be nerve-wracking at times, finding strategies to successfully do so can build your confidence and show off the work that you are doing to improve your company and expand upon your expertise. The more confident and at-ease you are in your strengths and specialties, the better your chances at furthering your career and getting others to notice you and your work.
Communication is key as it helps to build and develop relationships with co-workers. Make note of what channels you are using to communicate whether it is in person, through Zoom or via Slack. Take advantage of these channels and rely on others when you need extra support.
On the topic of communication, author Catherine Pulsifer says, “Communication is one of the most important skills you require for a successful life.” Although we spend most of our time communicating with others, sometimes certain topics can be tricky to maneuver. The more you learn to communicate well with others around you, the better you will get at advocating for yourself in a professional setting. When speaking to mentors and supervisors, be open about what you want and need to be successful, your struggles, as well as the good things you are doing.
Various communication skills such as active listening or confidence, can really help to improve your overall communication. Taking the time to learn and understand how others around you may communicate can also improve your communication and relationships, which then makes for a better environment to grow and improve professionally.
Being your own advocate when it comes to something as important as advancing your career can be a daunting task. However, there are a lot of retargets available to help you navigate some of the more complicated facets of career development. Remember to use the SMART goal framework to set up your goals properly, leverage opportunities available to you, and communicate effectively with others in order to achieve said goals.