I recently spoke with a career-minded individual who walked me through his decision-making process when it comes to selecting a job. Greatly sought after by headhunters, he said, “I ultimately want to be a COO. With each opportunity that comes my way, not only do I look at the opportunity itself, but I also look at the reputation of the company.” He pretty much told me that he won’t compromise on either of these criteria. He continued, “Each step I take in my career should lead me closer to my goal, not further away from it.”
You don’t need to be actively looking for a job to jumpstart your career, but we should do something every day to elevate our careers in the directions of our choices. Here are three simple steps to elevate your career in 2018:
Say “yes” to potential opportunities
What is your response to when you read this step? Is it “sure”? If so, skip to the next step. This one is for those who are thinking of a million reasons that they cannot say “yes.” They are the ones who like things just the way they are. If you are such a person, you need to say “yes” to living your life more. If a company wants to talk with you about an opportunity, say “yes”! If your manager needs someone to volunteer for a project, say “yes”! If a colleague needs your expertise to help start a business, say “yes”!
Of course, you need to be responsible. At some point, you need to assess whether you are able to carry the tasks through and leave your current role. By not saying “yes,” however, you miss out on such valuable learning opportunities.
Find your passion and create side projects.
As my friend Steven Savage stated in our podcast, not all hobbies make you a better person, nor can all hobbies be turned into side projects. However, I will add that many of our passions or hobbies have the potential to be turned into bigger things.
For example, imagine that you are an indoor gardening enthusiast. It would be obvious to choose a side project that involved teaching others about indoor gardening. The next question is, how? What is the medium? Am I going to invite people to my home or create videos? If I invite people into my home, am I going to invite friends? Friends of friends? What content will I choose? This kind of internal dialogue is the genesis of a side project. When you begin to act on such a dialogue, you put on different hats in addition to the gardener’s hat: a curriculum developer’s hat, an event marketing hat, and a content marketing hat. And as you delve deeper into the subject of indoor gardening, you become a thought leader on the subject. If you are also motivated by money, you can research to monetize your side project as well; if you are motivated by the networking opportunity, you can reach out to other enthusiasts to expand your knowledge.
Join a professional organization.
I don’t know about you, but as I get older, I feel time going by faster and faster. Having to juggle both work and family, I feel the temptation to not push myself. If you feel the same and have a demanding job, pay attention and be aware! While it is important to rest, be cognizant and set aside time each month to connect with people you don’t know. If you are an engineer, find a hackathon near you. If you are interested in Bitcoin, attend a conference on it. If you are interested in developing your public speaking skills, join the local Toastmasters group.
By joining a professional organization, you can not only meet other professionals but also learn from them and market your talents. I have seen many job seekers who have been blindsided by their employers, many of over 10 years, laying them off; I have also seen many new positions created, not because people are actively looking for such jobs, but because the company founder or CEO feels that his/her company can benefit from such individual’s talents .
2018 is going to be a great year for everyone, because I know all my readers will take the time this year to think, plan, and strategize how they want to grow and enrich themselves, both personally and professionally.