You have a job, you’re making money and you can pay your bills. That’s great, if that is all you want out of life. Having a job is not the same as managing a career. If you are not actively pursuing your own dreams and goals, you will spend your career working hard to help someone else achieve theirs.
Your career is in your hands. You will be doing yourself a disservice if you sit around and wait for someone to hold your hands and guide you step by step. You should never stay in a position where you are at the mercy of someone else.
It’s time to put on your big girl panties or big boy briefs and do the work.
Create a career roadmap.
Start by writing down the position or responsibilities you want to have. Then create a three month and six month plan describing what you can do now to get you closer to that goal. Revise these goals every few months. Sometimes this is better than a one year or three year plan. A shorter plan allows you to check things off the list and get immediate gratification.
Don’t give up on your goals.
At times you may feel like you are not making progress, but doing something productive is better than doing nothing at all. Stretching yourself and coming out of your comfort zone can be extremely uncomfortable. If you are not focused you won’t persevere and will give up. Don’t get discouraged, there will always be obstacles; use this as an opportunity to grow.
Don’t fall in love with the company you work for.
Some companies offer gym memberships, flexible schedules, among other perks. No matter how great your boss or company is, you need to remember you are replaceable. Companies are constantly looking at the bottom line and asking themselves what areas of the business can they shave off a few dollars. You may walk into work one day and your boss tells you that the company is restructuring and your job is eliminated. There is nothing stable or secure about your company.
This is not to scare you but to remind you that you always have to be on your grind. Make sure you are taking advantage of everything the job has to offer: health insurance, stock options and retirement plans. Enjoy the flexible schedule and holiday parties, but always keep your end goal in mind.
Surround yourself with positive people.
Being around positive, like-minded people will keep you focused. Try not to spend much time with naysayers; they will contribute to you doubting yourself.
Learn your industry.
Don’t just depend on the training you receive on the job, read books, read articles or watch videos on your chosen field. You should always be a student.
Speak up and share your aspirations.
Let your boss know you are serious and share your career goals. You should not wait until your annual review to have this conversation. Ideally, you should be touching base with your boss daily if not weekly. During these conversations be specific. If you want to manage people, tell your boss and find out ways you can work together to prepare you for the next step. The conversation is not about your boss offering you a promotion on the spot. It is more about preparation for what is to come.
You don’t have to change jobs to take control of your career. While you are at your current job, understand that every day is an opportunity to learn something new. Ultimately, your career growth is your responsibility. You have to be an entrepreneur when it comes to managing your career.
Every day you have to do the groundwork, this is the foundation for the rest of your life and it is important that you do it right.