Five Key Components for Getting Ahead Faster
Frequently people go about their careers by leaving things up to luck, waiting for “the universe” or relying on someone noticing you. We forget that by taking an active participatory role we get some say in how our working life turns out. Given that we spend a whole heap of time at work, in work environments and with work colleagues – I’d say that having a say in what that looks like is pretty important. And with almost 40% of people citing that they want to start their own business, it would appear that mot people understand this at some level, but don’t really know how to execute these sorts of choices and freedoms with their current employer.
So to help you get started here are five essential components of your career strategy that we talk about at The Ambition Revolution.
1. Work on your career, not simply in it
Just like with great leadership and working on a business, not in it, you’ll be rewarded far more and get to where you want to go much faster if you spend time working on your career, not simply in it. This means spending time setting goals and creating plans.
“If you don’t know where you are going how will you know when you get there?”
Be clear about what you want, where you want to be and by when. Then spend time reflecting on what it will feel like when you get there. Perhaps you’re in a career that you did your undergraduate degree in years ago. Or perhaps you landed a role back when the economic climate was less favourable and it became comfortable over time. Since then you’ve realised it doesn’t actually fire you up and you’ve been yearning for work that was meaningful. Time to start planning.
Setting the goals and planning strategy means you have to be clear about what’s important to you about work and then put some frameworks around it.
As women in the workforce we frequently put our needs, desires and wants second so this can be challenging. We might be biding our time waiting for kids to leave school, the husband’s fast track career or business idea to come to fruition, or perhaps family obligations. Strategy can be planned while you are waiting. And having a plan brings you one step closer to execution phase. Start planning now.
2. Boost self belief and confidence in advance
According to Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in The Confidence Gap article published in the Atlantic, success correlates just as closely (if not more so) to confidence as competence. Women on the other hand have for years been socialised to do the right thing and are more likely to correlate success with competence. Given that self belief and confidence are both critical to getting ahead, then why not build confidence boosting systems, processes and critical pathways into your plan?
How will you remain buoyant when things don’t go exactly to plan?
What strategies will you put in place that help you remain steady and confident when you are stressed, tired or worn out?
How will you remain resilient under criticism?
Get on the front foot and have routines and structures that boost and enhance confidence and self belief firmly in place as preemptive measures.
3. Personal productivity – it’s the new black hadn’t you heard?
This is about establishing routines that keep you agile, confident and focused. We know from research into “fear” that uncertainty and doubt increase anxiety and worry. On the flipside certainty and clarity (even if it’s perceived) help us eliminate worry and anxiety. So creating structures and routines, tackling big thinking projects in the morning and investing in down time and quiet space to think are all pretty cool ideas that boost productivity.
There are “apps for that”, software solutions and systems such as Pomodora technique to name one. There is so much available right now to help you maintain the rage that you are bound to find something that works for you. Here’s some recent research summarised into 13 ways successful women make the most of their time.
4. Right people in your network
Stop trying to be the superhero and doing it all yourself. Then identify what support you need in your next big career push. Is it accountability? Door opening? Confidence boosting? Technical expertise? Problem solving? A shoulder to cry on (and yes crying is okay)? Or all of the above? Identify those in and near your network who can support you in some way – colleagues, family, mentors, coaches, sponsors and champions. Many of us have the notion we can “pop out of the cake all superheroed up” and we will be welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way – and frequently requires time, willpower and support .
5. Sell yourself – or perhaps more accurately create and sell brand you
Have you read Forbes journalist Susannah Breslin’s thoughts on selling yourself? Hilarious. This woman truly gets it. However in a nutshell this selling yourself is really challenging for most people. Most of us are uncomfortable in a sales role selling other products, let alone when the product is brand you. Well I hate to break it to you; everyone is the protagonist in their own movie of their own life. You are just a bit player in someone else’s movie. If you want a leading role you in someone else’s movie you you have to grab their attention! And that means pitching yourself.
· So what is your expertise?
· What is it that you bring to a role that others don’t?
· So what’s the business benefit in what you are creating?
· Where do you contribute that adds greatest value?
· What makes you exceptional?
· What demonstrable measurable outcome is going to come about?
And then rehearse communicating these things out loud with a trusted colleague or mentor until you can hear your now compelling story.
Because not stepping forward, speaking up or taking charge can keep you feeling stuck and frustrated – draining you both personally and professionally. This does little justice to you or the organisations/clients you work for. By being more strategic about your career puts you back firmly in the driver’s seat, not only boosting your confidence, but new opportunities will present themselves more effortlessly keeping you feeling more fulfilled about your work and your place in the world.
What components do you have in your strategy?