1. Deliver results. Finishing well will win you more accolades, bonuses and promotions over the course of your career than all the great and promising starts in the world. Promises are nice, but action is expressed in the results that you deliver. Do the heavy lifting that goes beyond simple “opinion” work. Make a list of your priorities and plan your day with the most important and urgent ones on top, the least important at the bottom. Have short term and long term goals, and assess your progress regularly. Become an asset. Never step back from going the extra mile to prove your worth.
2. Accept challenges. Through challenge, you will reach areas of your personality you have never explored before. Step out of your comfort zone to discover new opportunities. If you just settle into a normal and common routine and play it safe every time, you will miss opportunities for growth and advancement. People fear change when they’ve been at a direction long enough that they’ve become overly attached to the outcome; but if you’re engaged in work that drains, disappoints, and demoralizes you, consider a change. Identify organizational problems and propose solutions in order to increase your visibility as a problem-solver and expand your skills in the process. Know that moving up is not the only way to find a challenge; it may serve you well to move laterally in order to learn a new skill or gain experience in a particular area.
3. Understand your organization. Read company press releases, even if they don’t apply to your area. Read news about your industry and your company. Read important internal communications about the organization. If you work for a public company, read the quarterly earnings announcements and annual reports. Get the picture for yourself. Ask what’s happening, and understand how it affects you in your current work and future career.
4. Understand yourself and your brand. The more you take time to acknowledge what you love about your work life, the more you’ll be able to incorporate the things that are most fulfilling. The reason that many people fail to create fulfilling careers is that they simply do not uncover their unique talents, passions, and skills. Think strategically about what skills your organization needs, aligned to your interests and abilities, and develop a plan to acquire them. Very few people are happy doing the exact same thing every day of their lives. We long to stretch, grab new experiences, spread our wings and bump against new challenges and be more of what we love to be. All of that requires facing our fears and weaknesses. The more comfortable you become taking on your fears, the more satisfying your life and career will be. After understanding yourself, it’s important to recognize how you are perceived by others. We all have a personal brand. For some of us, the brand was invented by those around us, and we may be unaware of our reputation at work. Find out how you are perceived by coworkers. A little humility can reveal supportive colleagues who are willing to provide honest feedback. You may be surprised that your self-image is not in sync with your reputation. Fix it if you need to, and then build an excellent reputation in the workplace for yourself. The reputation you are building now will follow you everywhere.
5. Optimize your outlook. People develop opinions about you based on how you carry yourself. When you manage stress, demonstrate a positive attitude and show confidence, others enjoy interacting with you and value your contribution.
Mastering this career essential contributes to both your health and career success. When you have a positive attitude and believe in yourself, your goals are easier to accomplish. Work on becoming conscious of your outlook. Distinguish between the occasional bad day and being consistently pessimistic in a way that can drag others down. When you