Do you have specific career goals? The beginning of a new year is a good time to evaluate your plans to set targets so you’re more likely to accomplish them. However, even if you have ambitious goals and plans, you should view your career as a marathon and not a sprint.
Business is constantly changing, as are the requirements to succeed in any given field. Sesha Dhanyamraju, CEO and managing partner of Digital Risk LLC, suggests the following tips to help you succeed with your career for the long run.
Identify your personal assets. Dhanyamraju notes, “Highly effective leaders and employees spend a lot of time and energy understanding themselves, their own strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes.” He suggests asking yourself simple questions such as:
- What do I like to do and why?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses as they relate to work?
- What opportunities and challenges have gotten the best and worst of me in the past?
- What goals do I have for the next five years, three years, next quarter and next month, and how does what I am doing today help me realize those goals?
Once you assess your challenges, strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to play to your strengths. Consider these tips to help you succeed.
Assess what you need to learn to achieve your goals. Again, change is the most reliable constant. If you’ve been in your field for many years, you’re likely missing some key competencies that less-experienced professionals in your industry take for granted. Don’t let this hold you back. Dhanyamraju suggests you ask yourself, “What new skills did I learn in the past year, past quarter, yesterday and today that I can immediately apply for the betterment of self, family, organization and community?”
Determine how you can match your success to your company’s plans. It will be easiest for you to accomplish your goals if they are in line with those of your boss and the organization at large. Dhanyamraju recommends that you “align yourself to helping make the organization’s stakeholders, including investors, customers, employees [and] community, successful.” When you do, you have a better chance of getting rewarded, and people are less likely to be concerned that you are pushing your own agenda. For example, push yourself to take several problems off your boss’s plate. You’ll be a hero, and hopefully move your career forward when you are successful.
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Learn to say “no” while you keep your career moving forward. In most cases, it is best to be upfront about the priorities on your plate and let your boss know if you don’t have the bandwidth for a new project. “It enhances your credibility and, in many cases, your boss may be able to take conflicting priorities from your to-do list. Being honest about your capacity could help remove the constraint and free you to take on new tasks or learn new skills,” Dhanyamraju explains.
Take steps to be happy in, and outside of, work. When you take a long view on your career, you don’t want to burn out on the way to accomplishing your goal because you failed to keep a perspective on what you really want from your career. Dhanyamraju suggests you choose a hobby and spend quality time outside of work on something relaxing. He notes, “Some people find yoga, meditation, reading, gardening, spending time with pets, painting, cooking, music, community service and sports and exercise to be excellent avenues for them to recharge.” You also want to build your support system of people you can count on for mentorship and just for listening to you at the end of a long day. Don’t neglect your personal and professional friendships.
Even though you’re in a hurry to move on to the next thing, when you take a long view on your career – when you look at the big picture – you give yourself the time to focus on what you can gain from your current opportunity, and you’re more likely to be successful in the long run.
Appeared on U.S. News & World Reports.